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Chelsea Market Survival Guide

Chelsea Market, the old Nabisco factory turned indoor food and shopping market, is a favorite spot for tourists and locals alike. You can find every type of food your heart desires here, such as tacos, lobster, cupcakes, donuts, gelato, wine, cheeseburgers, and so much more. Here are some tips on how to get the most of Chelsea Market:  

  1. Choose your time wisely
Due to its popularity, Chelsea Market can get extremely packed and simply walking around can become a frustrating endeavor. To avoid the craziness and get the most out of your time there, try not to go at a peak time. For example, it is pretty calm early in the morning. It opens at 7 am Monday-Saturday and at 8 am on Sunday. If you don’t mind getting up a bit early, going before 11 am is a great way to avoid the masses. Another good time to go is for late lunch or early dinner between 4 pm – 5 pm. If you do go at peak time, expect large crowds and long lines.
 
  1. Finding a seat
As previously explained, Chelsea Market gets very crowded. Therefore, it makes sense that there are not enough seats for everyone. If you go to one of the restaurants that has reserved seating, you have a much higher chance of getting a seat, but everyone in your group must being eating at the same restaurant. However, you can’t always get everyone to agree on the same place. If your group all wants to order from different places, you will have to try to find general seating. Some days, you will end up standing while eating, but if you are truly dedicated to finding a table for your group, it is possible. My typical seat-claiming strategy is to have your group explore all of their food options and decide what they want. Then, have one person stay behind and watch over the tables while everyone else orders the food. During the time it takes to wait in line and order, typically at least one table will free up and you will be waiting to snatch it up like a hawk the second they stand up.
 
  1. Go during Christmas or Halloween
Okay, so this definitely goes against my previous advice of going at a less-crowded time, but this is the time to make an exception. Chelsea Market knows how to celebrate holidays. Christmastime brings beautiful lights, giant hanging ornaments, wreaths and poinsettias. Halloween brings live entertainment, trick or treating for the kids, and spooky decorations everywhere you turn. If you’re willing to brave the crowds, Chelsea Market can be even more special during these holidays.
 
  1. Don’t forget to go downstairs!
While most of the action is on the main floor, it is worth it to check out the less-visited basement of Chelsea Market. This lower level features Chelsea Local, a grocery that sells high-quality and hand-crafted foods. The grocery is a marketplace of several vendors, including Manhattan Fruit Market, Buon Italia, Dickson’s Farmstand Meats, and Saxelby Cheesemongers. Even if you aren’t looking to do your grocery shopping here, you should still stop in to try their imported cheeses or purchase a bottle of Heatonist’s world famous hot sauce. Additionally, the bathroom is on this floor! Chelsea Market is a great stop in your New York City adventure. There’s nothing like fresh, locally made food and gifts to round out your trip.

Feature image from The New York Times.