Once a neighborhood full of slaughterhouses and factories, Manhattan’s Meatpacking District is now known for its high-end fashion stores, swanky bars and restaurants that are worth the wait for a table. Here’s what to see and do in the Meatpacking District.
The High Line
This disused train track running from Gansevoort Street to 34th Street was saved by a group of local people and turned into an elevated public park in 2009. The High Line is now one of the most visited tourist attractions and a local favorite for nature, art, architecture and other cultural happenings, including stargazing every Tuesday, docent-led tours and one-off topical events such as panels, films, theater and music. The park is home to a handful of shops and stalls selling coffee, local art and ice cream.
Top restaurants, designer sample sales, glorious baked goods, imported home furnishings – you’ll find all of these and more at Chelsea Market. The space takes up an entire block in a former Nabisco warehouse and boasts over 35 food vendors, from plant-based Beyond Sushi to Num Pang – a Cambodian sandwich shop selling crispy baguettes overflowing with rainbow veggies. Chelsea Market also hosts numerous events, from mozzarella-stretching classes to wine-tasting workshops.
Whitney Museum of American Art
Conveniently situated right off the bottom of the High Line, the Whitney houses an unparalleled collection of work from living American artists. Try to catch the institution’s flagship exhibit, the Whitney Biennial, on display from May through September every two years. Billed as the longest-running survey of American art, it’s an invitational exhibit featuring works created in the preceding two years, with an emphasis on emerging talent. If your visit doesn’t coincide with the Biennial, then wander through the Whitney’s permanent collection, replete with works by artists Edward Hopper, Robert Rauschenberg and Alexander Calder.
Bakery, Market, American, $$$
In 1884, the Gansevoort Farmers Market was the first produce market in the area – a legacy that would eventually see the neighborhood evolve into the city’s Meatpacking District. The modern incarnation of that original farmer’s market is a food hall offering an eclectic ensemble of cuisines, from poke bowls and Korean-style fried chicken to steaming bowls of ramen and veg-laden Indian curry bowls. Snag one of the picnic tables underneath the sunroof, and graze on your chosen dishes before picking up some fresh produce to take home.
Drinks at The Standard, High Line
The Standard’s High Line location has several distinct drinking options to suit every mood. For casual hangs and ping-pong, visit The Standard Biergarten – a sprawling outdoor German beer hall that’s encased in glass during the winter months to keep patrons warm. Feeling fancy? Book a table at the Top of the Standard – a bar on the 18th floor with 360-degree views of the city and a shimmering ceiling. For a super scene-y experience, dress up and head to Le Bain, the rooftop bar with live DJs and a plunge pool on the dance floor.
Ground Zero Museum Workshop
Gary Marlon Suson, the founder of the Ground Zero Museum Workshop, was the official photographer at Ground Zero for the FDNY Fire Unions, spending seven months at the site in the wake of the attack. The Ground Zero Museum Workshop brings to life the stories of the 9/11 rescue and recovery workers – many of whom now suffer from rare respiratory diseases – using non-graphic photography, audio and artefacts. As Suson wrote on the museum website: “I promise you that our Museum – which breaks the mold of any conventional Museum – will leave you with a greater understanding of the strength of the human spirit when faced with adversity.”
Brasserie, Restaurant, American, Pastries, Ice Cream, Dessert$$
Sugar Factory is known for its teeth-achingly sweet menu that’s totally over the top in the best way. First, there are the goblets – huge orbs of fruity, boozy cocktails garnished with exotic candies. Then there are the fan-favorite chocolate martinis, like the s’mores beverage with chunks of pillowy marshmallow and a graham cracker rim. Sugar Factory also dreams up extravagant food, including the mad donut or waffle burgers – an angus beef patty sandwiched between a glazed donut or vanilla bean Belgian waffles.
There’s always something stimulating happening at Samsung 837, a technological showroom blending fashion, technology, sports and art in unexpected ways. Create and learn through various brand activations that showcase Samsung technology, and join special talks and workshops with experts in wellness, gaming, fitness, photography and more – all for free.
Cafe, Restaurant, French, $$$$$
Bagatelle’s brunch parties have become legendary – champagne-saturated Saturdays with a live DJ that call to mind the glitzy French Riviera. Assemble your rowdiest friends and order a two-foot-long (0.6-meter) lobster roll; smoked salmon pizza with dill crème fraîche, capers and hackleback caviar; avocado tartine with oozing poached eggs; and the ludicrously decadent Bagatelle XXL Banoffee Pancake with caramelized bananas, organic granola, mascarpone vanilla, chantilly, caramel drizzle and tart, juicy blueberries. Wash it all down with a Bagatelle Spritz, made with Aperol, passion fruit, rosemary syrup and sparkling wine.