Midtown Manhattan Best Area For First Timers To New York
Midtown Manhattan is the best area to stay in New York City for first timers. If you stay in Midtown Manhattan area, the famous sightseeing destinations like 5th Avenue, Times Square, Broadway Theatres, Museum of Modern Art , Rockefeller Centre, Central Park and Empire State Building will be just a stones throw away.
This way, you can explore New York City on foot without having to spend on transportation. By avoiding the tiring journey to the sightseeing spots, you will also save a lot of time.
Midtown Manhattan is also well connected to other parts of New York City. If you want to visit the far-off destinations in NYC, you are in for a treat as very major subway line runs through Midtown Manhattan.
Pros and cons of staying in Midtown Manhattan
- Very well connected with other parts of NYC
- Huge variety of hotels available at every price range
- Famous tourist destinations within walking distance
Why Stay In Lower East Side
The artsy, creative hub of Manhattan, theres plenty to do here for people who love vintage stores, artisan cafes, speakeasy bars, and cocktails. Youre also within walking distance to some of the best foodie areas in the city like Chinatown, Little Italy and some fantastic delis a Katzs sandwich is a must-try experience. There are also several trains running to Brooklyn meaning you can explore popular areas like Williamsburg easily. This is ideal if you like to be based in an edgy area. There are some key things to do in the area like the Tenement Museum, Merchant House Museum, and Eldridge Street Synagogue so theres plenty to keep you busy.
Times Square And Midtown
Times Square is one of my favorite neighborhoods in Manhattan. It feels like the very soul of the city and reflects its character brash, in-your-face, unapologetic, exciting, loud, colorful, full of life and flashing neon. It is also one of the central connection points on the New York subway. You can get to anywhere from Times Square. Make sure to download a handy New York City subway map and plan your trip BEFORE you get on the train.
You will find a lot of craziness in Times Square people dressed as action figures asking for money in return for photos and a naked cowboy to mention just a few. But youll also find some of the best classic restaurants in New York, jazz clubs featuring top performers and, of course, Broadway and Off-Broadway.
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Harlem Best For Food And Jazz Lovers
If you want to have an exotic African-American experience while visiting NYC, make sure to stop by and stay in Harlem. With a vibrant street life and West African soul food cuisines, Harlem treats people who love jazz.
Internationally known as the centre of Black Heritage and Culture, Harlem has everything to enjoy, from music to food to theatre. Apollo Theatre, the Studio Museum, and the National Jazz Museum are must-visits while staying in Harlem.
Pros and cons of staying in Harlem
- Amazing South African comfort food experience
- Vibrant street life with cool jazz bars
- You wont be centrally located so travelling to other parts of the city can be tiring
- It is one of the less clean areas of New York City you may come across many homeless people and a lack of hygiene
Best places to stay in Harlem
Why Avoid Lower East Side
The transport links here arent great so if this is your first time in the city and youre hoping to see lots of the main tourist sights then this may be a bit of an awkward location. Its quite busy and crowded here and theres not a huge range of accommodation. It also generally looks run down and is quite residential in parts so it may not have the New York bright lights vibe many are looking for.
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Understanding How Big New York City Is
New York City is massive. The city is spread out over 302.6 square miles over five major boroughs:
- The Bronx: The Bronx is north of Manhattan, separated by the Harlem River, and Queens, separated by the East River.
- Manhattan: South of the Bronx and tapers off where the Hudson River and East River meet, Brooklyn across the way of the East River
- Brooklyn: Across from Manhattan, it and Queens are actually on the same land as Long Island
- Queens: Borders Brooklyn to the west and is south of The Bronx, separated by the East River
- Staten Island: On its own island to the other side of Brooklyn, separated by Upper Bay
I remember a friend telling me she hasnt made time to go see the Christmas lights in Dyker Heights because its such a hassle to get from where she lives in Upper Manhattan all the way down to one of the more southern parts of Brooklyn. I actually think we driving from Philly would be faster than her navigating the subway or even paying for a car/tour in the nighttime Christmas traffic!
Anyway, thats all to say you want to choose where you stay wisely. For example, it doesnt make too much sense to stay in Upper Manhattan if a lot of the NYC attractions you want to see are in Lower Manhattan and Brooklyn.
Important: Before you do anything, plug in all the places you want to visit in NYC into Google Maps so you have an idea of where they are relative to each other. Then pick a hotel somewhere in the middle and near a subway station!
