In an enormous city like New York City, where you choose to stay can be incredibly important. Manhattan is the most famous and popular of the 5 boroughs of New York City. Home to some of the famous landmarks in the world, Manhattan is the part of NYC that is home to all of the iconic pop culture moments that most people are familiar with. Each different neighborhood in manhattan offers some thing completely different and unique. The best thing about a place like Manhattan New York City, is that you get to experience people and cultures from all walks of life. Whether you enjoy a quiet city experience, being directly in the midst of the action, or somewhere in between, this New York City by Neighborhood Guide should help you decide which neighborhood in Manhattan you should stay in when you visit.
Manhattan New York City by Neighborhood Overview
Over the course of my 30 years, I have visited New York City many times and stayed in many different parts of Manhattan New York City. The Empire State Building, Rockefeller Center, Times Square, Central Park, One World Trade Center and many more famous attractions call the borough of Manhattan home. You can find my guide for some free things to do in NYC here. While the official number of neighborhood in Manhattan is close to 50, not all are well known. In this New York City by Neighborhood guide, I’ll be going over the most well known and devolved areas.
When I first started my research on New York City by neighborhood, my main knowledge was from the pop culture references I’ve grown up. Famous movies and television shows have always painted a strong image in my mind of what each neighborhood in Manhattan is really like. And some of these actually hold fairly true.
Everything in this guide is my personal opinion. While I have never lived in New York City, I have visited many times. Through these visits, I have done much research. As a full time traveler, I know just how important choosing the correct area to stay in is. Sometimes you think you know any area based on reviews, but it is nice to get some advice from people who have been there. Also, a reference that I find myself using often during my travels is Nomad List. On Nomad List, you can see information about certain cities around the world and each neighborhood of those cities are broken down based on user of Nomad Lists opinions. So, definitely check them out for an additional reference.
Best Neighborhoods in Manhattan
The information on each neighborhood in this Manhattan New York City by neighborhood guide is all from my own experience and research. Each area has something different to offer. So, there is no particular order.
Upper East Side-My favorite Neighborhood in Manhattan
Located to the east of Central Park, the Upper East Side of Manhattan New York City,sometimes called UES, is my personal favorite area to stay. As one of the wealthiest neighborhood in Manhattan, the Upper East Side is home to classic mansions and fancy townhomes that date back to the 19th century. With countless upscale boutique shops, restaurants, and cafes, you will find the UES to be one of the fanciest areas in the city. I personally love just going for long walks along Park Avenue and admiring all of the old architecture. The Upper East Side has a more typically older crowd with conservative styles. Home to the Guggenheim, the Frick, the Met and many other famous museums, a great cafe lunch followed by an afternoon walk through a museum is great way to spend a day on the Upper East Side.
Upper West Side
Located to the west of Central Park, this neighborhood in Manhattan is a old New York residential area that also offers high end real estate and high end living. The Upper West Side is most well known for Juilliard and it’s great access to many restaurants and nightlife. You’ll find a younger vibe on the Upper West Side compared to its counter the Upper East Side. Still with great access to Central Park, the Upper West Side is a great and safe part of the city to stay in.
Midtown-The Most Popular
When the typical tourist thinks of New York City, they think of Midtown. Here you’ll find the most famous landmarks of NYC such as Times Square, the Empire State Building, the Chrysler Building, Grand Central Station, and Rockefeller Center. If you are a first timer in New York City, I definitely recommend seeing all of these things at least once. But most people prefer to stay away from this are because of how busy and touristy it is. It definitely feels like the heart and main center of the city, but I personally try to avoid it when I visit. But again all of this is definitely worth seeing at least once.
Located on the west side of Manhattan, Chelsea is primarily a residential neighborhood with a lot of young culture and vibrant life. Chelsea has a very large LGBTQ population and is well known for having an artsy scene as well. There are over 200 galleries in Chelsea alone. If I had to pick a second favorite neighborhood in Manhattan, Chelsea would be it. For someone like me, who is a vegan, there are so many great vegan restaurants in or around Chelsea. There is a lot of nightlife here too, with some great night bars and dance clubs. Home to one of New York City’s newest urban spaces, the High Line is a public park that has been built on top of an old suspended train track. Going straight from Hudson Yards down 1.4 miles, the High Line is definitely worth a trip in itself.
Filled with great art galleries, fantastic shopping, and beautiful architecture, the neighborhood of Soho is located in southern Manhattan just below Houston Street. Hence the name SoHo. Many of the buildings built here are made of cast iron. This is very iconic for New York City architecture.. Shopping in SoHo is one of the most popular activities. There are hundreds of stores in this neighborhood in Manhattan New York City. Touring all of the amazing art galleries in SoHo is a great and fun activity. On Thursdays, some galleries will even off complimentary wine and snacks as you tour through. It’s a great way to spend an evening.
