The Best Neighbourhoods in New York City
From the Upper East Side to Brooklyn's coolest enclaves, these neighbourhoods prove New York City has something for everyone.
When planning a trip to New York City, it’s worth taking some time to consider which neighbourhood suits your tastes and aligns well with your itinerary. You might be looking to experience the city’s famed food offerings, in which case East Village is a great pick. Or perhaps your trip is themed around art, making Chelsea an ideal location to base your stay. Alternatively, you could be planning to shop till you drop, making the Upper East Side or Greenwich Village exemplary choices. Whatever your preferences, allow Plum Guide to introduce you to the best neighbourhoods in New York City.
Upper East Side
Just hearing the phrase “Upper East Side” conjures up images of well-heeled New Yorkers sauntering between grand boutiques and refined restaurants. If you’re planning to make the most of the neighbourhood’s upscale shops and excellent people-watching, consider basing your stay in the heart of the action – meaning you won’t have too far to carry your designer purchases home. Elegant brownstones dating back to the early-nineteenth century jostle for space with sleek high rises, meaning that are some excellent homes to choose from. So why not live out the sophisticated New York dream of being an Upper East Sider, even if it’s only for a week.
Art lovers flock to Chelsea, which has an impressive 200 private galleries to its name. But that’s not the only reason to stay in this neighbourhood. The High Line passes over its rooftops, meaning it’s also a fantastic place to discover New York’s great outdoors. This former railway track is now filled with greenery and peppered with artwork, and is an excellent vantage point from which to view the city. Chelsea has long been a centre for LGBTQ New Yorkers, and the neighbourhood still boasts some excellent gay bars. It’s also a historic neighbourhood, and you’ll find some fascinating structures in the Chelsea Historic District, such as Saint Peter’s Church, which dates back to 1838, and the Linda Gross Theater of the Atlantic Theater Company, which hails from the mid-nineteenth century. Chelsea’s art scene, historic sights and gay bars combine to make it one of the best neighbourhoods in New York City.
Hoping to blend in with some young, hip New Yorkers? Look no further than Brooklyn’s Williamsburg neighbourhood, where cool cafes are frequented by fashionable young professionals, and an excellent selection of international restaurants means you’ll never be stuck for somewhere to eat. Williamsburg’s western edge runs along the East River, which is a great place for a stroll. You’ll be able to see over the water to the high rises of East Village, so consider dining at a waterfront restaurant or enjoying a picnic at the water’s edge in Domino Park.
On the other side of the river from Williamsburg, East Village dances to its own beat. This dynamic neighbourhood is filled with bars, night clubs and busy music venues. It’s the centre of New York’s punk scene, but even if punk’s not your style, you’ll find so many music spots in its streets that one is sure to suit your tastes. Chilled-out cafes are the name of the East Village game during the day, while St Mark’s Place is a go-to for popular fast-food joints. For shopping, try the neighbourhood’s famous vintage stores, where you can rummage through racks of bargain clothing.
For something a little different, consider staying in the cosmopolitan Greenpoint neighbourhood. Part of New York City’s northernmost borough, Brooklyn, this is a more affordable option for accommodation in the city. Greenpoint has a rich Polish heritage, which you’ll be able to experience through the many Polish shops and restaurants dotted around the neighbourhood. In fact, it would be easy to spend much of your stay here, as you can experience local art galleries and live music, and enjoy what’s on offer at Greenpoint’s fashionable restaurants. Also head to the East River waterfront, with its pretty parks and swanky new-builds providing sweeping views over the estuary.
The home of New York University, Washington Square Gardens and Fifth Avenue, Greenwich Village is a popular hub for both students and wealthy shoppers alike. However, its roots are more Bohemian – Greenwich Village became the core of New York’s counterculture in the 1960s. It still has a host of independent cafes and bars, while rainbow flags across the neighbourhood are a sign of its LGBTQ-friendly character. Wander past the swish stores of Fifth Avenue or go for a stroll through Washington Square Gardens, spotting its famous arch and fountains, passing Federal-style architecture and Greek-Revival townhouses as you explore one of the best neighbourhoods in New York City.