15 Best Things to Do in Chelsea, New York City

Chelsea, NY
Nicole Kwiatkowski / Shutterstock.com

On the Western End of Manhattan City in New York sits an iconic neighborhood known as Chelsea that is home to several art museums and galleries, upscale restaurants, and other well-known tourist attractions!

This neighborhood is packed with things to see and do, with spectacular views of the Hudson River, the New York City skyline, and Chelsea Piers that allow indoor and outdoor activities.

There are also several hidden gems nestled in the art district of New York City, ranging from rooftop diners and eateries to bars and more!

In addition to being the art center of New York, Chelsea is also known as a renowned cultural hub of this city with all the hotspot establishments and facilities it offers!

See what this amazing neighborhood has in store for you with this curated list of tourist destinations you may visit while on your trip.

Walk across a ‘Park in the Sky’ at The High Line

Evening lights at The High Line
Francois Roux / Shutterstock.com

The High Line, nicknamed the ‘Park in the Sky,’ is an elevated park built on top of a previously freight rail on top of Manhattan’s streets.

Since its inception in 2009, interested guests, visitors, and tourists drop by this iconic landmark to take in the nature, art, and design found here.

This park has various features you can explore, including woodlands, balconies overlooking the city, preserves with botanical gardens, the original steel train tracks, and more!

People walking along The High Line
pisaphotography / Shutterstock.com

Your trip to Chelsea isn’t complete without dropping by this iconic tourist attraction, where you can simply wander around and linger at these magical spots The High Line has to offer you.

Don’t forget to bring a camera to immortalize this experience!

Empty walkway of The High Line
Sean Pavone / Shutterstock.com

Play Various Sports at Chelsea Piers Sports and Entertainment Complex

Exterior of Chelsea Piers Sports and Entertainment Complex
Sandra Foyt / Shutterstock.com

Located along the Hudson River, Chelsea Piers Sports and Entertainment Complex is a spacious sports complex that provides guests with a wide range of activities to keep you entertained during your visit!

With designated playing fields for over 25 different sports, there’s always something to do here!

Even if it’s your first time playing a particular sport, this entertainment center offers programs and classes to teach you the basics.

A man playing golf in Chelsea Piers Sports and Entertainment Complex
stockelements / Shutterstock.com

They also host a competitive sports league for both kids and adults, which you can definitely try out.

You may even opt to rent their facilities for a friendly game or two against friends and family.

Drop by Chelsea Piers Sports and Entertainment Complex to get your game on!

Exterior of the Chelsea Piers Sports and Entertainment Complex
Leonard Zhukovsky / Shutterstock.com

Dine at Empire Diner

Exterior of Empire Diner
Rolf_52 / Shutterstock.com

Since it’s establishment in 1976, Empire Diner on the western side of Chelsea offers some of the best American cuisines that this neighborhood has to offer!

Serving only the best meals made with high-quality ingredients, you’re bound to leave this place with a full stomach and a smile on your face.

Their menu caters to all food preferences, including vegan and vegetarian options!

View of empire diner at night
Cat Lee Ball, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

Despite having been through several owners the past few years, this diner is back, better than ever, and ready to serve the community with their crowd-favorite meals.

Guests can also try out some of their specialty and classic cocktails to wind down and relax for a nightcap.

Make sure to book a reservation at this diner to ensure a table for you and your loved ones!

View of the Empire Diner from across the street
Jim.henderson, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

Purchase Local Goods at Down to Earth Chelsea Farmers Market

Only selling the best, high-quality, and locally-sourced goods from vendors and food makers, Down to Earth Chelsea Farmers Market is the ideal place to do your shopping!

As a traditional farmers market in Chelsea’s neighborhood, local food entrepreneurs and vendors get to sell their products directly to buyers and customers.

This market offers a wide array of items and food products to purchase from, including fresh fruits and vegetables, baked goods, and more!

This form of business also boosts sales and allows for regional agriculture to thrive, which in turn supports the local farms!

Try and allot time to visit this farmers market and see what other products they have in store for you.

Glass window of David Zwirner Gallery building
andersphoto / Shutterstock.com

Home to various exhibits, galleries, and collections of artworks by some of the most creative minds from around the world, David Zwirner Gallery is open to the public for viewing!

David Zwirner is a German arts dealer and the renowned owner of this art gallery franchise that can be found across New York, Paris, London, and Hong Kong.

Explore the wide range of artworks they have, from solo exhibitions to carefully and artistically crafted paintings.

Since 2001, these galleries have continued to expand across the state and into an international scale to showcase various mediums of art styles.

Visit one of the most artistic and creative spaces in New York City right here at David Zwirner Gallery!

