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New York City Neighborhoods Explained

Updated: April 17, 2024

This post is a guide to Manhattan and Brooklyn's best neighborhoods of interest to tourists and visitors.

We include clickable maps and links to individual neighborhood overview pages.

New York City is so much more than a bunch of amazing points of interest spread across five boroughs.

Not sure what a borough is, then first read our post on NYC's 5 Boroughs Explained.

NYC Boroughs Explained

What truly makes this city so special are its distinct neighborhoods which themselves make up integral parts of New York.

We created this guide to help you understand where each neighborhood is in relation to each other, what there is to do in each area, as well as which attractions are located where.

We are local tour guides who lead walking tours throughout NYC including many of the areas we discuss in this post.

And, in the video below, Renee, a tour guide with us, Free Tours by Foot, takes you on a virtual walk through one of them - Greenwich Village.

You can explore on your own and we've created over 40 self-guided tours as well as several audio tours.


In this section, we summarize most of the major neighborhoods in Manhattan north of 14th Street all the way to Harlem.

In each summary, we link to a more in-depth post on things to do in that area.

Below is an interactive map of Manhattan above 14th Street.

Click on any neighborhood and an in-depth guide to that particular part of New York will open up.

Midtown Manhattan High Line Union Square

Midtown Manhattan

There is simply no way to do justice to Midtown Manhattan in a small paragraph here.

So, for suggestions on things to do, see our post 50+ Things to Do in Midtown Manhattan.

On this page, you can find several maps, including a map of Midtown attractions, a map of Midtown subway stations, a map of things to do with kids, as well as a map of free Wi-Fi areas.

Watch a 32-minute abridged version of our live guided tour.

It's in Midtown where you will find some of New York City's most iconic buildings, such as Grand Central Terminal, the Chrysler Building, and the Empire State Building.

It also contains districts such as Times SquareRockefeller Center, and so much more.

We also provide a map of major attractions in Midtown (click the image)

In addition to offering free walking tours of Midtown Manhattan, we also offer GPS-guided audio walking tours. Here is the sample below.

Map of Hotels in Midtown Manhattan

Midtown Manhattan holds the largest concentration of hotels to choose from in NYC.

Prices tend to be a bit higher here with smaller rooms than what you will find in other parts of the city, but deals are aplenty.

Click on the map to be taken to TripAdvisor's top hotels by reviews.

Click here or click the map to be taken to TripAdvisor's top-rated area hotels.

Within the map, you can sort by price, ratings, as well as exact location.

Times Square

Home to the New Year's Eve Ball, Times Square is everything you imagined it to be.

Where is Times Square

There is too much to see just in this district to list in complete detail here, so be sure to read our post on things to do in Times Square.

By day you can do some great souvenir shopping, see the Naked Cowboy and join the queue at the TKTS booth to snag cheaper Broadway show tickets.

By night, be bedazzled by gigantic LED billboards, and thousands of people. If you come at 11:57 pm, you can experience the Midnight Moment.

Times Square is an excellent location for hotels. It's a central location with multiple subway lines that will transport you all over Manhattan quickly.

We cover Times Square on our free walking tours of Midtown Manhattan, but we also have a GPS-guided audio walking tour.

You might also be interested in discovering the Theater District with a professional actor as your tour guide.

Map of Times Square Hotels

While Midtown Manhattan holds the largest concentration of hotels, it's particularly in the Times Square/Theater District where the largest concentration can be found.

Click on the map to be taken to TripAdvisor's top hotels by reviews.

Click here or click the map to be taken to TripAdvisor's top-rated area hotels.

Within the map, you can sort by price, ratings, as well as exact location.

Central Park

With a perimeter of 2.5 miles (4.23 km) long and 1/2 a mile (804 m) wide, Central Park is larger than some of the neighborhoods included on this page!

We also provide a map of major attractions in Central Park (click the image)

Be sure to read our Things to Do in Central Park post which includes a self-guided tour, maps, and activities.

Rambling hikes, castles, theaters, sculptures, you name it, there's much to do and see in the great park.

We also have a GPS-enabled audio tour. Here is a sample below.


There are many hotels to choose from that border Central Park, both in accommodation types as well as prices.

