A Guide To The Neighborhoods Of Manhattan
New York is my all time favorite city. In fact, I think it is every girls’ all time favorite city, to be honest. Even long before visiting it! We don’t know.. we girls just love New York and every detail of it! It’s been two years ago since last visiting this city, and I would go back to New York any day now. If anyone would offer me a ticket to the city I wouldn’t say no for a million.
New York is a big city, and even a 7 day citytrip for me wasn’t enough to see all of it. Heck.. in seven days you might just see all the highlights of the city and the musea you want to see.. but did you experience the city good enough? Probably not.
As I can understand there is a lot to take in before and during your trip I decided to make it a little bit easier for you. So today I got into detail and I am giving you a complete New York neighborhood guide!
Let’s start with the most southern neighborhoods of Manhattan: the Financial District. The Financial District mostly means high skyscrapers, a lot of men in suits and of course: the famous Wall street.
The Financial Disrict also is the home of the 9/11 memorial and museum (very impressive), as well as the new Twin Towers, as well as Battery Park, a park at the most southern point of the island, from out where you can spot the Statue of Liberty.
The Financial District also is the home of the Brooklyn Bridge, which definitely is the most iconic sight of NYC and probably the most famous bridge of the world.
In the Financial District you can also find a lot of piers where you can take the ferry to Statue Of Liberty, the Staten Island Ferry or where you can join a boat tour to see the New York skyline from off the water.
A couple of years ago I thought China Town NYC was ‘the’ China Town of the world. While getting older and seeing more and more cities I realized this wasn’t exactly the case. However, after seeing China Town NYC in real life myself I did know it was the most beautiful China Town I ever saw. China Town is one of those neighborhoods you just have to take a stroll. Explore the markets, find the best Dim Sum and shop at the local Chineese shops!
To be honest, I’d never heard of TriBeCa before. Or, well, I heard about it in ‘How I Met Your Mother’, but I just figured that was some sort of a joke. Today I learned this neighborhood is actually called TriBeCa.
TriBeCa is a residential area in downtown New York. There used to be a lot of lofts, but these are nowadays replaced by more expensive flats. You’ll probably spot a lot of famous people around this area as well. TriBeCa also has been the décor for a lot of movies and one thing you can definitely do in this area is take a movietour. Think about SATC and Ghostbusters and you are thinking about TriBeCa.
Soho is one of those areas in New York everybody loves. The neighborhood itself already looks very typical. There are hardly any modern buildings in this part of town and most buildings that are there are built in the 19th century. Think of fire escapes and balconies and you’ll think of Soho.
From my opinion this neighborhood also is the best one of NYC for shopping and eating AND the best neighborhood to let your inner hipster come out. Soho has a lot of smaller stores and boutiques as well as designer stores like Diane von Furstenburg and DKNY, stores like H&M and Zara are on the background in this neighborhood. Soho is well known for her arts and her dozen of art galleries. You’ll find a lot of events here, small art galleries as well as big ones.
Little Italy is a small neighborhood above China Town. Little Italy is a colorful area consisting out of a couple of blocks, decorated with Italian flags and lights. As you might expected all you have to do in this neighborhood is eat. Taste authentic, delicious Italian food at one of the many, many restaurants.
The ambiance in Little Italy definitely is a big plus – it is busy, is is fun and you definitely, definitely have to check out this neighborhood.
Lower East Side & East Village
At the east side of the island, above China Town you’ll find the Lower East Side. The Lower East Side mostly is a residential aria. However the Lower East Side is also known for her dozens of cool, small shops and boutiques, her incredible night life – with tons of bars and clubs – and for some of the best restaurants in New York that are surprise, surprise: even affordable!
Above the Lower East Side you’ll find the East Village. Which is pretty comparable to the Lower East Side: a residential area with many bars (a bit more theaters in this area) and good restaurants and shops!
When visiting these neighborhoods there is one thing you definitely need to do: take a foodtour to discover the best recipes and meals of this area!
