There's no "one best area" to stay

Most first-time visitors panic and ask "what is the best and most convenient area to stay in?" There is no one best area to select in New York City. The public transit system takes tourists safely and cheaply to about 95% of tourist attractions, 24 hours a day, 7days a week, 365 days a year.  It really depends on what kind of lodging you need, your budget and what you want to do and see while you're here. Some neighborhoods are more residential, and some are more commercial. Some, such as Times Square, are teeming with tourists. Some, like the Upper West Side or Chelsea, attract fewer tourists.

List of neighborhoods

MANHATTAN - from north to south

New York City is a wonderfully diverse city comprised of five separate boroughs – Manhattan, Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island – each possessing unique characteristics. While visitors can enrich themselves in all of them, most choose to confine their stay mainly to Manhattan. Twelve miles long, three miles wide and a world unto itself, Manhattan Island is famous for its “uptown” and “downtown” neighborhoods that cater to people of arguably any background and persuasion. Check out available online maps of the city.  The following are synopses of these Manhattan neighborhoods in brief.

Inwood

This neighborhood boasts one of the city's best--and least-visited--treasures: The Cloisters, in Fort Tryon Park . The park itself is beautiful--a serene place ranging over many acres, overlooking the Hudson--and the Cloisters, a branch of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, is something really special. This section of the museum--a recreation of a French medieval cloister--is dedicated solely to medieval art, and boasts famous tapestries, medieval gardens and sculpture. The neighborhood itself is a mixed bag: historically quite poor and once a casualty of the crack wars, it is also home to many students, artists, musicians and Broadway performers who value affordable space and generous river light as well as the direct subway ride to midtown. Despite the area's mellowing in recent years, it can still be a bit sketchy at night, so visitors should use caution. In the past few years the neighborhood has definitely improved and I do not see any problem going there to any of the really good restaurants that have popped up.  You should also visit the Dyckman House on Broadway and 204th St- a pre Revolutionary residence. It even boast a Hessian hut where  Hessians camped out during the Revolution.

 Harlem

A historical center of urban African-American culture, Harlem is roughly located above Central Park from 110th to 145th Street on the East Side and above 125th Street (above the Columbia University campus) on the West Side. Of particular note here are the famous Apollo Theatre and the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, part of the New York Public Library system. Harlem is presently undergoing a building boom and a multicultural influx of new residents. "Strivers' Row" boasts some of the finest examples of historic brownstones in Manhattan; Sunday church services draw busloads of tourists eager to hear some of the best gospel in the country; historic restaurants and clubs (fromSylvia's to the Lenox Lounge) showcase the African-American cultural heritage that first made the area famous during the Harlem Renaissance. 

Morningside Heights

Bordered by Harlem and the Upper West Side, Morningside Heights runs from 106th Street to 125th Street between Morningside Park and Riverside Drive. A number of major educational institutions are located here: Union Theological Seminary, Jewish Theological Seminary, Manhattan School of Music, and, most famously, Barnard College and Columbia University. The neighborhood boasts a park promenade along the river ( Grant's Tomb is located here) and some spectacular architecture, including the flying buttresses of the Riverside Church and the perpetually unfinished but breathtaking Cathedral of St. John the Divine , arguably the world's largest Gothic cathedral. Less exalted but perhaps still more interesting to couch potatoes: Tom's Restaurant , the local hangout from Seinfeld, is also here.

