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What to Do in Downtown NYC's Hudson Square

You’re walking west on Spring Street in Soho, drinking in a beautiful New York day. You cross Sixth Avenue and keep walking, and suddenly you recognize…nothing. No landmarks or helpful signs other than the Hudson River a few blocks away. But don’t turn around just yet. This is Hudson Square, the not-quite-Soho, not-quite-West-Village neighborhood you need to know. It’s home to a collection of quality businesses and attractions, with more on the way. No need to stumble into this treasure trove; here’s a guide so you can navigate the area with confidence.

What to Do in Hudson Square: Children’s Museum of the Arts

Children's Museum of the Arts

Bring kids of all ages to CMA for workshops and exhibits that stimulate their creativity. The museum offers workshops in various media, including clay, painting, and multimedia design. Little ones have the WEE Studio for playful, creative time, and there are always exhibitions on display to inspire children and teach them what the visual arts are all about. 103 Charlton St., 212-274-0986, cmany.org

What to Do in Hudson Square: Union Bar & Kitchen

A high-ceilinged dining room crowded with food lovers, Union Bar & Kitchen might have the best food in Hudson Square. It’s almost impossible to choose from their mouth-watering menu. You’ll want to start with bacon-wrapped asparagus, then chicken and waffles for dinner and, just when you think you’re done, they offer Oreo Crunch Chimichangas. So get hungry, or just eat off each other’s plates so you can sample as many dishes as possible! 300 Spring St., 646-791-0005, unionbarandkitchen.com

What to Do in Hudson Square: Hotel Hugo

A couple blocks from the Hudson is Hotel Hugo, a chic place to stay if you’re visiting downtown Manhattan. They have comfortable rooms with a view, in addition to a restaurant and not one but two rooftop bars. Bar Hugo has a killer happy hour as well, so even if you’re not in the market for a place to stay, take the elevator to the top and enjoy a cheap glass of wine as you watch the sun set over the skyline. 525 Greenwich St., 212- 608-4848, hotelhugony.com

What to Do in Hudson Square: New York City Fire Museum

New York City Fire Museum

Celebrating firefighters is one of a New Yorker’s greatest talents. Join in and learn about the history of the profession at the New York City Fire Museum. It features exhibitions on the development of flame-retardant uniforms, fire-safety vehicles, and a special memorial to the firefighters lost in 9/11. There’s even a fire safety tutorial with sets resembling rooms of a home. Book a group tour, or just wander the galleries inside this neighborhood gem. 278 Spring St., 212-691-1303, nycfiremuseum.org

What to Do in Hudson Square: Houseman

At Houseman, Chef Ned Baldwin knows what he’s doing. With a rotating menu for lunch and dinner, every dish is manages to hit the fine line between an experiment and a helping of comfort food. Try favorites like the Houseman burger, fried fava beans, roasted carrots with dill, mint, and yogurt, and the peanut tart for dessert. The bartenders aren’t messing around here either; ask them to pair your meal with the perfect drink. 508 Greenwich St., 212-641-0654, housemanrestaurant.com

What to Do in Hudson Square: Warby Parker

On 6th Avenue, enter an ordinary lobby in an ordinary building, press 6 on the elevator, and soon you’ll walk into eyewear heaven. Originally an internet company selling prescription eyewear, Warby Parker has established several boutiques filled with their fashionable, affordable glasses. This sleek new showroom boasts impressive views of the city and plenty of mirrors for trying on pair after pair after pair. Once you’ve selected your frames, an on-site optometrist can examine your eyes to make sure you get the prescription you need. 161 Ave. of the Americas, 646-517-5223, warbyparker.com

What to Do in Hudson Square: Film Forum

Film Forum

A neighborhood staple since 1970, this small multiplex on Houston screens independent, classic, and foreign movies for your enjoyment and enrichment. Check out the schedule for movies you haven’t seen since you were a kid, or dive into another country’s cinematic universe for an adventurous hour. Film Forum also hosts special events like Q&A’s with filmmakers. Grab a coffee, some candy, a bag of popcorn—or all three!—and enjoy the show. 209 W. Houston St., 212-727-8110, filmforum.org

What to Do in Hudson Square: Ear Inn

Ear Inn

If you’re looking for a dive bar with plenty of local color, Ear Inn is the place. Although officially established in 1817, this pub's history goes back a bit further. The building was constructed around 1770 for James Brown, an African aide to George Washington during the Revolutionary War; he had a lucrative career in tobacco trade. At the time, the shoreline was just feet from his door. The area was busy and prosperous with trade traffic. After Brown passed, Thomas Cooke owned it, selling brews to a regular influx of sailors. They skipped some signage legal red tape in the 1970s, therefore leaving the sign BAR to say EAR-permanently. There are a few salty bartenders, but they pour a stiff drink worth your money. There's live music three nights a week as well. On a pleasant evening you can even sit or stand outside and enjoy the river breeze. 326 Spring St., 212-226-9060, earinn.com

About the Author

Merrill Lee Girardeau lives and writes in Brooklyn.

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