Visit Chelsea’s Cultural Center at The Shed Arts Center

Exterior of The Shed Arts Center
HannaTor / Shutterstock.com

On Manhattan’s west side, The Shed Arts Center promotes all kinds of art forms, innovations, technology, and more, that promote the diversity of the members of the community.

This wide space caters to various events, exhibitions, and performances to bring together people from diverse backgrounds to create a welcoming environment for all!

Aerial view of The Shed Arts Center
Kit Leong / Shutterstock.com

Whether it’s pop culture art, classical paintings, digital media, theatrical performances, and more, The Shed Arts Center is a hotspot for artists, creative minds, and art enthusiasts alike.

Since their establishment in 2005, this cultural center has been the go-to place for an innovative and unique space, where people can freely express themselves through various art mediums.

There truly is a lot to see at this art center that can inspire you to create a masterpiece of your own, so add this destination to your itinerary!

Side exterior of The Shed Arts Center
Alex Cimbal / Shutterstock.com

Experience Rooftop Dining at Gallow Green

Located on the rooftop of The McKittrick Hotel, Gallow Green offers a cozy, homey atmosphere for guests who wish to dine in!

Since the completion of this hotel in 1939, this eatery in Chelsea has been serving the community with various meal options and cocktails that complement the lush greenery surrounding this establishment.

Staying true to their relaxing ambiance, you can enjoy your meal with smooth, live music matched with high-quality service and friendly staff.

Whether it’s a casual brunch, an important dinner, or a fancy date, Gallow Green is the perfect place to dine in!

This hidden gem atop this hotel is a crowd-favorite, so be sure to book a reservation before they’re fully booked!

Practice Your Golf Skills at The Golf Club at Chelsea Piers

Exterior of The Golf Club at Chelsea Piers
Roy Harris / Shutterstock.com

The Golf Club at Chelsea Piers, one of New York City’s most popular golfing destinations, offers multiple golfing stalls to ensure a fun yet safe way to play golf!

Complete with a breathtaking view of the Hudson River, you can practice your golf skills by driving 5 minutes away from the city center!

They also offer private golf lessons with their expert and experienced instructors in case it’s your first to put green!

A man playing golf in The Golf Club at Chelsea Piers
stockelements / Shutterstock.com

If you don’t think you’re ready to hold a real golf club, you can try out their virtual Full Swing simulators that will allow you to practice on various golf courses from around the world.

In case you get hungry after playing, you can grab a snack and a drink from their Water Hazard Bar + Lounge.

This golf club is perfect for spending quality time with family friends while polishing your golf skills!

Interior of the Golf Club at Chelsea Piers
Kenny Michiels / Shutterstock.com

Learn about the Culture of Fashion at The Museum at FIT

Exterior of The Museum at FIT
Ajay Suresh from New York, NY, USA, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

This unique museum is one of the most fashionable in all of New York City, close to the heart of Chelsea for convenient and easy access!

Garnering over 100,000 visitors each year, this museum is dedicated to preserving the fashion trends and styles dating as far back as the eighteenth century up to present day.

With exhibits showcasing the various garments, articles of clothing, topped with jewelry and accessories, you get a taste of the creativity and significance of fashion!

This museum’s carefully curated and selected collection of exhibits and displays highlight and focus on contemporary avant-garde fashion.

One of this museum’s main goals is to give guests a new perspective and grant insights into fashion culture through their presentations, lectures, and classes!

Since its founding in 1969, this fashion institute has won several awards for its recognition as an innovative museum for its culturally diverse and significant collections by some of the most renowned and iconic designers from around the world!

If you’re a fan of all things fashion-related, this museum is sure to pique your interest so make sure to drop by!

Drop by the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum

Front exterior of Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum
abogdanska / Shutterstock.com

A short 10-minute drive towards the western end of Chelsea takes you to Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum, a maritime and historical museum dedicated to preserving the history, science, and service of the American military.

Home to Intrepid, a former USS aircraft carrier that was used in the Civil War, there is a lot of rich history to learn in this museum!

Side exterior of Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum
Anton_Ivanov / Shutterstock.com

This National Historic Landmark has a lot of interactive displays and interesting exhibits for you to explore, featuring original and preserved artifacts, historic video footages taken from the war, and more!

People admiring the exhibit in Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum
EQRoy / Shutterstock.com

History buffs from all around the world visit this museum to see the various ships, aircrafts, submarines, and other vehicles that served during World War II.

Combining education with fun, Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum has been attracting tourists since 1982 to watch their collections come to life!

Navy display in Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum
Keith Sherwood / Shutterstock.com

Go Ice Skating at Sky Rink at Chelsea Piers

This spacious, indoor skating rink along Chelsea Piers is a popular place to go to for figure skating, ice skating, and hockey!

Ice skating isn’t an easy sport to learn, which is why this facility also hosts lessons and classes for beginners and first-time skaters to help you get the hang of it!

