When New Yorkers say “The City,” we mean Manhattan. While hundreds of fascinating neighborhoods make up our other four boroughs – Brooklyn, Queens, The Bronx, and Staten Island – the long, skinny, densely populated island at the center of it all unites us.
Here’s our guide to exploring this lively hub for finance, media, culture, arts, design, and much more. Seeking a quiet spot to relax and recharge in nature? You’ll find that, too. Trust us, you’ll want all the energy in the world for exploring Manhattan. Grab a street-vendor snack and some strong deli coffee, and let’s go.
Best for Art, Fashion, and Nightlife: Meatpacking District and Chelsea
If you’ve seen Sex and the City, you know the Meatpacking District. It’s where Samantha lived among prostitutes on the fringes of polite society, and Carrie fed her shopping addiction at cutting-edge designer boutiques. The photogenic neighborhood is charming by day, with cobblestone streets and Hudson River light pouring through floor-to-ceiling windows into converted industrial buildings. By night, it’s electric. Clubs buzz with world-class DJ talent, and pretty people dance into the streets. From the Meatpacking District’s Whitney Museum of American Art, wander just uptown to explore Chelsea’s iconic galleries. Finish your tour with an exterior glance at the landmark Chelsea Hotel. Artists from Andy Warhol to Leonard Cohen drew inspiration from the fabled building, now under reconstruction.
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Best for Vibrant Culture: Harlem and East Harlem
Feed your soul, literally and figuratively, in Harlem. This bustling neighborhood in northern Manhattan was home to the “Harlem Renaissance” of the 1920s and 1930s, introducing black American artists like Langston Hughes and Duke Ellington to the world. These days, it’s home to a culinary renaissance, with celebrity chef Marcus Samuelsson’s Red Rooster driving taste and welcoming crowds after Sunday gospel mass or a show at the Apollo Theater. In East Harlem (also known as El Barrio or Spanish Harlem), take in vibrant murals depicting scenes from everyday Latin-influenced culture. On a hot summer night, you’ll be tempted to join Puerto Rican and Dominican families dancing on brownstone stoops and sidewalks.
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Best for Local Neighborhood Life: Greenwich Village and West Village
For sheer volume of walkable, winding streets with quaint storefronts and eccentric residents walking little dogs, stroll through Greenwich Village to its neighboring West Village. With New York University’s influx of international students and celebrity sightings galore, there’s never a dull moment in this historic, open-minded stretch of downtown. Take in the show from a bench by Washington Square Park’s famous fountain, or while sipping cappuccino at a sidewalk cafe. Even in the big city, you’ll observe, doormen know the secrets, and bartenders remember names.
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Best for Sightseeing: Midtown and Midtown East
For classic New York City attractions, come to the center of town. Begin with a tour of architectural icons, from the Empire State Building to the Chrysler Building, ending at the landmark Beaux-Arts Grand Central Station on 42nd Street. After experiencing its acoustic marvel, the Whisper Gallery, head to a show in the Theater District. When you exit to wander Times Square, it won’t matter if it’s day or night. The bright city lights and street performers will wake you right up. Hop on a bicycle pedicab for a short ride to Koreatown, where you can indulge in a luxurious 24/7 spa treatment or a steaming bowl of bibimbap seasoned with gochujang, a red chili pepper paste you won’t forget.
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Best for Parks & Nature: High Line, West Side Highway, and Battery Park City
A visit to Central Park, designed in the 19th century by Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux and sprawling above 59th Street, should be a given for any visitor to New York. Lesser known is the urban oasis connecting sailors, runners, bicyclists, and sunbathers in southwest Manhattan. From The High Line, a recent conversion of defunct elevated railroad tracks into a lush urban landscape, walk south along the West Side Highway to Battery Park City. There you’ll find hard-working Wall Street bankers playing hard alongside outdoor yogis and local toddlers making sandbox art. After breaking a sweat, sip a cool drink and watch sailboats cruising through New York Harbor at sunset.
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