Curious about the best New York neighborhoods? NYC neighborhoods are geographically close to each other but still very distinct. It’s one of the things that makes New York City unlike anywhere else on the planet.
Of course, finding the perfect neighborhood for you depends on what exactly you’re looking for. After living in New York City for over four years, I spent enough time in New York’s neighborhoods to weed out the best ones.
So, whether you want a great place to stay in NYC, or to find a spot to live, I’m here to help you figure out which neighborhood in NYC is right for you!
Table of Contents
- 15 Best Neighborhoods in NYC
- Upper West Side (Manhattan)
- Upper East Side (Manhattan)
- Greenwich Village (Manhattan)
- East Village (Manhattan)
- Bayside (Queens)
- Financial District (Manhattan)
- Brooklyn Heights (Brooklyn)
- Williamsburg (Brooklyn)
- Hell’s Kitchen (Manhattan)
- Park Slope (Brooklyn)
- Harlem (Upper Manhattan)
- Long Island City (Queens)
- Astoria (Queens)
- Gramercy (Manhattan)
- SoHo (Manhattan)
- FAQs About NYC Neighborhoods
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15 Best Neighborhoods in NYC
Upper West Side (Manhattan)
A well-loved urban neighborhood with lots of personality and an ideal location bordering Central Park
The Upper West Side is the first thing that comes to my mind when I think, “this is what living in Manhattan is like.” The area runs from 59th Street to 110th Street on the West Side and is a fantastic location because it’s close to everything. Plus, it’s an easy subway ride to Brooklyn, Queens, or the Bronx.
Within the limits of the UWS you’ll find a vibrant nightlife scene perfect for young people. There are a bunch of sleek and stylish bars like The Dead Poet and Prohibition. The Juilliard School of Music and Columbia University are both nearby, so there’s always a bunch of students running around.
Despite its appeal to a younger crowd, it’s also a great place for families. The UWS is home to some of the most elite private schools in all of the five boroughs.
Pros of the Upper West Side
- Perfect central location
- Home to the Museum of Natural History and more
- Close to Central Park and Riverside Park
- Endless restaurants and bars
Cons of the UWS
- Extremely high rental prices
Upper East Side (Manhattan)
A high-end district known for museums, luxury shopping, and being a major filming location for Sex and the City
On the opposite side of Central Park from the Upper West Side is the Upper East Side. It’s a little more straitlaced than its spirited cousin to the West. It runs from East 96th Street to right above East 59th Street. It also includes smaller neighborhoods like Carnegie Hill, Lenox Hill, and Yorkville.
This neighborhood tends to have an older demographic despite being close to some big-name colleges. It’s mainly a residential area, so you’ll probably have a more difficult time finding a party in the UES.
Instead, this neighborhood is part of the museum mile. Here, you can take a leisurely stroll to some of the best museums in New York City. The Guggenheim, the Smithsonian, and The Frick Collection can all be found in the UES.
Pros of Upper East Side
- An abundance of housing options
- Upscale atmosphere
- Lots of museums
Cons of Upper East Side
- Insane traffic
- Limited places to park
Greenwich Village (Manhattan)
A colorful and artistic neighborhood that’s home to some of the best restaurants in the world
Greenwich Village is an artistic neighborhood with a lengthy history. Today, it’s simply known as one of the nicest places to live in New York City. Albeit one of the most expensive.
Along Bleeker Street and MacDougal Street, you can discover the heart of the neighborhood. New Yorkers from all over flock to this area for its abundance of restaurants, nightclubs, shopping, and overall charm.
The Village also has lovely, clean architecture and some fantastic public parks. The neighborhood is located right next to the Hudson River, so many places have a beautiful waterfront view. It’s just an easy place to spend time, no matter who you are.
Pros of Greenwich Village
- Rich culture and history
- Terrific shopping and dining
- Close to other major neighborhoods
Cons of Greenwich Village
- Extremely expensive
- Overrun with students from NYC colleges
East Village (Manhattan)
A funky neighborhood with lots of food and shopping that was home to influential artists, musicians, and writers
If you want to be as close as possible to the legacy of famous musicians and artists, there’s no better place than the East Village. The neighborhood was the jumping-off point for huge art stars like Jean-Michel Basquiat and Jeff Koons. Along with musicians like Madonna and the Strokes.
Besides its incredible history as a home to the arts, the neighborhood is just a great place to spend a week or a lifetime. It’s steeped in stunning street art. There are a ton of exciting speakeasies like Please Don’t Tell and Death & Co. There are tons of upscale restaurants and cozy cafes.
Despite the passage of time, the area still maintains its overall indie vibe. The price tag has definitely increased though.
