Chelsea Market Tour | Free Tours by Foot

This post reviews and compares the various ways that you could tour Chelsea Market, including a self-guided tour. With more than six million annual visitors — local and international — Chelsea Market has become a favorite destination for New Yorkers and travellers alike. The market inhabits the historical former  factory for Nabisco (National Biscuit Corporation – think Oreos!). Today the Chelsea Market shops are filled with fabulous culinary delights, crafted by inspired chefs. From one of a kind soups to lobster dinners, from rare coffees to an array of world wines at all price levels, from artisan breads to elaborately decorated cakes, Chelsea Market has something for every taste bud and every budget. There are also some non-food shops, and there are occasional events such as live music as well (see their events calendar). The bottom line, however, is that you should come to the Chelsea Market with an appetite.

Shops and Directory

History of the Market

Tours of Chelsea Market

Where is the Chelsea Market?

Directions and Hours

The High Line

 

 

WHERE IS THE CHELSEA MARKET LOCATED?

Chelsea Market is located on the west side of Manhattan at the southern end of the Chelsea neighborhood and just north of the Meatpacking District which is really the northwest corner Greenwich Village.  The Market occupies an entire city block between 15th and 16th Streets and Ninth and Tenth Avenues.  It is marked on the map below.

Chelsea Market Tour

 


DIRECTIONS AND HOURS

It’s easy to reach the Market  via subway or bus. You will however have to walk one or two long blocks to get there.  Use this Google map to get detailed directions from any location in New York City.  Tip: If you aren’t yet familiar with the Subway system of Local and Express trains, we highly recommend you take a look at out post, Navigating the New York Subway.

By Subway

  • The A/C/E trains  to the 8th Avenue Station at 14th Street   Otterness

Note: The A train is an express train so if you don’t get off at 14th Street you won’t be able to get off until 34th Street! So watch your stops carefully. Both the C and E are local trains and stop at 14th Street and 23rd Street.

This station is one of the most interesting in NYC.  Along the platforms, hidden in corners, or along the stairs you will see small bronze figurines made by the sculptor Tom Otterness. These whimsical figures are thematically about greed. They are quite adorable yet powerful in their statement.

  • You can also take the 1 train to 14th Street Station at 7th Avenue and walk over or hope on the M14 crosstown bus. You get a free transfer to the bus from the subway

By Bus

  • M11 or M12 – North and South Bound or the  M14 heading West

 

Hours of Operation

  • Monday – Saturday 7am to 9pm and Sunday 8am to 8pm 
  • Best time to go: Due to increased overcrowding caused by tour companies, the Market management has limited hours when tour groups are permitted to come through, from 8:30 a.m. to 11 a.m. and then not again until after 4 p.m.  As long as you avoid lunch hours noon to 2 pm, when workers in the nearby business flood in, you shouldn’t have any problems with overcrowding.

 


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SELF-GUIDED CHELSEA MARKET TOUR

For your self-guided tour, we’ve narrowed down the list to the “must-sees” among the dozens and dozens of shops and food and wine purveyors.  Here’s a helpful directory of shops in the Market.  If you are interested in a guided tour of Chelsea Market, we could arrange a private tour for you.  The Chelsea Market is also covered on a tour with the New York Pass.

FOOD SHOPS

New York chelsea market donutsThe Nut Box
This shop started out as a small specialty store on trendy Smith Street in Brooklyn, but apparently people went nuts for their nuts and they landed as spot in the much coveted Chelsea Market.  The Nut box has so much more than nuts. You can get wholesome trail mixes, dried fruits and granolas at reasonable prices.

The Filling Station
Come here to fill up on specialty oils, vinegars, and craft beer (both domestic and imported).  All their products contain only natural ingredients and surprisingly affordable considering they are organic or organically grown.

Sarabeth’s
Famous for their jams and preserves, Sarabeth’s has so many other scrumptious treats including their sticky buns and excellent biscuits with superb jams.  It is a little more expensive than some of the other bakeries in the Market, but definitely worth the splurge.

