What to Do in SoHo NYC

And Why You Must Visit

Updated: 20 noviembre 2023

With its many tourist attractions, as well as its cool vibe and gorgeous cast-iron architecture, SoHo is definitely worth visiting!

And, this post is a guide to things to do in SoHo, including where to eat, shop, and see art.

I also include a sample itinerary, family-friendly activities, and things to do at night.

To write this post, I relied on the extensive experiences that I and my fellow local tour guides of Free Tours by Foot have of SoHo.

What to Do in SoHo NYC

We lead dozens of guided walking tours through the streets of SoHo every week, guiding hundreds of visitors.

And, in the video below, Tour Guide Katie takes you on a virtual walk through the neighborhood.

And we also run the popular NYC Travel Tips Facebook group.

We asked our roughly 200k members to share their pleasant surprises in SoHo.

Read what they had to say. We used some of their suggestions for this post.

Our group is made up of locals, like our tour guides, veteran NYC visitors, as well as newbies to the city.

Now, without further ado, let's get to the good stuff!

Is SoHo Worth Visiting?

With its many tourist attractions, as well as its cool vibe and gorgeous cast-iron architecture, SoHo is definitely worth visiting!

You can stroll its charming narrow, historic "cobblestone streets" (they are actually Belgium block streets) lined with art galleries.

The shopping is unrivaled and fits all budgets, with both designer boutiques and chain stores.

The food scene is interesting and there is always some kind of cultural activity to enjoy at night!

SoHo is also a fantastic neighborhood to stay in for tourists!

What Does SoHo Stand For?

SoHo stands for South of Houston Street.

The acronym was coined by Chester Rapkin, a city planning commissioner who published a report in the 1960s called “The South Houston Industrial Area”.

SoHo is located in Lower Manhattan and can be reached by multiple subway lines.

SoHo's boundaries are Houston Street in the north, Canal Street in the south, 6th Avenue in the west, and Crosby Street in the east.

Where is SoHo

How to get here:

You can use this Google Map, but how you get here depends on where you are going, as there are several subway stations scattered around SoHo. (Read about SoHo’s history below).

We visit SoHo every day on our SoHo, Little Italy, and Chinatown Tour as well as a few others. See our live schedule and let us take you here.

By Subway:

Several NYC subway lines run through parts of SoHo.

Subway Stations in SoHo NYC

  • C train to Spring Street Station
  • N/R trains to Prince Street Station
  • B/D/F/M to Broadway-Lafayette Station
  • 6 train to Spring Street Station
  • A/C;  J/Z, N/Q/R trains to Canal Street Station

We have 2 posts on the NYC subway that are very handy:

By Bus: M1, M20, M55

TIP: Many hop-on-hop-off tourist buses stop near SoHo.

How Much Time To Spend Here?

Give yourself at least 2 hours to stroll around, window-shop, and grab a pastry and espresso.

Our self-guided walking tour, created by one of our tour guide locals, should take you about 90 minutes if you don't stop often. You can use it for free on your phone or download our audio tour.

With shopping, popping into art galleries, and a meal, you could easily spend half or a full day in SoHo.

See our sections below on things to do, art galleries, shoppingy where to eat.

SoHo Itinerary

This itinerary can be followed in any order, depending on when you go. In the daytime, enjoy lunch, or in the evening, have dinner.

Explore the streets of SoHo. Spend an hour or two walking around admiring the beautiful architecture. Do some shopping.

Have some amazing pizza at Lombardi’s and then visit some art galleries.

In the evening, see an inexpensive musical or theatrical performance.

For an in-depth experience, check out our GPS-led audio tour you can take any time, day or night.

Here's a sample.

We also have a downloadable self-guided tour of SoHo.

Top Attractions and Activities in SoHo

Take a Sightseeing Tour

We offer a daily, pay-what-you-wish walking tour of SoHo, Little Italy, and Chinatown.

If you cannot take our tour, try our GPS-led audio tour or our free self-guided tour of SoHo any time, day or night.

