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As part of a summer series, T+L is highlighting amazing lesser-known attractions found in the United States. Next up: a super charming swatch of Manhattan.

Alex Van Buren

New York City’s charming South Street Seaport, a designated 11-block historic district that was a hotspot in the mid-19th century, has been changing quickly and dramatically thanks to recent construction.

With lots more (including a 60-story tower) on the way, arguably the right time to enjoy the seaport is right now. There are plenty of ways to do so, whether you’re 4 or 64, from an oversized set of blue Legos to a historic 19th-century schooner that floats around the harbor.

And, of course, there are those stunning views of the Brooklyn Bridge. Here are a few things to keep an eye out for in the Seaport right now.  

Sail on a 19th-Century Schooner

The South Street Seaport Museum, which maintains several centuries-old schooners, has in its fleet an 1885 boat called the Pioneer, which during the summer you can book for 2-hour floating tours of the harbor. Pack a lunch and a bottle of wine; the boat is BYOB and snacks—and if you time it right, you can catch the sunset.

Eat a Lobster Roll at Smorgasburg

From Memorial Day to December, folks can tuck into a tasty Red Hook Lobster Pound lobster roll or sticky Filipino-inspired chicken wings at this Seaport outpost of the Williamsburg-spawned food court phenomenon. Either makes for good eating while gawking at the bridge. 

Play with Giant Puzzle Pieces

We’ve yet to meet the kid that doesn’t get excited about Legos and their ilk, which perhaps helps explain the charm of the Imagination Playground. With giant blue blocks that fit together in strange shapes, the playground is a smart stop if your kid needs a kid-only extravaganza.

See Live Music

Maybe it’s the proximity to water, but something about the seaport seems to lure musicians. Keep an eye on its events calendar for options such as the 4Knots Music Festival on July 9, this year featuring both old-school fave Guided by Voices and new-school superstar Car Seat Headrest.

Have a Pint at One of New York’s Oldest Irish Pubs

Yes, there’s lots of shopping, eating and imbibing to be done around here, but few of the old-school stalwarts remain. It’s worth stopping into a few that are holding the fort, including The Paris Café, which has been around since 1873. It survived Hurricane Sandy despite being submerged, and tipping back a Guinness here is a fine way to support its recovery.

Get Broadway Tickets

You could wait… and wait…and wait for discounted Broadway tickets at the TKTS booth in Times Square, or you could head to the Seaport outpost, which tends to have much shorter lines.

Have a Drink with One Heck of a View

The Seaport can get a bit bananas, tourists-wise, and you might just want an escape. Walk a few minutes away, and the city has you covered, with a semi-secret, open-to-the-public park with lovely views. Elevated Acre is a couple of escalators up from the “ground floor” of lower Manhattan. Decked out with green space and seating, with broad vistas, it’s a great escape from the hubbub. Bonus: Although now you can picnic there with your own eats and drinks, soon you’ll be able to have a drink or a bite there, too, when Sky 55 opens in the summer of 2016. 

Alex Van Buren is a writer living in Brooklyn, New York. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram @alexvanburen.

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