Greenwich Village probably is my most favorite neighborhood of Manhattan. Mostly because the Friends Apartment is built in this neighborhood (and Carrie’s house from SATC) which to me feels very nostalgic as I used to adore the show while I was younger. Greenwich Village is a very alive neighborhood and the shops and restaurants here have a fantastic atmosphere. Greenwich Village is one of the most beautiful (and expensive) residential areas of NYC and if I would move to NYC I would definitely check the apartments in this neighborhood first (keep dreaming, Yvonne).
In Greenwich Village you’ll also find Washington Square, a square you’ll definitely recognize once you see it, situated directly to Washington Square you’ll find the University of New York. Definitely check into Washington Square for a afternoon of people watching when you are around!
Chelsea is a big neighborhood at the west side of Manhattan just above Greenwich Village. From out Chelsea you can take the ferry over to Jersey City to discover a little bit more of the USA. Or you can stay in Manhattan, of course.
Chelsea is the home of the Highline, which is described best as a park built on a historic railway that no longer is in use anymore. The highline is elevated above the city which means you can get some pretty good views over the buildings and streets of Chelsea as well as the river while walking over it. The highline also leads through an old warehouse from a nearby factory which now hosts the Chelsea Market: where you’ll find loads of stores and food courts.
Gramercy & Stuyvesant Town
Gramercy and Stuyvesant Town are two neigborhoods that are situated above the East Village. Gramercy is probably one of the most famous neighborhoods of NYC without even knowing it. In this neighborhood you’ll find one of the most photographed and unique buildings of NYC: the Flatiron building. In Gramercy you’ll also find Madison Park (right behind the Flatiron building) and Union Square. Two beautiful, small parks for you to enjoy.
Stuyvesant Town is a very unique NYC neighborhood. This small square exicsts out of tall brown residential buildings. Once you see them you know why this is such a unique neighborhood and characteristic for the NYC skyline.
Above Gramercy you’ll find Murray Hill. When walking over Fifth avenue you’ll find yourself in Murray Hill right about where you’ll find the New York Public Library and Bryant Park. The Public Library definitely is one of my favorite buildings (inside and out) in New York, so definitely take a quick peek inside it! Bryant Park is a small park, but from what I know they organize a lot of events like yoga sessions and film festivals, so definitely cool to check out their schedule before going over there!
When you are in the Garment District you are getting close to Time Square, and you’ll notice that through the number of tourists surrounding you, the increasing number of flashy lights, banners and billboards and more and more stores, ticket centers and fast-food restaurants.
Garment District is also the district of fashion. You’ll notice that right away when walking over Fashion Avenue where a lot of designers have their ateliers. Of course you can also start designing yourself and pick out some fabrics at Mood Fabrics (of course famous from Project Runway). Between 34th street and 42nd you’ll find the Fashion Walk of Fame. Where you’ll see featured designers with one of their sketches on various plaques on the street.
In the Garment District you’ll also find the Fashion Institute of Arts, the Metropolitan Museum of Arts (definitely a must-visit!) and a lot of stores including a lot of sample sales. As well as the Empire State Building!
Midtown West & Times Square
While Midtown West & Times Square are actually two different neighborhoods I am going to put these two together for now, as Times Square is a neighborhood in the middle of Midtown West (above Chelsea and the Garment District).
I don’t think I have to explain how Times Square looks. I am pretty sure this most photographed square of NYC speaks for itself. It was the first thing I saw when I came to New York and it was the moment I realized I was ‘actually there’.
In this area you’ll also find famous buildings like the Rockefeller which gives you a unique view over New York from off the sky deck. From what I heard the view from out the Rockefeller is way better as from out the Empire State Building.
In Midtown West you also find the Museum of Modern Arts, the Apple Store (famous for her architecture), the Colombus Circle and a view over the beginning from Central Park.
Midtown East is just as famous like the Midtown West area. In this part of the city you’ll find the Grand Central Terminal train station and the Chrysler Building, which in my opinion is even more beautiful than the Empire State Building. In Midtown East you also find the St. Patricks Catherdral which is one of NYC’s oldest and most beautiful churches. This church is in high contrast with her surroundings – big, high and modern skyscrapers – which makes it even more beautiful to see. Definitely check that one out!