Free Tours by FootExcelenteFree Tours a pie4.9 Basado en 2380 reseñas deVer todos los comentarios danos tu opinión enCassie C.Cassie C. ★★★★★ Lori was an awesome guide!! The SOHO, Little Italy and Chinatown walking tour was fun and full of great information!!! I highly recommend this tour with Lori!!Susan O.Susan O. ★★★★★ This tour was great and Jon was a terrific guide. I highly recommended itAriela A.Ariela A. ★★★★★ The tour was informative educational clear and funny. Thanks to John Gallagher who made everything possible and giving us wonderful recommendations 👏👏👏Cathy S.Cathy S. ★★★★★ Went on the Lower East Side Food Tour with Jon. Very knowledgeable history buff. Enjoyed the tour, the food and the people on the tour were friendly!Anushree S.Anushree S. ★★★★★ The Brooklyn Bridge walking tour was so incredible! Learning the history behind how it was built, and New York’s architecture was so interesting to me. John was an incredible tour guide and he really made the whole experience engrossing. I would recommend the morning walking tour 🙂Julie W.Julie W. ★★★★★ We were on the Harlem and Grand Central Station tours. Both were excellent. Would highly recommend Free Tours by Foot.Nuno Tiago Pires dos Santos P.Nuno Tiago Pires dos Santos P. ★★★★★ Renée was a wonderful tour guide. Recommend the tour very muchU R.U R. ★★★★★ We had an absolutely fantastic morning with Lori walking from City Hall Park over Brooklyn Bridge into DUMBO and then Brooklyn Heights. Lori has so much historical knowledge and great storytelling ability so it was an absolutely lovely way to spend a few hours in New York. Highly recommend!Fergus D.Fergus D. ★★★★★ A very high quality tour with excellent levels of insight and an appropriate but entertaining delivery from the guide, who seemed to know every other person in the neighbourhood. One of the highlights of the ten busy tourist days I’ve spent in NYC.Jen B.Jen B. ★★★★★ We had a great walking tour of the Brooklyn Bridge and Brooklyn Hts, DUMBO and the area. John Gallagher was funny and engaging, and his anecdotes enhanced the experience. My teenagers even had fun. His recommendations for dinner were also great.Melissa W.Melissa W. ★★★★★ Had a Brooklyn Bridge tour today with Katie. She was brilliant. Utterly miserable weather, raining and cold, but Katie was energetic, interesting and super informative.We went with a 9 and 13 year old and they didn’t complain at all (except about the rain, which Katie had no control over!)Highly recommend! Thanks so much Katie.Domenic S.Domenic S. ★★★★★ John was a fantastic tour guide - we had a great tour, learned so much and had a lot of fun. Thanks John, especially for making it so enjoyable for our kids too!Christian A.Christian A. ★★★★★ HiMy tour with Jon was exceptional.Jon is knowledgeable and picked fabulous eating establishments with a rich history and delicious tasting tidbits. The split pea soup at Cozis was to die for. I went back for dinner that night for a full bowl. The Ukrainian kitchen was quirky and fun and the Cabbage rolls were super delicious.The Brooklyn dumplings were delicious and the finale, a dessert cafe had the richest yummist Cannoli.Jons knowledge ie the history, culture and choice of venues in East Village was top notch.Jon was kind enough to share his mobile if we had and further queries (which I did) about places to see or eat and he answered my texts immediately.Jon was a sensational tour guide. 10/10.When I’m back in NY again from Australia I’ll be doing another of his tours!MarzenaMarzena ★★★★★ I had a tour (Chinatown, Little Italy etc.) with Jon - absolutely perfect! Jon's enthusiasm, fascinating stories and his sense of humour just made to me the NYC really "alive"! Hope to repeat a tour guided by Jon!Pa QPa Q ★★★★★ We’re native NY’ers who love being tourists in our own city; there’s so much to see and learn. We took the Meatpacking District tour and had the pleasure of having Ron as our tour guide. We walked through the Highline, visited Little Island, and learned fun historical facts about the neighborhood, including Ron’s own stories about celebrities that grew up in the area. So glad we took the tour. Be sure to tip generously for your tour guide. They work hard to make your tour fun and personalized.Thanks again, Ron. We will see you on the Harlem tour.Anna M.Anna M. ★★★★★ Had a great tour with Lori as a guide. She introduced us to some of Greenwhich village best food and dessert spots. Definitely would recommend!Ayla G.Ayla G. ★★★★★ I really enjoyed the tour. Garret told really interesting storys and kept us engaged for six hours which is pretty incredibleKathy F.Kathy F. ★★★★★ Tour of Brooklyn with John Gallagher was amazing! Very knowledgeable and friendly guide. Followed up with a group photo and tips on where to eat in NYC.Jessa F.Jessa F. ★★★★★ Jon, our tour guide for the walking food tour of Chinatown and Little Italy, did amazing! He was very descriptive and did great about explaining the food we were going to eat at the beginning of the tour. He also made sure everyone was present after we ate at each place. I would definitely go to him again!Victorious Word M.Victorious Word M. ★★★★★ We took New York Little Italy walking tour with Jon and