The Big Apple is full of interesting sites that you can find scattered throughout the best New York City neighborhoods. Whether you want to see the top tourist attractions in NYC, or you’d like to get off the beaten path, it helps to plan which New York City neighborhoods you’ll visit.
Of course, many of the coolest NYC neighborhoods are in Manhattan, although you can also find great places to check out in the other boroughs in New York City. It all depends on what you’re looking for and what your interests are. If you’re an art lover, a foodie, a history buff, or a shopaholic, there is an NYC neighborhood for you.
To help you out, I’m sharing the 15 best neighborhoods in the Big Apple so you can find the perfect place to visit. Also, don’t forget to download the neighborhood map of New York City at the end of this guide to help you plan your itinerary.
1. TriBeCa, Manhattan, one of the trendiest neighborhoods in New York City
This list of neighborhoods in New York City wouldn’t be complete without mentioning TriBeCa. This trendy area is known for its cobblestone streets lined with industrial lofts, artist’s galleries, and boutique shops.
TriBeCa is the Triangle Below Canal, so it’s close to the buzzing shopping district on Canal Street. This neighborhood also shares a border with SoHo, where you can find even more things to do. That said, TriBeCa offers its own unique mix of landmarks, like the dizzying Jenga Building, the Neo-Gothic Woolworth Building, and St. Peter’s Roman Catholic Church. To the south, you can visit One World Observatory, the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere, at 1,776 feet. You can see all of Manhattan from here, but if you prefer staying on the ground, I suggest going to Hudson River Park, where you can admire the skyline views by the water.
In addition, TriBeCa is one of the best NYC neighborhoods to visit in the spring because this is when you can attend the Tribeca Film Festival.
- Recommended accommodation: The Four Seasons Hotel New York Downtown, is the best hotel in downtown NYC if you want luxury and comfort.
2. DUMBO, Brooklyn, the most scenic neighborhood in New York City
DUMBO stands for Down Under Manhattan Bridge Overpass, and if you go to Washington Street between Front and Water streets, you’ll find DUMBO’s iconic viewpoint. From here, you can see the Manhattan Bridge between the city’s industrial buildings, with the Empire State Building perfectly framed beneath it.
Another thing that makes DUMBO one of the best places to visit in Brooklyn is the Brooklyn Bridge. It looks amazing day and night, although if you go during the day, you can also visit Brooklyn Bridge Park.
I also recommend mingling with the locals by going to one of the restaurants or bars in the area. Grab pizza at Grimaldi’s or Juliana’s, then browse for treasures at the Brooklyn Flea market, the most popular flea market in NYC. If you’re short on time, this walking tour is an excellent introduction to the DUMBO neighborhood.
- Recommended accommodation: 1 Hotel Brooklyn Bridge, is one of the best hotels in Brooklyn, with comfortable rooms, nice views, and an accommodating staff.
3. Chinatown, Manhattan, the Chinese and Southeast Asian neighborhood in NYC
A visit to the Big Apple isn’t complete without visiting Chinatown, one of the most interesting neighborhoods in NYC. Located next to SoHo, Chinatown is one of the top places in Manhattan for foodies, thanks to all the wonderful restaurants here.
Arrive hungry, because you’ll want to feast on pork dumplings, fresh noodles, dim sum, sushi, and more. Some restaurants to check out include Nom Wah Tea Parlor and Tasty Hand-Pulled Noodles. I also recommend perusing the vendor stalls at Canal Street Market or Pearl River Mart. Both venues offer all kinds of items and unique treasures, so it’s a fun place to go bargain-hunting.
In addition to being one of the best ethnic neighborhoods in New York City, Chinatown is also home to fascinating landmarks like the Original Chinatown Ice Cream Factory and the Mahayana Buddhist Temple. Don’t miss Doyers Street, which is small but holds lots of history. It was known as the “Bloody Angle” due to the string of murders that occurred there in the 1920s and 30s. Of course, it’s safe to visit today.
- Recommended accommodation: Stay at The Bowery Hotel, which is conveniently located by Chinatown, SoHo, and Little Italy. Besides, it’s one of the best luxury hotels in Manhattan.
4. East Village, Manhattan, one of the most unique NYC neighborhoods
The East Village is a melting pot of cultures, so it’s one of the best NYC neighborhoods to include in your itinerary. Everyone will find something to pique their interest here, and you may also discover some hidden gems.
For example, the East Village has one of the best speakeasies in NYC, Please Don’t Tell (PDT). You have to enter through Crif Dogs and go to the phone booth to contact the staff. It’s on St. Mark’s Place, one of the most famous streets in NYC with a diverse array of shops and retailers.
