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Where to Stay in New York City for Sightseeing: 10 Best Areas

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When you think of New York City, what comes to mind? Probably a lot of things! New York is the subject of more songs, movies, plays, TV shows, novels, poems, and so on than we could name in a whole article, and you’re probably thinking of one right now. Here’s where to stay in New York City to make the most of your trip.

If you’re now looking to be a part of it or make a brand new start in old New York, you’ll need to find some digs where you can crash – even if it is the city that never sleeps. It’s probably a good idea that you get some shut-eye!

So, where is the best place to stay in New York for sightseeing? Where should you hang your hat if you’re looking for some great grub? Which neck of the woods is filled with hidden gems, and which are tourist traps?

I get it – it’s easy to feel overwhelmed when you first arrive in New York because there’s so much going on. But it doesn’t have to be that way!

New York City is a world-famous destination, and it has more than enough to offer travelers who are looking for excitement and entertainment. And because there are so many different landmarks and attractions you can visit during a trip, it can be challenging to choose where to settle down and take a break.

With all that in mind, we’ve compiled a selection of the best hotels in prominent neighborhood areas where you can relax and feel at ease after visiting some of the city’s most popular sites.

If you’re passing through New York State, you should definitely hunt for the best place to stay in New York City to access its many landmarks. Who wants to drive miles from the hotel to see what they want? No-one! That’s why we will break down some of the top areas in NYC for sightseeing and some of the most convenient accommodations you can find there.

PRO TIP: If you plan on making a tourist trip to New York City, you’ll definitely want to get an all-inclusive sightseeing pass to save money on all the attractions you plan to visit. You can save as much as 70% versus purchasing museum, landmark, tour, or attraction admission individually, which results in more spending money or an even bigger splurge on your hotel!

TL;DR: Top Picks for Accommodation

We’ve done our digging and found some of the best hotels and accommodations the city has to offer for those of you who need that sweet info right now!

TL;DR: Best NYC Neighborhoods

New York City is huge, and it can be overwhelming to navigate. But if you know where to look, you’ll find all sorts of amazing neighborhoods, each with its personality, culture, and history.

We’ve compiled a handy guide to the top areas in New York City—not only where you should stay but also what it’s like and what kinds of activities you can expect to find there.

  • For sightseeing – Midtown Manhattan/Financial District
  • For first-timers/tourists – Midtown Manhattan
  • For budget travelers – Harlem/Queens
  • For luxury travelers – Tribeca/Soho/Financial District
  • For families – Upper West Side and Upper East Side Manhattan/Queens
  • For nightlife – Greenwich Village/Harlem/Hell’s Kitchen

There are more famous landmarks and attractions in NYC than you can shake a stick at (sticks themselves are best found in either Central Park or Zitomer department store – depending on your style and budget, naturally).

There are few things worse than wasting money on cabs or hiking for miles through a bustling city (even with a fancy cane) to get to NYC’s top landmarks.

So why not do yourself a solid and book a room close to the New York sights you want? Genius, I know. With that in mind, here’s more about some of the best New York City areas for sightseeing, together with handy hotels.

Where to Stay in New York City

1. Midtown Manhattan

Night street view and city life on  Sixth Avenue or Avenue of the Americas, Midtown Manhattan, New York.
elephotos/ Adobe Stock

What do you picture when you think of “New York City”? My bet is it’s Manhattan. When many out-of-towners refer to New York, they typically talk about Manhattan. Suburban New Yorkers themselves often call Manhattan “the city.” 

New York City comprises five boroughs, of which Manhattan is the smallest. But it’s also the buzziest borough, filled with some legendary neighborhoods. If you’re looking for places to stay in New York for sightseeing, you can’t top the heart of the Big Apple itself.

The most legendary Manhattan neighborhood of all is Midtown Manhattan, often considered the beating heart of New York City. Here you’ll find some iconic NYC locations, so it’s a great place for first-timers to experience that unforgettable Big Apple buzz. 

For a start, it’s home to the most visited spot in America – Times Square. You might want to schedule your New Year’s trip to watch the famous “ball drop” at One Times Square or take in the Christmas tradition at Rockefeller Center.