The closer to Midtown generally the more expensive the hotel.

Click on the map to be taken to TripAdvisor's top hotels by reviews.

Upper West Side

Often overlooked by tourists, this neighborhood has a number of nice things going for it.

It's within walking distance of Central Park and has some excellent museums, like the American Museum of Natural History.

Lincoln Center has every kind of performance including opera, symphony, ballet, contemporary dance and more.

On the west side of the neighborhood is Riverside Park South, which runs along the Hudson River, offering great views of the water.

Read more about things to do on the Upper West Side.

Upper East Side

Like the Upper West Side, this neighborhood is also adjacent to Central Park. It's a mix of elegant brownstones and historic mansions and modern residential towers.

Some of the most expensive real estate in New York City is located here.

The highlight of the Upper East Side is its world-class museums like the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Guggenheim.

Also, the shopping along Madison Avenue is world-famous, and though very expensive, it's nice to do some window shopping after a few hours at the museum.

Read more about things to do on the Upper East Side.


You may be surprised that this neighborhood is quite different than how it is portrayed in many films and TV shows.

While it still is home to a thriving African-American cultural scene, there is more to it than meets the eye.

Some of the top sights in Harlem are certainly the Apollo Theater, the Museum of the City of New York, and Sylvia's Soul Food Restaurant, but there is much more.

For information on tours, where to eat, see, shop, and stay in Harlem, see our guide to Harlem.

Map of Harlem Attractions and Things to Do

We offer a daily guided tour of Harlem, which usually takes place in the morning.

We also off a GPS-led audio tour. Here is a sample below.

The High Line + Chelsea Market

The High Line is a 1.45 miles (2.33 km) long public park built on the rails of an abandoned and elevated train track.

It runs through several neighborhoods, including Greenwich Village, the Meatpacking District, Chelsea, and Midtown Manhattan.

There is much to see and you really should plan what you will do before and after your visit to the High Line.

We also provide a map of attractions to see from the High Line (click image)

Things to See on the High Line

On 8th Avenue and 15th Street, you can find the fabulous Chelsea Market, a one-stop-shopping for food, wine and shopping.

Along the Hudson River at West 15th Street is the one-of-a-kind Little Island, a floating public park that resembles a series of tulip pots rising up from the river.

We have several tours of the area including our High Line, the Meatpacking District, and Chelsea.

Or explore on your own with our GPS-led audio tour. Listen to the sample below.

Map of Hotels Near the High Line

This is another area with high prices for hotels, but there are a few good deals for those on a budget, particularly the Jane Hotel at the southern tip of the High Line.

Click on the map to be taken to TripAdvisor's top hotels by reviews.

Click here or click the map to be taken to TripAdvisor's top-rated area hotels.

Within the map, you can sort by price, ratings, as well as exact location.

Hudson Yards

This new 28-acre large neighborhood in Manhattan is between 10th and 12th Avenues and West 30th and West 34th streets. 

It was once an abandoned freight train area, but it was developed into a sleek enclave with high rises, for both residential and commercial uses.

There are some great things to do in this neighborhood, most notably Edge Observation Deck offering breathtaking views of New York City. 

The Vessel structure/sculpture is there and is a must-see for those who like innovative architecture and awesome photo-ops.

One of Manhattan's shopping malls is located here with over 100 retailers and eateries. Lastly, there is The Shed, a cultural performance venue.

Murray Hill

This neighborhood just below 42nd Street on Manhattan’s east side was populated with the city’s wealthy in the late 1800s-early 1900s.

The beaux-arts mansions of that era have mostly been replaced with apartment buildings that attract young professionals looking to live in a convenient location with restaurants and nightlife.

A highlight of the neighborhood is the Morgan Library & Museum, housed in one of the finest examples of Neoclassical buildings in the United States.

Murray Hill has many hotels that are near all the best attractions of Midtown Manhattan but a bit quieter.

Flatiron District

Named for the landmarked triangular Flatiron building, this neighborhood has a peaceful park, Madison Square Park, and several landmarked and beautiful buildings.

The Flatiron Building NYC

It also has a Shake Shack, considered to be the best burger in town. Our self-guided tour can help you find your way around.

