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Manhattan is NYC’s most popular borough, and it’s pretty big, so it helps to know some specific Manhattan neighborhoods.
Familiarizing yourself with the different parts of Manhattan will make it easier to explore the city and plan your day. While it can be fun to just wander around and discover interesting sites, it’s better to know where you’re going, especially if it’s your first time here. We’ve been to NYC several times, and I’m still amazed by how distinct each neighborhood is.
In this guide, I’ll share the 15 best Manhattan neighborhoods and what you can see there. Many of these areas are great places to stay in NYC, so I’ll also recommend some hotels. Finally, at the end of this article, you’ll find a Manhattan neighborhoods map so you can easily locate the different parts and their proximity to popular attractions.
1. Midtown, the most popular neighborhood in Manhattan
Midtown is in the center of Manhattan, stretching from 59th Street to 34th Street between 3rd and 8th Avenues. This is where you’ll find many of the city’s top landmarks, including the Empire State Building, Grand Central Terminal, the Chrysler Building, Rockefeller Center, and St. Patrick’s Cathedral.
This is one of the largest districts of Manhattan, so you’ll find smaller neighborhoods within Midtown. For example, Times Square is an entertainment haven with Broadway theaters, live performers, and attractions like Madame Tussauds and M&Ms World.
If the weather is nice, check out Bryant Park and the New York Public Library. For something to do indoors, the Museum of Modern Art is a great option, as is the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum. Walking along the length of 5th Avenue, you’ll find luxury stores and designer brands like Saks Fifth Avenue, Armani, Louis Vuitton, Cartier, Coach, Dolce & Gabbana, and Gucci.
Another great thing about this Manhattan neighborhood is that you’ll find a restaurant to satisfy any appetite. That said, I recommend Per Se, The Modern, Marea, or Le Bernardin if you want to try one of the best restaurants in NYC.
- Recommended accommodation: The Whitby Hotel offers boutique accommodation and an excellent location near MoMA, St. Patrick’s Cathedral, and the Rockefeller Center. It’s considered one of the best hotels in NYC. Over in Times Square’s Theater District, Row NYC offers beautiful rooms and contemporary spaces for you to enjoy, and it’s one of the best cheap hotels in NYC, in case you’re on a budget.
2. Chelsea, the best Manhattan neighborhood
Chelsea is one of the coolest neighborhoods in NYC, thanks to its upscale and artsy vibe. If you like to browse art galleries and flea markets, this is the place for you.
You’ll find it all at Chelsea Market, one of the best places to visit in NYC. This food court and shopping area are in an old Nabisco factory, and today you can find just about anything here. There are over 200 vendors selling everything from artisanal cheeses and ethnic foods to handicrafts and unique clothing. Chelsea Market is also home to several offices for companies like Google, as well as art galleries.
Another highlight of this Manhattan neighborhood is the High Line, an elevated park running from Gansevoort St. in the Meatpacking District to W. 34th St. near Hudson Yards. These former train tracks are now a scenic walkway where you can get lovely views, take a seat, and enjoy some street art. At the northern end of the High Line, you can see The Vessel at Hudson Yards, a beehive-shaped observation deck.
Other fun things to do in Chelsea include visiting Madison Square Garden for a concert or basketball game, shopping at Macy’s flagship store, and admiring the works at the Rubin Art Museum.
- Recommended accommodation: The Maritime Hotel is a gorgeous nautical-themed hotel with a restaurant and gym, and it’s next to the High Line.
3. Lower East Side, a Manhattan neighborhood with lots to do
You can’t go wrong with a day on the Lower East Side since this Manhattan neighborhood has a bit of everything. Here, you’ll find chic high rises, old tenement buildings, museums, live music venues, and all kinds of bars, clubs, and restaurants.
This is also one of the best Manhattan neighborhoods for foodies, so bring your appetite. I recommend Katz’s Delicatessen for a quick bite to eat or Russ & Daughters for a classic New York bagel. If you can’t decide where to eat, I suggest this food and culture walking tour, which stops at four traditional cafes and bakeries. It’s one of the best food tours in NYC, and you’ll get to try Jewish knishes, Chinese fried dumplings, and other delicious foods.
