12 Best Things To Do In Chinatown New York City
Chinatown New York City – Chinatown was born in the 1870s after New York’s Chinese immigrant population increased markedly in the last 10 to 15 years.
Since then, Chinatown has not stopped growing, and a lot of Asian culture and tradition has sprouted there.
Chinatown in New York is currently the largest enclave of Chinese in the US, with a population between 70,000 and 150,000.
While you’re here, you’re not just getting a taste of the history of the Chinese in New York but of all of China.
Despite being densely populated, Chinatown is spread over a large area and is one of the best neighborhoods in the city.
To help you enjoy the hundreds of restaurants and markets here, check out our list of the best things to do in Chinatown, New York.
- Learn more about Chinese-American history and culture at MOCA
The Museum of China in America, or MOCA, is a nonprofit educational and cultural institution aiming to better instill in people a deeper understanding of Chinese Americans’ heritage, culture, and history through exhibitions, dialogues, seminars, and other educational programs.
The museum was founded by historian John Kuo Wei Tchen and activist Charles Lai in 1980 with the community’s support.
He amassed a large collection of artifacts, photographs, memorabilia, documents, oral histories, and works of art. The museum also receives many donations from public and private institutions.
- China Museum in America
- Address: 215 Center Street, New York, NY 10013
- Opening hours: Fri – Sun: 11 am – 6 pm; Thursday: 11 am – 9 pm (closed on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday)
- Price: Free Entry
Stroll through the lifeblood of Manhattan’s iconic Chinatown
Vibrant Mott Street is the “main street” of New York’s Chinatown. Not surprising, as the busy street that runs from Bleecker Street to Chatham Square is where you can find just about anything and everything Chinatown has to offer, from noodle houses and tea houses to souvenir shops and designer boutiques.
Another place you must visit is the iconic Mott Street General Store, a 100-year-old store featuring authentic Chinese-American architectural designs, woodwork, paintings, and more.
- Take a Chinatown food tour with a chef
Sample authentic Chinese cuisine on a food tour of New York’s Chinatown with a chef. What better way to experience Manhattan Chinatown food than to take an expedition led by an experienced chef?
The tour begins in Columbus Park, formerly home to the famous Five Points immigrant neighborhood. You will taste iconic Chinese foods such as Cantonese barbecue or Hong Kong fried dumplings.
Your trip will end with a sesame Peking duck pancake from a neighborhood favorite. There will be a discussion of the history of Chinatown as you go, and you will likely find new and interesting twists on your visit.
- Chinatown Food Tour with a Chef
- Duration: 1.5 hours
Take a step back in time by strolling down Doyers Street
Travel back in time as you stroll down Doyers Street, known as “The Bloody Angle.” Doyers Street is a 200-foot-long (656-meter) street in Chinatown.
It is a block with a sharp curve in the middle, partly where it got its nickname. However, another story behind it is its long history of violence from the turn of the century to the 1930s.
The street is famous for the wars between Tong Gangs, where axes were often used, leaving a bloody scene.
Now the block contains several restaurants, salons, and barbershops. Taking a stroll down this street for a taste of true Chinatown nostalgia should be on your list of things to do here.
Read your aura at Magic Jewelry NYC
See and learn about your energy field with an aura photo and reading at Magic Jewelry NYC.
You can also schedule a virtual consultation after leaving New York City or purchase a jade bracelet representing a noble person with grace and harmony.
You can buy all kinds of jewelry, including pendants, necklaces, bracelets, or wands of all different substances and colors.
Find out what your element is and learn how to use the other details to help you financially or romantically. If any of this intrigues you, then Magic Jewelry NYC should be on your list of things to do in Chinatown New York city.
- Magical Jewelry NYC
- Opening hours: 11:30 am – 5 pm (every day)
Take a photo of the beautiful arch and colonnade of the Manhattan Bridge
Mark your trip to Chinatown, New York, with a photo at Manhattan’s beautiful Arch Bridge and Colonnade. For a long time, this was not possible.
Completed in 1909, it was only the fourth bridge to span the East River from Manhattan to Long Island.
The bridge was off-limits to foot traffic until around 2001, so you couldn’t take a photo there unless you were from a speeding car or train.
