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.
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!
- Plan Your Visit
- Things to See and Do
- Places to Eat
- Things to Do in NYC
- Where to Stay in NYC
- NYC Neighborhoods Guide
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.
How to get here:
Several NYC subway lines run through parts of SoHo.
- 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.
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.
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.
Take a Sightseeing Tour
We offer a daily, pay-what-you-wish walking tour of SoHo, Little Italy, and Chinatown.
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.
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.
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:
- Eden Fine Art Contemporary & Pop Gallery
- DIA: The Broken Kilometer
- The Leslie-Lohman Museum of Art (LGBTQ)
- The Drawing Center
- Center for Italian Modern Art - CIMA
- Storefront for Art and Architecture
- SoHo Gallery for Digital Art
- Find more galleries here.
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.
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.
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!
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!
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.
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.
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.
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
- 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.
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 - 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.
- 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.
- 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
- Birdbath Bakery - 160 Prince St.
- Dominique Ansel - 189 Spring St.
- Georgetown Cupcake - 111 Mercer St.
- Balthazar Boulangerie - 80 Spring St.
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.
- Adidas Originals Flagship Store
- AEO & Aerie Store
- Banana Republic
- Club Monaco Soho
- Converse Flagship Store
- Desigual New York Soho
- Forever 21
- J. Crew Men
- Lady Foot Locker/Foot Locker
- Lucky Brand
- Lululemon Men's
- MAC Cosmetics
- Old Navy
- Rag & Bone
- Steve Madden
- The North Face
- Top Shop
- Urban Outfitters
- Victoria's Secret
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.