Close by is the bright lights of the Broadway Theater District and the famous 42nd Street. There are 41 theaters on Broadway (which you can learn about at the Museum of Broadway), so there’s going to be a show you’ll want to take in, or you could try a walking tour led by a theater professional

The center of Manhattan is also where you’ll find the ever-impressive Empire State Building and the New York branch of Madame Tussaud’s. You’re also close to “the world’s greatest arena”, Madison Square Garden

Madison Square Garden NYC building
Ajay Suresh / Wikimedia Commons, CC BY 2.0

There are also shopping and eating opportunities galore, including big names Bloomingdale’s and the Hard Rock Café. And do check out the awe-inspiring Grand Central Terminal, one of the world’s busiest train stations and a great spot for selfies.

Going a little further south of Midtown, you’ll find the iconic triangular Flatiron Building next to Madison Square Park. You could stop for a bite at one of the lovely eateries in nearby Chelsea, such as Citizens of Chelsea and HARBS Chelsea.

Manhattan is essentially a thin island surrounded by the Hudson, East, and Harlem Rivers. Right on the banks of the Hudson in Chelsea is a unique place for seafood and a drink.

This is the Frying Pan, a docked coastguard lightship. It’s only open from October, but the setting is exceptional. You can also find Manhattan brunch cruises or even glamorous Hudson River dinner cruises that start from Chelsea’s Pier 61.  If you want to make the very best use of your time in this great central location, here are some of the must-see places:

  • Times Square
  • Broadway Theater District
  • Empire State Building
  • Museum of Modern Art
  • St Patrick’s Cathedral
  • Grand Central Station

No matter where you decide to stay in New York, a visit to Midtown Manhattan is highly recommended. This is where you feel you’re in the very heart of NYC. If you decide that you want to be close to Manhattan’s best tourist attractions and choose a hotel or rental in Midtown, here are our top recommendations:

See Related: Most Famous Historic Landmarks in the USA

2. Upper West Side, Upper East Side, & Central Park, Manhattan

Central Park, Manhattan
Brad Pict/ Adobe Stock

Just north of Midtown is another must-see NYC location: Central Park. On either side of this glorious 843-acre site, you’ll find two great central Manhattan neighborhoods, Upper East Side and Upper West Side.

We’ve grouped them for the sake of convenience. Both are great places to stay for sightseeing, particularly if you want to walk around and enjoy the illusion of peace.

The proximity to Central Park makes these neighborhoods ideal spots to base yourself if you want to focus on the park’s many attractions. Both the Upper East Side and Upper West Side are affluent and largely residential, giving them a reassuring feeling of safety. As both are home to some world-famous museums (such as the American Museum of Natural History), this makes the district the very best place to stay in NYC for families.

Upper East Side, once the home of the Vanderbilts and the Rockefellers, now houses the celebrated Museum Mile. This is a collection of nine museums, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art – America’s most-visited museum – and The Guggenheim.

On the Upper West Side, there’s the famous Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, the American Museum of Natural History, and the super-hands-on Children’s Museum of Manhattan. 

The area also offers plenty of high-end shopping. A stroll along Fifth Avenue, one of the world’s fanciest shopping streets (think Cartier and Tiffany’s) is a must. And check out Top of the Rock, the observation deck on top of the nearby Rockefeller Center.

There are tons of ways to enjoy Central Park. Its huge open spaces and cycle paths (where you can enjoy bike tours) provide great opportunities for exercising or letting off steam.

There are basketball courts, baseball fields, and lawn bowling greens. You can fly kites, go boating and even rent fishing poles, and no trip to Central Park is complete without a horse-drawn buggy tour.  

Central Park Buggy Ride experience
Colin W/ Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 3.0

Music lovers will want to join the Beatles fans singing the Fab Four’s songs at Strawberry Fields. And screen buffs can spot those iconic Central Park TV and movie locations on a guided walking tour.  To sum up, here are the must-see spots in the Upper West Side, Upper East Side, and Central Park area:

  • Metropolitan Museum of Art (“The Met”)
  • Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum (“The Guggenheim”)
  • American Museum of Natural History
  • Children’s Museum of Manhattan
  • Summit Rock, Central Park
  • Belvedere Castle, Central Park
  • Strawberry Fields, Central Park

Once again, even if you don’t choose to stay in the Central Park area, I’d encourage you to visit this iconic location. But if you spend most of your vacation exploring the park and the Museum Mile, it’s a good idea to base yourself here, even if hotel prices are not the most affordable. Here are some of the best NYC hotels in the area:

See Related: Free Printable Travel Planner

3. Greenwich Village, Manhattan

The arch at Washington Square Park, Greenwich Village, Manhattan, New York City.
jovannig/ Adobe Stock

In Lower Manhattan, south of Midtown and north of Houston Street, is the neighborhood of Greenwich Village, or simply The Village.  This is one of the best places to stay in NYC for tourists who want to tap into New York’s artistic vibe, and the sightseeing here is unique. 

