12 Exciting Activities To Experience In Union Square Nyc

things to do in union square nyc

Union Square, one of New York City's most beloved neighborhoods, has always been a hub of energy and activity. From world-renowned restaurants to trendy boutiques and bustling markets, there is never a shortage of excitement in Union Square. Whether you're a local or a tourist, there's always something new and unexpected to experience in this vibrant part of town. We've gathered together 12 of the most exciting activities to help you explore Union Square like a pro. So, put on your walking shoes and let's get started on this thrilling tour!

Activity Type
People watching Free
Shopping Retail
Dining Food and Drink
Farmers Market Local Market
Visit the Greenmarket Local Market
Outdoor concerts and events Entertainment
Walking tours Guided Tour
Art galleries Arts and Culture
Visiting historic sites History
Ice skating or holiday market Seasonal


Ice-skating at Wollman Rink

Source: Central Park
Characteristic Description
NameWollman Rink
TypeRink in New York City, New York
WebsiteGo to website
Rating / Review count4.3 / 1,115
Address830 5th Ave, New York, NY 10065

Union Square in NYC is considered to be one of the most iconic and vibrant locations in the city. It is home to various attractions that draw a diverse crowd throughout the year. One such attraction is Ice-skating at Wollman Rink.

Wollman Rink is located in the southeastern corner of Central Park, barely a mile away from Union Square. This ice-skating rink has been a popular spot for locals and tourists alike for over 60 years, providing a serene escape from the hustle and bustle of the city.

Wollman Rink provides various ice-skating sessions to cater to different skill levels. Skating lessons are also offered daily for beginners looking to hone their skills. The rink is open to the public from late October to the end of March, weather permitting, providing ample time to make unforgettable memories on the ice.

The rink infrastructure is world-class, with a skating track that measures approximately 33,000 square feet. Visitors are welcome to rent skates and locker facilities at affordable rates, and skilled rink attendants are always available to provide assistance.

Wollman Rink is an ideal spot to spend time and make warm winter memories with your loved ones. During the skating season, multilingual attendants, music, and a concession stand selling hot cocoa, hot dogs, and snacks effortlessly create a cozy winter ambiance.

In conclusion, Ice-skating at Wollman Rink is an exceptional winter experience in New York City that everyone should partake in. With breathtaking views of the city skyline, affordable rates, skill-enhancing lessons, and professional rink attendants, the rink provides a memorable outing for visitors of all ages. So, head on out to Wollman Rink and enjoy ice-skating in the heart of the city!


People-watching at the Pavilion

Source: The Dishelin Guide

Union Square, located in the heart of New York City, is a popular spot for locals and tourists alike. Whether you're looking to shop, dine, or simply soak in the city atmosphere, Union Square has something for everyone. One of the top attractions at this bustling hub is the Pavilion, which is an excellent spot for people-watching.

Situated in the center of the square, the Pavilion is a large, open-air structure that serves as a gathering place for visitors. From street performers to food vendors, there is always something happening here. And of course, there are the people – New Yorkers from all walks of life, tourists snapping photos, and everyone in between.

If you're looking to do some people-watching at the Pavilion, there are a few key tips that can help ensure a great experience. First and foremost, come prepared to sit and soak in the atmosphere. Bring a good book, a journal, or a sketchbook – something to keep you occupied while you watch the world go by.

Another important tip is to arrive at the Pavilion at the right time. Weekends are typically the busiest, so if you're looking for a more peaceful experience, try coming during the week. Early mornings and late afternoons are also great times to visit, as the square is relatively quiet and the light is beautiful for photos.

As you sit and observe, don't be afraid to strike up a conversation with those around you. New Yorkers are generally friendly and outgoing, and you never know what interesting stories you might hear. From artists to businesspeople to fellow travelers, there is always a diverse mix of people to connect with.

Finally, be sure to take some time to explore Union Square itself. In addition to the Pavilion, there are plenty of other attractions to enjoy. From the famous Greenmarket to the nearby museums and theaters, there is always something new to discover.

Overall, people-watching at the Pavilion is an experience that every visitor to Union Square should try at least once. Soak in the sights and sounds of the city, connect with others, and enjoy the vibrant energy of one of New York's most iconic destinations.