Jon exceeded our expectations of an excellent tour guide. Jon is very knowledgeable about history, New York in general and this particular route. Jon delivered this tour featuring interesting facts, appropriate jokes and humor, and perfect verbal delivery (100% no repetitive words such as "like” or ”you know”, which is very important to fully enjoy the tour). At any given moment he knew where is each member of his group, he watched the speed of walking and was mindful of everyone's safety. Jon is very nice, polite, relatable and thoughtful. We are greatly impressed and enjoyed it so much! Thank you!Evghenia B.Evghenia B. ★★★★★ We had such an amazing experience with Meredith on the Brooklyn bridge tour. Thank you, Meredith, for sharing your knowledge about NY with us!Patricia Anne C.Patricia Anne C. ★★★★★ Entertaining and very informative tour. John was a fantastic guide. Highly recommend.Miriam L.Miriam L. ★★★★★ John was awesome during our Grand Central tour! His knowledge of the building and the area was exceptional.We will definitely take another tour with John in the future!Lyudmila A.Lyudmila A. ★★★★★ Brooklyn Bridge, Brooklyn Heights & DUMBO. We had a wonderful time touring Brooklyn Bridge, Heights and Dumbo.. John, our guide, was excellent and knowledgeable. We learned so much from John the history of this area, architecture and had a lot of suggestions for great food and site seeing. If you want to discover more about Brooklyn i very recommended have this tour with John. Much thanks to John!Miguel de la OMiguel de la O ★★★★★ Took a tour of Grand Central Station with John and of lower Manhattan with Renee. Learned all about Grand Central, the surrounding area, and the history of NYC. Highly recommend these tours!Celeste F.Celeste F. ★★★★★ John has been a delightful tour guide of New York City.My husband and myself got an amazing time being taught about NYC history, architecture, urbane design, and curious facts. Mister Gallagher was both, a fantastic and engaging storyteller as well as a city savvy.Thanks for all the tips, and for showing around the city you’ve resided for some many years.Big pleasure!Celeste and GustavoTerra R.Terra R. ★★★★★ We have such an amazing tour guide-Garrett-which gave historical insight to the city of New York. I love his enthusiasm and energy. My family and I booked this tour with hopes of learning about particular sites such as the 911 Memorial, China Town and Little Italy, but learned so much more. Being an Army veteran, I was emotional when we went to the 911 memorial because I served in the Operation Iraqi Freedom. He embraced that and gave me a chance to share my story with the group. Garrett kept the tour interesting and loved the red umbrella idea which kept us all from getting lost. We had a great time.Joanna and Glen A.Joanna and Glen A. ★★★★★ We booked a full day NYC walking tour for March break, and were SO thrilled to have had Garrett show us around the city. He was amazing - we loved his personality and depth of insight about NY. He made the tour better than we could ever have imagined! Thank you!Ryan W.Ryan W. ★★★★★ Renee was a fanatic guide, highly recommend taking the Greenwich Village tour!Marla S.Marla S. ★★★★★ The Harlem tour with Ron was great. The tour was well paced and interesting. Ron has an obvious love for the neighborhood and shared his stories with enthusiasm. It was a great introduction to a part of the city that was unfamiliar to us.Anne R.Anne R. ★★★★★ Great tour with John in Brooklyn, thank you!shirley E.shirley E. ★★★★★ We came to NYC for my birthday and took the 6hr tour of NY with Garrett. We have taken walking tours all over Europe and I can say that Garrett was among the top tour guides we have had. He was full of wonderful information and stories and gave the tour a wonderful flavor of NYC. He made my birthday extra special. I am so glad that we took the tour with him,Julie C.Julie C. ★★★★★ We did the full day NYC tour with Garrett and he was amazing. The tour is loaded with information and Garrett did a great job of sharing information and adding personal insights. The pace was great and accommodating for the entire group. I highly recommend this tour, especially if you can get an amazing guide like Garrett!Emil A.Emil A. ★★★★★ great soho. little italy and china town tour with John.really funny and nice, and addon bonus we went for 2 good places to eat, one in little italy and the second in china townFiona W.Fiona W. ★★★★★ We had a lovely, almost private tour with only 4 people in the group. John was full of info, with some tasty side notes thrown into the mix too. Highly recommend doing this tour, it's a fun and informative 2 hours of your day.Anthony J.Anthony J. ★★★★★ John was an excellent guide. Very friendly and knowledgeable!Emelia C.Emelia C. ★★★★★ John was absolutely amazing on our Chinatown/ Little Italy/ Soho tour!! There were so many new things that I learned, John makes you appreciate New York City way more than I thought I ever could! My friends and I will 100% be returning and will do a John tour again.Teagan K.Teagan K. ★★★★★ I did a tour with John Gallagher a year and a half ago, and I knew I had to do another one when my friends came with this time! We