Greenwich Village has a distinctly alternative feel – the streets here are likelier to have names, not numbers. You certainly won’t feel like a tourist in the Village.

Since the 19th Century, The Village has been home to writers and artists, including Edgar Allen Poe, Salvador Dali, and Andy Warhol. It’s also known for its fictional residents. Those famous apartment blocks in Friends and Sex in the City? Yes – you’ll find them in Greenwich Village.

The Village has a vibrant performing arts scene and is well-known for experimental theater – “off-off-Broadway” started here.  For a great night out, try a New York jazz tour that hits up the Blue Note or Village Vanguard jazz clubs, the Comedy Cellar, or the Cherry Lane Theater. And try to time your visit to take in the amazing and beautiful Village Halloween Parade, America’s only major nighttime carnival parade.

The Village’s heart is Washington Square Park, with its famous stone arch. Here you can play chess at a chess table under the trees, perhaps with a coffee from one of the many coffee shops nearby.

Five minutes’ walk away is the historic Stonewall Inn and National Monument. Or stroll down Bleecker Street to soak up the vibe, maybe on a food-themed walking tour. Check out the Bowery Poetry Club in East Village for music, reading, and slams.

To taste the old Village, visit the 1830s Merchant’s House Museum or the charming cobblestone streets of Washington Mews. Or maybe make contact with old Villagers on a ghost tour.

But here are Greenwich Village’s must-sees in summary:

  • Washington Square Park
  • Stonewall Inn and National Monument
  • Friends Apartment Block, West Village
  • Merchant’s House Museum
  • Bleecker Street Weekend Artisan Market
  • Comedy or Jazz  Club

Greenwich Village is a great location for an arty vibe to your New York vacation. If you want to soak up that bohemian atmosphere, here are some of the best Greenwich Village hotel options:

See Related: Summer Music Festivals

4. TriBeCa/SoHo, Manhattan

Tribeca New York Skyline along the Hudson River
James/ Adobe Stock

The Lower Manhattan neighborhoods of Tribeca and next-door SoHo are models of booming urban renewal. Massive 19th-century industrial buildings are now ultra-chic residences, lofts, and boutiques.

As a result, visitors could be rubbing shoulders with show-biz royalty: residents include Beyoncé, Taylor Swift, and Gwyneth Paltrow. And the stars are even thicker on the ground during the summer Tribeca Festival for films and video games. 

These two neighborhoods, south of Greenwich Village and west of Little Italy, have a hip, cool reputation. Both have names abbreviated from their geographical locations. Tribeca is the “Triangle Below Canal Street”, while SoHo is “South of Houston Street.” Pretty handy if you lose your way!

They’re also less touristy than the central Manhattan locations. That’s not to say tourist attractions are thin on the ground.

In the Tribeca/SoHo area, you’ll find plenty of stylish shopping outlets for anyone looking to go on an NYC shopping spree, great brunch places, and impressive architecture you can admire on walking tours. In particular, there’s the SoHo-Cast-Iron Historic District, a world-beating collection of 19th-century cast-iron architecture and plenty of great boutique hotels.

Tribeca also offers fun attractions for families. There’s the genuine Ghostbusters fire station, and for very young kids – and older folks, too – there’s the Ice Cream Museum. You could also enjoy the artisanal bakeries on a cupcake tour

There are some great parks in the Tribeca area. First, there are Piers 25 and 26 of the Hudson River Park. Here you’ll find a skatepark, mini golf, and soccer fields. Then there’s Rockefeller Park, part of Battery Park City. This has a playground, gardens, and a pavilion. 

All these open spaces have sensational views of the Hudson River, the Empire State Building, Jersey City, and the One World Trade Center. And the sunsets here are absolutely stunning. For the most thrilling view of the area, why not take a night-time flight over Manhattan?

