What to See in Lower Manhattan: New Hotels, Hot Restaurants & More
By Beth Collins
Reprinted from: Frommers.com Sept 7, 2011
Read more: http://www.frommers.com/slideshow/in...#ixzz1XGce6oCA
In the wake of 9/11, New York City's Lower Manhattan
was like a ghost town. Scores of businesses shuttered, and new ones didn't dare to move in.
Now 10 years later, downtown Manhattan is on the rise, thanks to an influx of restaurants, hotels, tours, and attractions that are drawing visitors from all over the globe.
The 9/11 Memorial Opens
No visit to Lower Manhattan would be complete without a visit to the National September 11 Memorial & Museum
, which opens Sept. 12, 2011. The Memorial -- designed by architect Michael Arad and landscape architect Peter Walker, whose vision was chosen over more than 5,200 other entries in a design competition -- features 30-foot-tall waterfalls cascading into twin reflecting pools in the footprints of the World Trade Center towers. Each pool is surrounded by bronze panels inscribed with the names of the nearly 3,000 victims of the 9/11 attacks. More than 400 swamp white oak trees fill the plaza around the pools, creating a green roof for the museum below.
The museum's exhibits are sobering, as expected -- the photographs, audio and video tapes, personal effects, and memorabilia are somber reminders of the horrors of the attacks of both 9/11 and Feb. 26, 1993. But they're also inspiring. It's impossible to hear the accounts of heroism, sacrifice, and survival and not leave with a sense of hope. Where:
World Trade Center
More Info: www.911memorial.org
; admission is free, but donations are encouraged.
New Sightseeing Tours Showcase Lower Manhattan
New York may be the Big Apple, but in some ways it's more like an onion -- peel back the top layer and you'll find another layer, and another, and yet another. To get beyond the surface in Lower Manhattan, take one of the many tours that have popped up in the past decade.
On the 5½-hour Freedom Comprehensive Tour
, you'll get admission to the 9/11 Memorial; visit memorials to firefighters, police, and victims of the attacks; and board a ferry to the Statue of Liberty
and Ellis Island
, from $59). Note: the pedestal and interior of the Statue of Liberty closes in Oct. 2011 for a yearlong renovation project; Liberty Island will remain open to tours during this time.
The two-hour Heroes of the World Trade Center
walking tour focuses on the historic day in September 2011 and includes stops at the WTC Tribute Museum, St. Paul's Chapel
, the American Express Eleven Tears Memorial, plus stories of heroism and sacrifice during the attacks (www.nytours.us
, from $30).
If you'd prefer a tour with a broader range, take New York Water Taxi's Hop-On, Hop-Off Harbor Cruise
. In addition to the National September 11 Memorial and Museum, the tour gets you access to everything from Times Square to the Brooklyn Bridge
Duane Street Hotel Offers Affordable Luxury
Finding a posh hotel room in Manhattan for less than $300 is no small feat. Narrow your search to a stylish room, throw in a TriBeCa
zip code, and your options dwindle to, well, one that opened in late 2007.
The 46 rooms at the Duane Street Hotel
have loft-like 11-foot ceilings, soothing cool-blue color palettes, slate and marble bathrooms with rain showers, and beds with pillow-top mattresses that will become your best friend after a day on your feet in the city.
But it's the little touches that give Duane Street Hotel an identity all its own, particularly the Scholastic Children's Library, where guests can check out bedtime stories to read to their little ones, and -- our personal favorite -- hand-made marshmallows in flavors like lavender and thyme, delivered to your room on a sleek stainless-steel cart that looks like it's straight from MoMA's design collection. The sweet concoctions come from Metaphor, the hotel's Asian-fusion restaurant with renowned chef Jehangir Mehta at the helm.
130 Duane St.More Info: www.duanestreethotel.com
, rooms from $269
Wall Street Gets an Affordable Boutique Hotel
Not so long ago, the only hotels in Lower Manhattan were characterless affairs that catered to the Wall Street crowd. That all changed when Gild Hall
opened its doors in the Financial District
in 2010. The boutique hotel has 126 rooms with tufted leather headboards and plaid flannel throws, and the soft-lit bi-level Library Bar has shelves of hardcover books and leather sofas that practically beg you to sink into them and sip a scotch, neat. The restaurant, Libertine, has an English tavern vibe and solid pub fare. Somehow all this comes at a shockingly affordable price -- rooms start at $199.