did the Wall st, 9/11, Soho, Chinatown and Little Italy tour and it was amazing! He is so informative, kind and hilarious. We learned and laughed a lot got to experience the churches and he recommended the best restaurants! I will do a tour with him each time in New York because he makes such an amazing experience!Evan L.Evan L. ★★★★★ Took three tours with FTBF during my time in NYC: East Village food w/Jon, Little Italy/Chinatown food w/Kathleen, and NY in one day with Garrett. All were amazing experiences!Jon's East Village food tour really gives you the local flavor of the area, the portions are small but just enough for a taste of various things. You can also pay a little more for extra samples of things if you'd like. Also, food bought on the tour is a bit cheaper than just walking in off the street, so it's well worth it. Jon has a great way of sharing the history of the area which is engaging.Kathleen's food tour through Chinatown and Little Italy was filled with yummy food and lots of history. This was probably the most detailed tour, as Kathleen provides unique perspective on the area and the history behind each stop. The food was really good and she makes sure everyone is taken care of! What I appreciated about her is how she related the historical pieces to the city as a whole and described where the city is currently which was really interesting to learn about.Garrett's full day NYC tour is not to be missed. The tour has a bit of a feeling of Gene Wilder's Willy Wonka as Garrett brings such high energy, humor, and fun to the day. His great personality enhances the very fascinating history he covers at each stop. Most stops are brief but there is plenty of time to take in the scenery. Especially poignant is his first hand stories about 9/11 and the many stories of heroism and tragedy that day. He'll make you laugh, cry, and truly enjoy the big apple as you tour from Wall St. to Greenwich Village and the Meatpacking District. A wonderful tour.One final note, the guides are all really good about not being pushy about what to donate for each tour, but with the high quality of each one these experiences are priceless! Be sure to take care of your guides at the end!Jodie H.Jodie H. ★★★★★ A group of 4 of us did the china town and little italy food tour, it was fantastic. The guide was very knowledgeable and passionate. The food was cheap and delicious, you bought what you wanted from the places you were taken too. The recommendations were perfect, we tried dumplings and pizza, plus much more. Me and my husband and I go back this year, and we are booked on to the east village food tour and Greenwich village food tour.Laurel W.Laurel W. ★★★★★ Absolutely wonderful tour of Grand Central Station!John was extremely knowledgeable and a lot of fun. Thanks!Maja E.Maja E. ★★★★★ I’ve done three tours with this company since moving to New York: Lower East Side food tour with Kathleen, Brooklyn Bridge/Brooklyn Heights/Dumbo with Onel and Soho/Little Italy/Chinatown with John. All have been great experiences with knowledgeable and kind guides who truly love the city! My son (11) joined the food tour and my daughter (12) the two other ones and they loved it as well! Highly recommend!David Y.David Y. ★★★★★ Jon was extremely knowledgeable and friendly. Highly recommended.Tracey B.Tracey B. ★★★★★ What a wonderful idea. Never used before. But definitely recommend. Great way to gain knowledge of the district you are visiting. At a cost to suit your budget…. As you pay what you feel is appropriateFrank W.Frank W. ★★★★★ John was a great tour guide. We recommend this tour as it was interesting, informative and amusing. We were never bored. We especially loved the delicious dumplings at the end.Sukanya S.Sukanya S. ★★★★★ It was so much fun with John today at the walking tour through SoHo, Liitle Italy and China town. He was wonderful and patient even when I joined the tour group a bit late. He shared incredible stories of Little Italy with us from the past and also showed us several famous restaurants and joints in China town. Would love to take a tour of Brooklyn with him in the near future. Thank you John!Avner S.Avner S. ★★★★★ Fidelma B.Fidelma B. ★★★★★ Thanks to Lady Altovise for a fantastic tour of Harlem's history, music, art and the backdrop to slavery and race history in modern USA. We had a great morning and are richer for it. Also excellent Jamaican Jerk Chicken truck recommendation. Thanks.Samira G.Samira G. ★★★★★ Recomiendo mucho este tour, que fue el de Soho, Little Italy y Chinatown. Fue una gran experiencia porque nuestro guía nos explicó mucho sobre cada uno de los lugares con un montón de detalles, enseñándonos edificios con mucha historia y datos curiosos. Además fue muy amable y habló con cada uno de las personas del tour interesado sobre donde veníamos y haciendolo mucho mas agradable.Muchas gracias a nuestro guía John Joseph Gallagher por los tips y por este grandioso tour.Eric B.Eric B. ★★★★★ We love free tours by foot! We had John for the Grand Central tour, and Kathleen for the Lower East side food tour. Both of them were excellent guides and great people. Warm, funny, interesting storytellers filled with rich info about NYC.js_loader