SoHo Nights in New York City
zxvisual/ Adobe Stock

Here’s a quick round-up of the Tribeca/SoHo must-sees:

  • Cast-Iron Roosevelt Building at 478 Broadway
  • Firehouse, Hook & Ladder Company 8 (Ghostbusters Fire Station)
  • Pier 25, Hudson River Park
  • City Vineyard at Pier 26
  • The Mysterious Bookshop, Warren Street
  • Battery Park City

The Tribeca/SoHo area is a great place to visit, if only to see how the other half lives. Hotel prices here may not be super-affordable, though. But if you want to be neighbors with Robert de Niro, here are our recommendations:

See Related: New York Pass vs New York CityPASS

5. Financial District, Manhattan

American flags adorn New York Stock Exchange on Wall Street
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

Right at the bottom of  Lower Manhattan is the Financial District, home of Wall Street and the beating heart of world finance. This is the best NYC neighborhood to visit if you want to put your finger on that financial pulse

Although seeing the NY Stock Exchange trading floor is impossible, you can listen out for the trading bell at 9:30 a.m. and 4 pm on weekdays. Take a selfie next to the Buttonwood Tree, the only tree on Wall Street.  And look out for Gold Vault tours at the Federal Reserve Bank.

The historic Financial District is also where you’ll see some unforgettable museums. These are the National September 11 Memorial Museum and the 9/11 Tribute Museum.

9/11 Memorial panoramic view with flags and cascading waterfalls
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

You’ll also find the new One World Trade Centre. Go up to the 101st floor for fine dining and even finer views.  Other must-see attractions in the Financial District are the Museum of Jewish Heritage and the National Museum of the American Indian. At the tip of Lower Manhattan, Battery Park is a pleasant spot to take in the waterfront.

Here you’ll find the delightful SeaGlass Carousel. And you’ll need to go to Battery Park to catch the ferry to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. You must have reservations to visit the statue, and the cheapest tickets are through the authorized concessioner. Note that street vendors can charge way over the odds.

But you may want to use a reliable tour operator who can offer a more personalized Lady Liberty experience. Be prepared, though, for airport-style security checks before boarding the ferry.

You may have relatives who passed through Ellis Island on their way to a new life in the U.S. When you visit. You can actually look them up in the Ellis Island Immigration Museum. 

For a small fee, the American Family Immigration History Center lets you search through records of ships that came through Ellis Island. You can even buy photos of ships and manifests.

To sum up, here are the Financial District’s star attractions:

  • Wall Street
  • Federal Reserve Bank
  • National September 11 Memorial Museum 
  • 9/11 Tribute Museum
  • One World Trade Centre
  • Museum of Jewish Heritage
  • National Museum of the American Indian
  • Ferry to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island

Financial District hotels don’t tend to be that affordable. But being based here puts you in the heart of old New York, near some must-see attractions. Here are our hotel recommendations:

See Related: Islands in the U.S.

6. Harlem, Manhattan

Harlem neighborhood cityscape at sunset in New York City
MaciejBledowski / Adobe Stock

Harlem doesn’t always feature in must-see guides to Manhattan. That’s a shame, as it’s a vibrant NYC neighborhood bursting with cultural appeal.

Situated north of Central Park, it’s also handily placed for both the Park and the architectural delights of Hamilton Heights. Public transportation is good, with journeys between Harlem and Times Square taking only 15 minutes on the A, D, 1, 2, and 3 Uptown subway lines. 

Harlem has been known for jazz since the Harlem Renaissance of the 1920s. The National Jazz Museum in Harlem will give you the full low-down, concert, and jam sessions.

You can enjoy jazz at one of the many Harlem clubs, including American Legion Post #398 or the Showman’s Jazz Club. And be sure to visit the original “Swing Street”, 133rd Street.

Back in the Jazz Age, it was home to 20+ jazz clubs. And if dry land isn’t cool enough, you can grab even more jazz on a boat! There are other great museums and art galleries to check out. These include the Schomburg Center and the Studio Museum.

Harlem is also a hotspot for fabulous shopping. A good starting point is Adam Clayton Powell, Jnr Boulevard – especially if you want a hat. Try Hats by Bunn or Harlem’s Heaven Hats for a unique souvenir. 

Harlem is also known for its international cuisine. A great time to visit is during the Uptown Night Market, a wonderful celebration of food, usually held in October. And do make time for some of the famous ribs with original Sassy Sauce at Sylvia’s on Malcolm X Boulevard – after all, she is the Queen of Soul Food.

