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This post reviews and compares the various ways that you could tour Chelsea Market, including our free self-guided tour as well as tips on how to get here and interesting shops.
PLAN YOUR VISIT?
Chelsea Market has become a favorite destination for New Yorkers and travelers alike. The market inhabits the historical former factory for Nabisco (National Biscuit Corporation – think Oreos!).
Today the Chelsea Market shops are filled with fabulous culinary delights, crafted by inspired chefs. From one of a kind soups to lobster dinners, from rare coffees to an array of world wines at all price levels, from artisan bread to elaborately decorated cakes, Chelsea Market has something for every taste bud and every budget.
Chelsea Market is located on the west side of Manhattan at the southern end of the Chelsea neighborhood and just north of the Meatpacking District which is really the northwest corner Greenwich Village. The Market occupies an entire city block between 15th and 16th Streets and Ninth and Tenth Avenues. It is marked on the map below.
It’s easy to reach the Market via subway or bus. You will, however, have to walk one or two long blocks to get there. Use this Google map to get detailed directions from any location in New York City. Tip: If you aren’t yet familiar with the Subway system of Local and Express trains, we highly recommend you take a look at our post, Navigating the New York Subway.
The A/C/E trains to the 8th Avenue Station at 14th Street
Note: The A train is an express train so if you don’t get off at 14th Street you won’t be able to get off until 34th Street! So watch your stops carefully. Both the C and E are local trains and stop at 14th Street and 23rd Street.
This station is one of the most interesting in NYC. Along the platforms, hidden in corners, or along the stairs, you will see small bronze figurines made by the sculptor Tom Otterness. These whimsical figures are thematically about greed. They are quite adorable yet powerful in their statement.
You can also take the 1 train to 14th Street Station at 7th Avenue and walk over or hope on the M14 crosstown bus. You get a free transfer to the bus from the subway
M11 or M12 – North and South Bound or the M14 heading West
Best time to go: Due to increased overcrowding caused by tour companies, the Market management has limited hours when tour groups are permitted to come through, from 8:30 a.m. to 11 a.m. and then not again until after 4 p.m. As long as you avoid lunch hours noon to 2 pm, when workers in the nearby business flood in, you shouldn’t have any problems with overcrowding.
SELF-GUIDED CHELSEA MARKET TOUR
For your self-guided tour, we’ve narrowed down the list to the “must-sees” among the dozens and dozens of shops and food and wine purveyors. Here’s a helpful directory of shops in the Market. If you are interested in a guided tour of Chelsea Market, we could arrange a private tour for you. The Chelsea Market is also covered on a tour with the New York Pass.
The Nut Box
This shop started out as a small specialty store on trendy Smith Street in Brooklyn, but apparently, people went nuts for their nuts and they landed a spot in the much coveted Chelsea Market. The Nut box has so much more than nuts. You can get wholesome trail mixes, dried fruits, and granolas at reasonable prices.
The Filling Station
Come here to fill up on specialty oils, kinds of vinegar, and craft beer (both domestic and imported). All their products contain only natural ingredients and surprisingly affordable considering they are organic or organically grown.
Famous for their jams and preserves, Sarabeth’s has so many other scrumptious treats including their sticky buns and excellent biscuits with superb jams. It is a little more expensive than some of the other bakeries in the Market but definitely worth the splurge.
Spices and Tease This
This family business started its small spice business in Naples, Italy four generations ago. By the 1960s, the superior quality and variety of products brought great success and the family expanded to Paris where today their clientele include food connoisseurs and chefs. The array of offerings is impressive: 30 varieties of homemade spice blends, 18 different peppers, 13 types of gourmet salt, 70 original spices and seeds, 25 herbs and plants. If you like teas, you will love this shop. They have 180 exotic imported (and some rare) teas, and unusual and all natural flavored teas like Dark Chocolate Orange.
Manhattan Fruit Exchange
Favored by locals, this store has a fantastic and affordable selection of
garden-variety fruit and vegetables. You can also find exotic mushrooms, tropical
fruits, fresh herbs, baby veggies, grains, nuts, dried fruits and fresh-squeezed juices.
Love cheese? Then head this way to Lucy’s Whey for a great selection of American artisanal cheeses. The staff of cheesemongers is experts and very happy to help you choose your cheese. And they offer a “Grilled Cheese Sandwich of the Day”. Who could resist a classic white cheddar with fig jam or a bolder Gruyere with rosemary ham?