Shopping at the Union Square Greenmarket

Source: Conde Nast Traveler

If you're a foodie and love shopping for fresh produce, the Union Square Greenmarket is a must-visit destination in New York City. Located in the heart of the city, this farmers' market is open year-round and is a source of fresh, seasonal produce, artisanal cheeses, bread, and more.

The Union Square Greenmarket is a vibrant, outdoor market that has been operating since the mid-1970s. It's a bustling scene, filled with vendors who come from all over the region to sell their goods. The market operates four days a week, Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday. On any given day, you'll find up to 140 vendors selling their wares.

The market's selection changes throughout the year. In spring and summer, vendors sell fresh fruits and vegetables like strawberries, rhubarb, cherries, lettuce, and peas. In the fall, apples, pumpkins, and squash make their appearance. And in the winter, vendors offer hardy greens, root vegetables, and preserves and cheeses made from the summer's bounty.

One of the key features of the Union Square Greenmarket is the focus on local produce. Vendors come from within a 250-mile radius, and customers have the opportunity to meet the farmers who grow their food. This direct connection to the source of the produce provides an experience that you won't get from a grocery store.

In addition to the farmer's market, the Union Square Greenmarket has a designated "Bread Pavilion" where you can buy fresh-baked bread from local bakeries. There's also a "food shed" where vendors sell prepared foods such as pickles, jams, cheeses, honey, and baked goods.


Visiting the Strand Bookstore

Source: Tripadvisor
Characteristic Description
NameStrand Book Store
TypeBookstore in New York City, New York
WebsiteGo to website
Rating / Review count4.8 / 12,728
Address828 Broadway, New York, NY 10003
Phone(212) 473-1452
HoursFriday - opens at 10 AM and closes at 8 PM
Saturday - opens at 10 AM and closes at 8 PM
Sunday - opens at 10 AM and closes at 8 PM
Monday - opens at 10 AM and closes at 8 PM
Tuesday - opens at 10 AM and closes at 8 PM
Wednesday - opens at 10 AM and closes at 8 PM
Thursday - opens at 10 AM and closes at 8 PM

If you're looking for a book lover's paradise in New York City, then you should definitely pay a visit to Union Square's Strand Bookstore. With its sprawling shelves and stacks of books, including new releases and vintage finds, the store has become a landmark for literary enthusiasts.

Founded in 1927 by Benjamin Bass, the Strand Bookstore began as a modest bookstand on Fourth Avenue, a bustling thoroughfare for booksellers at the time. With its ever-expanding collection of books, the Strand soon became a destination, eventually moving to its current location on Broadway and 12th Street in the 1950s.

Today, the Strand boasts an impressive 18 miles of books, and its three floors are filled with titles across genres, from fiction and nonfiction to poetry and art books. You're sure to find something that piques your interest, whether you're a lifelong book lover or just starting to explore the world of reading.

Aside from its extensive collection, the Strand is also known for its rare book room, which houses first editions, signed copies, and other unique finds. And if you're looking for even more literary treasures, you can peruse the store's collection of antique prints and vintage postcards.

While the Strand Bookstore is a must-visit destination for book lovers, it's also a great spot to immerse yourself in the vibrant culture of Union Square. Located just steps away from the park, the store is surrounded by a lively mix of cafes, shops, and street performers. And during the summer months, the park itself is home to a bustling farmers' market, free concerts, and other special events.

A visit to the Strand Bookstore is a perfect way to spend a day in Union Square—browse the stacks, explore the neighborhood, and immerse yourself in the city's rich literary history. Whether you're a local New Yorker or just passing through, this iconic bookstore is not to be missed.

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Relaxing at the Union Square park

Source: Flickr
Characteristic Description
NameUnion Square Park
TypePark in New York City, New York
WebsiteGo to website
Rating / Review count4.6 / 14,132
Address201 Park Ave S, New York, NY 10003
Phone(212) 460-1200
HoursThursday - opens at 6 AM and closes at 1 AM
Friday - opens at 6 AM and closes at 1 AM
Saturday - opens at 6 AM and closes at 1 AM
Sunday - opens at 6 AM and closes at 1 AM
Monday - opens at 6 AM and closes at 1 AM
Tuesday - opens at 6 AM and closes at 1 AM
Wednesday - opens at 6 AM and closes at 1 AM

Union Square in New York City has always been one of the most popular gathering spots for locals and tourists alike. Its incredible location in the heart of Manhattan makes it the perfect place to relax after a day of shopping or sightseeing. The Union Square park offers visitors a peaceful oasis amidst the hustle and bustle of the city. Here are some of the top ways to relax and unwind at the Union Square park.