Another Harlem highlight is the Marcus Garvey Memorial Park. You’ll find lawns, playing fields, a summertime swimming pool, and a little amphitheater – look out for summer productions. There’s also the 19th-century cast-iron Harlem Fire Watchtower, the only one left in New York.  If you’re coming to Harlem, here are the top picks for your must-see list:

  • National Jazz Museum
  • Jazz Club
  • Schomburg Center and Shop
  • Hats by Bunn
  • Sylvia’s Soul Food Restaurant
  • Marcus Garvey Memorial Park
  • Hamilton Heights Tour

Harlem is very well worth a visit, even if you’re staying elsewhere. But you’re likely to find affordable hotels in Harlem, making it a sensible choice for a less expensive vacation. Here are our recommendations: 

See Related: Cheapest Shopping Destinations in the World

7. Brooklyn

Brooklyn Bridge in New York City, USA
durul/ Adobe Stock

Once a separate city, Brooklyn became part of NYC in 1898. It’s now the second-largest of the boroughs of New York. So you might want to take transportation into account if you’re aiming to see all the sights of Brooklyn, and also visit the neighboring borough of Manhattan.

Nineteen NYC subway routes service the borough but you may want to consider car hire, depending on where you’re based. Downtown Brooklyn or Brooklyn Heights are sensible choices, as you’re near some great Brooklyn attractions as well as enjoying good public transit access to Manhattan.

For a less touristy option, or if you’re looking for a fantastic meal, try the hipsterish Williamsburg neighborhood facing the East River. Here, you mustn’t miss an eccentric little museum called The City Reliquary. This is full of off-beat knickknacks and curios, giving you a different view of NYC life.

Williamsburg is also a great place to stay if you hope to catch a concert or two. Music Hall, Brooklyn Bowl, and Brooklyn Steel are some of the coolest venues in New York City, and you’re sure to catch a great show. Brooklyn Bowl is worth a visit, as it’s a unique place where you can listen to live music and try to bowl a strike in a swanky spot.

Wherever you stay in Brooklyn, you’re going to want to see the iconic Brooklyn Bridge. Next door is the gorgeous Brooklyn Bridge Park, with 85 acres of promenades and gardens and stunning views of the Manhattan skyline. The park has tons of ice cream concessions and cafés and a flea market on weekends.

Between Brooklyn Bridge and Manhattan Bridge is a famous selfie spot in front of the glorious architecture. And within walking distance is Jane’s Carousel – a vintage 48-horse merry-go-round.

Two nearby museums are well worth a visit. These are the elegant little Center for Brooklyn History and the New York Transit Museum.  And about five miles southwest of Downtown Brooklyn is the fabulous Brooklyn Children’s Museum, full of hands-on activities. 

If you’re looking for more outdoorsy adventures, Brooklyn has some great spots. Prospect Park has a zoo, botanic gardens, ice rink, playground, and trails.

If you don’t mind going further afield, there’s Marine Park, Brooklyn’s biggest public park, with its marshland and fabulous views out over Jamaica Bay (which you can tour on the back of a jet ski!)

And if you want to incorporate a beach vibe into your trip, there’s the world-famous Coney Island. Kids will love the plethora of amusement park rides and the sandy beach.

And if you don’t mind waiting in line, there’s Nathan’s Famous Hotdogs on Coney Island’s iconic boardwalk. To sum it all up, here are the Brooklyn must-sees:

  • Brooklyn Bridge
  • Brooklyn Bridge Park
  • Jane’s Carousel
  • New York Transit Museum
  • Prospect Park
  • Marine Park
  • Coney Island

Brooklyn has a lot going for it. It’s an excellent place to hang out, giving visitors a real-life, local NYC experience. With its good range of budget hotels, it’s a handy – and quite affordable – base if you want to see the whole of NYC. Here are our Brooklyn accommodation recommendations:

See Related: Cheap Places to Travel

8. Staten Island

Orange Staten Island
Mary Salen/ Adobe Stock

A ferry trip out to the borough of Staten Island from Manhattan is an absolute must if you’re visiting New York City. The trip is free and gives some outstanding views of the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, and the city skyline.

Ferries travel between Whitehall Terminal (South Ferry) in Lower Manhattan and St George, Staten Island, every 30 minutes 24/7. There are more frequent services during rush hours, but plan to avoid the rush, as the ferry gets very busy. 