New York chelsea market spicesSpices and Tease This
This family business started its small spice business in Naples, Italy four generations ago.  By the 1960s, the superior quality and variety of products brought great success and the family expanded to Paris where today their clientele include food connoisseurs and chefs.  The array of offerings is impressive: 30 varieties of homemade spice blends, 18 different peppers, 13 types of gourmet salt, 70 original spices and seeds, 25 herbs and plants.   If you like teas, you will love this shop. They have 180 exotic imported (and some rare) teas, and unusual and all natural flavored teas like Dark Chocolate Orange.

Manhattan Fruit Exchange
Favored by locals, this store has a fantastic and affordable selection of
garden-variety fruit and vegetables.  You can also find exotic mushrooms, tropical
fruits, fresh herbs, baby veggies, grains, nuts, dried fruits and fresh-squeezed juices.

Lucy’s Whey
Love cheese? Then head this way to Lucy’s Whey for a great selection of American artisanal cheeses.  The staff of cheese mongers is experts and very happy to help you choose your cheese.  And they offer a “Grilled Cheese Sandwich of the Day”. Who could resist a classic white cheddar with fig jam or a bolder Gruyere with rosemary ham.

Liddabit Sweets
This small handmade candy company based in Brooklyn, NY specializes in candy bars, caramels, honeycomb candy and lollipops. Liddabits is an “old world” shop that doesn’t rely on technology to produce its sweet treats.  Every step of the production process from measuring to wrapping is performed by a real live human being and not a machine! They don’t use artificial flavors or preservatives and buy ingredients from small and local companies. Stop by for their popular and unusual Bourbon-Bacon Caramel Corn.

New York chelsea market doughnutteryDoughnuttery
Where else can you watch your doughnut being made right before you eat it?  This tiny stand makes bite-sized doughnuts right before your eyes.  Watch warm doughy goodness come of the conveyor belt and get doused in the flavored sugar of your choice.  We love Speckled and Strawberry or Urban Monkey.
DÉCOR, CLOTHING AND HOUSEWARES

Artists & Fleas is a marketplace filled with over 30 small stalls where independent artists and clothes designers showcase and sell one-of-a-kind products in an original and hip atmosphere. The market is open Monday to Saturday 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Sunday 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Posman Books
Posman is an independent bookstore, which aren’t so easy to find in New York City these days.  At Posman, you’ll find a great selection of bestsellers, literature, biographies, cookbooks and travel guides, as well as stationery and cards.

New York chelsea market storeBowery Kitchen Supply
If you love to cook as much as you love to eat, this kitchen supply store is a great place to find quality and affordable cooking equipment, pots, pans, utensils, appliances and so much more.

WINE & ALCOHOL

Chelsea Wine Vault
This is one of the first shops to open in Chelsea Market when it opened in 1997.  It’s a well-stocked and affordable fine wine store, in a beautiful environment. Their motto is “We only buy wine we love” and the staff wants you to enjoy these wines as well.  Chelsea Wine Vault holds weekly tasting classes including casual Friday Night Flights and Weekend Wine School classes.

Corkbuzz Wine Studio
This cozy wine bar has a European feel to it and a lovely place to relax in between shopping and touring the market.  They have a small plate menu and an extensive wine list.  Corkbuzz is open for lunch, dinner and late night, featuring a “Champagne Campaign” serving half off bottles of champagne—every night after 10pm.  They also have a ‘blind’ tasting happy hour every day from 3pm-6pm for those who delight in being surprised.

The Tippler
This cozy bar and lounge inhabits a hidden space under the Chelsea Market that had not been seen publicly for almost 100 years. With its brick archways and salvaged artifacts like reclaimed water tower wood and train rails from the nearby Highline, The Tippler is a perfect place to round out your visit to the historic Chelsea Market. 

 


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HISTORY OF THE CHELSEA MARKET

new york chelsea market_inside The market is housed in the former Nabisco (National Biscuit Corporation) factory.  The interior retains the “factory” ambiance, yet manages to feel intimate and welcoming due to its unique stripped-down brick architecture and warm lighting.  The floors above the market are the home to the Food Network in which many television shows including Iron Chef and Chopped are filmed. The building also houses Oxygen (Oprah Winfrey’s television network), MLB.com, some Google offices and EMI Music Publishing.