Picnic on the lawns

The lawns at the Union Square park are perfect for a picnic. Bring along some food, drinks, and a blanket, and you're all set for a relaxing afternoon. The park is surrounded by a variety of food vendors and cafes, so it's easy to stock up on snacks before finding a quiet spot to relax.

People watch

One of the joys of visiting Union Square is to people watch. With so many people traversing the area, it is easy to watch people engaging in various activities, from fitness enthusiasts jogging, to musicians practicing their craft on street corners. Ensure to take a seat on one of the benches surrounding the park and take in the diverse city landscape.

Enjoy the Gardens

The beautifully designed gardens are a true highlight of Union Square. The gardens are arranged with an array of flowers, shrubs and trees, providing a serene environment to explore. Enjoy the serene beauty of the gardens while you relax on a bench or stroll through the winding paths.

Attend events

Union Square is one of the city’s prime locations for community events ranging from the farmer’s market on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays to cultural programs, as well as music and dance shows. There is almost always a gathering at Union Square, so be sure to check in on upcoming events ahead of your visit.

In conclusion, Union Square is a great spot to escape the hustle and bustle of Manhattan. Its combination of extensive landscaping, peaceful atmosphere, and numerous activities make it accessible to all. You don't have to spend a dime to relax and unwind at the park. It's an excellent way to experience the calm side of New York City while enjoying a tranquil environment to refresh your mind and body.

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Seeing art at the Leslie-Lohman Museum

Source: Wikipedia
Characteristic Description
NameLeslie-Lohman Museum of Art
TypeMuseum in New York City, New York
WebsiteGo to website
Rating / Review count4.5 / 174
Address26 Wooster St, New York, NY 10013
Phone(212) 431-2609
HoursFriday - opens at 12 and closes at 6 PM
Saturday - opens at 12 and closes at 6 PM
Sunday - opens at 12 and closes at 6 PM
Monday - Closed
Tuesday - Closed
Wednesday - opens at 12 and closes at 5 PM
Thursday - opens at 12 and closes at 6 PM

Located in the heart of Manhattan’s Union Square neighborhood, the Leslie-Lohman Museum is an artistic gem that is not to be missed. The museum boasts an intimate and thought-provoking collection of LGBTQ+ art from both established and emerging artists, making it a must-visit destination for art lovers and those interested in LGBTQ+ history and culture.

At the Leslie-Lohman Museum, visitors get the opportunity to view a wide variety of art forms, including paintings, sculptures, photographs, and mixed-media works. The exhibits are thoughtfully curated and celebrate the diverse experiences of the LGBTQ+ community, showcasing themes such as love, sex, community, and activism.

The museum has a rich history, beginning as a private collection of artwork amassed by Charles Leslie and Fritz Lohman in the 1960s. The couple had a deep passion for art and saw the value in preserving and showcasing work created by LGBTQ+ artists who may not have had the opportunity to exhibit their work elsewhere.

Today, the museum is a fully accredited nonprofit institution that plays a vital role in promoting understanding and appreciation of LGBTQ+ history and culture. The museum is committed to showcasing relevant artwork that addresses current issues such as race, gender, and sexuality.

In addition to its impressive collection, the Leslie-Lohman Museum also regularly features rotating exhibits, educational programs, and events that bring together artists, scholars, and community members. These programs provide an opportunity to delve deeper into the art and artists on display, and connect with others who share an interest in LGBTQ+ history and culture.

Visitors to the Leslie-Lohman Museum can expect a unique and immersive artistic experience that is both inspiring and informative. Whether you are a seasoned art connoisseur or just beginning your exploration of the art world, be sure to put this museum on your must-visit list while in the Union Square neighborhood of NYC.

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Enjoying live performances at the Union Square Theatre

Source: Tripadvisor

Union Square in NYC is a lively cultural hub that's home to numerous incredible events, both indoor and outdoor. Among these events are live performances, which attract diverse crowds of art enthusiasts from all over the city. The Union Square Theatre presents a variety of live productions ranging from plays to musicals, giving attendees an insight into talent and creativity.