There are bus services from Manhattan via Brooklyn’s Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge. This is where you’ll get great views of historic Fort Wadsworth.

This massive structure was originally built to keep the British out in 1812. But for an unforgettable way to see the whole of Staten Island, plus a bunch of other iconic NYC sights, try a helicopter flight

When you arrive on the island, there’s plenty to do, including lots of interesting and quirky museums. The north of Staten Island is home to the Staten Island Children’s Museum and the Museum of Maritime Navigation. There’s also the Sri Lankan Art and Cultural Museum and the cute little National Lighthouse Museum.

In the center of the island is the 100-acre Historic Richmond Town Museum complex. This aims to give you an immersive experience with a flavor of colonial times, including guides in old-world costumes. And do check out the small but appealing zoo just west of St George.

Exhibit on a museum at Historic Richmond Town Staten Island, New York
Historic Richmond Town Staten Island / Historic Richmond Town

Staten Island is sometimes called the “island of parks” or the “greenest borough.” As this might suggest, the island is full of natural spaces, promising an escape from the whirl of city life. Over one-third of the island’s total mass is parkland, and it is great for nature buffs as it’s a real haven for wildlife. 

A good place for first-timers to start is Greenbelt Nature Center, where you can pick up maps and access the trail system. Greenbelt Park is three times the size of Central Park and is home to a bird sanctuary, as well as a driving range, a model airplane field, and a carousel. 

So whether you have a day out on Staten Island or stay for a longer break, here are some Staten Island essentials:

  • Photo-op of the Statue of Liberty (come equipped with a telephoto lens for best shots!)
  • Fort Wadsworth
  • Staten Island Children’s Museum
  • Museum of Maritime Navigation
  • Historic Richmond Town 
  • Staten Island Zoo
  • Greenbelt Park
  • F.D.R. Boardwalk, East Shore

A trip to Staten Island from Manhattan or Brooklyn would make a great excursion, but it’s fair to say there’s plenty to entertain you for a longer stay. There’s not a huge range of hotels, but if you want to base yourself on Staten Island, here are some recommendations:

See Related: Best Unknown Places to Visit U.S.

9. Queens

Queensboro Bridge - NYC Skyline
demerzel21/ Adobe Stock

North of Brooklyn is New York City’s largest borough, Queens. What makes it one of the best places to stay in NYC is its convenience in terms of transportation: It’s home to two international airports, JFK and LaGuardia.

It’s also an exciting mix of neighborhoods, ethnicities, vibes, styles, and cultures. A stay here will give you an authentic, local NYC experience. Moreover, it won’t have the sometimes eye-watering Manhattan price tag.

I’d urge you first to head out to the neighborhoods of Corona and Flushing, just south of LaGuardia. Here you’ll find something for everyone. Foodies will love Flushing’s vibrant Chinatown, considered by some the best in the U.S. There’s Queens Zoo and, within walking distance, the New York Hall of Science, crammed with interactive exhibits.

Close by are Flushing Meadows Corona Park and Queens Botanical Gardens. And don’t miss the Louis Armstrong House

Sports fans are catered for, too. There’s Citi Field, home of the New York Mets – and while you’re there, check out Queens sandwich favorite Mama’s of Corona. And at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, you can play on the same courts as Novak and Serena. 

Another great Queens neighborhood is Astoria. Here you’ll find Astoria Park, home of the largest and oldest NYC swimming pool, not to mention sumptuous views of the East River.

Another must-see Astoria attraction is the Museum of the Moving Image. Check out its ongoing Muppets exhibition! Or, for something more serene, try the Noguchi Museum, full of Japanese-inspired art.

If you want a more urban vacation in Queens, opt for Long Island City –  or LIC, as the locals call it. One experience you won’t want to miss is a tram ride on the Roosevelt Island Tramway.

This runs between Manhattan and Tramway Plaza on Roosevelt Island, an islet just off Long Island City. Rides are inexpensive, and the views are stunning.

Other attractions in LIC include The Cliffs climbing walls and the wealth of cool Queens breweries to explore. Why not quench your thirst at ICONYC Brewing, Big aLICe Brewing, or the Fifth Hammer Brewing Company after a strenuous climb?