If you love going out at night, you’ll have a great time in the East Village since it has plenty of bars, clubs, and live music venues. Along with PDT, I also recommend visiting The Ready Rooftop and McSorley’s Old Ale House. The latter is the oldest pub in the city, and it’s said to be haunted. You can learn more about the spirits that dwell at the pub and other places in the East Village on this ghost tour.
- Recommended accommodation: The East Village Hotel has beautiful guest studios, an on-site coffee shop, and it’s right by the New York City subway station.
5. Midtown, Manhattan, the most popular New York City neighborhood
Midtown is one of the most popular neighborhoods in New York City, and for good reason. It’s definitely worth visiting to see all the well-known landmarks here that make the Big Apple so great.
For example, you can see the impressive Empire State Building, the bustling Rockefeller Center, and other attractions like the Chrysler Building, Grand Central Terminal, and the New York Public Library. Next to the library, you’ll find Bryant Park, which always has something fun to do, whether you visit during the summer or at Christmastime.
As the center of Manhattan, Midtown is a hub for activity and sightseeing. Some of the best museums in NYC are in Midtown, like MoMA and the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum. Also, you can’t miss the stores, attractions, and street performers at Times Square.
Another thing that makes Midtown a famous New York City neighborhood is Fifth Avenue, a premiere shopping destination where you can find luxury and designer brands. From here, you can see many New York landmarks hovering over the skyline.
- Recommended accommodation: The Whitby Hotel is one of the best hotels in Manhattan, with elegant rooms, romantic suites, and everything you need to feel at home.
6. Williamsburg, Brooklyn, the Jewish neighborhood in New York City
Over in Brooklyn, you’ll find Williamsburg, another can’t-miss neighborhood in NYC. Williamsburg is lively and friendly, with plenty of fun things to do during the day and throughout the night. Here, you can admire the colorful street art, the memorabilia at the City Reliquary, views of the Williamsburg Bridge, and fresh air at Domino Park.
Williamsburg is also known as the Jewish neighborhood in New York City, as it was originally an Orthodox Jewish community. Today, it still has one of the largest Jewish populations in the city, specifically Hasidic Jews from Eastern Europe. As you walk through the neighborhood, you’ll notice temples and stores owned by Jewish shopkeepers, with signs in Yiddish.
Williamsburg is also one of the best neighborhoods in New York City to enjoy the nightlife, so after dark, head to the BKLYN Comedy Club or Brooklyn Bowl. You can also treat yourself to a meal at Peter Luger Steakhouse, one of the best restaurants in NYC, or go dancing at Black Flamingo, a top NYC nightclub.
- Recommended accommodation: Pod Brooklyn is one of the best cheap hotels in Brooklyn where you don’t have to sacrifice quality for a great price.
7. Little Italy, the Italian neighborhood in NYC
Little Italy is another spot with amazing food, so it’s one of the best neighborhoods to visit in NYC. Here you can indulge in some of the best foods in NYC, like authentic Italian cannoli, wood-fired pizzas, and hand-made pastas.
Don’t forget to visit the country’s oldest cheese shop, Alleva Dairy, as well as Umberto’s Clam House, which is known as the restaurant where American gangster Joe Gallo was shot in 1972. Along with its delicious cuisine, Little Italy is also famous for its mobster and mafia history, which you can learn more about on this walking tour.
Some other landmarks to check out include the Italian American Museum and the Church of the Most Precious Blood. It’s dedicated to San Gennaro, and if you visit during September, you can see the Feast of San Gennaro Festival. This celebration honors the patron saint of Naples, Italy, and includes a Grand Procession, community activities, and lots of food. It’s one of the best ways to experience the most popular Italian neighborhood in NYC.
- Recommended accommodation: Stay at The Bowery Hotel to take advantage of the convenient location and comfortable facilities.
8. Chelsea, the gay neighborhood in NYC
Chelsea is one of the coolest neighborhoods in NYC, thanks to its blend of hipster culture and industrial structures. It’s trendy, but not pretentious, so it’s an awesome spot to explore with family, as a couple, or even by yourself.
One of the most famous things about this neighborhood is Chelsea Market, a huge shopping venue with over 200 vendors. It’s inside an old Nabisco boxing factory, although today you can find just about anything here, including a variety of food stalls.
Right by Chelsea Market, you can find the High Line, an elevated park that sits on old train tracks. It extends a little over a mile to the Meatpacking District and offers nice views. You can follow it to the Vessel and The EDGE, two of the best observation decks in NYC.