Upper East Side

A historically elite bastion of old money, the Upper East Side (59th Street to 96th Street between 5th and York Avenues) remains conservative and upscale. Quiet cross-streets are lined with  beautiful apartment buildings (as is the "Gold Coast" of 5th Avenue facing the park, home to some of the most coveted addresses in the city); the avenues (particularly Madison Avenue) are dotted with posh hotels, upscale restaurants and high-end designer boutiques. Visitors find easy access to Central Park as well as the fabled “Museum Mile” section of 5th Avenue, home to the Metropolitan Museum of Art , the Guggenheim , the Whitney , the Museum of the City of New York , and the Cooper-Hewitt Museum of Design .  This is a great neighborhood for dream-shopping and people-watching, if the luxe life is your thing; cruise the high-end shops on Madison Avenue, have a cappuccino and a salad in a cafe with tables facing the street. (If you want to do some actual shopping but can't afford the stratospheric prices, you might check out Bloomingdale's). At night, much of the neighborhood goes dark (safe but very, very quiet) with the exception of restaurants; but from Third Avenue over, far from the convenience of the subway and the elite status granted by Central Park proximity, the Upper East Side turns into one big frat party, rife with bars packed with preppie post-collegiate types.

Upper east Side is Sub-divided into 3 areas. All walking distance to each other but all different in history. You have the Yorkville Section Which is above 72nd Street to 96th Street between Lexington and 1st Avenue. Carnigie Hill Section above 72nd Street to 96th Street between 5th and Lexington Avenue. The Upper Yorkville Section, Above 96th Street to 106th Street between Park Avenue and 2nd Avenue.

Upper West Side

Historically the heart of liberal, intellectual, political New York (the home of Bella Abzug and John Lennon), the Upper West Side has undergone considerable gentrification in recent years, with the influx of chain stores and the advent of the Time-Warner Center (the grandly named Shops at Columbus Circle is just another upscale chain mall, though it has some fabulous restaurants hidden away in its upper reaches). Still, the neighborhood remains funky, cranky, and relatively diverse--not to mention family-friendly (it is, perhaps, the stroller capital of Manhattan). Bounded by Riverside Park (overlooking the Hudson) to the west and Central Park to the east, the neighborhood is exceptionally culturally rich, even for Manhattan.  Watch Shakespeare in the Park , or hang out at the  Strawberry Fields memorial to John Lennon, in Central Park opposite the Dakota, where the Beatle lived and died; while away an afternoon drinking a glass of wine, listening to music and watching the yachts, the roller-bladers, the walkers and runners and dog-walkers in the Riverside Park Boat Basin; check out the Children's Museum and the American Museum of Natural History (with its fabulous dinosaur exhibits and the gorgeous Rose Planetarium); watch ballet or opera at  Lincoln Center (in summer, you can dance outside on the plaza and watch performances by artists from around the world). Juilliard is located here; so is a campus of Fordham University. Foodies will want to check out Zabar's and Fairway , two of the city's most renowned culinary outlets. While the architecture is often gorgeous (check out the Ansonia , on Broadway north of 72nd Street), it's the people-watching that's really great here--but be prepared to keep moving or get out of the way, as the crowd moves quickly and this is still the domain of sharp elbows and sharper retorts.

Midtown

Midtown, from 42nd Street to 59th Street east of 5th Avenue, is one of the most visited areas of New York--it's fast, crowded and fabulous, though not many New Yorkers live here (there is a sprinkling of exclusive residential enclaves on its eastern edge). Half the city’s train commuters enter at Grand Central Terminal , the famed architectural landmark located at 42nd Street and Park Avenue. Grand Central underwent a major renovation some years back: now you can have a drink at one of the restaurants on the upper levels of the grand central hall while you watch the frenetic scene below or gaze at the intricate restored ceiling. Some of the city's great old grand dames of shopping-- Bergdorf Goodman, Tiffany's, Saks Fifth Avenue --share avenue space with a younger, less tony crowd (the Nike Store, Coach, and other ubiquitous upscale brands); for the serious clothing design maven, there is, of course, Barney's, and for kids, check out the revamped FAO Schwartz , with the famous "Big" Piano. St. Patrick's Cathedral is on Fifth Avenue just north of Saks; Rockefeller Center, with its skating rink, its yearly Christmas tree, and its Today Show windows, is across the street; Radio City Music Hall is down the way, fronting on the Avenue of the Americas (6th Avenue), not far from the newly renovated Museum of Modern ArtFood on Foot Tours offers the world's largest buffet,  New York City with different tours including Midtown Manhattan.

