The best things to do in New York's SoHo

So check some of the best things to do:

Where to eat and drink

To keep on the old-school theme, it's hard to go wrong with a visit to Fanelli Cafe (also called "Fanelli's," depending who you ask), a burger-and-beer joint that's been a haven for artists and musicians such as Bob Dylan. Look for the bright-red "Fanelli" sign and head into the cafe, which has been in business (although not always the alcohol business) since the 1840s. Though the menu has modernized a bit -- they have veggie burgers and craft beer on offer now -- Fanelli still feels like a little slice of that New York City most of us have only seen in movies.

Where to shop (besides the usual places)

McNally also carries a healthy stock of graphic notecards, journals and hard-to-find art and design magazines from around the world.

Where to get your culture fix

For years, New York had an uptown-downtown divide: the big-name museums were all uptown, while small galleries were downtown in SoHo and other neighborhoods.

Nearby, the New York Earth Room is a peculiar and beautiful project run by the Dia foundation, probably best known for the sprawling Dia museum upstate in Beacon.

The Earth Room is what it sounds like -- a site-specific installation by Walter De Maria that is literally a mound of dirt in a large room. The free attraction is tucked into a SoHo apartment building, so you'll need to buzz (and walk up a few flights of stairs) to get in, but the room has an eerily calm, meditative quality -- a rarity in downtown NYC.