Moreover, lots of people know Chelsea as the gay neighborhood of New York City since many of the businesses and residents here either belong to or support the LGBTQ+ community. You can see this reflected in the galleries, flea markets, boutiques, and shops here, which sell LGBTQ+ merch among all kinds of other things.
- Recommended accommodation: The Maritime Hotel has an elegant nautical theme and beautiful rooms to suit families and couples.
9. Harlem, Manhattan, a historically Black neighborhood in NYC
Harlem is another neighborhood in NYC that I recommend visiting. It’s north of Central Park, along the Harlem River, and offers a unique perspective of the city, with lots of things to do.
After the Great Migration of the 1920s, Harlem became known as the black neighborhood of NYC. This sparked the Harlem Renaissance, when Black musicians, writers, designers, and other creatives produced all kinds of work to express their African American heritage. Today, Harlem is still one of the best ethnic neighborhoods in New York City, full of diversity, art, and culture.
While you’re here, be sure to check out some of the performance venues like Bill’s Place, a famous jazz club, or the Apollo Theater. The latter opened in 1913 and saw many famous artists take the stage, like Ray Charles, Duke Ellington, Aretha Franklin, and Otis Redding. You can learn more at the National Jazz Museum or by experiencing a Sunday gospel service.
Some other attractions that you’ll only find in Harlem include the Langston Hughes House, the Studio Museum, the Sugar Hill Children’s Museum of Art & Storytelling, and the Graffiti Hall of Fame. After all that exploring, replenish yourself at Sylvia’s Restaurant, which has been known as the “Queen of Soul Food” since 1962.
- Recommended accommodation: Aloft Harlem is by the Apollo Theater and features modern rooms, a gym, and an on-site bar.
10. SoHo, Manhattan, the best shopping neighborhood in New York City
SoHo is one of the nicest neighborhoods in NYC and the perfect destination for luxury shoppers. You’ll find lots of brand-name designers here, as well as all kinds of delicious restaurants. SoHo is also home to Dominique Ansel Bakery, where you can try the famous cronut. At night, SoHo is still buzzing with life, thanks to its wide range of bars.
If you prefer daytime activities, don’t miss the interesting art galleries and museums here. As one of the artsiest neighborhoods in NYC, SoHo is home to various institutes like the Leslie-Lohman Museum of Art, The Drawing Center, and independent galleries. It’s also worth visiting the Museum of Ice Cream, the New York City Fire Museum, or the Museum of Chinese in America.
Finally, the Historic Cast-Iron District makes SoHo stand out as one of the best Manhattan neighborhoods. There are dozens of impressive structures and buildings to discover, like the Beaux Arts-style E.V. Haughwout Building.
- Recommended accommodation: The Crosby Street Hotel is one of the best boutique hotels in Manhattan, with charming guest rooms and suites, as well as afternoon tea.
11. Greenwich Village, Manhattan, a beautiful New York City neighborhood
If you’re looking for an NYC neighborhood that has it all, head to Greenwich Village. Here, you’ll find food, history, culture, and more!
Greenwich Village was a hotspot for the counterculture of the 1950s and 60s, attracting poets, authors, musicians, and free thinkers. To this day, there are lots of alternative shops, independent cafes, and innovative bakeries to explore. In fact, if you have a sweet tooth, you’ll enjoy this cupcake tour, in which you’ll learn about the history of the cupcake and taste some delicious treats.
As one of the oldest neighborhoods in New York City, Greenwich Village offers plenty of sightseeing opportunities. Be sure to check out the Stonewall Inn, site of the 1969 riots, as well as Washington Square Park, one of the best NYC parks. You can also visit the Friends apartment, the Comedy Cellar, and the Whitney Museum of American Art.
If you’re overwhelmed by all there is to do here, I recommend this walking tour, which will take you to all the highlights.
- Recommended accommodation: Stay at The Marlton Hotel, a boutique resort by Washington Square Park with luxury rooms and a restaurant.
12. Upper East Side, Manhattan, a wealthy neighborhood in New York City
The Upper East Side is one of the most prestigious and richest neighborhoods in New York City. This is where people go to surround themselves in the luxurious lifestyle of Manhattan’s elite, even if it’s just for a day.
Moreover, the Upper East Side is one of New York City’s best neighborhoods since it has incredible shops and boutiques, renowned institutions, and some of the most beautiful landmarks. For example, Fifth Avenue between 82nd and 110th streets is nicknamed the “Museum Mile.” Some of the best museums in Manhattan are here including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Guggenheim, the Frick Collection, El Museo del Barrio, The Jewish Museum, and the Museum for African Art.