We also have a SoHo and Nolita Shopping Tour. For shopping suggestions, see below.

There are other paid tours of SoHo that may interest you, such as a photography tour or a pizza tour, and some are free with tourist passes.

Admire the Cast-Iron Architecture

SoHo is known worldwide for its beautiful, impressive cast-iron buildings.

With over 200 cast-iron buildings in the district, SoHo's Cast Iron District has the largest concentration of these buildings than anywhere else in the world.

Haughwout Building SoHo

Learn more about Soho’s cast-iron architecture from our GPS-led audio tour or our downloadable Self-Guided Tour of SoHo.

See Great Street Art

New York is known for its great street art.

SoHo is one of the top neighborhoods to see both permanent works of street art as well as random spray-paint art and sticker art.

Manhattan Street Art Tour

Keep your eyes open while walking around SoHo as its sidewalks, building exteriors, and even lamp posts are covered with artistic surprises.

To see the best examples of street art, consider taking our Manhattan Street Art Tour, a 2-hour tour that includes the SoHo neighborhood and nearby neighborhoods.

We showcase the hidden street art that you just might walk by without noticing.

Visit Art Galleries

There are too many galleries in SoHo, NY to list them all. We do have a list below of some of the best galleries to visit.

If you walk along West Broadway between Houston Street and Spring Street, you'll find close to a dozen art galleries to pop into.

A must-see is The Earth Room. It's best described in pictures than words!

Here are some others we recommend:

For even more ways to see great art for free, read our post on free museums, as well as our guide to free things to do in NYC.

Grab a Bite at the Storied Fanelli Café

Located at 94 Prince Street, the land Fanelli’s sits on can be traced back to 1644.

With many owners of the centuries, the Fanelli family purchased the business at 94 Prince in 1920.

Fanelli Cafe

During Prohibition, Fanelli’s was a ‘speakeasy’. Today you can have a drink there without breaking the law!

Note: The Fanelli Cafe is a stop on our self-guided tour of historic bars of NYC.