This small handmade candy company based in Brooklyn, NY specializes in candy bars, caramels, honeycomb candy, and lollipops. Liddabits is an “old world” shop that doesn’t rely on technology to produce its sweet treats. Every step of the production process from measuring to wrapping is performed by a real live human being and not a machine! They don’t use artificial flavors or preservatives and buy ingredients from small and local companies. Stop by for their popular and unusual Bourbon-Bacon Caramel Corn.
Where else can you watch your doughnut being made right before you eat it? This tiny stand makes bite-sized doughnuts right before your eyes. Watch warm doughy goodness come off of the conveyor belt and get doused in the flavored sugar of your choice. We love Speckled and Strawberry or Urban Monkey.
DÉCOR, CLOTHING, AND HOUSEWARES
Artists & Fleas is a marketplace filled with over 30 small stalls where independent artists and clothes designers showcase and sell one-of-a-kind products in an original and hip atmosphere. The market is open Monday to Saturday 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Sunday 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Posman is an independent bookstore, which isn’t so easy to find in New York City these days. At Posman, you’ll find a great selection of bestsellers, literature, biographies, cookbooks and travel guides, as well as stationery and cards.
Bowery Kitchen Supply
If you love to cook as much as you love to eat, this kitchen supply store is a great place to find quality and affordable cooking equipment, pots, pans, utensils, appliances and so much more.
WINE & ALCOHOL
Chelsea Wine Vault
This is one of the first shops to open in Chelsea Market when it opened in 1997. It’s a well-stocked and affordable fine wine store, in a beautiful environment. Their motto is “We only buy wine we love” and the staff wants you to enjoy these wines as well. Chelsea Wine Vault holds weekly tasting classes including casual Friday Night Flights and Weekend Wine School classes.
Corkbuzz Wine Studio
This cozy wine bar has a European feel to it and a lovely place to relax in between shopping and touring the market. They have a small plate menu and an extensive wine list. Corkbuzz is open for lunch, dinner and late night, featuring a “Champagne Campaign” serving half off bottles of champagne—every night after 10 pm. They also have a ‘blind’ tasting happy hour every day from 3pm-6pm for those who delight in being surprised.
This cozy bar and lounge inhabit a hidden space under the Chelsea Market that had not been seen publicly for almost 100 years. With its brick archways and salvaged artifacts like reclaimed water tower wood and train rails from the nearby Highline, The Tippler is a perfect place to round out your visit to the historic Chelsea Market.
HISTORY OF THE CHELSEA MARKET
The market is housed in the former Nabisco (National Biscuit Corporation) factory. The interior retains the “factory” ambiance, yet manages to feel intimate and welcoming due to its unique stripped-down brick architecture and warm lighting. The floors above the market are the home to the Food Network in which many television shows including Iron Chef and Chopped are filmed. The building also houses Oxygen (Oprah Winfrey’s television network), MLB.com, some Google offices and EMI Music Publishing.
The buildings surrounding this section of New York City once held 250 slaughterhouses, which provided the lard for baking the flaky biscuits for which Nabisco was famous. Uneeda biscuits (no longer produced) were a staple for the company. NABISCO, which consolidated several bakeries in the East to form the National Biscuit Company in 1889, originally owned nine buildings in this neighborhood along what today is the High Line. Still visible from this elevated park are buildings carved with NBC, the original acronym for the company that invented the Oreo cookie here more than 100 years ago.
CHELSEA MARKET FOOD TOURS
There are several companies that offer tours of Chelsea Market. While some of these trips offer more of a historic look at the Chelsea neighborhood, including the High Line, others focus on the delicious foods you can find in the market. Our tour does both.
Depending on which outing you choose, you can expect ticket prices to range from $35-$55 on average (unless you take our pay-what-you-wish tour). Tour duration typically runs from 2-3 hours, giving you plenty of time to see and experience the market and its surroundings. Be sure to check our New York food tours page for more eating in NYC ideas.
Chelsea Market and the High Line Evening Tour (Free Tours by Foot)
This tour will begin on The High Line, one of New York City’s most popular attractions. The High Line Park was created over the rail tracks that used to deliver goods to factories and warehouses in the city. The park was designed to mimic the natural plant growth that occurred over the rails when the tracks were no longer being used.