Pros of East Village
- Cheaper than other Manhattan boroughs
- Unique background as a home to artists
- Lively nightlife scene
Cons of East Village
- Not enough subway stops in the area
- Gets loud on the weekends
An interesting combo of suburbian and urban energy in a waterfront neighborhood
Bayside has a real sense of community that might be difficult to find in other New York neighborhoods. It’s a quiet, spacious, and safe area that has that suburban feel without completely leaving the city vibe behind. Plus, there’s an abundance of accommodation options around the area and many excellent schools.
It’s the perfect place for families who want to be part of NYC without actually being right in the middle of the hustle and bustle.
Pros of Bayside
- Plenty of homes and apartments
- Top-notch schools
- Very safe area
- A nice mix of urban and suburban
Cons of Bayside
- Long subway ride to Brooklyn or Manhattan
Financial District (Manhattan)
A maze of towering skyscrapers that belong to some of the most powerful corporations in the world
You’ll know FiDi from miles away. It features many of the enormous skyscrapers and high-rise buildings that the Manhattan skyline is famous for. It’s located right at the southern tip of Manhattan and is home to Wall Street, the New York Stock Exchange, and the Federal Reserve Bank.
It’s basically one of the most important places in the financial world. That makes it a hotspot for young professionals working in this industry. However, it’s not the best place for anyone that’s hoping to find a neighborly vibe or nightlife.
Pros of FiDi
- It’s the heart of NYC
- Lots of public transportation options
- Excellent shopping scene
Cons of Financial District
- Super busy
- Lacking nightlife
- Everything closes pretty early
Brooklyn Heights (Brooklyn)
A cozy, adorable neighborhood with tree-lined streets and some of the tastiest pizza around
Located in Kings County, Brooklyn Heights is continually rated one of the best places to stay in NYC. But that comes with a super high price. Literally.
The neighborhood is a top choice for families and young professionals alike because it’s just comfortable. The streets are beautiful. There are lots of parks and activities around. Plus, there are relatively direct subway routes to anywhere else you want to go in NYC.
Pros of Brooklyn Heights
- Overall gorgeous neighborhood aesthetically
- Close to many public transportation routes
- Anything you could want is nearby
- Lots of bars, restaurants, parks, etc.
Cons of Brooklyn Heights
- Street parking is impossible if you have a car
- Most apartments don’t have elevators
- Difficult to find reasonably priced accommodations
A notoriously hipster neighborhood with a happening nightlife and indie music scene
Williamsburg is constantly landing itself at the top of the list for the most ‘hipster’ neighborhood in Brooklyn. It’s one of the closest neighborhoods to Manhattan, only a quick trip over the Williamsburg Bridge or a 15-minute ride on the J-train.
In Williamsburg, you’ll find lots of places for shopping, eating, and drinking. Along with a bunch of parks to hang out in on a Saturday and venues to watch live music.
Though it has a reputation for being almost too trendy for its own good, Williamsburg does have a clear allure.
Pros of Williamsburg
- Lots of parks around the area
- Amazing arts and music scene
- Plenty of places to eat and drink
- Easy trip to Manhattan
Cons of Williamsburg
- Many consider it overrated
- One of the most gentrified Brooklyn neighborhoods
📚 Related Reading: 15 Best Waterfalls in New York.
Hell’s Kitchen (Manhattan)
A haven for food from around the globe that’s close to major NYC tourist attractions
Don’t get scared off by the name – Hell’s Kitchen is actually one of the coolest New York neighborhoods. It’s located from 34th Street to 59th Street and its history is ripe with tales of New York’s historically seedy underbelly.
Today, it’s become one of the best Manhattan neighborhoods with delicious ethnic restaurants and an energetic vibe.
Hell’s Kitchen is close to some of New York’s major attractions like the Empire State Building, Times Square, and Lincoln Center. It’s also the High Line Park and Riverside Park South. Even though it’s pretty close to big attractions, it’s not overrun with tourists.
Pros of Hell’s Kitchen
- Somewhat affordable compared to other Manhattan neighborhoods
- Easy to walk to Midtown, Chelsea, Upper West Side, etc.
- Near Central Park
- Super LGBTQ+ friendly
Cons of Hell’s Kitchen
- Close to Times Square
- High property crime rate
👉 Local Tip: If you’re planning a scouting trip to NYC, consider the season you’re visiting. The best time to visit NYC for a scouting trip is in the fall or spring. The weather isn’t too oppressively hot or cold around these times.
Park Slope (Brooklyn)
A lovely, walkable neighborhood with brownstones, markets, and excellent schools
Park Slope is one of the most well-known and loved neighborhoods in Brooklyn. It has the right combination of being family-friendly without being boring.