Gramercy Park

This neighborhood (17th to 22nd Street, from east of Park Avenue South to Third Avenue) was built around a private park by the same name by Samuel Ruggles, one of the city's first great developers, in the nineteenth century. The houses and apartment buildings around the park are some seriously coveted real estate, since ownership is still the only way to make it through the gates of the park; Rockefellers and their ilk live here. The area north and east of the park (Murray Hill) is residential and not particularly interesting to tourists, though the Morgan Library, with its spectacular new renovation, is to the northwest.

Madison Square Park/Flatiron/Park Avenue South

Stretching from 5th Avenue to Park Avenue South, from 27th Street to the top of Union Square, this cluster of neighborhoods has undergone substantial change in recent years. Madison Square Park has been substantially cleaned up and revitalized (check out the Shake Shack - an incredibly popular burger joint in the park) or just hang out on the benches and people-watch on a summer day), and the area around it is now home to a number of great restaurants, including Tabla, Eleven Madison Park, and the three-star A Voce. Gentrification has made its mark here, too: the Metropolitan Life Insurance building has just been sold to a developer, who will turn it into condos. But the area has history--this was, of course, the site of the original Madison Square Gardens, way way back in the 19th century--and the new conversions preserve the beautiful architecture around the park: it's one of the loveliest squares in all of downtown. Park Avenue South is an after-work bar-hopping mecca, and 5th Avenue from the iron-shaped Flatiron Building on down is home to yet more shopping. Many of the shops are fairly generic, but ABC Carpet & Home is not: on Broadway a couple of blocks north of Union Square, it's styled after the New York shopping emporia of the nineteenth century, and can be quite dazzling in its esoteric plenitude.

Times Square/Theater District/Midtown/Hell's Kitchen (aka Clinton)

Arguably the most popular destination for tourists, this (40th to 59th Streets from 6th Avenue to 8th Avenue) is the land of skyscrapers and theater, tenements and honky-tonk fabulousness. Carnegie Hall and Rockefeller Center sit on its eastern edge; to the west, the tenement neighborhood known as Hell's Kitchen, a low scale nabe of well-priced ethnic restaurants on 9th and 10th Avenues, trendy bars, and independent shops inhabited by blue-collar workers, Broadway working stiffs, Fordham students and, in recent years, a sizeable gay community priced out of Chelsea to the south. In the middle, of course, is Times Square , that most gaudy of New York City spectacles, replete with over-the-top signs (the neon, now mostly gone the way of the dodo, was once afforded special legal protections--now it's all about pixels), screaming crowds below t he MTV studios, scam artists and card sharks running sidewalk games (do NOT be tempted: you really, really, really can't win), over-the-top commerce, insane crowds, and, of course, lots and lots of theater.

While this area has lost its former evocative seediness, this is still New York City--so watch your wallet, especially in crowds. Otherwise, Times Square is quite safe most of the time, though it can feel a bit  quiet at 2 AM.

This area is the home of some of the most prestigious private clubs such as the Harvard Club, Yacht Club and fabulous hotels on 44th street between 5th and 6th avenue. The area is not just for tourists is a place where locals hangout for lunch or after work visiting some great restaurants like DB Bistro, Kellari Taverna, Triumph and many more. 

Chelsea

Historically a residential area known for its writer and artist population, Chelsea (15th to 39th Streets between the Hudson River and Sixth Avenue) was the epicenter of the city’s gay life for quite some time; but as the neighborhood has become increasingly upscale, it's changed considerably. New York's hottest gallery scene inhabits the area's western edge, with haute restaurants to match. The Chelsea Market attracts foodie types from all over, despite its dark, dated design. A clutch of trendy clubs have taken up residence on and around 27th street and on the western edges of the neighborhood. Practice your golf swing or try a little rock climbing, or bowling  at Chelsea Piers Sports Complex. Or, enjoy a harbor cruise on a warm summer night on one of the historic vessels of Classic Harbor Line. Once dangerous, then quietly residential, Chelsea has become very, very downtown. 