Greenwich Village is on the lower west side of Manhattan New York City. This neighborhood in Manhattan is well known for a big LBGBT culture. It’s here that you will find the famous Stonewall Inn, the infamous gay bar where the Stonewall Riots happened in 1969 and began a movement for the LGBTQ community. This part of the city became well known for their Bohemian culture throughout the 19th century. The Village is known as an epicenter for the arts. This neighborhood in Manhattan is home to gorgeous brownstones, jazz clubs, coffee shops, boutique restaurants and more. One of the most famous landmarks in Greenwich Village is Washington Square Park. In this beautiful park you will often hear live music, find vendors and artists, and mostly just chillin out. So, this place has a very cool atmosphere.
When looking at New York City by neighborhood, the Financial District is the southernmost area on the island of Manhattan. This is where you will find all the huge high rise financial buildings. Also, here you will find the One World Trade Center and the memorial to 9/11. The Financial District is also home to Wall Street. On any given day you will see lots of businessmen in fancy suits walking around this area. You will find that things tend to be a bit more expensive in this area. Everything from dining out to just a cup of coffee is a little more expensive. I don’t think I personally would like to stay in the Financial District just because it is a much different vibe than the rest of the city. But, it is definitely worth visiting while in Manhattan New York City.
Tribeca is the most expensive neighborhood in Manhattan New York City. Located in the southwest of Manhattan, Tribeca is a dynamic and exciting part of the city. This beautiful neighborhood know for cobblestone streets lined with beautiful boutique shops and restaurants. Loft-style apartments are very popular in Tribeca. The Hudson River Park is a very popular destination in Tribeca. You can play volleyball, go for walks, bike, run, and even mini golf. You can get great views of the city from here.
Lower East Side
Known for its rich Jewish heritage and culture, the lower east side is primarily residential area with lots of great places to eat traditional Jewish foods. The fantastic Tenement Museum is a must visit on the lower east side. This museum showcases what arriving to and living in New York City has been like from the 1860s through the 1930s. The Essex market is a popular thing to do when visiting the Lower East Side as well. You’ll find vendors from all walks of life with all different types of food here. It’s a great way to spend an afternoon. Be sure to come to the Lower East Side on your next trip to Manhattan New York City.
Jazz and Soul is the best way to describe this neighborhood. Harlem is a well known neighborhood at the very north of the borough of Manhattan. Famous for its jazz clubs, soul food, and African American heritage, Harlem is definitely a neighborhood worth seeing. When visiting be sure to checkout the famous Apollo Theater in Harlem. There are lots of great museums in Harlem as well such as the National Jazz Museum. Be sure to check out Harlem when visiting Manhattan New York City.
Using Airbnb in New York City
For the most part, I only stay in Airbnb’s when I travel. During short stays I will stay at a hotel but during the majority of my travels, I stay at Airbnb’s. Using Airbnb in New York City is actually a bit complicated. At the time of writing this, New York City has a rule that Airbnb can only be used on rentals that are for more than a month’s duration. That means if you are wanting to come to NYC for just a long weekend, you won’t be able to use Airbnb. I am assuming this is to help the hotel businesses in the city.
Now you may see some listings on Airbnb that are available for less than month, but I don’t always think those places are on the up and up. I have heard stories about how those are not legit bookings and that sometimes it doesn’t go very well. But I could be completely wrong. Just to be on the safe side, I would suggest only sticking with monthly bookings. I am staying at cutest apartment just two blocks from Central Park and it’s wonderful. You can really find some nieces place on Airbnb on the Upper East Side.
New York City by Neighborhood Conclusion-Which Neighborhood in Manhattan did you choose?
In conclusion, as you can see there are so many different neighborhoods in Manhattan. And that’s just in Manhattan, not the mention the other 4 boroughs. Once you visit NYC, you will definitely note how different each neighborhood in Manhattan really is. The nice thing is that even if you pick a neighborhood that isn’t 100% perfect your lifestyle, the public transportation in New York City is surprisingly pretty great. I personally like to stay in a more residential area like the Upper East Side, then just travel to where I need to go. But, of course your priorities are probably different than mine.
I truly hope you found this Manhattan New York City by Neighborhood Guide to be useful. I know that a huge city like New York City can be super overwhelming to try to navigate without the proper information. It is my goal to provide transparent and helpful information to all of my fellow travelers. If you enjoyed this content, please consider sharing it with your friends and family who are also traveling New York City. Be sure to follow me on social media to stay up to date on all of my travels. Also, be sure to Pin this page on Pinterest for your next New York City vacation! Thank you!