With more than 8 million people crammed into five boroughs spanning a mere 300 square miles, New York City is a boisterous metropolis that famously refuses to sleep. Its riot of sights and sounds vary so much from one block to the next – let alone from borough to borough – that you could take a month and visit a different part of town each day, and you'd still only scratch the surface.
Home to Times Square, Rockefeller Center, the Empire State Building, and the Theater District, midtown is an obvious destination for first-time visitors, but don’t stop there – there’s a ton left to discover after you’ve crossed those spots off your list. Here are eight New York City neighborhoods you should make time to explore.
East Village and Lower East Side Best neighborhood for restaurants
East of Third Avenue, south of 14th Street, and north of Houston is the East Village, once celebrated for its gritty punk-rock scene but now better known for its trendy, upscale vibe – albeit one that still has a hint of an edge. It’s just harder to see it now, thanks to the plethora of restaurants, bars, shops, theaters, and concert venues that have sprung up in the past decade or two.
St. Mark’s Place is one of the main drags, and while it’s jammed with kitschy stores and cheap vendors in spots, there are also some real gems hiding in plain sight, especially as you travel further east toward Tompkins Square Park.
But really, no matter which block you stumble down, it’s hard to go wrong – you’re sure to find something tasty, whether it’s blintzes and pierogi from the legendary Veselka or relative newcomer Empellón al Pastor’s cheeseburger tacos and spicy-cucumber margaritas at happy hour.
On the other side of Houston and stretching down toward Chinatown, the Lower East Side is a neighborhood molded by immigrants, and its history is a fascinating one best experienced at the Tenement Museum on Orchard Street. (The New Museum and the International Center of Photography Museum are also nearby).
On Houston itself, two institutions nod to the area’s Jewish roots: Katz’s Delicatessen, equally beloved for its smoked pastrami and its appearance in the “I’ll have what she’s having” scene from When Harry Met Sally, and Russ & Daughters, an appetizing shop beloved for its caviar, knishes, and smoked fish.
Share the knowledge