Flatiron/Union Square

Union Square is located at 5th avenue from 14th to 17th Street. Broadway also intersects here as it makes its way on a diagonal path toward the tip of the island. The square is a popular spot for teenage skate-boarders, artists, various performers and protests, as well as the location of the Union Square Greenmarket , where over 70 vendors sell high-quality produce, meats, baked goods, and other wares to discerning consumers. Several well-known restaurants, such as Blue Fin, are also located in this area, which contains the landmark triangular Flatiron Building.

Surrounding Union Square are many shopping opportunities, such as DSW shoes, Trader Joe's Supermarket, Whole Food Supermarket, Max Brenner Chocolates, Diesel and many more. The immensely popular hamburger stand, Shake Shack, is located in Madison Square Park (NOT to be confused with the sports and concert arena, Madison Square Garden), at the intersection of 23rd Street and Broadway

East Village

The East Village once was part of The Lower East Side has undergone gentrification and has lost its former edge. However, it is still a culturally diverse area with significant Polish and Ukrainian immigrant history and the restaurant row dubbed “Little India.” If you walk its narrow side streets, including St. Mark’s Place, you will discover numerous funky shops, and people-watching is especially fun in this colorful neighborhood. The East Village stretches from Houston Street to 14th Street on the east side and now includes the sub-division “Alphabet City” with popular Tompkins Square Park. For you movie buffs Sixth Street between Avenues A and B became the set for The Godfather Part II. 

A guided food tour can point out important architectural sites including St. Mark's-in-the-Bowery Church (the second oldest church in Manhattan), Cooper Union (a free college established by inventor and philanthropist Peter Cooper), McSorely's Ale House (the oldest bar in Manhattan), and vibrant St. Mark's Place with its shops, coffee shops, bars, and restaurants.

Greenwich Village - West Village

Greenwich Village has historically retained a bohemian air and has historically been the center of New York gay culture. This town-within-a-city is seductive with its quaint, curvy streets, beautifully restored townhouses and cozy restaurants. Gentrification has led many monied families to settle in this area. Bleecker Street is a burgeoning shopping area with many newly-opened designer boutiques. Jazz aficionados will want to catch a performance at the legendary Blue Note. The West Village is generally considered the area of Greenwich Village west of Seventh Avenue. Washington Square Park is lively during the warm weekend days and a great place to see street performers, historic brownstones and locals mixing with tourists and NYU students.

The Village also gathers many exceptional eateries, restaurants, and gourmet markets due to its popularity to local young professionals and students. You can find all the famous New York noshes including the well-known New York Style pizza, hotdog, falafel sandwich, halal food, cupcake, and more in the area. If you have a limited time to spend in New York, a great way to try all of these noshes is to go on a walking food tour. Not only do you get to eat everything that the Village has to offer, but you also get to tour the neighborhood's historical sites!

Meatpacking District

Officially known as Gansevoort Market, the Meatpacking District is bordered by West 15th Street, Gansevoort Street and 11th Avenue. Not long ago, this industrial warehouse area was populated almost exclusively by wholesale meat companies, but it not long ago transformed into the city’s latest it-destination with numerous trendy and outrageously expensive boutiques, a white-hot club scene, and chi-chi dining establishments. Hipster- and model-watching is particularly good in this uber-chic neighborhood!

 The brand new Highline Park just opened in the summer of 2009. Once an old abandoned freight railroad track used for transporting meat, plants and other staples, this pedestrian paradise provides a peaceful, elevated getaway above the fray. It features native plants and "weeds" that once nearly took over the trellises, and a set of bleachers over 10th Avenue for a pigeon's eye view of the area.