Queens is also a great place for families. As well as Rockaway Beach in south Queens and playgrounds galore, there are tons of kid-friendly attractions. You get the picture: Fun Galaxy, Rainbow Castle, Twinkle Playspace, Funtopia U.S.A.. 

Queens is bursting with things to do. Here’s a list of the must-sees:

  • Chinatown, Flushing
  • Queens Zoo
  • New York Hall of Science
  • Queens Museum
  • Queens Botanical Gardens
  • Astoria Park
  • Museum of the Moving Image
  • Rockaway Beach

You can get a taste of Queens on a tour, but you need to base yourself here if you want to enjoy it to the full. Here are our recommendations:

See Related: Best Road Trip Books for Kids

10. The Bronx

Aerial view of the Bronx, NYC
Tierney/ Adobe Stock

We can’t forget The Bronx! This is the most northerly of NYC’s five boroughs. The Bronx hasn’t always been the most obvious choice for a vacation in New York City. But with recent urban renewal and investment, The Bronx now has a lot going for it as an exciting vacation destination. 

For a start, The Bronx is where Hip Hop was born. You can learn how it all happened at the inspirational Universal Hip Hop Museum at the Bronx Terminal Market or tour some key NYC music locations on a Hip Hop tour.

The Bronx is also home to the new, improved Yankee Stadium, and fans won’t want to miss the celebrated Ball Wall at the New York Yankees Museum. If you’re coming for a game, I’d suggest checking out Stan’s Sports Bar next door. The crowd is very pro-Yankees, but the beer tends to be cheaper than in the stadium.

There’s a host of historical must-sees in The Bronx, too. Don’t miss the awe-inspiring Hall of Fame for Great Americans at Bronx Community College.

Edgar Allen Poe’s last home is less than a few miles away. To pay your respects to other notable figures, have a ramble around Woodlawn Cemetery’s 400 peaceful acres. And check out The Bronx’s oldest house, the 18th Century Van Cortlandt House.

The Bronx has some great outdoor activities. You can escape city life at Pelham Bay Park, NYC’s largest public park. Located in the northeast corner of the Bronx, it’s a mix of various terrain, including forests, meadows, marsh, and coastline. Another beautiful spot is New York Botanical Garden.

For kids, there’s the special Children’s Zoo at Bronx Zoo and the fabulous Bronx Children’s Museum. And foodies are definitely catered for in The Bronx’s Little Italy at Arthur Avenue.

New York City buildings and night lights
Phil Dolby / Wikimedia Commons, CC BY 2.0

Let me sum up some of The Bronx’s star attractions:

  • Universal Hip Hop Museum
  • Yankee Stadium
  • Hall of Fame for Great Americans
  • Woodlawn Cemetery
  • Pelham Bay Park
  • New York Botanical Garden
  • Bronx Zoo
  • Arthur Avenue Retail Market

The Bronx is a must-visit spot if you’re a fan of Hip Hop or baseball. There’s plenty to do for longer vacations, too, and hotels can be inexpensive. Here are our hotel recommendations.

See Related: New York Pass Review


Where should I stay in New York for the first time?

First-time visitors to New York City should find somewhere to stay in Midtown Manhattan. This is the most quintessentially New York City neighborhood of New York City! You’ll be within easy reach of some of the city’s most famous attractions and landmarks here.

What is the safest area to stay in New York City?

Upper East Side and Upper West Side Manhattan are generally very safe. Tribeca and SoHo in Manhattan also have a safe feel. And if you don’t mind a less central location, Queens has a nice relaxed vibe.

Where should you stay in New York for parties and nightlife?

Try Greenwich Village, Manhattan, for great off-Broadway shows and places to dance the night away. Also in Manhattan, Chelsea and its neighbors, Hell’s Kitchen and the Meatpacking District, have plenty of bars and eateries. And Harlem is the place for some hot music clubs.

Where are the best places to stay in New York for sightseeing?

Definitely Manhattan. The Midtown neighborhood is a great place to base yourself on some bucket-list NYC tourist attractions such as Times Square and the Empire State Building. The Financial District is also one of the best places to stay in New York City for sightseeing, as it’s very close to some must-see spots.

Where is a good place for families to stay in New York?

Manhattan’s Upper East Side and Upper West Side neighborhoods have a safe vibe and are very handy for the Museum Mile and Central Park. The borough of Queens is also brimming with kid-friendly activities – at a more affordable price.

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