Musicals at Union Square Theatre are a must-see for anyone looking to enjoy a memorable and soothing experience in NYC. As an iconic venue for live-stage musicals, the theatre showcases the best musicals that the city has to offer. With shows like "Avenue Q" and "The Play That Goes Wrong," both residents and tourists are in for a hilarious night of comedy, music, and entertainment.

Plays also attract a massive following at Union Square Theatre. Some past productions at the theatre have included "The Velocity of Autumn," "Through the Night," and "The Killer." These productions provide a perfect space for nurturing local playwrights, offering them an opportunity to showcase their talents and abilities. Attending a play at the Union Square Theatre is an incredible way to get a deeper understanding of the unique culture of NYC.

Variety is one of the strengths of the Union Square Theatre, evident in the diversity of performances that take place there. Whether you're into comedy, drama, or musicals, there's always something for everyone. Live performances are also unique in that they give you an opportunity to experience different genres of art and entertainment.

In conclusion, taking in a live performance at the Union Square Theatre is an unforgettable experience for anyone visiting or living in New York City. It's a unique opportunity to immerse yourself in the world of art and culture, and be entertained by some of the most talented performers in the city on one of the most iconic stages in NYC. So, if you're looking for an unforgettable entertainment experience in NYC, attend a live performance at the Union Square Theatre today!

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Checking out the street performers at the Farmer's Market

Source: 6sqft

Union Square in New York City is a bustling hub of activity for tourists and locals alike. A major attraction in the area is the Farmers Market, which brings together a diverse range of vendors offering everything from fresh produce to artisanal crafts.

As you wander through the market, you'll notice a range of street performers vying for your attention. From musicians to magicians, there's always something entertaining happening at Union Square.

One of the most exciting things about the street performers at the Farmers Market is their diversity. On any given day, you might see a group of breakdancers showing off their moves or a puppeteer captivating kids of all ages with their colorful creations.

If you're lucky, you might even catch a world-class musician playing an impromptu set on a makeshift stage. Many of these performers are incredibly talented and have honed their skills through years of practice and hard work.

While some of the performances are lighthearted and fun, others are more thought-provoking. You might come across a spoken word artist sharing their perspective on social justice or a performance artist challenging gender stereotypes.

No matter what kind of street performer you encounter at the Union Square Farmers Market, one thing is for sure: they all contribute to the vibrant energy of this iconic New York City landmark. So next time you're in the area, be sure to set aside some time to explore the market and check out the incredible talent on display.

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Admiring the sculptures of George Washington, Abraham Lincoln and Marquis de Lafayette

Source: Wikipedia

Union Square in NYC is a popular spot for locals and tourists alike. It is a vibrant, bustling area that is home to a variety of events, restaurants and shops. One of the main attractions of this iconic square is the collection of sculptures, including those of George Washington, Abraham Lincoln and Marquis de Lafayette. These sculptures serve as a reminder of our nation’s rich history, and are truly impressive works of art.

The George Washington statue is the centerpiece of the square. It was sculpted in 1856 by Henry Kirke Brown, and stands at an impressive 13 feet tall. Washington is depicted in military attire, with one hand raised in a gesture of command. The statue sits atop a granite pedestal, which bears the words “George Washington” on its front. It is a fitting tribute to our country’s first president, and a reminder of the values that he fought to defend.

Abraham Lincoln’s statue was added to the square in 1870. It was sculpted by Henry Kirke Brown’s protege, J.Q.A. Ward. This statue depicts Lincoln in a pensive pose, with his head bowed and his hands clasped behind his back. It is a quiet and reflective tribute to one of our nation’s most important leaders.

Finally, the statue of Marquis de Lafayette was erected in 1876, to commemorate the centennial of the American Revolution. It was created by French sculptor Frederic-Auguste Bartholdi, who is best known for designing the Statue of Liberty. Lafayette is shown in his military uniform, holding a scroll that represents the alliance between France and the United States. The statue is a testament to the importance of international cooperation in achieving freedom and democracy.

Together, these three statues create a powerful tableau of our country’s history. They remind us of the values that our nation was founded upon – bravery, perseverance and the pursuit of freedom. As you wander through the square, take a moment to appreciate these impressive works of art. They are a testament to the enduring legacy of our nation’s founders, and an inspiration to us all.