There are several hotels in this district that are excellent choices for affordable and convenient accommodations.

Gramercy Park and Union Square

Union Square is great for people-watching. The large park is a perfect spot to sit down and eat lunch which you can get at the Whole Foods store nearby.

Gramercy Park is a quiet and exclusive neighborhood speckled with historic pubs and homes of historic individuals including authors and also former President Theodore Roosevelt.

A sleepy gem of a neighborhood worth taking a nice stroll using our self-guided tour.

Roosevelt Island

Roosevelt Island is a 2 miles (3.2 km) long island in the East River parallel to Midtown Manhattan on its west and Astoria, Queens on its east.

To get there, you can take the Roosevelt Island Tram. It's a quick four-minute ride, but you get 360-degree views of NYC as you cross the East River.

Technically Roosevelt Island is part of Manhattan though it feels nothing like it. It's almost entirely residential, but there are some lovely things to see and best of all it has incredible skyline views.

See our self-guided tour of Roosevelt Island.

Washington Heights and Inwood

These two adjacent neighborhoods are in Upper Manhattan along the Hudson River between West 155th and West 219th Streets. 

Vibrant Washington Heights was celebrated in the Lin-Manuel Miranda Broadway show In the Heights which depicts the close-knit Dominican community.

The highlights for tourists are The Cloisters, located in Fort Tryon Park, in Inwood. As part of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, it houses much of the museum’s collection of medieval art. 

Inwood is known for its parks with views of the Hudson River as well as two landmarked historic homes that can be visited. 

One is the Dyckman Farmhouse Museum built in 1783 and is Manhattan’s last Dutch-colonial-style farmhouse. The other is the Morris-Jumel Mansion built in 1765 and is the oldest remaining colonial residence in Manhattan. 


In this section, we summarize most of the major neighborhoods in Manhattan south of 14th Street all the way to Battery Park.

In each summary, we link to a more in-depth post on things to do in that area. Neighborhoods are listed from south to north.

You can also click on the interactive map below.

Map of Lower Manhattan and Brooklyn Neighborhoods
East Village Greenwich Village SoHo Little Italy Chinatown Tribeca Financial District DUMBO Williamsburg Brooklyn Heights

Wall Street and Financial District

The southernmost tip of Manhattan is where NYC (New Amsterdam) originated.

More than just the stock exchange, Wall Street, and the surrounding streets are filled with historic sites in American History and the American Revolution.

We list over 28 things to do in the Financial District, including visiting the 9/11 Memorial and the Freedom Tower to taking the ferry to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island.

Find out about Wall Street Tours offered by us and other companies, and use our self-guided tour of Wall Street to explore on your own.


Chinatown is in Lower Manhattan and is surrounded by the neighborhoods of SoHo, Little Italy, Tribeca, the Civic Center/City Hall area, and the Lower East Side.

The neighborhood was founded in the 1870s by Chinese immigrants, mostly coming from America’s West Coast where they played a major part in building the Transcontinental Railroad.

From that time through the present day, immigrants from China, continue to flock to Chinatown.

Manhattan’s Chinatown was once the largest in the western hemisphere, but due to rising rents and limited living space, Chinese immigrants have begun settling in the outer boroughs.

Now there are several Chinatowns including one in Flushing, Queens, and one in Sunset Park, Brooklyn.

Manhattan's Chinatown is a historic and colorful neighborhood and should be a must-see list of places to visit in New York City.

To explore the area you can join us on one of our free Soho, Little Italy, and Chinatown tours or use our guide for things to do in Chinatown, which contains the history of Chinatown as well as good places to shop and our recommendations of where to eat.

Lower East Side

One of the most historic and hip neighborhoods in NYC. In the late 1800s, it was cramped with immigrants, mostly Eastern-European Jews.

Today it is jam-packed with Millennials and pricey apartments.

Aside from the Tenement Museum and Katz's Deli, signs of the neighborhood's former residents and the foods and culture they brought with them to America are everywhere if you know where to look.

Our Lower East Side Food Tour is rich in history, old-world food, and foods of today.

Little Italy

While Little Italy is growing smaller every year, you can find locales that reveal the important place this neighborhood has in creating the Great Melting Pot that America is today.