NoHo/Nolita

NoHo (“north of Houston Street”) is an oddly-shaped parcel of land enclosed by 3rd Avenue, the Bowery, 8th Street and Broadway; Nolita (“north of Little Italy”) is located below this area between Houston Street, Lafayette Street, Broome Street and the Bowery. Both areas have experienced a retail upturn as independent shop owners and designers were forced out of SoHo due to skyrocketing rent and real estate prices. Shoppers in search of the unique and one-of-a-kind will enjoy perusing the stores lining Mott, Elizabeth and Mulberry Streets.

SoHo & Tribeca

Once a manufacturing center, Soho ("South of Houston Street," north of Canal, from Lafayette to West Broadway) and Tribeca (the Triangle Below Canal Street, bordered by Broome and Barclay Streets west of Broadway) fell on hard times as light industry moved out of the city. The area was menacing in the 1970s when artists began moving in and "homesteading" the huge open spaces in abandoned cast-iron factories and warehouses; soon galleries were thriving in Soho, and while Tribeca took longer to turn around, it became a haven for ground-breaking restaurants. These days, things are...different. Although a handful of the artists who originally transformed SoHo’s factories and warehouses into studios, galleries and lofts still call this area home (the "pioneers" were allowed to claim the buildings they had "homesteaded" under a special loft law aimed at creating safe neighborhoods and affordable housing for artists at one shot), it has metamorphosed into a downtown haven for well-to-do shoppers. Most art galleries have now moved out of the area (and into west Chelsea), while a thousand upscale retail chain outlets have bloomed on these cobblestone streets. TriBeCa has a lot less shopping and a lot more pricey residential real estate: this is Manhattan loft living at its finest. The retail here is expensive and exclusive; furniture mavens in particular may want to do some browsing. Robert De Niro's TriBeCa Film Festival is headquartered here.

Chinatown & Little Italy

Ever-expanding Chinatown is a vibrant and colorful neighborhood that has grown to encompass parts of Little Italy and the Lower East Side. Ethnic shops, street vendors and reasonably priced restaurants dot its bustling streets, which span roughly from Grand Street to Chatham Square and from Broadway to beyond the Bowery towards East Broadway. Little Italy does still retain a unique ethnic charm, particularly along Mulberry Street between Canal and Spring Streets, with cozy restaurants, tempting pastry shops, and Italian food stores. Towards the end of May until October Mulberry Street, which is the main thoroughfare of Little Italy, becomes a pedestrian mall on the weekends. The restaurants place tables and chairs outside for patrons to dine. Chinatown dining is still done indoors. A great way to fully experience the cultural and gastronomic aspects of Chinatown is to go on a food tour. Another thing to note is that there are expert watch repairmen working right on the street. They fix all types from Timex to Movado. You can identify them by a large umbrella and small stand that they work out of. So, if you need a battery replaced or a watch fixed bring it to Chinatown for a fraction of the price at other places. If you need a cop, lawyer or civil servant go to 17 Mott St. This is where a little underground restaurant is located. Wo Hop has been a working man's place for good cheap food for many years. Beware, the lines on the weekends go up the stairs and the wait can be long, but worth it.