The buildings surrounding this section of New York City once held 250 slaughterhouses, which provided the lard for baking the flaky biscuits for which Nabisco was famous. Uneeda biscuits (no longer produced) were a staple for the company. NABISCO, which consolidated several bakeries in the East to form the National Biscuit Company in 1889, originally owned nine buildings in this neighborhood along what today is the High Line. Still visible from this elevated park are buildings carved with NBC, the original acronym for the company that invented the Oreo cookie here more than 100 years ago.  

 


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THE HIGH LINE

It is impossible to talk about the Chelsea Market without referencing the High Line.  One block away from the Chelsea Market is one of the greatest examples of re-purposing of old,unused public space in modern times. This ‘park’ sits atop an old elevated freight train line that opened in 1934 and the trains that ran along it supplied New York City with mass quantities of goods, including fresh meat — hence the name the “meatpacking district”.

Eventually trucking of goods made the use of elevated trains obsolete and by 1980, the High Line tracks were no longer being used. It sat unused and abandoned, overgrown with weeds for almost two decades. Members if the nearby community came up with the idea of turning the tracks into an urban park. Construction started in 2006, and by 2009 the first segment of the park was opened to the public. It continues to expand and is truly one of the most fascinating parks in the world. 

You might want to consider visiting the High Line if yo are at the Chelsea Market. You can even get some food to go and eat it in the park with incredible views of the Hudson River. To find out more about the High Line, check out our self-guided tour and visitors guide, or join us for one of our many High Line tours. 

 


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CHELSEA MARKET TOURS 

There are several companies that offer tours of Chelsea Market. While some of these trips offer more of a historic look at the Chelsea neighborhood, including the High Line, others focus on the delicious foods you can find in the market. Depending on which outing you choose, you can expect ticket prices to range from $35-$55 on average. Tour duration typically runs from 2-3 hours, giving you plenty of time to see and experience the market and its surroundings.  

 


Foods of New York

If you’re more interested in discovering all of the fantastic foods that come from Chelsea Market, this food tour may do the trick. In addition to sampling food from 7 different vendors, you’ll also enjoy a meal at a highly rated restaurant in the meat packing district. With so many different tastings on the itinerary, you should probably save plenty of room for all of the food you’ll eat while on this trip around High Line. Clocking in at 3 hours in length, you’ll have plenty of time to burn off some of those calories. Considering all of the tasty treats you’ll experience along the way, the price of admission for this outing is very fair.

Reviews on both TripAdvisor and Vimbly are quite excellent (read the reviews here). Although there have been one or two negative comments, most customers agree that this Chelsea Market food tour is fantastic. Several visitors indicated that they learned a lot about the area while enjoying several different dishes. Even guests who had been to the market before reported that this trip provided a lot of valuable information that they hadn’t previously known. Foods of New York tour guides are also very highly rated, with many reviewers suggesting that they were funny, laid back and incredibly helpful. Couples and those who brought a friend were most likely to leave a positive review.


 

New York Tour 1

The High Line, Chelsea and Meatpacking District Tour offered by New York Tour 1 brings you into the heart of one of New York’s trendiest areas. During this 2 hour tour, you will hear stories of the Meatpacking District’s gory history, as well as Chelsea’s dramatic reinvention. The tour begins at the Chelsea Market and then ends 1 mile (1.6 km)down the High Line. As with the other tours of this area, the views of the Hudson along the way are absolutely stunning. This tour is included on both the New York Pass and the Sightseeing Pass, making it a very affordable option if you’re planning on visiting several sites and attractions with a tourist pass.  Children under 12 go for free.  Be sure to check out this highly rated company’s other tours.

  • Daily @ 9:30 am
  • Meeting Point: The corner of 15th Street and 9th Avenue near the Chelsea Market entrance. The closest subway station is at 14th Street/8th Avenue (lines A, C, E, and L)
  • Cost: $35/person.  Free for children under 12.
  • More information and to book.