Sipping coffee at Joe Coffee

Source: Joe Coffee Company
Characteristic Description
NameJoe Coffee Company
TypeCoffee shop
WebsiteGo to website
Rating / Review count3.9 / 58
Address29 Union Square W, New York, NY 10003
Phone(718) 866-1059
HoursFriday - opens at 7 AM and closes at 8 PM
Saturday - opens at 7 AM and closes at 8 PM
Sunday - opens at 7 AM and closes at 8 PM
Monday - opens at 7 AM and closes at 8 PM
Tuesday - opens at 7 AM and closes at 8 PM
Wednesday - opens at 7 AM and closes at 8 PM
Thursday - opens at 7 AM and closes at 8 PM

Union Square in New York City is a beautiful public space where locals and tourists alike flock to enjoy the great outdoors. One of the best ways to enjoy the hustle and bustle of Union Square is to grab a cup of coffee and take a seat at Joe Coffee.

Joe Coffee is a local coffee chain that sources its beans from all over the world, ensuring that each cup is expertly brewed and packs a punch of flavor. The Union Square location is a popular spot for people to meet up or to catch up on work, or simply to enjoy a solo cup of joe in the presence of the city.

The outdoor seating at Joe Coffee is especially popular, as it provides a perfect view of the hustle and bustle of Union Square. From here, you can people watch, catch the latest street performances, or take in the beauty of the surrounding architecture. In the summertime, their outdoor seating also provides ample space to soak up the sun while sipping on a cold brew or iced latte.

And of course, there's the coffee. Joe Coffee offers all the classic coffee drinks, like espresso, Americanos, and cappuccinos. But they're also known for their unique blends, like their Boombox blend, which is a bold and nutty flavor that pairs perfectly with breakfast foods. Or their La Cosecha Andina blend, which has a rich, chocolatey taste that complements their baked goods perfectly.

Overall, Joe Coffee at Union Square is the perfect place to grab a cup of coffee and enjoy the energy of the city. Whether you're a local or a tourist, you're sure to love the experience of sipping coffee at Joe Coffee while surrounded by all that Union Square has to offer.

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Discovering local artists at the Art in Odd Places festival in October

Source: GothamToGo

Union Square in New York City is a hub of activity and culture, and in October, one particular event brings together the community, the arts, and a sense of playfulness: the Art in Odd Places festival. This annual event began in 2005 as a way to showcase local artists and their work in unexpected and sometimes humorous ways. The festival runs for eleven days and features a wide variety of installations, performances, and interactive experiences for visitors of all ages.

At Art in Odd Places, you'll find everything from sculpture and painting to dance and spoken word, all taking place in the public spaces of Union Square. The festival's focus on the "odd" means that you never know what to expect; one year, for example, visitors were greeted by a flock of sheep grazing in the park. Another year, participants could follow a trail of clues around the square to uncover a secret message.

What makes Art in Odd Places unique is its dedication to showcasing local artists. The festival's organizers work closely with the community to identify emerging talent and give them the opportunity to showcase their work in a way that's both accessible and dynamic. That means you won't see the same artists at Art in Odd Places that you might find at other, more traditional galleries and exhibitions. Instead, you'll discover new voices and perspectives that you might not have encountered otherwise.

One of the benefits of attending Art in Odd Places is that it's free and open to the public. You don't need a ticket or a reservation; all you need is an open mind and a willingness to explore. And because the festival takes place outdoors, you can take your time wandering between different installations and chatting with the artists themselves.

Art in Odd Places is also a chance to connect with other members of the community who share your interest in the arts. Throughout the festival, you'll see families, students, and professionals all mingling together as they admire the work on display. And because the festival is designed to be interactive, you might even find yourself taking part in a performance or contributing to a collaborative artwork.

Overall, Art in Odd Places is a delightful and inspiring way to spend a day or an evening in Union Square. It's a snapshot of the creativity and diversity of the city, and a reminder of the power that art has to bring people together. So the next time October rolls around, keep an eye out for the festival's brightly colored banners and let yourself be drawn into the world of Art in Odd Places.


