There are lots of awesome things to do in SoHo, NYC, from browsing art galleries and museums to going out for drinks and shopping for luxury items. As one of the best places to see in Manhattan, SoHo is well worth a visit, even if you only have a few hours to spend here.
SoHo stands for South of Houston Street, and it’s a Lower Manhattan neighborhood nestled between Little Italy and Hudson Square. It’s known for its trendy artist’s lofts, cast-iron architecture, and boutique stores, although there are other interesting SoHo attractions, like museums, theaters, and cafes. So, if you love art, shopping, or the elegant and fashionable reputation of the Big Apple, you’ll like SoHo.
We’ve visited New York City several times, and I can tell you that SoHo definitely has its own distinct vibe. So, in this guide, I’ll share the 10 best places in SoHo you must visit.
1. Browse the art galleries, something to do in SoHo during the day
Browsing the local art galleries is one of the quintessential activities in SoHo, so if you’re into art, I recommend it. There are a few galleries in particular that are popular with artists, collectors, and enthusiasts.
First, the Eden Gallery showcases all kinds of contemporary pieces, so you’re bound to find something you like here. Across the gallery’s four floors, you’ll find paintings, sculptures, mixed media installations, and even digital art. In addition to contemporary art, the Eden Gallery is known for its nature photography, as well as papercuts and shadow boxes.
The New York Earth Room is another interesting place to go in SoHo, especially if you like conceptual art. This large-scale, long-term installation was created in 1977 by sculptor Walter de Maria, who used 250 cubic yards of earth to fill the 3,600ft² space. It’s an example of land art and explores the relationship between nature and man-made works.
Jeffrey Deitch is also worth mentioning, as it’s a gallery specializing in contemporary and avant-garde art. It features a rotating roster of exhibitions, including drawings, paintings, sculptures, photographs, and prints.
2. Treat yourself to a gourmet meal, the best thing to do in SoHo as a couple
Along with its vibrant arts scene, SoHo offers plenty of great places to eat. One of the best places in SoHo to get a delicious meal is Mercer Kitchen, which specializes in contemporary American cuisine. It’s owned by renowned chef Jean-Georges Vongerichte, so the menu is full of gourmet dishes and excellent fish and seafood. Mercer Kitchen also has a raw bar and an excellent selection of wines, beers, and fruity cocktails.
Another spot I recommend is Boqueria Soho, which serves Barcelona-style tapas. Coming here is a fun thing to do in SoHo with friends since you can share all kinds of small plates like patatas bravas, tortilla española, pan con tomate, Manchego cheese, and Ibérico ham. The restaurant also has yummy paella, churros con chocolate, and albóndigas (meatballs).
For something more laid-back, check out Chobani SoHo, a café based on Chobani’s line of yogurt. Lombardi’s is another excellent spot, and while it’s actually in Little Italy, it’s right next to SoHo. It’s been open since 1905, and its Neapolitan-style pizza is one of the best foods to eat in NYC.
Finally, The Ear Inn is the oldest bar in the U.S. to continuously serve alcohol, and it’s housed in a building from 1817. Along with beer, wine, and cocktails, you can dine on all kinds of burgers, salads, and chicken pot pie.
3. See a musical or play, a fun thing to do in SoHo at night
This is a wonderful neighborhood in Manhattan to appreciate the performing arts, and seeing a play or musical, a fun thing to do in SoHo at night. There are two places in particular that I recommend if you want to take in a movie or an off-Broadway show.
First, the Film Forum is an old movie theater that originally showcased independent films when it opened in the 1970s. Today, it has four cinema rooms where you can see foreign art films in addition to indie flicks. The Film Forum is one of the few non-profit cinemas in the city, and you can get tickets on the website or at the box office.
The other spot is SoHo Playhouse, an off-Broadway theater, and the former home to the New York Academy of Theatrical Arts. It has a regular line-up of musicals and plays, and it hosts the International Fringe Encore Series every year, so it’s a must-see in SoHo for thespians.
4. Go shopping, something to do in SoHo with friends
With its restaurants, galleries, and theaters, the only thing missing from SoHo is a shopping district. Well, in the area between Wooster Street and Broadway, between Houston Street and Canal, you’ll find all kinds of stores and retailers.