Round out your day on the Lower East Side with some culture by visiting one of the area’s museums. Check out contemporary art at the New Museum or see the most prestigious photographs at the International Center of Photography Museum. The Tenement Museum is a National Historic Landmark comprised of two buildings that housed 15,000 immigrants between 1863 and 2011.
To end your day, grab drinks at a rooftop bar or speakeasy, like Mr. Purple or Please Don’t Tell, one of my favorite speakeasies in NYC.
- Recommended accommodation: The Ludlow is an elegant and welcoming hotel with guest parking, a restaurant, and a garden where you can sit outside and relax. It is one of the best hotels in Downtown especially if you’re looking for a luxury hotel in New York.
4. TriBeCa, another trendy neighborhood in Manhattan
TriBeCa is another cool neighborhood in Manhattan with trendy restaurants, boutiques, old industrial buildings, and lofts. Its name comes from its location, the Triangle Below Canal, and TriBeCa is bordered by Canal St. in the north, Broadway to the east, Vesey St. in the south, and the Hudson River to the west.
This Lower Manhattan neighborhood is known for its cobblestone streets, impressive architecture, and the Tribeca Film Festival, which takes place every spring. You can easily spend a few hours strolling the streets and popping in and out of cute shops and sidewalk cafes.
While you wander, keep an eye out for some magnificent landmarks like St. Peter’s Roman Catholic Church; the Jenga Building, which looks like a massive game of Jenga; and the Woolworth Building, which has extravagant neo-Gothic elements. TriBeCa is also home to the Firehouse, Hook & Ladder Company 8, which was featured as the headquarters in the Ghostbusters movies.
Another thing that makes TriBeCa one of the best parts of Manhattan is that it’s conveniently located near other interesting areas. To the west is Hudson River Park, where you can get great views of the Hudson River, while to the south, you’ll find One World Observatory. Chinatown is to the east, and to the north, you’ll find SoHo, another neighborhood I’ll talk about next.
- Recommended accommodation: The swanky Four Seasons Hotel New York Downtown is like a home away from home, with a gym, spa, and restaurant. It’s one of the best 5-star hotels in NYC and one of the few hotels with an indoor pool in Manhattan.
5. SoHo, the best Manhattan neighborhood for shopping
SoHo is another Lower Manhattan neighborhood spanning W. Houston St. and Canal St. between 6th Avenue and Crosby Street. It’s a hip area where you’ll see lots of artists, shops, and cast-iron architecture. Everyone can enjoy themselves here, which is why it’s one of the best Manhattan neighborhoods to add to your itinerary.
If you like museums, there are several places I recommend checking out, including the Leslie-Lohman Museum of Art, The Drawing Center, and the New York City Fire Museum. Also, the Museum of Chinese in America is one of the top cultural institutes in Manhattan. If you’re traveling with kids or friends, the Museum of Ice Cream is lots of fun.
There are plenty of shopping and dining venues here too, many of which are high-end and gourmet. It’s worth grabbing a sweet treat at Dominique Ansel Bakery or a slice of NY-style pizza at Lombardi’s. When the sun goes down, SoHo’s nightlife comes alive, so hit one of the clubs or go bar-hopping.
You can make the most of a quick visit to SoHo with this 2-hour walking tour, which goes through SoHo’s Historic Cast-Iron District. You’ll see the E.V. Haughwout Building, the Old Police Station, and the Ravenite Club before walking through Little Italy and Chinatown.
- Recommended accommodation: The luxurious Crosby Street Hotel is perfect for couples and serves a delicious breakfast and afternoon tea. If you’re looking for a boutique hotel in NYC, this is an excellent choice.
6. Chinatown, another great Manhattan neighborhood to visit
A visit to NYC isn’t complete without checking out Chinatown. Not only is this one of the best places in Manhattan, but it’s perfect for foodies. There are lots of Asian restaurants here, so whether you’re craving dumplings, hand-drawn noodles, or sushi, you’ll find it in Chinatown.
Nom Wah Tea Parlor has amazing dim sum, while Ping’s specializes in Cantonese food and fresh seafood. If you can’t decide, Tasty Hand-Pulled Noodles is always a good option.