Now, you can stand in front of the marvelous piece of architecture that has such a rich history and takes a souvenir photo to mark your trip to Chinatown. (Chinatown New York City)
- Arch and colonnade of the Manhattan Bridge
- Address: Manhattan Bridge Lower Roadway, New York, NY 10002, United States
- Join a meditation class at the Mahayana Temple Buddhist Association
Calm your mind and soul in a meditation class at the Mahayana Temple Buddhist Association.
With temples on famous Canal Street or Mott Street (Chinatown’s “main street”), you can easily meditate and learn from real Buddhist monks in New York City’s Chinatown. They are open and friendly and teach every day of the week.
They have art classes where they will teach you how Buddhism is expressed through art. Every Sunday, there is a meditation and mindfulness class where you are prepared to disconnect from the hustle and bustle of busy life and return to your true nature.
If you want to truly experience the heart of Chinatown and the culture of the Chinese people, you’ll want to have this on your list of things to do in Chinatown New York city.
- Mahayana Temple Buddhist Association
- Address: 133 Canal St, New York, NY 10002
- Opening hours: 8:30 am – 6:00 pm (every day)
Work out with the locals at Columbus Park
Locals often refer to Columbus Park as “Calisthenics Park,” where they usually work together.
There are pull-up bars, low bars, wall bars, and monkey bars, but people flock there to do “freeletics” and body weight exercises.
The community maintains the park well and it is a safe and rewarding place to exercise if that is what you want. If you want to feel like a local, this is one of the best non-touristy activities to do in New York. (Chinatown New York City)
- Colon Park
- Address: Mulberry Street & Baxter St, New York, NY 10013, United States
- Opening hours: 6 am – 10 pm (every day)
Explore the unusual collections of the Mmuseumm
Browse the unusual collections at Mmuseumm, a modern natural history museum located in the heart of Chinatown.
The first two museums are located on Cortlandt Alley between Franklin Street and White Street, called Mmuseumm Alley.
The museum is dedicated to curating and exhibiting contemporary art to illuminate the modern world.
There are two locations, one opened in 2012 and the second in 2015. The museums are open 24 hours a day and are visible through peepholes. Make this a stop on your itinerary of things to do in Chinatown. (Chinatown New York City)
- Address: 4 Cortlandt Alley, New York, NY 10013
- Hours: 24 hours (daily)
Treat yourself to a sweet treat and snuggle up with the cats at Meow Parlor
Meow Parlor serves coffee, tea, pastries, and free Wi-Fi, but that’s not all. They also offer some kitty love by offering hourly petting and cat playtime.
The owner, Christina, has five cats, the main attraction here. If you’re concerned about the welfare of cats, she holds an NYC certificate in animal care and handling and a culinary degree.
This is a must for your things to do in Chinatown itinerary because it’s so cute. (Chinatown New York City)
- Meow lounge
- Address: 46 Hester St, New York, NY 10002
- Opening Hours: Mon – Tue: 12pm – 8pm; Thu – Fri: 12pm – 8pm; Saturday – Sunday: 11 am – 8 pm (closed on Wednesdays)
Play retro video games at Chinatown Fair Family Fun Center
Chinatown Fair Family Fun Center is a video arcade located on Mott Street. This place is also known as the provider of retro arcade games like Tekken or Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles in the area.
During your trip here, you will find various games like Quick Drop, Down the Clown, Mario Kart, Maximum Tune 5, House of the Dead 5: Scarlet Dawn, Jurassic Park, and Halo: Fireteam Raven.
The arcade first opened in 1944 and closed in 2011 but reopened in 2012 under different management. Make this a stop while walking through Chinatown. (Chinatown New York City)
- Chinatown Fair Family Fun Center
- Address: 8 Mott St, New York, NY 10038, United States
- Opening Hours: Sun – Thurs: 11am – 12am; Fri – Sat: 11am – 2am
Haggle for souvenirs and gifts at different shops along Canal Street
Take part in a Chinatown tradition, haggle with the owners for the best price, and experience this age-old custom.
You can go to Canal St. 247 Mini Mall and negotiate for some jewelry, visit Canal Street Market, and discuss the weather with locals.
There are so much to see and so many places to shop. That’s why you can’t leave Canal Street off your list of things to do in Chinatown. (Chinatown New York City)
Make your plan to visit Chinatown today
New York is a great city with virtually unlimited things to do, but if you want to experience a big part of New York’s immigrant history, you must visit Chinatown.
Be sure to sample the different foods, taste the magic of China, join some tours, and walk the historic streets before leaving New York City.
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