New York is full of cool neighborhoods, but it can be hard to get out and see them, even if you’re a local. For a fun staycation, spend a day in a neighborhood you’ve never visited.
Don’t miss out on seeing the historical Chinatown, located in downtown Manhattan. It was started in the 1800s when Chinese immigrants who had worked in the Gold Rush and on the transcontinental railroads came east to escape the discrimination they had faced in the west and to seek out better jobs. Today, Manhattan’s Chinatown is one of the oldest and largest in the country. From museums and a cat café to soup dumplings and the largest Buddhist temple in New York, here are the things you can’t miss on your next trip to Chinatown!
Food and Drinks
9 Pell St., New York, NY 10013
For lunch, stop by Joe’s Shanghai for their famous “xiao long bao,” or soup dumplings. Each dumpling is filled with either crab or pork, depending on your order, and a savory broth. To fully enjoy them, take a small bite of the dough first, then slurp the broth and finish the rest of the dumpling.
The Original Chinatown Ice Cream Factory
65 Bayard St., New York, NY 10013
After some exploring, there’s no better way to cool down than with a sweet treat from Chinatown Ice Cream Factory. For more than 30 years, they’ve been dishing up homemade ice cream flavors like almond cookie, taro, don tot (a creamy Chinese egg custard), strawberry cheesecake and mocha chip.
37 Mott St., New York, NY 10013
If you’re looking for Asian snacks, chances are you’ll find them in Aji Ichiban. At this bulk snack store, you can fill a bag to your heart’s content with everything from preserved fruits to candies and even meat jerkies. Try some samples, but definitely get some candied ginger, preserved plum candy, China’s iconic White Rabbit candy (the rice paper wrapper is edible, too!) and some dried squid.
Teado Tea Shop
145D Hester St., New York, NY 10002
There are plenty of bubble tea spots in Chinatown, but Teado Tea Shop is a cut above the rest. Choose from a wide selection of freshly-brewed, loose-leaf teas, as well as ice slushes, fruity juices and more. They also have light eats if you want a quick bite.
Recreation and Education
Museum of Chinese in America (MOCA)
215 Centre St., New York, NY 10013
Immerse yourself in Chinese-American history and culture with a visit to MOCA. The museum’s ongoing exhibit, “With a Single Step: Stories in the Making of America,” traces the Chinese-American experience from the late 1700s to the present. Plus, there are plenty of family-friendly programs here, including storytimes, drop-in art workshops and even festivals!
Collect Pond Park
Leonard Street between Centre and Lafayette Streets
On a sunny day, enjoy a stroll in this historical park. The original Collect Pond was 60 feet deep and served as a source of drinking water for nearby residents in the 1700s. It even played a role later in naming one of Chinatown’s most iconic streets: When the pond became contaminated, it was drained into a 40-foot-wide canal that is now Canal Street.
Mahayana Buddhist Temple
133 Canal St., New York, NY 10002
The largest Buddhist temple in New York City, Mahayana Buddhist Temple also holds another city record: It is home to the city’s largest Buddha statue, at a towering 16 feet tall! For a party of five or more, you can take a tour of the temple – just make sure to book online a week in advance.
4 Cortlandt Alley, New York, NY 10013
If you’re not paying attention, you might walk right past Mmuseumm without knowing it. At just 36 square feet in area, it’s truly unlike any museum you’ve ever seen before. (Did we mention it’s housed in an old elevator shaft?) Mmuseumm calls their work “object journalism,” making social commentary through small installations of telling objects. Some of the items they’ve featured before include personal belongings that immigrants lost while coming to the United States, as well as relics of spin-off American fast food franchises abroad.
46 Hester St., New York, NY 10002
Make some furry friends at Meow Parlour, the city’s first cat café! Here, you can enjoy some snacks while you cuddle some cats. Adults and children over 9 years of age pay $8 each for half an hour with the kitties. (All of them are adoptable, by the way!) If you have a child under 9 years of age, make sure to come during the designated children’s hour; tickets for this are $9 per person for one hour, and kids must be accompanied by an adult.