6 fun things to do in Hudson Yards, New York City! Welcome to our first post in a series sharing some of our favorite things to do in New York City. I am often asked for suggestions on where to eat, what to do and where to stay, so I thought why not break it down into a series of posts.
We have only recently been spending quite a bit of time exploring the area around Hudson Yards. We love the High Line and the whole area is a really great place to spend some time and there is a lot to see.
Long before Hudson Yards became Manhattan’s newest cultural center, it was an abandoned elevated railway under which the Long Island Railroad stored trains that weren’t in use. Fast forward to the current day and you have 28 acres of newly developed living, shopping, entertainment, culture, dining, and outdoor space. And it’s worth checking out. It’s easy to spend an entire day exploring the best things to do in Hudson Yards and here are a few must-sees along the way.
The High Line at Hudson Yards
The High Line is a 1.45-mile green space built on the tracks of an abandoned above ground railway. In addition to the views of the neighborhood and the Hudson River, what’s interesting is how it encompasses landscape architecture, urban design, and ecology. It’s worth taking a few minutes and reading some of the placards along the way.
The High Line starts at Gansevoort Street which is where you’ll find The Whitney Museum (in the Meat Packing District a few blocks below 14th Street) and runs through Chelsea to 34th Street where it ends at the Hudson Yards mall and home of The Vessel – the next stop on your adventure.
The Vessel is definitely the showpiece of Hudson Yards and is nothing short of spectacular. It’s a 16 story structure with intricate staircases leading up 150 feet with amazing views at the top (and along the way) of the city, the neighborhood, and the Hudson River. Currently access to the top of the Vessel is closed, but you are allowed to walk into the center of the base to see the view from within. And it’s free!
Hudson Yards Mall
Hudson Yards is a very nice modern mall with all the top-name brands and certainly worth checking out. But most importantly, it’s a convenient place to find clean restrooms (not easy to find in NYC) and get a quick break from either the heat or the cold.
A look inside the Hudson Yards Mall & The Vessel at Christmas
It’s absolutely magical at Christmas time but equally as stunning all year round for its modern design and architecture.
Little Spain at Hudson Yards Mall
On the ground floor of the Hudson Yards Mall, you’ll find the Spanish eatery of Mercado Little Spain. According to Chef Jose Andres, it’s “a veritable love letter to Spain.”
There are at least 10 different smallish-type restaurants under one roof and you’ll find a variety of food options from all the different regions and corners of Spain. The sights and smells will make you feel like you’re in Spain and will be hard to pass up without at least a few samplings. You can sit down for a nice meal, grab some food to go, or browse through the Spanish market and assemble your own picnic of snacks and treats. There is something to be found for everyone.
As the name suggests, Little Island is located at Pier 55 along the West Side Highway and about one mile from The Vessel.
Little Island is actually an artificial island built on top of the Hudson River. It encompasses almost 2.5 acres, has an open lawn, concession stands, and an amphitheater where you can enjoy summertime concerts and performances. It boasts 35 different species of trees, 65 species of shrubs, and over 270 species of perennials and grasses. When it opened, approximately 66,000 bulbs and 114 trees had been planted.
The amphitheatre at Little Island
There are multiple musical installations throughout Little Island. One of the more charming ones is the chimes that play when activated by the squares you step on. So fun to watch and take a turn!
If you’re looking for a bit of a thrill along with a panoramic view of the city, you might want to visit The Edge. Although a bit pricey in my mind, you may find it exhilarating. It starts with a $38 entrance fee and that comes with what The Edge says is an ”immersive multimedia experience” before you head up 1,100 feet to an open platform overlooking NYC. On a side note, it is the highest outdoor deck in the Western Hemisphere. For an additional $17 you can enjoy a glass of champagne while taking in the views. And for the super adventurous you can strap in, helmet included, and climb a flight of outdoor stairs to the top of the skyscraper and dangle over the edge – but that will set you back another $185.
We will be back soon with another post about our favorite things to do in New York City! If you have any requests on areas you want us to cover, please leave a comment!
The Highline and Little Island Updates
When we last visited and wrote about Hudson Yards and all the things to do, it was late winter/early spring. The landscaping was sparse but still stunning. And we were bundled up to stay warm.
On a recent mild day (mild for NYC in mid-summer) in August, we decided to revisit Little Island and the High Line. It was around 6:00 in the evening on a beautiful summer night. The difference between now and winter was stunning. All the vegetation had filled in and the flowers were in full bloom. There were crowds of people out for an evening stroll, but not so crowded to make it uncomfortable.
The High Line
Aside from being able to thoroughly enjoy all the plants and blooms on this visit, a new section of the High Line was open.
The High Line – Moynihan Connector
The Moynihan Connector is the newest spur in an ongoing project to connect the High Line with other key locations in New York City.
It opened in June of 2023 and is definitely worth seeing. Some of the highlights include an expansive walking path that connects Hudson Yards with the new Moynihan Train Hall, the Woodland Bridge, the Timber Bridge, and the “Old Tree”.
The Connector consists of a pair of bridges that first run along 30th Street and then above Dyer Avenue to Magnolia Court, the public plaza known as Manhattan West. It runs through several neighborhoods
This new path crosses over busy streets and through residential neighborhoods providing neighbors, commuters, and visitors access to mass transit options and the west side of Manhattan with only one street crossing.
The Woodland Bridge
The Woodland Bridge is a concrete and steel structure that creates a 340-foot-long planter with deeper planting beds than anywhere else on the High Line. This allows for much larger trees and a lush green park-like setting that shields you from the sun and the traffic below. The plantings include 63 trees, 90 shrubs, and over 5,200 grasses and perennials.
The Timber Bridge
The Timber Bridge is 260 feet long and is made from Alaskan yellow cedar laminated wood beams. The beams and materials weigh over 256,00 lbs and were assembled on the streets and then craned into place.
The Old Tree
The “Old Tree” is a man-made sculpture by the Zurich-based artist Pamela Rosenkranz. You can’t miss the “Old Tree” as it is painted fluorescent pink. It is part of the Plinth commission at the High Line which changes every 18 months and is on display until 2024.
Little Island is literally an island floating in the Hudson River just off the West Side Highway. It’s an easy walk from the High Line and something worth seeing. It has incredible views of many NYC landmarks such as the Empire State Building, Freedom Tower, and the Ledge. Here are some new photos.
The Amphitheatre is host to several concerts throughout the summer and they are all free of charge, just like admission to the grounds.
There are many open spaces for you to bring your own picnic and watch the sunset. They also have their own food vendors for small bites, snacks, drinks, and ice cream. It’s a wonderful way to relax and spend a warm summer evening enjoying the outdoors and New York City.