We have a self-guided tour of things to do and see in Little Italy as well as a guide to the restaurant scene there.

Both our SoHo, Little Italy, Chinatown Tour, and our 6-hour All-in-One Downtown Tour include stops at locations where Italian-American roots are found.

Use our post about Little Italy to find your way around and choose a nice restaurant for a meal.

For the darker side of Little Italy, check out our New York Mafia Self-Guided Tour.


SoHo stands for South of Houston Street and is a popular destination for tourists and locals alike.

On the weekends the streets can be quite crowded but that lends itself to the exuberant energy of SoHo.

There are dozens of restaurants and bars ranging from relatively affordable meals to exclusive and quite expensive ones.

The same is true of shopping. Mid-range shops like Lulu Lemon and Club Monaco run along Broadway from Houston down to Canal Street.

The side streets of SoHo are art galleries and boutiques.

If you would like to take a guided tour of Soho, join us for our free SoHo, Little Italy, and Chinatown Tour.

If you prefer to explore on your own, here's our Self-Guided Tour and list of Things to Do in SoHo.

We list hotels, food options, and shopping you can enjoy in the neighborhood.

Greenwich Village

Greenwich Village is one of the most popular neighborhoods to spend time in. There are so many sights and things to do, you could spend days here.

We decided to put together a self-guided tour as a way of showing you the historical highlights of the neighborhood.

Greenwich Village, particularly the West Village, is known for its wide range of cuisines that reflect the ethnic diversity of NYC.

Some of the neighborhood’s food shops, cafes, and restaurants opened up almost a century ago and are still every bit as popular as they were then.

We have multiple pay-what-you-like tours of Greenwich Village some with just the history (and there is a lot), one with samples of the Village's most popular and inexpensive snacks (with a side order of history), and a nighttime ghost tour.

Friends Apartment Building NYC

We don't want you to miss out on the sites that our guides take you to, so if you can't make one of our tours, please enjoy our Greenwich Village Audio Tour or our Greenwich Village Self-Guided Food Tour.

East Village

A funky, fun, hipster-ish neighborhood with a great nightlife scene. There are plenty of restaurants and bars to keep you busy all night long.

There is also great shopping at vintage clothing stores and unique boutiques.

We list some of the best things to do in the neighborhood in our post Things to See and Do in the East Village.

Try some of the best NYC foods on our East Village Food Tour.


In this section, we summarize the best neighborhoods in Brooklyn of interest to tourists and visitors.

These neighborhoods are mostly in the northwestern part of the borough and most are adjacent to the East River.

As done in the previous sections, we link to a more in-depth post on things to do in that particular area.

Most of these neighborhoods can be visited just after walking the Brooklyn Bridge and several are visited on our daily, pay-what-you-wish Brooklyn Bridge, Brooklyn Heights, and DUMBO Tour.

Be sure to also check out our post on things to do in Brooklyn.

Map of Lower Manhattan and Brooklyn Neighborhoods
East Village Greenwich Village SoHo Little Italy Chinatown Tribeca Financial District DUMBO Williamsburg Brooklyn Heights

Brooklyn Heights

This is one of the oldest and most elegant parts of New York City.

Its history dates back to before the Revolutionary War and its stately Federal Style houses are some of the oldest in the city.

Whether you see it with us on our Brooklyn Heights Tour or use our self-guided tour contained within, make sure you visit this neighborhood.

We also have a post on things to do in Brooklyn Heights.


What makes DUMBO so interesting is how its past as a mecca of American manufacturing in the late 1800s-early 1900s has not been erased by the influx of wealth into the area.

DUMBO embraces its past by re-purposing the 100-year-old warehouses into luxury condos, hip restaurants, cutting-edge performance art spaces, and tech start-ups like Etsy.

This neighborhood is perfect to check out after a walk over the Brooklyn Bridge.

Its close proximity to the bridge, as well as the many sights to see in this waterfront neighborhood, makes DUMBO a place to put on your "to-see" list.

Be sure to read our guide to Top Things to Do and See in DUMBO.

And if you are wondering how the neighborhood got its name (no, it's not named after Disney's loveable elephant), read our post on What does the acronym DUMBO stand for?