Scattered among these cultural institutions, you’ll find gourmet restaurants and luxury stores. Plus, most of the museums border Central Park, a Manhattan landmark with all kinds of things to do. If you’re staying near the Upper East Side, you can check out Wollman Rink, the Pond, the Bethesda Fountain, and the Conservatory Garden.
Another great thing about this NYC neighborhood is that you can easily get to other boroughs. Get lovely views from 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: With its white-glove service, The Pierre is one of the best luxury hotels in NYC that will become your home away from home.
13. Financial District, Manhattan, a historic New York City neighborhood
Over in Lower Manhattan, the Financial District is one of the coolest NYC neighborhoods, especially if you’re into history. While it’s known for the New York Stock Exchange, the Financial District offers plenty of other attractions, like the Fearless Girl statue, Federal Hall, and Trinity Church.
This neighborhood is also home to Bowling Green, NYC’s oldest park and the site of the original 17th-century Dutch settlement of New Amsterdam. Take your time strolling through the area and admiring important landmarks like the Alexander Hamilton U.S. Custom House, the International Mercantile Marine Company Building, and the Charging Bull.
Another park you must visit is The Battery, whose name reflects its past as a defensive artillery battery. The park dates back to the 17th century, and today, you can find relics like Castle Clinton, Monument Walk, the SeaGlass Carousel, and the Bosque Fountain. The Battery is known for its green spaces and ferry terminal, where you can cruise to Staten Island or take a Statue of Liberty tour like this one.
- Recommended accommodation: Stay at the Artezen Hotel, a clean and modern resort where you can get beautiful views from your room or the hotel terrace.
14. Park Slope, Brooklyn, one of the best residential neighborhoods in NYC
Back in Brooklyn, Park Slope is another nice neighborhood in NYC. It’s a beautiful residential area with tree-lined streets, family homes, and all kinds of places to explore.
For example, some of the best museums in Brooklyn are in Park Slope, like the Brooklyn Museum and the Old Stone House. You can also visit the Brooklyn Conservatory and the Barclays Center for a show or get some fresh air at Brooklyn Botanic Garden and Green-Wood Cemetery. The latter isn’t as creepy as it sounds; rather, it’s a lovely outdoor area with lots of natural beauty and historic landmarks.
Moreover, it’s next to Prospect Park, a must-see in Brooklyn. This huge park is full of monuments, playgrounds, sports fields, and a recreation center.
Not only is Park Slope one of the best neighborhoods in NYC for families, but it’s also popular with artists and literary types, thanks to its mix of independent coffee shops, bookstores, and record stores. Without a doubt, this is one neighborhood where you’ll never get bored.
- Recommended accommodation: Hotel Le Bleu has sleek rooms, comfortable amenities, and it’s one of the only hotels in NYC with free parking, so it’s a great place to stay in Park Slope.
15. Astoria, Queens, one of the most diverse New York City neighborhoods
Queens may not be as popular as Manhattan, but it’s still worth visiting. In particular, I recommend Astoria, the best neighborhood in NYC’s Queens borough. It’s full of scenic viewpoints, green spaces, and entertaining attractions.
There are many things to do in Astoria. First, admire the scenery along the East River or Flushing Bay, where you can see the Manhattan or Brooklyn skyline. Another beautiful place to check out is Flushing Meadows Corona Park, which was built for the 1939 New York World’s Fair. It has two lakes, a skate park, several playgrounds, and sports fields, as well as the famous Unisphere sculpture. Many of the top attractions in Queens are in this park, including the Queens Museum, the New York Hall of Science, and the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center.
Next to the park, you can go to Queens Botanical Garden and, over in Astoria, it’s worth visiting Astoria Park and its famous Pool and Bathhouse. In addition, there are lots of cool museums in Queens like the Museum of the Moving Image, the Noguchi Museum, and Socrates Sculpture Park.
As you can see, Astoria is an awesome NYC neighborhood for creatives, and it also has a vibrant nightlife scene. Don’t forget to check out The Highwater, the Let Love Inn, or Bohemian Hall, the oldest beer garden in the city.
- Recommended accommodation: The Collective Paper Factory is an industrial landmark with a great location, luxurious rooms, and stunning city views. It’s also one of the cheapest hotels in Queens.
Map of neighborhoods in New York City
Now that you know the best neighborhoods of NYC, you’re ready to plan your trip. Here is a map of all New York City neighborhoods to help you organize your itinerary.
If you have any questions or you’d like to share your favorite neighborhood in NYC, feel free to leave me a comment below. I’d be happy to hear from you! Until then, I hope you have a wonderful time in the Big Apple!