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The South Street Seaport in Lower Manhattan is one of NYC's most historic neighborhoods. There's plenty to do besides seeing the charming architecture and the old maritime vessels docked here.

Below are the top 8 things to do at the South Street Seaport.

The South Street Seaport is a historic Lower Manhattan enclave between the East River and the Financial District.

The district has the largest concentration of restored early 19th-century commercial buildings in New York City.

It was also once home to the Fulton Fish Market which opened in 1822 and for 200 years it was the largest in New York City. The market moved to the Bronx in 2005.

The Seaport's two-story buildings and cobblestone streets are filled with great shopping, restaurants, and a museum.

From the piers, you'll get amazing views of the New York Harbor.

1. South Street Seaport Museum

The Museum includes its main building at 12 Fulton Street and other historic sights in the nearby streets and on the river.

The museum itself has ongoing exhibitions that include such themes as South Street and The Rise of New York,  and Street of Ships: The Port and Its People.

Perhaps the best part of the museum is its fleet of ships docked nearby on the East River.

This includes the majestic Wavertree, a tall ship dating back to 1885. You can take a free tour of the Wavertree as part of your museum admission.

Other ships in the museum's fleet are the 1908 lightship Ambrose, the 1932 tugboat W.O. Decker, and the 1885 schooner Pioneer.

  • Museum Hours: Wednesday - Sunday from 11:00 am - 5:00 pm
  • Admission: Free and includes access to the museum's indoor galleries and access to the Wavertree.
  • Separate reservations are needed for a free guided tour of lightship Ambrose, weather permitting. Book here.

2. Take In Sweeping Views Of New York Harbor

Pier 15, a two-level esplanade with green space and benches, offers a place to relax and enjoy amazing views of the East River, Brooklyn Heights, and the Brooklyn Bridge.

view from Pier 15

The entrance to the walkway of the Brooklyn Bridge is about a 15-minute walk from the Seaport so you may want to combine a visit to the area with a walk over Brooklyn Bridge.

3. Fulton Stall Market

Fulton Stall Market brings farm-fresh produce to the neighborhood inside a large indoor market open year-round with outdoor stalls in the summer.

You can shop for artisanal groceries and freshly prepared foods. Grab some to go and have a picnic on the Pier 15 Esplanade!

  • Hours:
    • Indoor Market Hours: Monday - Saturday 11:30 am to 5:00 am, year-round
    • Outdoor Market: Saturday 11:30 am to 5:00 pm Fulton St. at South St., May through Thanksgiving.
  • Location:
    • 91 South Street between Fulton & John Sts.

4. Dine and Drink

Restaurants in the Seaport are good, though some are better than others. Several have great views as well!

Southstreet Seaport dining

Below are options for the best spots with different cuisines.

5. Shop Small Boutiques

There are some lovely unique boutiques in the Seaport area, including clothing stores like Scotch & Soda and Mure and Grand.

Southstreet Seaport Shopping

There's even a clothing shop owned by Sarah Jessica Parker (Carrie Bradshaw from Sex and the City).

6. Outdoor Music And Movies

The Rooftop at Pier 17 has a small concert venue with views so awesome they might overshadow the bands!

The venue features favorite bands from classic punk and New Wave bands through to modern pop music. Shows are ticketed.

Pier 17 concert

In the summer, free movies are shown at Pier 17. Space is limited and you must reserve in advance.

There are dozens of free movies shown all over the city every summer. See our NYC Summer Guide for information.

7. Enjoy The Arts

From light installations to murals, there is always an art display from different mediums.

Southstreet Seaport Art

It should be easy to spot the unique art exhibits in the district. Look at the roster to see what's on.

8. Ferries And NYC Cruises

The piers along South Street Seaport are the departure point for ferries and NYC cruises. Pier 11 is the hub for multiple ferries.

The East River Ferry, New York Water Taxi, and New York Waterway lines provide service between Pier 11 and Brooklyn, Queens, and New Jersey.

Pier 16 is the departure point The Circle Line cruises and from Pier 17, you can take a voyage on an old-fashioned tall ship, the City Clipper.

Check out our post, Which New York Boat Tour or Cruise is Best, for information on what cruises are available, as well as prices, discounts, and schedules.

TIP: Save some money and walk down to the Staten Island Ferry for a free ride that takes you past the Statue of Liberty and offers great skyline views of Manhattan and beyond!

Getting To The South Street Seaport

There are several easy ways to make it to the district, including public transportation and tours. 

By Subway and Bus

  • Subway: Take the A, C, 2, 3, J, Z, 4, or 5 train to Fulton Street.
  • Bus: Take the M-15 SBS or M-15 to Fulton Street.

By Ferry  

The East River Ferry, Water Taxi, and New York Waterway provide service to Pier 11 from Brooklyn, Queens, and New Jersey.

By Car

Parking in the area is limited. A parking lot is located at Front and John Streets, just one block from the museum. Another lot is available at 294 Pearl Street.

Free Shuttle Bus

If you are already in the Downtown area there is a free Downtown shuttle bus provided by the Downtown Alliance.

TIP: Many hop-on-hop-off bus tours have routes that include Lower Manhattan. 

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About The Author


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”.
Updated: February 26th, 2023
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