Choosing a neighborhood to stay in for your time in New York is intimidating. New York City is huge…and expensive.
If you find a great deal on a room in Midtown, by all means, book it! But be warned that if it’s cheap it’s probably microscopic, time-worn, and facing a brick wall.
There’s more to New York than just Times Square. These are the best neighborhoods to stay in to get an authentic New York experience of your own.
Yes, lots of us have moved away from staying in hotels in favor of home swapping and apartment rentals. But there’s still a time and a place for hotels. It’s simple to book, you know what to expect, and they’re run by professionals.
There are quite a few hotels in Brooklyn Heights. You have a selection of subway lines to choose from — and easy access to walk the bridges into Manhattan.
In Brooklyn, the Heights are an easy walk to Cobble Hill and Fort Greene. BAM and the Barclays Center are right there. Don’t forget to visit Brooklyn Bridge Park!
New Yorkers scoff at Jersey City, but that’s where they take all those pictures you see on the postcards. Plus, it’s an incredibly convenient location to take in the essential New York attractions.
If you’re feeling intimidated by the subway, save yourself a hassle and take the PATH train or the ferry instead.
Wedged between Park Slope and Carrol Gardens is Boreum Hill. Third and Fourth Avenues used to be kind of a wasteland, but now they’ve got a little collection of hotels. The subway is within a few blocks of all of them, as are endless numbers of bars.
Long Island City
Long Island City sounds like it’d be far away, but it’s actually across the East River from the Upper East Side. There are a ton of hotels off the 21st Street – Queensbridge subway stop. Long Island City has it’s own collection of cool spots to hang out and it’s got great connections to Manhattan and Greenpoint. 5Pointz might be gone (RIP) but there’s still MOMA PS1, Sculpture Center, and the Flux Factory.
Home swaps & rentals
No matter how cool the neighborhood, staying in a hotel is different. If you’re going to stay in someone’s apartment, here are some neighborhoods that are fun, convenient, and tourist-free.
I’m not just saying this because this is where I spent most of my time in Brooklyn, because the neighborhood is nothing like when I lived here. Franklin is now lined with Brooklyn’s hippest bars. Even Nostrand has some great spots (and fantastic Jamaican food). Most of the action is north of Eastern Parkway.
The Brooklyn Museum is incredible. The Brooklyn Botanic Garden is lovely, but don’t worry if you run out of time for it.
You’re not going to find a cheap place in Williamsburg, but Greenpoint is a different story. You can get to NYC’s hipster center in a short walk (or one stop on the G) and access to Manhattan is also fast and convenient on the train or ferry.
If you want to experience a bit of old New York, Astoria is the place. Mom and pop shops, elevated trains, and local spots. This is the spot to go for Greek food and tacos. It also has its fair share of cocktail bars these days.
If you’re a movie buff, don’t miss the Museum of the Moving Image.
The Upper East Side used to be a sleepy neighborhood of rich old people. The natural course of events has happened and turned Yorkville into an affordable corner of Manhattan with brunch spots on every corner.
Hoboken is incredibly charming. When you’re imagining an ideal version of Brooklyn, you’re probably picturing Hoboken. Really.
It’s a tiny city, with ferries at each end. Washington Street is the main attraction, besides the waterfront, and the PATH train will have you into Manhattan in 15 minutes.