Finding the perfect neighborhood in New York City can be a daunting task. Stay with the hordes of people in Times Square? Perhaps a high-rise in FiDi? Or do you venture to an outer borough?
Instead, consider Union Square. This perfectly central neighborhood is chock-full of charm. It also offers plenty of surprising things to do and see. Plus, Union Square is also the hub of Manhattan's subway lines so that you can access just any neighborhood in almost no time.
Read on for our official guide to all things Union Square, New York City.
What to See & Do in Union Square
Union Square Greenmarket
Union Square Greenmarket is a bustling outdoor market that offers everything from flowers to cheeses to fresh produce. Keep your eyes peeled for celebrity chefs who frequent the market to offer the freshest ingredients by local purveyors.
Come the cold-weather season, there's a new reason to visit. Jennifer Falk, Executive Director, Union Square Partnership, says, "In addition to the renowned Union Square Greenmarket, a robust list of fall theater offerings, and an incredible array of dining options, this year, the Union Square Holiday Market returns. For the past four decades, the cherished outdoor holiday market has been a treasured New York City tradition — synonymous with the festive spirit of the season." She adds, "We're thrilled to welcome the Holiday Market back to our neighborhood this winter, another strong indicator that things are moving in the right direction — so mark your calendars and make plans to visit today."
Fotografiska New York is the city's world-class photography museum. Located in the 1894-era former Church Mission House, this building is a registered landmark. Today, it's home to five floors of art, cultural events, retail, and fine dining. Grab a glass of wine and make your way through the unique, fun, and thought-provoking rotating exhibitions. PS: Keep a lookout for the incredible tucked-away bar and restaurant.
Go beyond Broadway at Union Square's Daryl Roth Theater. Tickets are currently on sale to see Sex & the City author Candace Bushnell in her one-woman show, Is There Still Sex in the City? Theatergoers will listen eagerly to Bushnell as she tells stories of fashion, literature, sex, and New York City as she pours Cosmos in Manolos. Performances begin on November 13th.
A lot of people think of 5th Avenue when it comes to shopping in New York City, but some of the finest retail can be found in Union Square. Head to Fishs Eddy for quirky home goods and unique gifts. There's also ABC Carpet & Home for exquisite furnishings and some of the best glassware. Meanwhile, you can't miss Strand Bookstore, the city's most beloved independent bookstores (don't forget to snag the signature tote!).
Where to Eat in Union Square
Start the morning at Breads Bakery. The iconic bakery has an expansive Union Square flagship location, which also serves as the company's production hub. Here, you'll be delighted by the intoxicating smells of carbohydrates, which permeate through the shop. If you had to order only one item, make it the chocolate babka, which is swirled with Nutella and dark chocolate. (Hand's down, it's the very best in the city.) But, truthfully, you must also get a sourdough baguette, a buttery croissant, and a cinnamon roll. Pair any of these with an espresso drink and sit outdoors for prime people-watching opps. Come holiday season (or really anytime), you can order loaves and bread online.
Union Square Cafe
Union Square Cafe is one of the most iconic restaurants in New York City. The eatery launched the career of famed chef and restauranteur Danny Meyer. Founded over 30 years ago, the restaurant remains a Union Square staple that manages to feel both elegant and comfortable at the same time. Impeccable service, a Greenmarket-inspired menu, and a lovely setting make for the perfect if-you-only-have-one-meal-in-NYC-eat-here sort of place.
Friend of a Farmer
Friend of a Farmer is another long-standing Union Square establishment. The restaurant has been family-owned and operated since 1986. Expect locally sourced ingredients in a cozy atmosphere. Here, hand-built columns and fireplaces were designed to feel as if you're lunching in the countryside — it's the hygge of dining experiences. We recommend requesting an upstairs table near the fireplace before tucking into the buttery-flakey chicken pot pie.
Nur is one of those restaurants that will soar straight to the top of your NYC dining list Locals, take note: This is the place to impress your friends and dates. Moroccan chef Mier Adoni has designed a modern Middle Eastern menu that marries street food with classic dishes with bold, flamboyant flavors. Don't miss the panipuri, grilled octopus, or the tahini mousse.
Where to Stay in Union Square
Hyatt Union Square
Hyatt Union Square New York is a true city retreat. The sleek property offers a stylish and peaceful respite from the buzzing atmosphere of the neighborhood. Additionally, the hotel is within easy walking distance of Greenwich Village, SoHo, Chelsea, and the East Village. Plus, it's just one block from the 14th Street subway. Here, the suites are spacious, and many boast incredible views of the Empire State Building (pro tip: ask for a higher floor). Meanwhile, the handsome cocktail bar downstairs is the perfect place for a pre-dinner martini.
Want to take that trip for free - and score some valuable miles for your next excursion? Check out our top pick travel credit cards for the best welcome bonuses, perks, and plenty of cash back.