Downtown Brooklyn

Located just next to beautiful Brooklyn Heights, Downtown Brooklyn is a bustling neighborhood with a mix of residential and commercial buildings, many of which are landmarked for their architectural beauty.

Jackie Robinson Brooklyn Heights Plaque

The neighborhood is a great place to stay as hotels cost less than in Manhattan and it is just one or two subway stops from Lower Manhattan.

Also, there are plenty of food options. Be sure to head to Juniors for the best cheesecake in NYC!


It started as a small Dutch town called “boswijck”. It is now the home to artists and hipsters.

It has a thriving Street Art scene which you can check out by taking a tour with us or on your own with our self-guided Bushwick tour.

Click here for a video on the neighborhood.


This neighborhood located along the East River is one of the best places to hang out in Brooklyn. There are also some really nice hotels.

It's known for its population of young people and "hipster" vibe, but beyond that, it is a great place to get stunning skyline views of Manhattan and eat fantastic food.

See excellent street art, enjoy the live music scene, and shop at independent boutiques and vintage stores. Also, Williamsburg is open late for dancing and drinking!

Plan your visit to this neighborhood with some help from our post on things to do in Williamsburg.


This neighborhood is just north of Williamsburg, and similar to Williamsburg, it has parks along the river with great views, some cool shops, music venues and most importantly, great food.

Greenpoint has long been a Polish-American area so you can easily find kielbasa and white borscht. There are also some wonderful contemporary eateries. 

A must-eat in Greenpoint is Paulie Gee’s, serving up some of the very best pizza in NYC.

If you have some time to spare on your trip and want a taste of local life, Greenpoint is worth a visit.

You may even want to stay here at the fabulous William Vale hotel with a rooftop bar with skyline views that are hard to match.

Park Slope

This residential area of tree-lined streets and historic brownstones is home to many young families and young professionals. 

It is the most well-known neighborhood of what New Yorkers call "Brownstone Brooklyn".

The avenues are lined with trendy restaurants, independent book and record shops, and boutiques. Come here for a stroll in a laid-back part of Brooklyn.

Prospect Park, designed by the same creators of Central Park, is a popular destination. The Brooklyn Museum is on the north end of Park Slope.

See our self-guided tour of Park Slope and Prospect Park.

Prospect Heights 

This neighborhood northeast of Prospect Park has bustling avenues lined with mom-and-pop shops and hipster boutiques and plenty of restaurants. 

The side streets are quieter with brownstones, though not as pristine as nearby Park Slope. The residents are a diverse bunch with old-timers and starter families. 

The area isn’t known as a tourist destination, but it’s worth checking out when visiting the Brooklyn Museum and the Brooklyn Botanic Garden.

Cobble Hill

Just south of Brooklyn Heights, Cobble Hill is yet another of the 'Brownstone Brooklyn' neighborhoods. It’s primarily residential, with leafy quiet streets and small parks. 

Atlantic Avenue on its northern border and Court Street on its eastern border are bustling thoroughfares with shops and restaurants.

Just a block north of the border is the nice and affordable NU Hotel. It’s a great spot for those who want a safe, quiet area by night with easy transport to Manhattan by day.

A lesser-known fact about Cobble Hill is that Winston Churchill's mother was born here in 1850!

Fort Greene

Also part of 'Brownstone Brooklyn', this neighborhood is just east of Downtown Brooklyn.

Its tree-lined streets are speckled with restaurants, boutiques and a few watering holes. On the weekend, locals can be found in Fort Greene Park having family picnics or playing sports. 

Some notable points of interest here are the Brooklyn Academy of Music, a performing arts venue, founded over 150 years ago. 

Nearby is the Barclay’s Center, home of the Brooklyn Nets basketball team and also a major concert venue.

Red Hook

Settled by the Dutch in the 1600s who called it “Roode Hoek”, this neighborhood is located on a small peninsula jutting out into the East River. 

Cut off from other neighborhoods, it feels like a small town with some cobblestone streets and small attached houses.

In contrast, there are old industrial buildings converted into pricey lofts with views of Manhattan and the Statue of Liberty.