Care for a trip to a museum? Check out the Museum of Sex, the Morgan Library & Museum or the Scandinavia House!
Upper East Side
To me this part of Manhattan just screams out Gossip Girl. So that is how I know this part of town: high class, gossips and Champaign parties. Not sure if I got that right haha.
In the Upper East Side you’ll find one of NYC’s most important buildings: the Metropolitan Museum Of Arts (which actually is located at the edge of Central Park, but alright). This Museum is one of the top museums of NYC where you’ll find beautiful art pieces from out a number of decades and cultures. Definitely visit this museum if you are planning to only go to one museum!
For some reason Upper East Side is a very good area if you want to go candy or gift shopping. So if you want to bring some candy home with you definitely check out Dylan’s Candy Bar or Chocolate Works. Next to that definitely check out Bloomingdales if you want to shop like a New Yorker or go to Barneys.
For some reason I am so excited to write about Central Park. Central Park by far is my favorite part of New York and apparently it is so big that Central Park just is a neighborhood itself.
During our stay we stayed in a hotel that was right in front of Central Park at the Upper West Side which meant that during our stay we checked in to Central Park a lot – for eating breakfast, for eating lunch, for eating a snack and to watch a movie at the annual film festival that was held during the time we visited NYC.
Central Park is a beautiful park and till this day one of the most beautiful city parks I ever stepped foot in. Row a boat, have a picknick, jog, walk, go to the zoo, rent a bike or sleep.. whatever.. just visit Central Park!
Upper West Side & Morningside Heights
In between the river and Central Park you’ll find the Upper West Side, above the Upper West Side you’ll find Morningside Heights, which looks a lot like the Upper West Side. The Upper West Side is a residential area which is somewhat cheaper than downtown NYC which means that you’ll find more of the ‘common’ residents of the city live here. I’ve slept in a hotel at the edge of the Upper West Side, across from Central Park. What a beautiful location! Already, only because of this I adored the Upper West Side. So while it is a bit out of the central part of NYC I would definitely recommend anyone to book a hotel in this part of the city!
At the Upper West Side you’ll find the American Museum of Natural History, which is one of the top rated museums of New York.
Some other museums you’ll find here: Childrens Museum of Manhattan, the American Folk Art Museum and the Museum of Biblical Art. Something else you’ll find in the Upper West Side: the New York Opera and Ballet!
Harlem & East Harlem
Above Central Park you’ll find the neighborhood Harlem, above the Upper East Side you’ll find East Harlem. These areas are mostly residential areas, but there definitely are a couple of cool highlights you can find here!
Because Harlem is a known as a ‘black neighborhood’ you’ll find a dozen of cultural things to do. Listen to a gospel choir, eat soul food and visit African Markets. Still, because it nearly aren’t only immigrants that live in this area you’ll find a cool mixture between the two cultures at this neighborhood. Harlem definitely is one of the best areas to wander around looking for cool hotspots, restaurants and bars!
One of the most famous hotspots of Harlem is the Apollo theater, which has a fun and various programming. You can even take guided tours through the building.
Upper Manhattan, Washington Heights, Hudson Heights & Inwood
Above Harlem, in the North of Manhattan you’ll find Upper Manhattan – huh, figures;-), Washington Heights, Hudson Heights and Inwood. As you can probably guess these neighborhoods are mostly residential. Out of the central part of Manhattan, and therefor a bit more affordable for the ‘normal’ human being.
I haven’t been in this part of New York myself, but I can imagine it to be very peaceful compared to the busy center of Manhattan. I can imagine there also being way less tourists, which is probably nice for the habitants who come home after a busy day of work in the center of Manhattan.
While these neighborhoods are mostly residential areas that doesn’t mean there is nothing to see: isn’t seeing locals, the ‘real New York’ and visiting hotspots where New Yorkers actually go way more exciting than touristic spots?
This part of Manhattan also is a bit greener and has a lot of city parks for you to enjoy. So if you want to relax and want to get in touch with nature again (as far as you can.. I mean, you’re still in NYC) you can definitely go to this side of town!
This article is part of a collaboration with Expedia.