Where to stay
NYC is the ultimate melting pot of the world. You are guaranteed to find a neighborhood that suits your needs here.
- Financial District is best for museums, tourist sites (9/11 Memorial, access to Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, and Brooklyn Bridge), and some historic buildings. It is a great place to see by day, but not if you are looking for evening entertainment or things to do after the work day.
- When you are in Chinatown you truly feel like you have been transported to a different place outside of New York. Chinatown is the best place in the city to find authentic (and very affordable) Chinese food. You can also come across interesting things to buy. There are kiosks and shops everywhere to find almost anything you can imagine.
- Little Italy--which is sectioned off by red, green, and white street decorations--is unfortunately a fraction of the size of what it used to be. It is a cute place to walk around and take in the architectural sites while eating some gelato or other Italian treats. It is mostly a tourist area now, but still fun to walk through.
- If you are looking for a quiet part of downtown that is extremely photogenic, TriBeCa is the neighborhood for you. Here you will find cocktail lounges, restaurants, and even the occasional celebrity sighting. The architecture and high-end shopping are also noteworthy aspects of the neighborhood.
- NoLita is a charming neighborhood that attracts the creative and artistic crowd. It is much less frantic than SoHo or Chinatown, which makes this an ideal place to wander the streets. There are plenty of coffee shops, restaurants, bars, boutiques, and places to hang out in this neighborhood. The architecture and overall vibe really make this a fantastic area.
- SoHo is the epicenter of the shopping scene in NYC. The cobble stoned streets and cast-ironed buildings make this neighborhood a beautiful sight you can't miss. Even though it has become very commercial in the recent years, there are still plenty of great restaurants, bars, and shops around the area. There are plenty of street vendors around here too if you are looking for handmade/custom goods.
- What was once the Gateway to America for millions of immigrants is now considered one of the hippest areas of Manhattan. The Lower East Side (or LES) is where you will find anything that is trendy and happening. Bars, clubs, lounges, boutiques, restaurants... This neighborhood is the definition of gentrification and is a very vibrant (and still gritty at times) part of town. You will most likely find the young and trendy hanging around here by night.
- The East Village is the neighborhood to find all opposites coexisting. You will find delicious hot dog joints (hollaaa Crif Dogs!) next to upscale cocktail lounges, speakeasies next to sports bars, trendy restaurants next to subculture boutiques, and more! It's an artistic area that is full of cool vibes.
- Greenwich Village is a perfect area of the city to wander the beautiful, tree-lined streets and get lost. NYU is also located in this area, making it a great place to find unique bookstores, cafes, boutiques, restaurants, and bars. There are also some live music venues and parks (like Washington Square Park) to check out.
- The West Village can be summed up in 3 words: shopping, food, and architecture. This neighborhood is a beautiful (and sometimes more quiet) part of the city where you can stroll the tree-lined streets, admiring the rows of gorgeous townhouses, while shopping for the latest fashions. Chic restaurants and bars have been popping up all over this neighborhood in recent years making it a great dining area as well.
- Chelsea is where you will find tons of art galleries, a thriving LGBT community, great places to eat and drink, and a lively club/bar scene. Chelsea Market and the ever-popular Highline Park are also located in this area, making it a must-see neighborhood.
- Once a land of warehouses filled with decaying meat, the Meatpacking District is where you will find all the hippest upscale designers, restaurants, bars, and nightlife. The cobble stoned streets and unique architecture make this another great area to hang out and walk around.
- What used to be the mecca for women's shopping and department stores is now known as the Flatiron District. The neighborhood is now a busy area of town that is surrounded by lovely parks, brilliant architecture, historic sites, and great dining options.
- Union Square is an energetic part of town where you can find local farmers markets, Off-Broadway shows, and a lot of people watching. It is around NYU territory so there are also local street vendors, bookstores, and stores.
- Gramercy Park, which got it's name from the only privately-owned park in the city, is primarily a residential area of town that boasts some of the city's most historic private clubs and buildings.
- Times Square, aka the epicenter of the world (as I like to think of it), is the epitome of NYC's hustle and bustle. Filled with commercial stores, restaurants, and bars, there are also quite a few hotels and places for tourists to stay around here. It is extremely loud, bright, and energetic. Come here for all of the city's popular Broadway shows.
- Rockefeller Center, Macy's, Madison Square Garden, the Garment District, and the Theatre District all call Midtown West home. Another area to find vast amounts of hotels, it is also a place to find the New York Public Library, Hell's Kitchen (amazing cuisine here), Bryant Park, and so much more. It is definitely an energetic and lively part of town.
- Midtown East is home to iconic NYC locations such as the Empire State Building, the Chrysler Building, United Nations, Grand Central Station, St. Patrick's Cathedral, and the Seagram's Building. There is also some of the world's best window-shopping amidst all of the beautiful architecture.
- Murray Hill is primarily a residential area of town, but still has some great locations to eat, including spots around Little India aka "Curry Hill." It is a mix of high-rises and random spots that attract a post-college crowd.
- The Upper West Side is known for having the most "suburban" vibe of Manhattan (if that even makes sense?). This neighborhood, which is adjacent to Central Park and Riverside Park (along the Hudson), is popular for families, young professionals, and those seeking a more relaxed uptown vibe. Rows of beautiful brownstones and old townhouses fill up the colorful streets, while new and hip restaurants and bars can be found just around every corner. Lincoln Center and a number of unique museums, such as Natural History Museum, also sit in this neighborhood.
- High society and old money is how most New Yorkers would classify the Upper East Side. Home to some of the most fascinating museums and the richest zip code in the world, the Upper East Side is an area for those who are interested in museums, luxury retail, Central park, and even architecture. "Museum Mile" hosts the famous Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, the Cooper Hewitt, the Smithsonian Design Museum, and numerous art galleries. Even though this area is highly residential, there is a breath of fresh air being let into the Upper East Side along 2nd Avenue, where visitors can find tons of lively, local restaurants and bars.
- Harlem is the final neighborhood of Manhattan that is now succumbing to gentrification. Widely known as the center of African American culture, it is home to the legendary Apollo Theatre and some beautiful historic architecture. There are new restaurants and bars opening up in this area every month, so visit soon if you wish to see that authentic soul of Harlem before it disappears!
The outer boroughs
- Brooklyn is just as lively and bustling as Manhattan nowadays (I could write an entire other Travel Guide just on Brooklyn) and you can find just as many interesting things to do here. Amazing restaurants, bars, galleries, shops, nightlife, views, parks, and on and on. Notable mentions include DUMBO, Brooklyn Heights, Williamsburg, Red Hook, Bushwick, Coney Island, Park Slope, Prospect Park, Brighton Beach, Prospect Heights, Greenpoint, Crown Heights, and Bedford-Stuyvesant...just to name a "few"...
- The Bronx is known for having some of New York's greatest attractions. If you are interested in the Bronx Zoo (which is unbelievable and a must-see), Yankee Stadium, New York Botanical Gardens, or authentic Italian food on Arthur Avenue, then definitely take the subway up for a visit to this borough.
- Queens is definitely having a moment right now. It has quickly become one of the most diverse communities in the US and continues to grow each year. Astoria is where things are happening right now, and you can visit here if you are interested in some authentic Greek food. Other must-sees are MoMA PS1, the Noguchi Museum, Jackson Heights, the Met's stadium, Citi Field, Corona, or Flushing's Chinatown. There is a lot of authentic culture that is still thriving in Queens.
- The biggest reason (ok, maybe the only reason) why you would want to visit Staten Island is to take the free 25-minute ferry in order to see views of Manhattan and the Statue of Liberty.