Reviews:

Though all of their tours are highly rated, their High Line, Chelsea and Meatpacking District Tour receives particularly excellent reviews, averaging 5 out of 5 stars on TripAdvisor and Get Your Guide (read the reviews). In fact, there are no reviews that fall below 4 stars and all guests seem united in thinking that the guides were outstanding. Several commentators also mention that they attended this tour with the New York Pass or Sightseeing Pass, and that this proved a great way to save money without sacrificing quality.

The Chelsea Market Tour is included in the New York Pass.

Tip: If you have been thinking of buying a tourist pass but not sure which one, our post New York City Attraction Passes : Which One Is the Best to Buy may be of some help to you.

 


Top Dog Tours

Chelsea Market has changed quite a bit over the years, and this walking tour will provide all of the necessary context to understand how and why the area has evolved. After visiting the market, you’ll make a trip to High Line park and discover how the grounds impacted local residents when it was first built. After visiting High Line, you’ll make a stop at the Meatpacking district and find out how it has transformed from its previous home of industry in decades past. Tickets for this 2 hour trek are reasonably priced.  Top Dog Tours also offers a long list of New York City walking tours.  See all of their tours here.

  • Ticket Prices: $35 for Adults | $26 for Children | Kids under 5 tour for free
    • as of July 2017, they are offering 20% the listed prices above.
  • 2 hours
  • Daily at 10:00 am
  • More information and to book

Reviews for this tour are excellent on both Get Your Guide and TripAdvisor. Top Dog Tours has earned an overall rating of 5 stars on both platforms, indicating that they provide an impressive service. Guests who took this trip were very happy with the amount of information provided by their entertaining and helpful tour guides. Some visitors even felt that this was the best thing they did while visiting New York. This outing is most popular among friends and family.

 


Foods of New York

If you’re more interested in discovering all of the fantastic foods that come from Chelsea Market, this food tour may do the trick. In addition to sampling food from 7 different vendors, you’ll also enjoy a meal at a highly rated restaurant in the meat packing district. With so many different tastings on the itinerary, you should probably save plenty of room for all of the food you’ll eat while on this trip around High Line. Clocking in at 3 hours in length, you’ll have plenty of time to burn off some of those calories. Considering all of the tasty treats you’ll experience along the way, the price of admission for this outing is very fair.

  • Ticket Prices: $52 per person
  • Duration: 3 hours
  • Availability: Daily at either 9:30 AM or 10 AM
  • Meeting Point: Information provided upon booking
  • More information and to book

Reviews on both Vimbly and TripAdvisor are quite excellent. Although there have been one or two negative comments, most customers agree that this Chelsea Market food tour is fantastic. Several visitors indicated that they learned a lot about the area while enjoying several different dishes. Even guests who had been to the market before reported that this trip provided a lot of valuable information that they hadn’t previously known. Foods of New York tour guides are also very highly rated, with many reviewers suggesting that they were funny, laid back and incredibly helpful. Couples and those who brought a friend were most likely to leave a positive review.

 


Sugartooth Tours

There are a lot of savory foods to be had at Chelsea Market, but what about the sweets? If you have a sweet tooth, Sugartooth Tours can help. On this trip, you’ll not only learn about the culinary past of this neighborhood, you’ll also enjoy some of the most amazing desserts you’ve ever tasted. See the birthplace of Oreos and discover a vendor that sells half-pound cookies! During this 3 hour outing, you’ll have the opportunity to try 6 delicious treats as you hear about the cultural history of Chelsea. With food tastings included, the price of a ticket is more than reasonable.

  • Ticket Prices: $54 per person
  • Duration: 3 hours
  • Availability: Most Saturdays & Sundays @4PM
  • Meeting Point: Chelsea Neighborhood
  • More information and to book

Reviews on TripAdvisor are quite good, and the company has received an overall rating of 4 ½ out of 5 stars. Guests who took the Chelsea Market tour were pleasantly surprised with their experience, stating that all of the food tastings were wonderful and they learned a lot about the area. Their tour guides were described as both knowledgeable and informative, combining historical facts with yummy treats to great effect. Couples and friends were most likely to leave a positive review, but it’s easy to see how this could also be quite popular with families.

 


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