Lower East Side

Historically an area famous for its immigrant populations, the Lower East Side (from Houston to Delancey Street, east of the Bowery) has long been a gritty working-class neighborhood (the first public housing development, the First Houses, is located at Avenue A and 2nd Street), and in recent decades its grit was sharpened by the menace of the drug trade. But in the eighties, artists discovered the neighborhood; the hipsters followed; then came the Broadway show Rent (and, briefly, the movie). These days, there are hot restaurants, pricey independent designer shops, Moby's vegetarian cafe, a chic hotel, and an unbelievable number of bars here--cheek by jowl with old-school Jewish clothiers and food shops, housing projects, and small immigrant businesses. On weekend nights, the neighborhood is overrun by barhopping hip young things. The marriage is not always made in heaven, and there have been tensions between "old" and "new," between longtime residents, artist-"pioneers" and new arrivals, and between rich and poor. Several Jewish landmarks remain, including the Angel Orenzantz Center, the Eldridge Street Synagogue,  Katz’s Delicatessen, the oldest deli in New York, Yona Schimmel's Knishes, Kossar's Bialys. On Orchard Street, vendors and buyers still haggle over tables piled high with clothes, shoes, bags and hats (Saturday, the Jewish Sabbath, is still not the best day to visit this strip). If you're seeking a sense of the neighborhood as it was in the early 1900s, reserve a tour at the Tenement Museum. Housed in a number of extant tenement houses, the museum offers tours that give visitors an excellent sense of what life must have been like for residents here long before the would-be rock stars moved in.

Lower Manhattan

Lower Manhattan comprises the Financial District (including Wall Street), City Hall, the much-filmed courthouse, and many, many government offices, as well as and Battery Park City, a residential development on the Hudson River constructed on a landfill created by the original excavation of the World Trade Center complex.   If you're tired of pavement, take a stroll through the parkland along the riverfront, from Battery Park (the jump-off point for boat tours to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, as well as for the Staten Island Ferry) north to Chelsea; you'll have excellent views of the Hudson and the Statue of Liberty, and there are playgrounds, rolling lawns, cafes, and other diversions along the way. There's world-famous shopping here, too: Century 21, the legendary bargain designer clothing outlet (bring sharp elbows and sharp eyes) and J&R, an electronics, music, computer and home goods emporium stretching across most of a full city block. Much of this area was devastated after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, and it is still slowly recovering; tourists flock here to view the site.

 

Brooklyn

Brooklyn Heights and DUMBO At the other end of the Brooklyn Bridge are one of Brooklyn's oldest and one of its newest residential neighborhoods.

Brooklyn Heights, reached by turning right after you walk down the stairs at the Brooklyn end of the bridge and make a right, is the old old neighborhood. It was, by some accounts, America's first suburb, a place where good people moved to escape the unwashed hordes in New York when Robert Fulton started his ferry service. There are some of New York's oldest houses, particularly on and between Willow and Hicks Streets, dating to the 1840s. Walk the streets here and you forget you are in New York, it is so peaceful. There are lots of old churches too because the good people were also religious. On Orange Street between Henry and Hicks is Plymouth Church of the Pilgrims where Henry Ward Beecher preached and Lincoln listened to him during his presidential campaign. On Henry near Montague is the Maronite Cathedral, usually shut, but open on Sundays to reveal a spectacularly brightly painted interior. The doors, always visible, contain bas reliefs of French Cathedrals because they are from The Normandy, a French Ocean Liner sunk in New York Harbor during WWII. Also on Montegue are numerous cafes and restaurants as well as the typical stores. At the end is the highlight though, the Promenade a space for walking that overlooks the East River and NY Harbor, a spectacular spot for photos.  To go there directly, just take the 2 to Clark St. and walk back to the river.

The old new neighborhood is now called DUMBO, for "Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass". You get there by walking to the north end of the Promenade and walking down Columbia Heights, past two hulking buildings belonging to the Watchtower Society (aka Jehovah's Witnesses). At the bottom is Fulton Ferry Landing, where Robert Fulton's boats used to dock and now the New York Water Taxi does. Here is one of the few spots in the city which makes full use of the water. There is the Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory, where you can gain back those calories you lost walking or the River Cafe, where you can eat lunch or dinner while looking at the Manhattan skyline. Past this is the new area, a series of old factories and waerhouses reconverted first to artists' studios and now high end condos. This is what SoHo used to be, with a number of galleries, stores, and cobble stone streets. At the water's edge is a park with a quasi rock beach, with no swimmers and the constant buzz from the bridge that gives it its new name.