Experience the Cronut

Dominique Ansel Bakery at 189 Spring Street is the birthplace of the world-famous Cronut, a croissant-doughnut hybrid.

Created in 2013, this unique pastry innovation is trademarked by its creator, Dominique Ansel and pastry fans around the world have made it the most virally talked about dessert item in history.

If you want to try one, you’ll have to get there early, since they sell out fast!

For recommendations on other places to eat in SoHo, see the restaurant section in this post below.

For Kids

Museum of Ice Cream

This is not your average museum! Spread out across 25,000 square feet over three floors, the Museum of Ice Cream is all about delighting your senses. 

Jump in the Sprinkle Pool – a swimming pool filled with ice cream sprinkles! Slide down a 3-story slide to get unlimited ice cream in different shapes and flavors!

This museum will make your kids happy campers - and if you like ice cream, you’ll be pretty happy yourself!

Sloomoo Institute

What kid doesn’t love slime? At the Sloomoo Institute, your kids can explore 8,000 square feet of interactive experiences all related to slime. 

They can sink their hands in more than 30 vats of scented slime, take a slime shower, design their own slime and much, much more!

Children's Museum of the Arts

A wonderful interactive museum featuring a clay bar, media room, and more. Open 10 am - 5 pm. It is free on Thursdays.

TIP: Read our post on free museums for more kid-friendly museums that won't cost you a thing.

The New York City Fire Museum

This unique NYC museum strives to educate the public about the history and cultural heritage of the fire service of NYC.

Many of the exhibits are geared toward fire prevention and safety education to the public, especially children.

Kids can play with fire equipment dating back to the 1800s!

The museum is open 7 days a week (except major holidays): 10 am-5 pm

Tickets: $10 Adults | $5 Children | $8 Students, Seniors, Firefighters, AAA members (with ID) | Free for children under 2.

Vesuvio Playground

Lots of climbing structures, plenty of swings, and in warm weather a 3’ (1 m) pool and sprinklers.

See our master list of things to do with kids in NYC for dozens of activities, playgrounds, museums, attractions, and more that are kid-friendly.

Movie and TV Locations in SoHo

Many movies and TV shows have been filmed in SoHo. Here are two of the most famous:

Ghost - 102 Prince Street  This is where Demi Moore, Patrick Swayze, and Whoopi Goldberg filmed the 1990 movie Ghost.

Sex and the City - Louis K. Meisel Gallery at 141 Prince Street.

This gallery was used as the art gallery in which the character Charlotte worked.

TIP: Die-hard SATC fans, check out our Sex and the City self-guided tour and how to visit Carrie Bradshaw’s apartment.

Things to Do at Night


SoHo has several places where you can see inexpensive Off-Broadway theater.

  • SoHo Playhouse - quality theater for reasonable prices
  • HERE - hybrid live performances in theatre, dance, music, puppetry, media, and visual art.

Be sure to check our post about how to get discount tickets on Broadway and Off-Broadway shows and plays.


  • Film Forum - independent films as well as classics. Fantastic retrospectives
  • Angelika Film Center - screens well-known independent movies

Live Music

  • City Winery -  A full-service restaurant and winery that also has live performances.
  • Bowery Ballroom - Though east of SoHo in NoLita, it's worth checking out for top alternative bands.
  • Ear Inn - Live music here on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Sundays. Ear Inn is a stop on our self-guided historic bars of NYC tour.

Bars and Lounges

From designer cocktails to bars with free shots and craft beer, you can find a lot in SoHo.

  • Crosby Bar - an elegant bar in the Crosby Street Hotel
  • Botanica Bar - a basement bar with live music
  • JIMMY - a rooftop lounge with a great view

Check out our post on other things to do at night in NYC.

Restaurants and Other Places To Eat

The dining options listed below are all family-friendly, though the menus at high-end, expensive restaurants may not be ideal for most children.

Ben's Pizza SoHo

Inexpensive $

  • Ben's Pizza - corner of Thompson and Spring. (Scenes from Men in Black II were filmed here!)
  • Chobani Shop - 152 Prince St. Mediterranean yogurt bar from the Chobani brand.
  • Black Burger - 386 Canal St. Great burgers, curly fries, and milkshakes. Limited seating but you can take your food to go and sit on a bench in nearby Duarte Square.