For example, there are lots of high-end shops and luxury brands where you can treat yourself to some new clothes, shoes, or accessories. Just a few of the big-name brands here include Polo Ralph Lauren, Louis Vuitton, Chanel, Gucci, Patagonia, Birkenstock, Nike, and ZARA.
Some other highlights include the Apple Store and Tiffany & Co., which has divine jewelry and fragrances. In addition to the boutiques, there are children’s stores, independent retailers, and bargain outlets, so everyone can find something here. Even if you aren’t a shopaholic, browsing the shops is something to do around SoHo if the weather’s too cold or rainy.
5. Take a sightseeing tour, one of the best things to do in SoHo, NYC
If you’re not sure what to see in SoHo or you’re short on time, I recommend taking a sightseeing tour. I like this 2-hour tour in particular since it goes to the best places in SoHo as well as Little Italy and Chinatown.
First, you’ll check out SoHo’s historic Cast Iron District and see the beautiful architecture along Spring and Greene Streets. Your guide will point out notable structures like the E.V. Haughwout Building and the Old Police Station, which is now a private home but still has its early 20th-century Beaux-Arts design.
You’ll also see the cast-iron balustrades and rusticated arches of 421 Broome Street. The penthouse of this five-story property once belonged to Mary-Kate Olsen, and it’s where Heath Ledger spent his final moments.
The next part of the tour takes you to the neighboring areas of Little Italy and Chinatown. Learn about the mobster history of Nolita and visit the Ravenite Club, Alleva Dairy, and Umbertos, where gangster Joe Gallo was shot. You’ll also pass Old Saint Patrick’s, the Italian American Museum, and the National Shrine Church of San Gennaro.
Finally, in Chinatown, you’ll hear the story of the Bloody Angle at Doyers Street, where several murders took place in the 1920s and 30s. Your tour guide will also take you to an old opium den before ending the tour at Columbus Park. This is one of the best tours in NYC, especially since you can experience three neighborhoods in one visit.
6. Try a cronut at Dominque Ansel Bakery, a delicious thing to do in SoHo
Whether you spend your day in SoHo shopping, looking at art, or taking a tour, you’ll need to refuel. For something quick and delicious, head to Dominique Ansel Bakery, one of the best places in SoHo for a sweet treat.
The bakery is owned by French pastry chef Dominique Ansel, who creates all kinds of scrumptious baked goods. You can find traditional French treats like butter croissants and chocolate eclairs, along with more unique creations like chocolate chip cookie shots, frozen s’mores, and banana bread tiramisu.
However, Dominique Ansel is most well-known for the cronut, a croissant-donut hybrid. Introduced in 2013, the cronut quickly became a food craze, and it’s still a popular menu item and one of the best foods in NYC to try. It has the flakiness of a croissant with the sweetness of a donut, so if you want to try it, this is the place to go.
Of course, the bakery offers lots of variety, like savory sandwiches, quiches, and hot and cold drinks. So, for a cheap thing to do in SoHo with friends or your partner, take a dessert break at this iconic bakery.
7. Explore the Cast Iron District, a unique thing to do in SoHo, New York City
I already mentioned the Cast Iron District a bit when talking about the sightseeing tour through SoHo. If you’d like to explore this historic attraction in SoHo, below are some highlights to consider.
In the late 1800s, cast-iron architecture was one of the symbols of the Industrial Revolution, and eventually paved the way for NYC’s massive skyscrapers. Today, there are hundreds of cast-iron structures in SoHo, although some stand out more than others.
For example, the E.V. Haughwout Building is a five-story commercial loft at the corner of Broome Street and Broadway. Built in 1857, it features two cast-iron street-front facades and, at 79 feet tall, it was considered one of the city’s first skyscrapers at the time.
Another must-see in SoHo is the Singer Building on Broadway. This Art Nouveau-style office building was created in 1904 and has a façade made of brick, steel, and terracotta. It also has elements of Beaux Arts-style architecture, with cast-iron detailing on the balconies.
The Cable Building at 611 Broadway is on the corner of Houston Street and spans a full block, so you can’t miss it. It was built in the early 1890s and features a two-story arcade with iron spandrels, ornate moldings, and a façade of brick, stone, and terracotta. Its sculptural elements, like the copper lion’s faces, stand out.
