When visiting New York for the first time, most people can be very confused about where to stay. You hear so much about ever neighbourhood that you don’t want to miss out on anything by staying in the wrong place! The good news is that there’s not just one “best area” to stay in. Every neighbourhood offers unique and exciting restaurants, attractions and destinations; and the transport system in NYC can take you anywhere you might want to go that’s not in walking distance! But if you’re looking for some suggestions, here is my guide to NYC neighbourhoods:


Where: From 42nd Street to 59th Street, East of 5th Avenue

What: Park Avenue, 5th Avenue, Rockerfeller Centre, Radio City Music Hall, Museum of Modern Art, Grand Central Station

Why: Midtown is a great place to base yourself. Within walking distance of many major attractions including Central Park and Times Square, nothing is too far away. This is where we stayed during our time in NYC and we found it the perfect place to base ourselves. A central location also mean taxi rides aren’t too expensive and there are always good food options open for late night eats. Fantastic shopping location, with many of the most famous NY stores in close proximity, including Tiffany’s, Barney’s and Bergdorf Goodman.

Flat Iron District

Where: 5th Avenue to Park Avenue South, from 27th Street to the top of Union Square

What: Madison Square Park, Flat Iron Building, Union Square

Why: A popular spot for local skate-boarders, artists, performers and protesters. There’s always something different going on in the Flat Iron District. Whilst not as popular as areas such as Midtown and Times Square, the Flat Iron Distract offers lots of amazing restaurants and even more shopping options. Shake Shack – a crazy popular burger phenomenon – is also located in Madison Square Park.

SoHo / TriBeCa 

Where: SoHo – South of Houston Street, North of Canal Street and TriBeCa – the Triangle below Canal Street

What: Soho Shopping, Cobblestone Streets, Celebrity Spotting

Why: Soho continues to be a very popular place for shopping and dining, with many people choosing to stay and play in Soho instead of some of the more popular areas of NYC. Tribeca is more of a residential area, with shopping and dining replaced by expensive real estate and apartment buildings. Many celebrities own homes in this area for when they are in the city, so you can often find them walking in or out of local juice bars, pilates studios or cafes!

Times Square

Where: 40th to 59th Streets, from 6th Avenue to 8th Avenue

What: Times Square, Carnegie Hall, Theatre District

Why: Arguably the most popular destination for tourists, everyone wants to be near Times Square. With skyscrapers covered in advertisements, large multi-story shops and many many people dressed as movie characters, Times Square is definitely worth the visit. Hotels in this area are often more expensive due to popularity, it’s worth looking just a few streets either side of the Times Square District for better deals.

Hell’s Kitchen 

Where: 9th and 10th Avenue

What: Ethnic restaurants, trendy abrs and independent shops

Why: If you’re looking for something a little bit different and prefer unqiue boutiques and bars rather than big chains, Hell’s Kitchen offers many alternatives. With cheaper accommodation prices and lots of air bnb alternatives, it’s a great option for something out of the ordinary.

Meatpacking District 

Where: West 15th Street to Gansevoort Street and 11th Avenue

What: Reformed Industrial Area, Best Clubs and Boutique Hotels

Why: The city’s latest hot spot includes outrageously expensive boutique hotels, top club scene and dining area. Great area for hipster and model watching, there are all kinds of eclectic people visiting the Meatpacking District. An area unlike any other, the Meatpacking District is definitely the place to be at night, even though you might spend ages in line to get in.

Greenwich Village

Where: West of 7th Avenue

What: Bohemian feel, Gay Culture, Friends Building, Washington Square Park

Why: For a more authentic and ‘local’ NY stay, consider Greenwich Village. With beautifully restored townhouses and curvy streets, this is often the home to many NYU students, both local and international. Also known as ‘The Village’, you can’t go past the eateries here – everything from modern restaurants, to gourmet markets. A walking food tour is a great way to experience everything Greenwich Village’s has to offer, as well as checking out the neighbourhoods historical sites.

Chinatown & Little Italy 

Where: Grand Street to Chatham Square and from Broadway to Beyond Bowery

What: Ethnic shops, street vendors, reasonably priced restaurants

Why: A great way to experience the variety of cultures that live in NYC. The best place to buy everything from handbags to watches, there are hundreds of street vendors lining the streets here. During the warmer months Mulberry Street (the main street in Little Italy) becomes a pedestrian mall, with cafes and restaurants placing tables and chairs outside for patrons to soak up the environment.

Image found here.

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Emma Shaw

Emma is a travel photographer and blogger, living in Melbourne, Australia with her husband Thom in between adventures. She started Explore Shaw to share her experiences, travel tips and destination advice, and to inspire others to travel the world and their own backyard whenever they can.

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