What To See & Do On The Lower East Side, New York City

Photo of Julia Goicochea
9 February 2017

The Lower East Side is home to a convergence of some of New York’s best art, food, and music. Housing an array of venues, the neighborhood is brimming with possibilities for exciting and original outings. From dive bars to doughnut shops, here are 10 of our favorite Lower East Side destinations.

Hester Streer Fair | © Atisha Paulson

Hester Street Fair

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For artisanal food, vintage clothing, and more, look no further than Hester Street Fair. Each Saturday unveils an exclusive lineup of rotating vendors delivering diverse cuisines and unique crafts. Relax and people watch at the fair’s outdoor seating area, or take your snacks to go for an impromptu picnic at nearby Seward Park.

Economy Candy

School, Shop, Store
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Satisfy your sweet tooth at this old-fashioned candy emporium catering both to kids, and kids at heart. Standing since 1937, family-owned Economy Candy boasts a diverse inventory of packaged and bulk snacks including gummy bears, imported chocolates, and halvah. A worthy destination for nostalgic snackers, the shop also stocks an extensive collection of old time favorites like PEZ dispensers, Pixy Stix, and taffy.


Bookstore, Store
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Bluestockings | © Alexa/Flickr
Broaden your mind at Bluestockings, an independent bookstore and activist center specializing in alternative literature. In addition to some mainstream titles, this unique establishment also offers magazines and books on topics like feminism, activist strategies, and ecology. Whether you’re attending one of the bookstore’s frequent workshops or enjoying a beverage from its fair trade cafe, you’ll be proud to be a part of Bluestocking’s empowering community.

Reformation LES

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Nail downtown’s laid-back style with the help of Reformation, an American boutique offering clothing with a conscience. Using repurposed materials to produce locally made limited collections, the clothing store caters to eco-friendly shoppers looking for bohemian dresses, breezy jumpsuits, and quality separates. Its affordable prices and admirable mission make it easy to accept the company’s invitation to ‘join the reformation.’

Cake Shop

Bar, Coffee Shop, Pub Grub
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Combining a love of baked goods and booze, Cake Shop delivers a twist on the typical coffee shop. The creative menu at this multi-purpose establishment features coffee beverages, cocktails, and a variety of dessert options, including vegan friendly cakes and desserts. Equipped with an extensive record collection and an intimate live music venue downstairs, this inventive spot is a great place to enjoy alone or with friends.

Ramiken Crucible

Art Gallery
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Take advantage of the neighborhood’s budding gallery scene and visit Ramiken Crucible, a risk-taking establishment showcasing unconventional exhibitions by rising artists. The gallery showcases a variety of mediums, so you can expect to find paintings, sculptures, and more at this experimental downtown space. Approaching art with a sense of humor and adventurous spirit, Ramiken Crucible marks a refreshing departure from the routine gallery experience.

The Bowery Ballroom

Music Venue, Shop
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One of several music venues in the area, The Bowery Ballroom stands out for the exceptional quality of its bookings, layout, and sound. The multi-level space includes several bars and seating areas offering a clear view of the stages as well as an intimate downstairs lounge ideal for socializing. Supporting both rising names and established artists alike, the venue offers its patrons exciting and fresh performances, making it a must-visit neighborhood destination.

The New Museum

Museum, Store, Building, Cinema, Forest
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55th Venice Biennale, Pawel Althamer
Pawel Althamer's figurative sculpture series 'Venetians' was exhibited at the 55th Venice Biennale. | © Manfred Glueck / Alamy Stock Photo
The New Museum specializes in emerging media from contemporary artists. As a contemporary art institution, its goal is to be a “leading destination for new art and new ideas.” From its striking angular architecture to its diverse mixed-media exhibitions, the museum dedicates itself to reshaping and rethinking Manhattan—both its art scene and its skyline.

Two-Bit's Retro Arcade

Bar, American
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Two-Bit’s Retro Arcade houses over 20 vintage arcade games from the eighties and nineties, and doubles as a bar serving an impressive selection of wine, sake, and craft beers. The bar’s rotating game collection has featured classics like Pacman, Frogger, and Tetris. Complete with a foosball table and movie screenings projected onto a bar wall, Two-Bit’s Retro Arcade is committed to providing a unique and memorable experience.

Doughnut Plant

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Famed New York eatery, Doughnut Plant, serves up saucer-sized doughnuts in exciting flavors like peanut butter and strawberry jam, matcha green tea, and one of their most popular: créme brûlée. Using natural, seasonal ingredients, the beloved bakery prides itself on providing delicious high-quality products, as evident by their partnerships with Intelligentsia, Big T NYC, and Battenkill Valley Creamery. Stop by the company’s original Lower East Side location, and treat yourself to something sweet.

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