Finally, 101 Spring Street is a beautiful cast-iron building from 1870, which now serves as an artist’s residence and studio.
8. Visit the Leslie-Lohman Museum, another cool thing to do in SoHo, NY
Speaking of art, another cool place in SoHo for art enthusiasts is the Leslie-Lohman Museum. It houses an impressive collection of LGBTQ+ drawings, paintings, photographs, sculptures, and prints.
The pieces here explore themes of gay rights, queer expression, and other LGBTQ+ issues. As one of the oldest institutions in the country to preserve LGBTQ+ art, the Leslie-Lohman Museum contains works by well-known painters and lesser-known artists.
For example, the permanent collection features work by David Hockney and Andy Warhol, as well as photos by Robert Mapplethorpe. You’ll also see pieces by LGBTQ+ artists like George Platt Lynes, James Bidgood, and Del LaGrace Volcano.
The museum holds temporary exhibitions, too, so if you’re looking for things to do in SoHo during the day or when it rains, check out the collection.
9. Go out for drinks, the best thing to do in SoHo at night
When the sun begins to set over the city, the fun doesn’t have to end. Going out for drinks is one of the best things to do in SoHo at night, especially as a couple or with a group of friends.
This neighborhood offers several beautiful places to get cocktails and enjoy a lively atmosphere. Without a doubt, one of the best places in SoHo for drinks is JIMMY on the 18th floor of ModernHaus SoHo. Inspired by Picasso’s Blue Period, this New York City rooftop has an indoor lounge, live music, and an outdoor plunge pool. It’s the perfect spot for date night or after-dinner drinks, and the panoramic views are incredible.
Some other fun places to go in SoHo are the Spring Lounge and the Broome Street Bar. The Spring Lounge has been a popular dive bar since the 1920s and boasts a vintage look with an extensive list of beers, wines, and liquors. The Broome Street Bar is another friendly neighborhood pub with great beer and bar food.
10. Visit other SoHo museums, something to do in SoHo if it rains
If you’re looking for things to do in SoHo, New York with kids, you can’t go wrong with a day at the museum. This neighborhood has several fun museums for children and teens to explore their creativity and learn something new.
First, the New York City Fire Museum has an impressive collection of artifacts, photos, and memorabilia related to the history of the FDNY. Some of the objects date back to the 1650s, although you can also see modern-day fire-fighting equipment. The museum is in the old headquarters for the FDNY’s Engine Company No. 30 and has a memorial dedicated to the firefighters lost during 9/11.
Another SoHo attraction for the kids is the Museum of Ice Cream. This selfie museum features bright colors, dessert-themed rooms, and fun props that create awesome photo ops. It’ll appeal to all ages, so it’s one of the best museums in NYC to visit with kids or friends.
For a museum designed specifically for kids, check out the Children’s Museum of the Arts. Here, the little ones can create their own artwork, including drawings, sculptures, sound art, and stop-motion animation. The museum also has a collection of children’s art from around the world, some dating back to the 1930s. Alternately, The Drawing Center features historical and contemporary drawings for all audiences.
Where to stay in SoHo, NYC
Now that you know the best things to do in SoHo, New York, here are a few of the top hotels in the area. If you’d like more accommodation options, you can check our complete guide on where to stay in NYC.
- Soho 54 – This trendy property is one of the best cheap hotels in Manhattan and features a beautiful rooftop terrace and a 24-hour gym. The rooms are lovely, and some of them have private balconies.
- Arlo SoHo – This hotel in downtown NYC has a great location in SoHo. It has a restaurant, a rooftop bar, and comfortable rooms, although bunk rooms and suites are also available.
- Crosby Street Hotel – As one of the best hotels in Manhattan, this 5-star property in SoHo boasts gorgeous rooms with floor-to-ceiling windows. It also has a terrace restaurant, a courtyard, and a garden.
Map of SoHo, New York City
Finally, here is a map of all the best places in SoHo that I mentioned, as well as the hotels I recommend. Use this map to plan your visit and organize your itinerary with all the SoHo attractions you want to see.
If you have any questions or want to share your favorite things to do in New York City’s SoHo neighborhood, leave me a comment below. I’d be happy to hear from you! Until then, have a wonderful trip!