Other places to visit in Chinatown include the Canal Street Market, which straddles the border between Chinatown and SoHo. This marketplace has tons of vendors selling all kinds of items, so it’s a must-do if you love bargain-hunting. Pearl River Mart is another shopping mecca in Chinatown where you can browse furniture, clothing, housewares, art supplies, and more.
Finally, Chinatown is one of the most unique neighborhoods in Manhattan, and its landmarks are proof of this. For example, the Original Chinatown Ice Cream Factory has been serving delicious ice cream flavors since 1978. You can also visit the Mahayana Buddhist Temple, the largest Buddhist temple in NYC.
The “Bloody Angle” at Doyers Street, one of the most famous streets in New York City, has been featured in many films, but it also has a grim history as the site of many murders from the early 20th century until the 1930s. Don’t worry because these days, it’s a much safer area.
- Recommended accommodation: The Bowery Hotel, a 5-star resort with incredible attention to detail, is one of the best hotels in Manhattan.
7. Little Italy, one of the best neighborhoods in Manhattan for foodies
While you’re in Chinatown, cross over Canal Street into Little Italy. This Manhattan neighborhood is like a time capsule of old New York, and it has enough authentic Italian food to satisfy the biggest appetites.
With its large population of Italian Americans and its rich history, Little Italy is a great place to go for delicious food and Italian traditions. You can also learn about the city’s mafia and gang-related history, in a safe way, of course.
If you come here in September, you can witness the Feast of San Gennaro Festival, which is dedicated to the patron saint of Naples, Italy, Saint Januarius. The event includes a Grand Procession, celebratory Mass, games, and of course, food.
You can enjoy amazing dishes here year-round, like pasta, cannoli, and fresh cheese from Alleva Dairy, the oldest cheese shop in the U.S. A NY-style pizza is one of the best foods in NYC, so grab a slice at Manero’s or Lombardi’s.
The food is also good at Umberto’s Clam House, although the restaurant is more famous for being the site of the 1972 murder of gangster Joe Gallo. Other landmarks to check out include the Italian American Museum and the Church of the Most Precious Blood, which is the cathedral dedicated to San Gennaro.
- Recommended accommodation: Again, The Bowery Hotel is a great choice, plus it’s conveniently located between Little Italy and Chinatown.
8. Upper West Side, the best Manhattan neighborhood for arts and culture
Nestled between the Hudson River and Central Park, the Upper West Side is a lovely residential neighborhood in Manhattan. Its prosperous townhouses intermingle with the brownstone buildings from the early 20th century, creating an iconic image of New York City.
The Upper West Side is a popular place for intellects and patrons of the arts, thanks to its various cultural institutions. For example, the American Museum of Natural History is one of the best museums in NYC, with over 34 million artifacts. You can also visit the Children’s Museum of Manhattan and the American Folk Art Museum.
If you prefer the performing arts, take your pick between a show at the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, the Metropolitan Opera, the New York City Ballet, or the Beacon Theatre.
That said, the Upper West Side is one of the best Manhattan neighborhoods to stroll through and sightsee. To the north is the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, while Riverside Park runs along the western side of the neighborhood. Further south, you can visit the John Lennon Memorial, Strawberry Fields, in Central Park, as well as the Sheep Meadow and the Central Park Carousel.
- Recommended accommodation: Hotel Beacon is one of the best hotels in the city, with elegant rooms, a restaurant, a gym, and a convenient location. If you are traveling on a Budget, then I recommend the West Side YMCA. It’s one of the cheapest places to stay in Manhattan.
9. Upper East Side, one of the richest neighborhoods in Manhattan
If you cut through Central Park, you’ll get to the Upper East Side, a different part of Manhattan with its own attractions and landmarks. This wealthy neighborhood is known for its luxury shops and elegant restaurants, so it’s the perfect place to go if you want to feel like a New Yorker for a day.
The Upper East Side is also an excellent Manhattan neighborhood for art lovers. The section of Fifth Avenue running from 82nd to 110th Street has been nicknamed “Museum Mile” thanks to its collection of museums and cultural institutions. Visiting them is one of the top things to do on the Upper East Side of Manhattan.