Williamsburg

Just on the other side of the Williamsburg Bridge from Manhattan, there are really two parts to this area.   In the north, just at the first stop on the L (14th St Crosstown Subway) on the other side of the East River is an old section that is being rebuilt daily.  Young hipsters and those who want a cool scene without the cost have decamped from Manhattan and invaded Bedford Ave by North 9th St.  Reminiscent of Haight-Ashbury in San Francisco, there are a wide variety of restaurants and stores and a quick walk to the river yields a park with an amazing view that rivals the Brooklyn Heights Promenade. 

In the South end, just at the first stop on the J train, is not only Peter Lugars, the most famous steakhouse in NYC, but just south of Broadway-Bklyn is a vibrant and other-worldly Hasidic Jewish neighborhood that is truly worth a visit if you have never seen anything like this.

Queens

Long Island City

Long Island City is a neighborhood in the borough Queens, just across the East River from midtown Manhattan. (It is NOT the same as "Long Island," which is the name of the actual land-mass encompassing the counties of Queens, Brooklyn, Nassau and Suffolk.)

Long Island City is an historically industrial area which has become gentrified, more residential and artistic since the mid 1990s. It is very safe and very easy to reach by public transportation, being served by the E, F, G and #7 trains, as well as the New York Water Taxi and the Long Island Rail Road. A short walk to the water in Gantry Park provides stunning and breathtaking views of the Manhattan skyline, including the U.N., the Chrysler Buidling and the CitiGroup Building.

LIC is still quite commercial and is a must-visit for fans of urban infrastructure and industrial photography. Don't let the factory facades and elevated train tracks put you off to staying here. Indy shopping, art festivals and excellent dining opportunities are around every corner. The area around Vernon Boulevard and Jackson Avenue is getting quite attractive. Some good websites about the area are: http://www.licweb.com/ and http://www.licnyc.com/.

It is home to major artistic institutions like P.S. 1 (a contemporary art museum in a former school building), The Noguchi Museum, Silvercup Studios (home of Ugly Betty and The Sopranos), Socrates Sculpture Garden,  and The Museum of the Moving Image. In the next neighborhood north, Astoria, you'll find Kaufman Astoria Studios (home of Sesame Street and Nurse Jackie). The Live at the Gantries Music Festival is very popular in the summer. Have a beer and play beach volleyball at Water Taxi Beach, or plan a romantic dinner at Water's Edge, the less-touristy alternative to that other restaurant on the water and near a bridge...

More and more discount hotels, both independent and major chains, are popping up in the area. Staying here is just as convenient to Midtown Manhattan as, for example, the Upper West Side or lower Manhattan. You can even walk across the 59th Street-Queensborough Bridge right into Manhattan and you'll be "Feeling Groovy!"

 Jackson Heights

The previous neighborhoods are all in Manhattan, but this borough has become increasingly less like "the real New York," that is you can spend all your time there and not once hear a real New York accent. New York has always been built by immigrants living their version of the American dream and to see where this energy is currently thriving, it is necessary to go to the "outer boroughs." Jackson Heights is only one of many of a patchwork of immigrant neighborhoods in Queens, the most diverse county in the country. So take the E, F, R, or V to Roosevelt Avenue or the 7 to 74th Street and explore. Walk north on 74th Street to an amazing variety of South Indian shops, jewelry stores, sari "palaces" (check out the ties and scarfs), supermarkets, and of course restaurants. The Jackson Diner (because it was an actual diner back in the day) and Delhi Palace are two of the most famous. Not far away on 37th Avenue and 73rd Street is Dosa Diner, a south Indian vegetarian restaurant featuring traditional potato and onion filled crepes. If you walk under the tracks on Roosevelt Avenue to the East, the predominant language and food becomes Latin American, Colombian, Mexican, and Ecuadorian with a wide variety of street vendors and shops to look in. Walk west on Roosevelt, and there is a small Filipino neighborhood. Walk northeast on Broadway, by contrast you can find a combination Chinese-Korean place.