These lessons are taught by New York’s professionals and experts, including former Olympic competitors and local and international skaters, to ensure your safety!

Younger visitors may also join their little league hockey classes, which helps them master the bodily coordination needed for this sport.

General skating sessions are also available at this ice skating rink as long as you book in advance!

Guests are also more than welcome to rent their skating and hockey equipment, from skating boots to protective gear, in case you don’t have your own.

Make sure to dress warmly to keep you comfortable on your visit.

Watch a Play at Atlantic Theater Company

Exterior of Atlantic Theater Company
Beyond My Ken, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Founded in 1985 with the goal to tell stories through performance arts, Atlantic Theater Company regularly directs and produces various plays and musicals on their seasonal lineups.

This theater has branched out into an off-Broadway company, starring some of the best and most talented actors to bring action and drama right to the stage!

Situated at the center of Chelsea’s neighborhood, you can catch the latest products that Atlantic Theater Company offers you!

This company has produced over 200 plays, some even attaining award-winning recognition for the creativity and talent showcased.

They also host acting lessons and classes for aspiring actors who wish to take the stage for themselves.

Purchase a ticket now before you run out of seats!

Attend a Different Shows at Madison Square Garden

Exterior of Madison Square Garden
S-F / Shutterstock.com

Madison Square Garden is the world’s most famous arena since its establishment in 2010, having been the performance venue for some of the most popular, iconic musical artists, such as Billy Joel, Elton John, Stevie Nicks, as well as contemporary pop artists Ariana Grande, Harry Styles, Taylor Swift, and many more!

Not just limited to concerts and music festivals, Madison Square Garden is also used as the event venue for a sports tournament in basketball, featuring teams such as The New York Knicks and Chicago Bulls.

A basketball game in Madison Square Garden
Debby Wong / Shutterstock.com

Comedy shows, family events, and other special events are also hosted here to cater to a wide range of audience members!

Make sure to purchase tickets ahead of time to guarantee access to this venue and to secure your seats.

Create new, unforgettable memories at the shows you can catch at Madison Square Garden!

Aerial view of Madison Square Garden
valerii eidlin / Shutterstock.com

Admire Contemporary American Art at Whitney Museum of American Art

Exterior of Whitney Museum of American Art
Osugi / Shutterstock.com

This institution, located next to the Hudson River, is dedicated to preserving and showcasing a wide range of American art through their presentations, exhibits, and displays!

Named after the sculptor who founded this museum, Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney first opened the doors of this facility in 1914 in Greenwich Village, and after several relocations, their current building has been open to the public since 2015.

Rooftop art on Whitney Museum of American Art
Images by Dr. Alan Lipkin / Shutterstock.com

This innovative museum has been the hallmark of arguably some of the best American artworks you can admire in the entirety of New York City, with its special exhibits and permanent collection of over 25,000 masterpieces.

Whitney Museum of American Art also hosts different events, including film screenings and showings, public programs, and performance shows that regularly change to showcase variety and diversity!

With over 3,700 different artists who wish to show visitors their craft and skill, you can explore the wide collection of twentieth and twenty-first-century art at this museum!

Rooftop of Whitney Museum of American Art
ARTYOORAN / Shutterstock.com

Honor the Brave Firefighters and Rescuers of the 9/11 Attacks at Ground Zero Museum Workshop

Featuring candid, rare, and one-of-a-kind photos of firefighters and other notable rescuers of the victims of the tragic 9/11 attacks, this museum in Chelsea honors the lives of these frontliners.

Ground Zero Museum Workshop is the only museum in this city dedicated to the firefighters of the Fire Department of New York (FDNY), who were best known for their service during the attack on the Twin Towers.

Guests can go on a two-hour guided tour around the museum to view the photographs and artifacts that have been salvaged during this historical day, as well as getting a glimpse of this event through the eyes of the firefighters themselves.

Founded by Marlon Suson, a professional photographer, the vision for this museum is to never forget the attacks that have made a massive impact on societies from all over the world.

With the intent to educate all their visitors in a non-graphic, gentle, and interactive manner on the 9/11 attacks, there is a lot to learn at this museum!

Final Thoughts

Chelsea is best known for being the artistic center and cultural neighborhood in Manhattan City that has lots to share with visitors and tourists!

From numerous art galleries, museums, and theatrical companies to high-end restaurants, eateries, and even flea and farmers markets, this lovely riverside neighborhood caters to a wide range of people.  

Whether you’re an art enthusiast, a history buff, or someone who loves to do various recreational activities, Chelsea can meet all of your needs.

Your trip to New York City would not be complete without visiting this delightful district, so be sure to add this neighborhood to your list of places to visit!

Spotted a mistake, have some feedback, or just want to chat with our editorial team? Click here to get in touch.
Find out more about Travel Lens and read our editorial guidelines here.