Exploring the NYC Lower East Side

There are many choices for spending a day in the Big Apple. Yet I recommend spending a day exploring the NYC Lower East Side.

View of NYC from the Empire State Building

The NYC Lower East Side is on the southeastern side of Manhattan Island. It is roughly south of E. Houston St. and between Bowery and the East River.

NYC Lower East Side street sign that says E Houston St and Orchard St.

NYC’s Lower East Side has a rich past. Many immigrants from the late 1800s and early 1900s found homes in this corner of Manhattan. These new Americans sought job opportunities in the garment industry and found housing in crowded tenement buildings.

Buff brick buiding with metal fire escapes in the NYC Lower East Side

Spending a day in the NYC Lower East Side, you can see some great sites and enjoy incredible food. Here is a map showing the route we walked.

A Day in the NYC Lower East Side

Start your day like a New Yorker with bagels and lox. Luckily, one of the best places to enjoy this treat is Russ and Daughters in the NYC Lower East Side. This eatery is takeout only, but many benches nearby. Choose one and savor your breakfast as the world walks past.

Sign that says Russ & Daughters Appetizers in the NYC Lower East Side
179 E Houston St, New York, NY 10002

While not technically in the NYC Lower East side, the Basilica of St. Patrick’s Old Cathedral is only 2 blocks away on Mulberry Street. It was New York’s original Cathedral and is on the National Register of Historic Places.

Front of the Basicalla of Old St. Patricks Cathedral in NYC
263 Mulberry St, New York, NY 10012

Visitors can tour the church, cemetery, and catacombs.

Our Tour

We booked the New York by Candlelight tour of the Basilica of St. Patrick’s Old Cathedral.

Our tour was with New York Catacombs by Candlelight.

Door to burial catacombs hallway in a stone wall

After the tour, we were far from starving. But with so many good choices nearby, we couldn’t skip lunch! We walked a few blocks down Mulberry St. to Little Italy for a fantastic meal at Benito One. Try the meatballs, trust me!

2 Meatballs in sauce at Benito One in NYC
174 Mulberry St, New York, NY 10013

Next up is the Museum at Eldridge Street. An NYC Lower East Side institution built in 1887, the Synagogue at Eldridge served as a place of worship for thousands of Jewish immigrants from Eastern Europe.

The front of the Museum at Eldridge Street in the NYC Lower East Side
12 Eldridge St, New York, NY 10002

Over the decades, the building fell into disrepair. However, in the mid-1980s, supporters began 20 years of loving restoration work. Today, docent-led tours are available of the museum and synagogue.

Inside of the sancturary of the Museum at Eldridge Street with large circular blue window.

NYC Trip Tip – Visit Ellis Island before your day in the NYC Lower East Side.

A short walk from the Synagogue at Elridge is the Tenement Museum.

Red brick multi story building with fire escapes which is the Tenement Museum  in the NYC Lower East Side
103 Orchard St, New York, NY 10002

At the Tenement Museum, visitors can peek into the homes and lives of immigrants 100 years ago. This museum paints a picture of life in the Lower East Side, offering tours of recreated tenement housing from various decades in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Inside of a model apartment at the Tenement Museum

There is no better way to end a day in the Lower East Side than by eating dinner at Katz’s Delicatessen. Be sure to try the pastrami on rye!

Pastrami on Rye at Katz Deli
205 East Houston Street, New York City 10002

Spending a day in the NYC Lower East Side is a great way to experience the city. It is where thousands of people got their start in America. Even though there are many sites in New York City, it’s hard to beat spending a day in this corner of Manhattan. 

Our Hotel

We’ve stayed in the Hotel Edison in Times Square a few times. It is in a great location and reasonably priced.

NYC Eats: Katz’s Deli

For over 100 years, New Yorkers and tourists have been savoring the corned beef and pastrami at Katz’s Deli. Established in 1888,…

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