This is where you can find some of the most famous museums in the country, like the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Guggenheim Museum, and The Frick Collection. Some other great museums here include El Museo del Barrio, The Jewish Museum, and the Museum for African Art.
For the most beautiful view of Manhattan, catch the Roosevelt Island Tram at 60th Street and 2nd Avenue. Or hop on the NY Ferry at the East 90th Street dock and ride over to Queens or Brooklyn.
- Recommended accommodation: The Pierre hotel has a prime location along Fifth Avenue, next to Central Park, and boasts nice views, a restaurant, a bar/lounge, and white glove service. It’s one of the most luxurious hotels in NYC.
10. Harlem, one of the most diverse neighborhoods in Manhattan
North of Central Park is Harlem, one of the most distinct neighborhoods in Manhattan. Harlem is quite large, stretching from 110th Street to 155th Street, bound by the Harlem River to the east and the Hudson River to the west.
This Upper Manhattan neighborhood stands out for its rich African American heritage. During the Great Migration of the 1920s, large numbers of Black people moved up north and settled in this area. This sparked the Harlem Renaissance, an artistic and cultural movement that put Black literature, music, and art at the forefront.
To this day, Harlem is a hub for jazz, soul food, and theater. You can’t miss the Apollo Theater, which opened in 1913 and featured performers like Duke Ellington, Ray Charles, Otis Redding, and Aretha Franklin. I also recommend visiting Bill’s Place, a jazz club where you can listen to the finest live music in town. It’s also a speakeasy, although you have to bring your own bottle.
The bars and clubs of Harlem are lots of fun, but if you want a substantial meal, you should check out Sylvia’s Restaurant, which has been known as the “Queen of Soul Food” since 1962. It’s the perfect place to go after a traditional Sunday gospel service.
For a bit of history, go to the National Jazz Museum, the Langston Hughes House, or the Studio Museum in Harlem. The Sugar Hill Children’s Museum of Art & Storytelling and the Graffiti Hall of Fame in East Harlem are also worth visiting.
- Recommended accommodation: Aloft Harlem is an intimate and reasonably priced accommodation by the Apollo Theater.
11. Financial District, another one of the best neighborhoods in Manhattan
The Financial District is at the southern tip of Manhattan, and it’s well worth venturing down to this area. Of course, this Manhattan district is known for its financial institutions, but it’s also home to historic buildings, public art, and a lovely waterfront park.
First, you must check out Bowling Green, the oldest park in NYC and the original Dutch settlement of 17th-century New Amsterdam. Several important landmarks surround the park, such as the Alexander Hamilton U.S. Custom House, the International Mercantile Marine Company Building, and the Charging Bull statue.
Walking along Wall Street is a must-do in the Financial District, and this is where you’ll see other attractions like the New York Stock Exchange, the Fearless Girl statue, Federal Hall, and Trinity Church. You can see all these places during this Wall Street tour, one of the top walking tours in NYC.
After mingling with the skyscrapers and the young professionals, take a break at The Battery, where you can see Castle Clinton, stroll along Monument Walk, and hop on the Staten Island Ferry. I also recommend the One World Observatory and the 9/11 Museum (you can get a combo ticket here).
- Recommended accommodation: The Artezen Hotel is in the center of the Financial District and has an outdoor terrace, a gym, and an excellent staff.
12. Greenwich Village, another Manhattan neighborhood with great food
Greenwich Village is one of the most popular neighborhoods in Manhattan, and a place you must add to your itinerary. It spans the area from the Hudson River to Broadway between 14th and Houston Streets, and it’s one of the most iconic spots in NYC.
Back in the 1960s, Greenwich Village was a hub for counterculture communities like hippies and beat poets. Today, the neighborhood is still very artsy and full of alternative shops, off-Broadway theaters, and cultural institutes. I recommend visiting the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Comedy Cellar, and Fat Cat Jazz.
Also, you may recognize this cool Manhattan neighborhood from TV. Greenwich Village is home to the apartment from Friends as well as Carrie Bradshaw’s famous stoop from Sex and the City.