Moderate $$

  • Dean & Deluca  - 560 Broadway. A true SoHo original, Dean & Deluca opened in 1977. They sell sandwiches, salads, and fresh fruits.
  • Lombardi’s - 32 Spring Street at the corner of Mott Street. The perfect way to finish your tour of SoHo is to eat at America’s very first pizzeria. Lombardi’s serves only pies and is CASH ONLY. It is very much worth it!
  • Cupping Room Cafe - 359 W Broadway. Comfy atmosphere for sandwiches, salads, and especially good brunches.

Expensive $$$

  • Balthazar - 80 Spring St. Worth the splurge for their seafood bar and steak frites. Also, croissants to die for. They are also known for a great brunch.
  • MAMO - 323 W Broadway. Upscale, yummy pasta, and other Italian classics.
  • Blue Ribbon Brasserie - 97 Sullivan St. New and traditional American prepared at the highest quality.

Pastries and Desserts

Shopping in SoHo

Shops along the narrow streets of SoHo are mostly fashion designer stores with hefty price tags.

You can find Chloe, Miu Miu, Diane von Furstenberg, Moschino, and many many more.

If you are interested in high-quality products from independent merchants, try our SoHo and Nolita Shopping Tour.

Broadway between Houston and Canal is lined with clothing shops and has dozens of stores to get the latest and trendiest sneakers and shoes at reasonable prices.

See our long list and map of familiar chain stores below.

Some unique shops to check out are:

MoMA Design Store - 81 Spring Street

Creative and innovative products, some practical, like bags, glasses, and household items - all with a unique design.

They also carry knick-knacks, clothes, and jewelry. Of course, art books and posters can be found here.

TIP: Find out how to visit the Museum of Modern Art for free or at a discount here.

Housing Works Bookstore and Cafe - 126 Crosby St

Housing Works Bookstore is more than a bookstore. Its mission since opening has been to fight the dual crises of homelessness and HIV/AIDS. 

Every item in this large shop is donated, and 100% of profits go to fund Housing Works' lifesaving services.

The bookstore has a fantastic selection and the cafe is a fun place to relax or enjoy a free and low-cost event offered throughout the week.

The Evolution Store - 687 Broadway

A most unusual store filled to the brim with natural history collectibles, and artifacts, like framed butterflies and insects, fossils, skeletons, and seashells, all beautifully kept.

Kids will find this store fascinating.

MUJI SoHo - 455 Broadway

Popular Japanese retailer with minimalist products, from stationery, travel gear, and clothing including apparel & home goods. Affordable and fun.

Apple Store  - 103 Prince Street

Stop in to recharge your phone, use their free WiFi, or use their restroom. Or just sit and relax for a while.

Chain Stores

  • Adidas Originals Flagship Store
  • AEO & Aerie Store
  • Aldo
  • AllSaints
  • Banana Republic
  • Bloomingdale's
  • Club Monaco Soho
  • Converse Flagship Store
  • Desigual New York Soho
  • Express
  • Forever 21
  • Gap
  • H&M
  • J. Crew Men
  • Lacoste
  • Lady Foot Locker/Foot Locker
  • Levi's
  • Lucky Brand
  • Lululemon
  • Lululemon Men's
  • MAC Cosmetics
  • Madewell
  • Nike
  • Old Navy
  • Rag & Bone
  • REI
  • Sephora
  • Skechers
  • Steve Madden
  • Superdry
  • The North Face
  • Timberland
  • Top Shop
  • Uniqlo
  • Urban Outfitters
  • Victoria's Secret
  • Zara

History of SoHo

The land encompassing modern-day SoHo was marsh and forest land until Dutch Settlers established farms in the area in the 1640s.

An early Dutch map, the Manatus Map of 1639, shows plantations, roads, and structures in this area. A large portion of the land was owned during the 1660s by Augustus Herrman.

When he died, his brother-in-law, Nicholas Bayard, inherited the property, making him the largest landowner in Manhattan. (Bayard Street in Chinatown is named after Bayard).

