Main menu Open search menu

5 of The Best NYC Neighborhoods to Visit for Art, History, and More

BY: Editors | Nov 17, 2017

Trying to run through all the best NYC neighborhoods in a single article would be a truly herculean task. The largest city in America, the Big Apple is home to somewhere between 250 and 300 distinct neighborhoods spread out among its five bustling bouroughs. That means this handy guide will be far from comprehensive. That said, it's still a neat little snapshot that'll be especially helpful for those visiting New York for the first time. We're taking a look at five (yep, just five!) NYC neighborhoods and calling out what makes them so special for visitors. 

Best Neighborhood for Shameless Shopping Sprees: SoHo

SoHo's rep as a shopping hotspot is a lot newer than you might think; it only started gathering steam in the early 2000s. Since then, it's exploded and now you can find dozens of boutiques, vintage shops, and the latest from up-and-coming American designers like Rachel Antonoff and Samantha Pleet.

  • What to Do: Tired of shopping New York? The area might be all tres chic boutiques now, but you can get a glimpse of it's immigrant past at the Lower East Side Tenement Museum. You'll not only see a historically accurate re-creation of what apartments were like at the turn of the century, but you can even chat with reenactors.

  • Where to Eat: Chef's Club Counter let's you grab food quickly for cheap, but its menu features dishes by some of the biggest names in the restaurant biz such as James Beard Award–winning chef Linton Hopkins.

  • Where to Stay: If you can't get enough fashion, stay at The Stewart Hotel near the Garment District (from $104/night).

Best Neighborhood for Art Lovers: Upper East Side

In less than 2 square miles you can see hundreds of the most important art pieces in the world. Head to the Met to see the breadth of the art world in a single visit, with exhibits showcasing everything from Chinese silks to sculptures by Rodin to fashion. If that feels overwhelming, head to the far more manageable Guggenheim to get your fill of Modernism.

  • What to Do: Swing by 1040 5th Avenue for a glimpse of Jackie Kennedy's New York residence. The Kennedys (especially Jackie) made their mark on the American art scene so it's only fitting.

  • Where to Eat: After hoofing it from one museum to the next, you'll want to load up at Pastrami Queen. Mouthwatering kosher pastrami and corned beef sandwiches will have you feeling full and happy.

  • Where to Stay: Stay on the other side of Central Park and enjoy 4-star service without the hefty price tag at NYLO New York City (from $109/night).

Best Neighborhood for History Buffs: Harlem

From bustling Dutch community to the epicenter of black culture and art, Harlem's history is as multifaceted as it is fascinating. Kick things off with a visit to the Studio Museum, which is home to more than 2,200 pieces of art created by some of the most prominent black artists. Afterward, pay your respects to the Harlem Renaissance with a visit to the home of Langston Hughes.

  • What to Do: It's not quite Hamilton, but Hamilton Grange National Memorial is the preservation site of the relocated home of founding father Alexander Hamilton. You can wander the beautiful grounds and tour the inside.

  • Where to Eat: It's said that chicken and waffles was invented in Harlem, but whether that's true or not the dish is straight up delicious at Amy Ruth's.

  • Where to Stay: At Aloft Harlem (from $237/night), you can stay right in the heart of things just minutes from the famous Apollo Theater.

Best Neighborhood for Foodies: Koreatown

Koreatown might just be one of the smallest neighborhoods in all of New York. Spanning just two city blocks, the area crams more than 100 small businesses into the space, including some of the most mouthwatering Korean fare this side of the Pacific. Hit up karaoke joints inbetween sampling all the kimchi and bulgogi your heart desires.

  • What to Do: After eating your weight in mandu, get the lay of the land from one of the most famous viewpoints in the whole city: the top of the Empire State Building (it's just a 3 min. walk away).

  • Where to Eat: Open 24/7, New Wonjo should be your first and last stop on any given day thanks to its sizzling array of Korean barbecue specialties including galbi and hyu mit gui (or sliced ox tongue).

  • Where to Stay: Just a short seven-minute walk from Koreatown's bounty lies the modern and elegant James New York hotel (from $160/night).

Best Neighborhood for Instagrammers: Dumbo

You didn't think we'd forget Brooklyn on our list, did you? To get some of the most drool-worthy shots on your Instagram, you've gotta head to Dumbo (short for Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass), specifically Washington Street. The gorgeous cobblestone avenue offers tourists the perfect shot of the Brooklyn Bridge, with the Empire State Building framed under the steel beams.

  • What to Do: Take a spin on Jane's Carousel, an original 1922 carousel featuring intricately carved horses that's become a staple of photo shoots and weddings in addition to kid's parties.

  • Where to Eat: You've got to grab a slice at Juliana's Pizza, which may have only been open since 2012, but it's considered the best pizza in New York. It's no surprise, really, considering it's run by Patsy Grimaldi, whose family has been slinging slices since the 1930s.

  • Where to Stay: Stay almost as close as can be to the Brooklyn Bridge at the New York Marriott (from $359/night).