Two highlights that you can’t miss are Stonewall Inn and Washington Square Park. The former was the site of the 1969 Stonewall Riots for LGBTQ+ rights, while the latter is one of the best parks in the city. You can see both of these landmarks and several more on this Greenwich Village tour, one of the best tours in NYC.
Finally, Greenwich Village is known for its delicious bakeries and cafes, so if you love sweets, you’ll enjoy this boutique cupcakes walking tour.
- Recommended accommodation: The Marlton Hotel is a block from Washington Square Park and has lush guest rooms where you can enjoy a restful night’s sleep.
13. East Village, a unique neighborhood in Manhattan
Known for its nightlife scene, the East Village is another Manhattan neighborhood I recommend. It’s along the East River, between 14th and Houston Streets, and it’s home to all kinds of bars, clubs, lounges, and live music venues. Some hotspots include Proletariat, Barcade, Please Don’t Tell, and The Ready Rooftop.
Not only is the East Village in Manhattan a great place to grab drinks, but it’s also a fun spot for paranormal enthusiasts. There are lots of haunted sites throughout this neighborhood, like McSorley’s Old Ale House, the oldest pub in NYC. You can see all the eerie attractions on this East Village haunted tour, one of the best ghost tours in NYC.
Of course, the East Village is just as enjoyable during the day, thanks to its thrift stores, boutiques, and restaurants. Check out St. Mark’s Place for all kinds of shopping and dining, or the iconic Strand Book Store, which was founded in 1927. The Ukrainian Museum and the Museum of the American Gangster are also very interesting.
- Recommended accommodation: The East Village Hotel is centrally located near the most popular attractions in this neighborhood, and it’s reasonably priced.
14. Flatiron District, a Manhattan neighborhood with great architecture
The Flatiron District is a smaller Manhattan neighborhood located in Midtown, but it’s worth pointing out thanks to its amazing architecture. Of course, the Flatiron Building is one of the most famous New York buildings, but that’s just the beginning.
The Flatiron Building stands out for its narrow design, which is just 25° at its tightest angle. While you’re here, I recommend heading over to the New York Life Insurance Building, a neo-Gothic structure topped with a gilded pyramid. Also, check out the New York State Appellate Division Courthouse, an impressive Beaux-Arts-style building with Corinthian columns and statues.
The iconic Fifth Avenue also runs through the Flatiron District, so take a stroll and check out Madison Square Park, the Museum of Sex, or the National Museum of Mathematics. The Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons is another intriguing attraction and the most important Freemasons lodge in the country, dating back to 1782.
- Recommended accommodation: The New York EDITION is a 5-star hotel in the Metropolitan Life Clock Tower, and it’s right next to Madison Square Park.
15. Garment District, the most fashionable neighborhood in Manhattan
The Garment District, also known as the Fashion District, is a stylish Manhattan neighborhood spanning 34th Street to 42nd Street between 6th and 9th Avenues. If you love fashion or you’re just interested in the trendsetters of New York, this place is worth a visit.
Here, you’ll find showrooms and luxury brand stores like Burberry, Tommy Hilfiger, MAC Cosmetics, Levi’s, and Macy’s flagship store at Herald Square. You can also shop at Mood Fabrics, the fabric store that rose to fame after appearing in the TV show Project Runway.
I also recommend taking a stroll along the Fashion Walk of Fame on 7th Avenue, from 35th Street to 41st Street. This corridor is adorned with plaques commemorating monumental fashion designers like Marc Jacobs, Calvin Klein, and Bill Blass. You’ll also see two interesting sculptures, The Garment Worker, and Needle Threading a Button.
For food, check out Keens Steakhouse, Shake Shack, or Magic Hour, one of the best rooftop bars in NYC.
- Recommended accommodation: Stay at the Arlo Midtown, a 4-star hotel with free bike rentals, a gym, a bar, and nice balcony rooms.
Manhattan neighborhoods map
I hope you enjoyed learning about some of the most popular neighborhoods in Manhattan. I’d like to share this map of Manhattan with all the neighborhoods I mentioned. It’s also worth checking out our other NYC tourist maps to see where all the attractions and public transit routes are.
With that, I wish you a wonderful trip to the Big Apple, and I’d love to hear from you if you have any questions or experiences to share. Have fun!