In the Lower East Side there's a fascinating, one of a kind museum: the Lower East Side Tenement Museum. These folks have taken two actual tenement buildings and have restored them to their 19th Century appearance, warts and all. We've all walked through historic homes ("Look! It's Rutheford B. Hayes' chamber pot!"), but this one is completely different. It brings home the reprehensible living coniditions that urban immigrants had to live in in the 19th Century. It's a moving tribute to these forgotten American pioneers: the poor garment workers and tenement dwellers. I would highly recommend it.
if taking the subway, get off at Astor Place. go immediately right upon exiting the subway, and walk across the street. keep walking in this direction - you'll pass a starbucks, and on your right, in the middle of traffic, stands the magnificent Cooper Union building, home of the prestigious art school (no, I don't go there). continue across the street to St. Marks, the heart of the east village. You'll find tons of punk-type stores, some tourist shoips, and boutiques, so just keep walking. Eventually, you'll hit the yaffa cafe (reviewed elsewhere), some cool bars and restaurants, and cute boutiques. the street ends when it hits a park, which is nice for an afternoon or morning stroll, especially when the farmer's market is out (not sure what day) with fresh organic foods. walk around this area - avenues a, b, 1, and 2, and 7th to 11th streets, and you'll find great restaurants, cute shops, and awesome vintage clothing stores. s
A group of us, having just eaten at Sushi Samba, went on recommendation of Ramon, to a bar/karaoke place, called 'Lucky Chengs'. It's located on the lower East Side, nr 2nd Ave. I believe. Free to get in, drinks are cheap and there's Karaoke until late. To watch is free, to sing it's $3. Plus, the servers, and the DJ are drag Queens. One freaked me out when she offered me a towel to dry my hands on in the toilet. Beware. Most of them look better than us women! Not a bad atmosphere, but not the most friendly either, but if you're in a group, small or large, and are looknig for a fun, cheap way to spend the evening, this is it. Plus you can get food too.