15 Gold St.
More Info: www.thompsonhotels.com
Locanda Verde Brings Fine Dining Downtown
The pedigree behind Locanda Verde
is impressive -- Robert DeNiro, TriBeCa's most famous booster, is a partner, and Andrew Carmellini (who cut his teeth at Cafe Bouloud and A Voce) heads up the kitchen. But the food is why diners have been raving since the restaurant's 2009 opening.
At first glance, the menu reads like your standard Italian trattoria (crostini, antipasti, pasta, secondi, contorni), but look closer and you'll begin to see that there's more to the dishes than what your Italian grandmother might whip up. A fava bean crostini is served on prosciutto rather than an ordinary Italian loaf. Instead of the tried-and-true tomato-basil-mozzarella combo, local tomatoes are served with watermelon and smoked ricotta. The bolognese on the pappardelle is a white sauce, not the expected meaty red affair.
Don't leave without trying at least a couple of pastry chef Karen DeMasco's desserts. Her creations change depending on what's in season, but you really can't go wrong -- just close your eyes and point at random, and you're sure to land on something spectacular.
377 Greenwich St.
More Info: www.locandaverdenyc.com
, entrées from $16
Enjoy More Fine Dining at SHO Shaun Hergatt
There were more than a few raised eyebrows when Shaun Hergatt opened his eponymous restaurant, SHO Shaun Shergatt
, in the heart of Wall Street in 2009. After all, the area has never been known for its happening scene, let alone its innovative cuisine. But it didn't take long for the skeptics to come around. The chef brings Asian fusion out of the trends-gone-wrong realm and into the world of truly inspired cuisine.
The prix-fixe menu changes with the seasons, but always offers a window into Hergatt's creative culinary mind. The ingredients are painstakingly selected, the flavor combinations are complex without being complicated, and the presentation makes you feel like you're eating off an artist's canvas. The décor -- deep reds, dark woods, and low light -- only enhances the experience.
40 Broad St.More Info: www.shoshaunhergatt.com
, prix-fixe dinner $75
The Shake Shack Empire Expands
Chef Danny Meyer earned his spot among New York City's culinary elite -- not to mention a heap of Michelin stars -- with high-end restaurants like Gramercy Tavern and Union Square Cafe. But it's his casual burger joint, Shake Shack
, that has emerged as the crowd favorite. The original location opened in Madison Square Park in 2004, and it proved so popular that Meyer has since opened 13 additional Shacks, including the Battery Park City outpost in early June 2011.
The new shack features the same all-natural burgers, hot dogs, and fries Meyer is famous for, and the location -- just blocks from the World Trade Center site -- makes it the perfect spot to grab lunch after visiting the new 9/11 Memorial. Lines can get long, especially on weekends, so try to get there at a slightly off time -- either late morning or mid-afternoon. Be sure to treat yourself to a concrete, made with creamy frozen custard and packed with toppings like gooey caramel and candy bars.
215 Murray St.
More Info: www.shakeshack.com
Water Taxi Beach Adds Seasonal Fun
They say you can find absolutely everything in New York, but beaches? Thanks to the New York Water Taxi Company, yes. The company launched its first Water Taxi Beach
on Long Island City in 2005 and followed up with two more, including one at South Street Seaport
The sand is trucked in, and no one actually swims
in the water, but that doesn't mean the beach doesn't have the same laid-back summer vibe its more tropical counterparts are so famous for. Of course, this being New York, the beach isn't so much about lounging on towels as it is about enjoying the scene -- a beer garden with waterside picnic tables, beach-worthy food like fish tacos and slices of watermelon, and games like pool, ping-pong, and foosball. Be sure to stay past sunset, when the lights on the Brooklyn and Manhattan bridges make for spectacular views.
Though the original Long Island City location has since closed, there's still plenty of room at the Governors Island location -- about 300 tons of sand are spread over 20,000 square feet.
More Info: www.watertaxibeach.com
Architectural Whimsy Arrives in Battery Park
Half the fun of visiting the New Amsterdam Plein & Pavilion
, at the Peter Minuit Plaza in the Battery, is viewing the white Corian and glass structure from different angles, trying to pinpoint exactly what it resembles. A giant paper crane? An alien spaceship? As it happens, the inspiration for the building was windmills and tulip petals -- both nods to the Netherlands, which gifted the building to honor 400 years of friendship with the United States.
Though the building has been finished since 2009, it officially opened in May 2011. The 5,000-square-foot space serves as one of Lower Manhattan's major gathering spots and offers organic fare from Merchants Market. Go at sundown to enjoy river views while sipping a glass of wine.
10 Battery Pl.; at the Peter Minuit Plaza, just outside the Staten Island Ferry entrance
212/248-0707; lunch, $6-$10
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