There are lots of pleasant coffee shops and places to grab a bite along quiet streets lined with trees. It borders Prospect Park, one of the best parks in the whole city. To top it all off, the Brooklyn Museum and the Brooklyn Botanical Garden are both nearby.
Pros of Park Slope
- Many amazing restaurants
- Family-friendly community
- Close to big parks
- Super clean
Cons of Park Slope
- Not the greatest nightlife scene
- Very difficult to find parking
👉 Local Tip: One of the best New York City travel tips I can give you is to explore the boroughs on foot. Even though it can get tiring, you always end up finding something amazing that you never would’ve known about. Brooklyn is a particularly awesome place to wander by walking.
Harlem (Upper Manhattan)
A hotspot for black music history, featuring the famous Apollo Theater and the National Jazz Museum
Many people moving to NYC head to Harlem for its rich music history and sense of community. Central Harlem is a largely residential area with a community feel that many places in New York City lack. It also comes with the added benefit of being a conveniently quick subway ride down to other Manhattan neighborhoods.
Additionally, the area has some of the most affordable apartments in the city. With that being said, gentrification is an issue in Harlem and many places in NYC. It’s something to think about if you’re considering a move.
Pros of Harlem
- Rich culture and history
- Dynamic nightlife
- Affordable housing
- Has more of a community feel
- Plenty of access to public transportation
Cons of Harlem
- Can get noisy
- Fewer accommodation options for families of 3+
Long Island City (Queens)
A waterfront neighborhood known for its stellar arts scene and beautiful parks
Long Island City has become a popular choice among people who work in Manhattan but don’t necessarily want to live there. It’s only about a 25-minute commute to get into Manhattan, and yet it feels plenty far away enough.
There are lots of apartments, and many of them are bigger than your standard NYC abode. So, it’s a good potential option for large families.
Pros of Long Island City
- Huge neighborhood
- Apartments have more space
- Great views of the Manhattan skyline
- Right near Gantry Plaza State Park
Cons of Long Island City
- One of the priciest neighborhoods in Queens
A hip neighborhood with delicious Greek eats, only a trip over the East River from Manhattan
When I went to college in New York City, about 70% of the time when I asked someone, “where do you live?” they’d say Astoria. It’s a common choice among students and young people for good reason. It’s an easy ride to get into Midtown Manhattan, and it tends to be way cheaper than other neighborhoods in NYC. Plus, it’s there’s good food absolutely everywhere.
The biggest drawback is that it’s a difficult trek to Brooklyn and downtown Manhattan.
Pros of Astoria
- Easy to get to Midtown Manhattan
- Safe and quiet area
- Tends to be more affordable
- Delicious restaurants
Cons of Astoria
- Few local events or live music
- Difficult commute to Brooklyn and Lower Manhattan
An upscale neighborhood featuring a famed private park and stunning pre-war architecture
Gramercy is one of those neighborhoods that set Manhattan apart from anywhere else in New York. First of all, it’s incredibly expensive. Like, celebrity-level expensive. But, if you have the budget, it’s a very nice place to be.
It’s sort of cut-off from the chaos of NYC with its private parks and incredible brownstones. But it’s still close to places like Union Square, Murray Hill, and the Flatiron District.
Pros of Gramercy
- Walking distance to Madison Square Park and Madison Avenue
- Quiet and chill neighborhood
- Lots of activities around the area
Cons of Gramercy
- One of Manhattan’s more expensive neighborhoods (44% higher than other NYC neighborhoods)
- No parking
👉 Local Tip: Everyone knows that New York City is super expensive. But, one way to get around the costs is by staying at a hostel. Even though many people wonder about their safety in hostels, it’s actually a great way to travel. I’d recommend checking out American Dream Hostel near Gramercy Park.
A downtown Manhattan neighborhood with boutique shopping that’s been attracting artists since the ‘70s
SoHo has a reputation as being one of the coolest neighborhoods in all of Manhattan. That’s a pretty big statement, but it’s true. Nearby, you’ll find shopping at Canal Street and tons of renowned art galleries.
Plus, it’s close to New York University and other colleges. So it’s ideal for students that want to be close to campus.
Pros of SoHo
- Trendy, artistic atmosphere
- Plenty of shopping
- Easy access to all the subway lines
Cons of SoHo
- Always has a lot of tourists around
FAQs About NYC Neighborhoods
What is a nice neighborhood in New York?
What is the hippest neighborhood in NYC?
You’ve finished my guide to the best neighborhoods in New York City! Thanks for reading, and I hope you’ve found the NYC neighborhood of your dreams. If you’re planning on venturing out of the city to get a taste of the country, don’t miss our list of the best towns in New York.
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