Sampling food at the weekly food market Smorgasburg at the nearby Westfield WTC Transit Hub (about 10-15 minutes by subway)

Source: Eater NY

Union Square in NYC is a bustling area with lots to offer locals and visitors alike. One of the highlights of the area is the weekly food market known as Smorgasburg. Located just a short subway ride away at the Westfield WTC Transit Hub, this food market offers a wide range of culinary delights for the adventurous foodie.

For those unfamiliar with the concept of Smorgasburg, it is essentially a massive food festival that takes place every weekend in various locations around the city (and even the country!). The event features dozens of vendors offering a diverse selection of food and drink options, ranging from classic New York fare to international cuisine.

Visitors to Smorgasburg can expect to find everything from artisanal pizza and gourmet tacos to hand-crafted ice cream and exotic beverages. There are also many vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free options available, ensuring that there is something for everyone.

One of the best things about Smorgasburg is the opportunity to sample a wide range of foods without committing to a full meal. Many vendors offer small plates or bite-sized portions, making it easy to try multiple dishes without getting too full.

Another great aspect of Smorgasburg is the sense of community that it fosters. The event attracts a diverse crowd of food enthusiasts, families, and even pets (yes, some vendors offer dog-friendly treats!). People from all walks of life come together to enjoy good food, music, and conversation.

While Smorgasburg is located a bit of a trek from Union Square, the journey is well worth it. There are several subway lines that can take you to the Westfield WTC Transit Hub, and the trip should take no more than 10-15 minutes. Once you arrive, simply follow the crowds to the outdoor plaza where Smorgasburg is held.

In conclusion, if you find yourself in Union Square and are craving some tasty food, consider making the trip to Smorgasburg. This weekly food market is a true NYC gem and offers an unforgettable culinary experience. So grab some friends or family, hop on the subway, and head to the Westfield WTC Transit Hub for some delicious eats!

Frequently asked questions

Some of the top things to do in Union Square NYC include shopping at the Union Square Greenmarket, visiting the Union Square Park and enjoying live performances, and exploring the nearby museums like the Museum of the American Indian or the Rubin Museum of Art.

Yes, there are many free activities to do in Union Square NYC such as watching street performers, enjoying the public art scattered throughout the park, and attending yoga classes offered in the park by various organizations.

The best time to visit Union Square NYC is during the warmer months from April to September. During these months, there are many outdoor events and happenings taking place in the park including outdoor movie screenings, music performances, and fitness classes.

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Tess West

I recently visited Union Square in NYC and had such a great time exploring all the things to do there! The farmer's market was definitely a highlight for me - the variety of fresh produce and unique artisanal goods was amazing. I also loved browsing the boutiques and shops in the area, there were so many trendy and unique finds. And of course, you can't forget about the delicious food options! I sampled some fantastic food from various food trucks and restaurants. Overall, Union Square is a must-visit spot in NYC for anyone looking for a fun and vibrant atmosphere.
Thank you for sharing your experience at Union Square in NYC! I'm so glad to hear that you had a great time exploring all the things to do there. The farmer's market sounds like a wonderful highlight - it's always so exciting to discover fresh produce and unique artisanal goods. Browsing the boutiques and shops in the area must have been a treat, with all the trendy and unique finds on offer. And the food options sound absolutely delicious! Trying out fantastic food from food trucks and restaurants is always a great way to experience a vibrant atmosphere. I'll definitely add Union Square to my list of must-visit spots in NYC!

Nicole Young

I've been to Union Square in NYC a few times now and it never disappoints. The park itself is lovely, with plenty of benches to sit and people-watch. On weekends, there are often street performers entertaining the crowds, which adds to the lively atmosphere. I always make sure to stop by the Strand Bookstore, which is a book-lover's paradise with its extensive collection of both new and used books. And if you're a fan of art, the Museum of Mathematics is worth a visit too, with its interactive and engaging exhibits. Union Square truly has something for everyone!

Kelvin Shepard

Whenever I'm in NYC, I always make it a point to spend some time in Union Square. The energy and buzz of the area is infectious and there's always something happening. The Greenmarket is a must-visit, with its array of fresh produce and local products. I love picking up some fruits and snacks to enjoy while taking a leisurely stroll through the park. And if you're a history enthusiast like me, the Union Square Historical District is definitely worth exploring. It's fascinating to learn about the square's rich history and how it has evolved over the years. Union Square is a true gem in NYC!

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