By the late 1700s, large farms were being sold and subdivided in response to the growing population and urbanization of the City.

In the early 1800s, Broadway was paved and wealthier residents of the city began to build homes in the area to escape the increasingly crowded lower part of Manhattan.

By the 1850s and 60s, many fashionable hotels such as the famous St. Nicholas and premier department stores such as Tiffany’s, Lord & Taylor and Brooks Brothers had opened up.

Theaters and casinos sprang up along Broadway and the area became a hub of nightlife while the side streets were lined with expensive brothels.

In the 1870s and 1880s, the streets to the east and west of Broadway underwent a dramatic change when industry came to town.

This explosion of commercial activity prompted wealthy residents to flee the area and move further north of Manhattan.

Industrial growth also prompted the widespread use of cast iron to erect new factories in the district.

Approximately 250 cast-iron buildings stand in New York City and the majority of them are in SoHo.

It is these cast-iron buildings that give SoHo its distinct and stunning appearance.

Cast iron was an American architectural innovation and was cheaper to use for facades of buildings than stone or brick.

Cast iron is also pliable and easily molded so architects and builders could create intricately designed patterns in the Classical French and Italian styles while saving money.

In fact, many of the stone columns you will see on the ground level of cast-iron buildings are in fact cast iron painted to resemble stone.

Another advantage of cast iron that led to major changes in how buildings were made (and ultimately altered who and what resided in the neighborhood) was its strength.

The stronger construction allowed for window frames to be taller allowing for more sunlight into the interior of the buildings.

This was ideal for factories and industrial companies which benefited from this free source of lighting.

It was the advent of steel as a major construction material that brought an end to the cast-iron era.

Not only did cast iron disappear, but so did the higher-quality industry. From the 1910s to 1950s, SoHo’s beautiful buildings housed cheap, wholesale textile companies known as the "rag trade”.

Many factories illegally employed minors and immigrants for little pay to work in horrendous conditions known as ‘sweatshops’.

Numerous fires broke out in these factories and SoHo gained the nickname “Hell’s Hundred Acres.”  

Eventually, even these factories shut down and moved elsewhere in the city and SoHo became an abandoned industrial wasteland.

By the late 1960s unknown artists just starting their careers, cheap rents, huge spaces, and great light, made these former factories attractive.

Some of the first artists to move into SoHo were Donald Judd, Claes Oldenburg, and Carl Andre.

Other up-and-coming artists flocked to SoHo like Andy Warhol, Jean- Michel Basquiat and street artist Keith Haring and this urban wasteland became a hip, avant-garde destination.

It’s estimated that SoHo was home to about 2,000 artists by the early 1970s and by 1973 there were 33 art galleries.

The area had become so run-down and empty that city officials began discussions of the construction of a lower Manhattan expressway that came to be known as the LOMEX project.

LOMEX would have ripped through much of the heart of lower Manhattan and the historic buildings of SoHo would be demolished to make way for new housing construction.

Historic preservationists began to petition for SoHo to be designated as a protected historic district and in 1973, the SoHo-Cast Iron Historic District was created.

You can tell which streets are included in the district as they have brown street signs rather than the normal green signs.

SoHo’s significance in history has also been recognized nationally as it is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1978.

By the mid-1970s the enormous size of the lofts and the charm of the narrow streets paved with Belgium blocks and lined with gorgeous buildings invited real estate developers to buy up buildings and rent prices skyrocketed.

By the mid-1980s, designer boutiques, chic restaurants, and art galleries opened and SoHo remains a fashion and art capital of the world.

Today, SoHo is one of the top travel destinations in the world. It is definitely a neighborhood you do not want to miss in NYC.

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About The Author

Courtney Shapiro

Courtney is a lifelong New Yorker fascinated with the city’s history, culture and cuisine. She loves exploring the world, as well as sharing her travel expertise with others. She joined the Free Tours by Foot team in 2011, first as a guide and then as a writer. She has a law degree, a teaching degree and a worn-out passport. Her motto is “Have backpack, will travel”. READ MORE...
Updated: noviembre 20th, 2023
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