After we stroll the High Line, we will make our way to Chelsea Market. This market is housed in the former Nabisco Factory and is said to be where Oreo cookies were invented. Today, it is a popular destination for foodies, with its unique and eclectic gourmet offerings. We will sample a couple of treats while in Chelsea Market!
Some of the sites we will cover:
At the food stops, you will choose what treats you would like to sample (or eat in whole). Try them all or none at all. Unlike other tours that charge around $50 with some excluding food, on this tour, YOU choose what to eat and how much to spend. Suggested amount to bring for snacks is $10-12, depending on your appetite! Vegetarian and vegan options available at several shops.
Reservations: Currently runs as a private tour only. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule a private tour.
Where: Meet your tour guide at the corner of Gansevoort and Washington Streets (map), near the southernmost entrance of the High Line.
Duration: Approximately 2 hours. Tour distance is approximately 1 mile.
If you’re more interested in discovering all of the fantastic foods that come from Chelsea Market, this food tour may do the trick. In addition to sampling food from 7 different vendors, you’ll also enjoy a meal at a highly rated restaurant in the Meatpacking district.
With so many different tastings on the itinerary, you should probably save plenty of room for all of the food you’ll eat while on this trip around High Line. Clocking in at 3 hours in length, you’ll have plenty of time to burn off some of those calories. Considering all of the tasty treats you’ll experience along the way, the price of admission for this outing is very fair.
Reviews on both TripAdvisor and Vimbly are quite excellent (read the reviews here). Although there have been one or two negative comments, most customers agree that this Chelsea Market food tour is fantastic. Several visitors indicated that they learned a lot about the area while enjoying several different dishes.
Even guests who had been to the market before reported that this trip provided a lot of valuable information that they hadn’t previously known. Foods of New York tour guides are also very highly rated, with many reviewers suggesting that they were funny, laid back and incredibly helpful. Couples and those who brought a friend were most likely to leave a positive review.
The High Line, Chelsea and Meatpacking District Tour offered by New York Tour 1 brings you into the heart of one of New York’s trendiest areas. During this 2 hour tour, you will hear stories of the Meatpacking District’s gory history, as well as Chelsea’s dramatic reinvention. The tour begins at the Chelsea Market and then ends 1 mile (1.6 km) down the High Line. As with the other tours of this area, the views of the Hudson along the way are absolutely stunning.
This tour is included on both the New York Pass and the Sightseeing Pass, making it a very affordable option if you’re planning on visiting several sites and attractions with a tourist pass. Children under 12 go for free. Be sure to check out this highly rated company’s other tours.
Though all of their tours are highly rated, their High Line, Chelsea, and Meatpacking District Tour receive particularly excellent reviews, averaging 5 out of 5 stars on TripAdvisor and Get Your Guide (read the reviews). In fact, there are no reviews that fall below 4 stars and all guests seem united in thinking that the guides were outstanding. Several commentators also mention that they attended this tour with the New York Pass or Sightseeing Pass and that this proved a great way to save money without sacrificing quality.
The Chelsea Market Tour is included in the New York Pass.
Tip: If you have been thinking of buying a tourist pass but not sure which one, our post, New York City Attraction Passes: Which One Is the Best to Buy may be of some help to you.
THE HIGH LINE
It is impossible to talk about the Chelsea Market without referencing the High Line. One block away from the Chelsea Market is one of the greatest examples of re-purposing of old, unused public space in modern times. This ‘park’ sits atop an old elevated freight train line that opened in 1934 and the trains that ran along it supplied New York City with mass quantities of goods, including fresh meat — hence the name the “meatpacking district”.
Eventually, trucking of goods made the use of elevated trains obsolete and by 1980, the High Line tracks were no longer being used. It sat unused and abandoned, overgrown with weeds for almost two decades. Members if the nearby community came up with the idea of turning the tracks into an urban park. Construction started in 2006, and by 2009 the first segment of the park was opened to the public. It continues to expand and is truly one of the fascinating parks in the world.
You might want to consider visiting the High Line if yo are at the Chelsea Market. You can even get some food to go and eat it in the park with incredible views of the Hudson River. To find out more about the High Line, check out our self-guided tour and visitors guide, or join us for one of our many High Line tours.