Red Hook is a cool neighborhood to take a walk around. There are eclectic shops and a great food scene around the main drag, Van Brunt Street. 

Plus, there is a local winery with a tasting room and two whiskey distilleries!


Below we summarize two neighborhoods in Queens that are of most interest to tourists and visitors, Astoria and Long Island City.

These neighborhoods are on the west of Queens either along or near the East River. All three are easily reached by subway. Astoria and Long Island City can be reached by the East River Ferry.


This Queens neighborhood just a few subway stops from Midtown Manhattan is popular with young professionals, multi-generations families, and everyone in between.

In fact, Astoria is quite popular with tourists looking for affordable, nice hotels. 

The area is ethnically diverse and mom & pop restaurants are just as popular as the trendy food scene. 

Astoria Park has unbelievable views of Manhattan. The nightlife is hopping and arts and culture thrive.

Some attractions are the Museum of the Moving Image, the Socrates Sculpture Park, Bohemian Beer Hall, the Noguchi Museum, and SingleCut Beersmiths Brewery.

Long Island City

Once an industrial waterfront neighborhood, Long Island City (LIC) is now a vibrant part of Queens. 

On nice days, LIC’s waterfront parks are filled with locals enjoying outstanding views of the Manhattan skyline.

On weekends, LIC draws outsiders who come for edgy art at MoMA PS1, an outpost of the Museum of Modern Art. The LIC Food & Flea is also a hotspot.

Like Astoria, there are some great accommodation options in LIC.


The most delicious neighborhood you probably never heard of! Sunnyside is a diverse part of Queens, and that means many types of ethnic cuisine. 

We’re talking Indian to Italian, Korean, Chinese, Tibetan, Columbian, Ecuadorian…did we leave anything out?

It’s only a few stops from Midtown Manhattan on the 7 train, famous for being the subway line that takes you on a food tour of the world! 

Of course, there is more to this laid-back and liveable neighborhood. 

There are parks, some cool thrift shops, and the Calvary Cemetery, established in 1848 and the lasting home to many Civil War soldiers.


Staten Island often nicknamed the forgotten NYC borough is largely residential. There are a few attractions that may of interest to you.

St. George

It’s easy to get to Staten Island via the free Staten Island Ferry. The ride is an excellent way to get a close-up look at the Statue of Liberty.

When you disembark the ferry you are in the neighborhood of St. George. There are a number of sites to see including the Staten Island September 11th Memorial and the historic St. George Theatre.

See our self-guided tour of Staten Island.

Randall Manor

This is an attractive and affluent neighborhood on Staten Island just a ten-minute bus ride from the ferry terminal.

The main visitor’s destination is Snug Harbor Cultural Center & Botanical Garden. 

On the garden grounds, are five museums and art galleries. The enchanting gardens include the Victorian-style White Garden and the Secret Garden, which has a hedge maze.


Many people have heard of the Bronx, but not as many visit this borough. It is huge with many residential neighborhoods. Some parts are very wealthy while others are among the poorest in the U.S.

There are a number of sites that draw tens of thousands of people each year, including Yankee Stadium.

Here are two Bronx neighborhoods that tourists visit.


Belmont is a residential neighborhood where two of the Bronx’s best attractions are located: the Bronx Zoo and the New York Botanical Garden.

Belmont is also the Bronx’s answer to Little Italy.

Famous Arthur Avenue is lined with family-run Italian food shops where fresh cheeses are made and other food specialties can be purchased.

See our self-guided tour of Arthur Avenue if you want to get a taste of true New York City Italian!


This is a primarily residential neighborhood just west of Belmont. Fordham University's historic original campus is here as is Poe Park, which opened in 1902.

It is named for author Edgar Alen Poe whose original cottage where he lived from 1844 to 1849.


About The Author

Stephen Pickhardt

Stephen is the CEO of Free Tours by Foot and has overseen the transformation of a local walking tour company into a global tour community and traveler’s advice platform. He has personally led thousands of group tours in the US and Europe, and is an expert in trip planning and sightseeing, with a focus on budget travelers. Stephen has been published and featured in dozens of publications including The Wall Street Journal, BBC, Yahoo,, and more.
Updated: April 17th, 2024
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