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How to Spend a Weekend on the Lower East Side

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New York City is full of inimitable enclaves, from the posh streets of the Upper East Side to the chic boutiques and galleries dotting the Meatpacking District. However, when it comes to fun, there’s no place that comes close to the Lower East Side.

This downtown neighborhood has long been the epitome of New York cool, loaded with amazing shopping, great restaurants, and cultural attractions. In recent years, the neighborhood has also become home to some of the city’s most amenity-rich buildings, like One Manhattan Square. The 800-foot-tall waterfront tower, developed by Extell, is home to 100,000 square feet of amenities, including a squash court, bowling alley, basketball court, golf simulator, 75-foot swimming pool, hammam, wine room, billiards room, children’s playroom, demonstration kitchen, teen arcade, theater, bar and lounge, and more. However, even if you’re not among the lucky few who get to call this architectural marvel home, there’s still plenty of fun to be had. If you’re in the Lower East Side for a weekend, make sure to check out these attractions:

Visit the New Museum: One of the city’s most beloved museums is right in the center of the Lower East Side. The New Museum, located on The Bowery, is home to some of the most exciting contemporary art you’ll find anywhere in the city. If you find yourself exploring the Lower East Side this spring or summer, check out exhibits from Hiwa K, Anna Boghiguian, Anna Craycroft, and Aaron Fowler.

Grab dinner at Mission Chinese: If you’re on the Lower East Side, make sure to check out one of the neighborhood’s most-famous eateries, Mission Chinese. This restaurant is anything but your traditional Chinese place, serving up creative preparations of Sichuan cuisine to the diners who line up around the block night after night to get in. Begin your meal with a salted cucumber and lentil salad, packed with fried lentils, grilled lentil crackers, and chili jam. Follow it up with an order of Kung Pao pastrami, topped with Tianjin chili, celery, and peanuts, and make sure to try the salt cod fried rice that brings diners back time and time again. And for those who can’t enjoy a Chinese meal without a cup of tea, there are seven varieties to choose from, from aged pu-ehr leaf tea to matcha with toasted rice.

Catch a show at Rockwood Music Hall: Want some excitement to light up your weekend? Head over to Rockwood Music Hall and catch a show from one of the top talents playing there every night of the week. Acts like Edie Carey, Conspiracy of Venus, and Robert Leslie will all be hitting the stage this spring, so make sure to get your tickets before it’s too late.

Enjoy a cocktail at Attaboy: If you want to end your evening with a nightcap, head over to Attaboy on Eldridge Street. Occupying the space where private club Milk & Honey once stood, this unpretentious speakeasy is the perfect place to relax at the end of a long day. While you won’t find a menu of cocktails here, the bartenders know what their customers need, serving up everything from gin fizzes to absinthe-infused cocktails, depending on the preferences you’ve communicated to them.

Call it a night at The Ludlow: When you’re ready to rest your head at the end of the night, boutique hotel The Ludlow is the place to do it. This Lower East Side charmer has luxe rooms ranging from mini studios to massive penthouses, the latter offering full kitchen, dining room, and living room, as well as stunning views of the city from its floor-to-ceiling windows.   

Whether you’re just in town for the weekend or are taking a staycation in your own neighborhood, there are few places in New York as exciting as the Lower East Side. If you find yourself in the area, make sure to take the time to enjoy all the neighborhood has to offer—after an exhilarating weekend on the Lower East Side, you’ll definitely have plenty of reasons to come back and do it all over again.

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