From Broadway to SoHo, Jamaica to Chelsea, Hell’s Kitchen to Little Italy, NYC are enough fascinating places with lively culture and deep history that you could keep busy for the rest of your life. However, most of us don’t have time for that, so we’ve gone ahead and narrowed it down a little for you.
D’you like jazz? Do you rock and roll? Is disco still alive in your veins? Williamsburg is a hub of all these things, with a vibrant music and artistic scene and thriving nightlife. Little spots like St. Mazie, Williamsburg Music Hall, and Front Room Gallery are excellent showcases of the community’s taste for food, music, and art. The whole neighborhood has a great vibe for doing things with family, friends, or solo. Fashion fanatics won’t want to miss one-of-a-kind finds at boutiques like Bird, Alter Graham Ave, and Fresthetic.
Murray Hill, Manhattan
Boasting a huge variety of exquisite, budget-friendly restaurants, bars, and pubs, Murray Hill is an excellent place to go to connect with old friends, or just spend some time on your own (if you’re up for meeting new people!). Connected to Madison Avenue for all your shopping desires, Murray Hill is also home to the Scandinavia House (a Nordic heritage and culture museum), the grand Library Way (a street running up to the New York Public Library decorated with all things literature), and the Museum of the Dog (yes, exactly what it sounds like).
Located just blocks from Midtown Manhattan, Murray Hill is a great place to spend your whole day, or to just pop in for a quick bite.
Long Island City, Queens
The site of MoMA PS1, Gantry Plaza State Park, the Sculpture Center, and many others, Long Island City is a place of beauty. Whether modern art is your thing, or if you’re perhaps more interested in basking in the majesty of downtown Manhattan (but at a comfortable distance from the hustle and bustle), or a foodie looking for your next fix of something tasty, this East River neighborhood will surely sate your wants. Right across from Manhattan on the southwest side of Queens, Long Island City is a hop, skip, and a jump away from anywhere you’d want to be.
Greenwich Village, Manhattan
All of New York City is known for its history, but few have stories like Greenwich Village. A cornerstone of LGBTQ+ history, in June of 2019 it was the center of the “Stonewall 50,” a massive celebration marking the 50 year anniversary of the Stonewall riots. Of course, Greenwich is home to a great number of things, such as the Whitney Museum of Art, Washington Square Park, and Murray’s Bagels. With the Village’s close proximity to SoHo, Lower Manhattan, and Little Italy, you can get almost anywhere with just a few minutes’ walk.
Sunset Park, Brooklyn
Let’s be honest: how many times have you daydreamed about sitting on the waterfront at sunrise, looking out at the Statue of Liberty, bagel in hand, and just watching the world around you? If you said “never,” stop lying to yourself, for your dream can come true. The neighborhood’s namesake Sunset Park is known for its wonderful view of the bay, and the surrounding area has a beautifully diverse collection of peoples, foods, and activities. Home to dozens of Korean restaurants both affordable and fancy, Sunset Park is a great place to get started, or to spend your final day before embarking on the journey home.
If you’re looking for something a little bit more laid-back than the rest of the city, and maybe you’re holding out for a Gyro, or just in the mood for a good latté, then you should start heading toward Astoria. A good mix of residential and commercial, Astoria might make you feel a little bit more at home for a little while, if you get overwhelmed by the city. Athens Square Park is a nice place to rest and enjoy people-watching, and right across the street is the famous Astoria Coffee, just one of dozens of little coffee shops scattered throughout the neighborhood. Also in the area is the Bohemian Beer Garden, a perfect place to spend an evening with old friends and make a few new ones. Just across Randall’s Island from Manhattan and the Bronx, Astoria offers not only lovely views of both, but also a quick trip to or from either.
As rents have skyrocketed elsewhere in NYC, this scrappy-looking working-class neighborhood has become a refuge for artists, musicians, and creative types of all sorts. Dozens of studios and galleries dot the area, and the cultural scene is further enriched by the waves of immigrants from Central America, the Caribbean, and West Africa who have made Bushwick their home. Of course, where artists go, gentrification is always close behind, and young professionals priced out of neighborhoods like Williamsburg and Park Slope have begun converging on Bushwick in recent years, bringing higher rents and tonier restaurants in their wake.
Washington Heights, Manhattan
Just across from Yankee Stadium, Washington Heights is a great place for the sporty and adventurous. Home to the majestic Highbridge, Fort Washington, and J Hood Wright Parks, there are many miles of interesting areas to walk and hike around. After working up an appetite, with a huge number of restaurants, from pizza to pho, you won’t have to look hard to find someplace to grab a quick bite before an evening out shopping.