Williamsburg Brooklyn Best Places For Affordable Hotels In New York
Located across the East River from the East Village in Manhattan, and connected by Williamsburg Bridge, Brooklyn is where you want to stay if you want to get away from the craziness of Manhattan. Read: 30 Best New York Views Where to See the Manhattan Skyline
We recommend the Williamsburg neighborhood. You are still close enough to the main sights but it is a more residential neighborhood feel. There are great places to eat, cafes and pubs as well as great accommodations. This can be a nice reprieve, especially if you are not a first-time visitor to NYC.
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Things To See And Do In Midtown
- Visit the iconic home of Broadway and watch an incredible play or musical performance.
- Snack on one of NYCs finest bagels at Best Bagel and Coffee.
- Stand at the center of Time Square, surrounded by the sights, sounds and smells of New York City.
- Climb to the Top of the Rock and take in the incredible views of NYC from the Rockefeller Center Observation Desk.
- See unbelievable works of art at the Museum of Modern Art .
- Excite your senses at Spice Symphony.
- Grab a pint at the Carnegie Club.
Best Hostel In Midtown Vanderbilt Ymca
Conveniently located on Manhattans East Side, the Vanderbilt YMCA is one of our top recommendations for where to stay in Midtown, New York. Offering shared and private accommodations, this hostel has wifi, cable TV, a fitness centre and two swimming pools. It is close to bars, restaurants and New Yorks top attractions.
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Why Stay In Lower Manhattan
A quieter spot than some of the other tourist hubs of Manhattan thats still very much close to all the action. Theres a laidback vibe in the area, plenty of cafes, bookstores, and shops to wander. Its also known as the financial district so caters a lot towards people here for business meaning you might get some hotel deals on the weekend when its quieter. Theres plenty to do in the area, its within walking distance to Little Italy, the 9/11 memorial museum, and the ferry to Staten Island which offers great free views of the State of Liberty. Theres also a lot of history in the area so plenty to uncover for culture vultures and youre just a short train ride to Brooklyn and Midtown.
Midtown Manhattan And Times Square
We have to admit, we love staying in the heart of Manhattan at Times Square. You are within walking distance to so many top New York Attractions when staying in Times Square. Plus, when you are in New York for the first time, youll never tire of coming back to the hustle and bustle of the neon lights of Times Square.
Midtown Manhattan was the area that we stayed in when we visited New York City for the first time and we still stay there from time to time. It offers some of the best accommodation in New York and you have everything at your fingertips.
The main thing we loved about this area is that you are within walking distance of many of the famous New York attractions. It really allows you to explore a lot in a small amount of time. It may not be the cheapest area in New York City but if you want to be close to everything this area is perfect. Check out Things to do in Times Square A Walking Tour and Nearby Attractions.
In Midtown Manhattan you will find:
- Times Square
- Close to NYU so a lot of students
Get lost on side street after side street of gorgeous townhouses and tree-lined blocks. The neighborhood is simultaneously quiet and happening with a great music scene. If you are looking for where to stay in New York City that has a great history this is it!
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Brooklyn Dumbo & Nearby Neighborhoods
Brooklyn is a pretty big borough! If youre still keen on sightseeing but want a slightly more residential vibe, then youre going to want to stay somewhere near the famous DUMBO neighborhood. Youll get the famous view above and still be a short subway ride from Manhattan. DUMBOs surrounding neighborhoods include Brooklyn Heights and Downtown Brooklyn!
Notable things to do near DUMBO in Brooklyn
Obviously the big thing is the Manhattan Bridge photo spot . You can also visit Janes Carousel, which dates back to 1922 walk along Brooklyn Bridge park for the best waterfront views, cross the Brooklyn Bridge, eat at Time Out Market, and do a lot more. Further in is the Brooklyn Museum and the Brooklyn Botanic Garden.
|Hotels near DUMBO|
Theres a ton more to Brooklyn than just this area, but I think theyre more for return visitors. Check our my friends site, Your Brooklyn Guide, if you want more!
Things To Do In Times Square
Times Square in itself is a major tourist attraction but it is also incredibly convenient for visiting almost all of Midtowns best things to do including:
- Grand Central
If you do decide to book a hotel in Times Square, our top tip is to visit at night to see the chaos unfold, but then go again just before sunrise to see Times Square all but empty.
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How Weve Organized Our Recommendations
Our hotel recommendations are broken down by neighborhood.
First, we explain a bit about the area, what makes it special and who might enjoy staying there.
We list the best sights and attractions in that neighborhood.
We then break down hotels into price ranges: budget , mid-range and expensive .
Note that we do not include NYC occupancy tax of 14.75 % or resort fees that may be added to your stay in our price brackets.
Lastly, we make recommendations for some of the best places to stay in New York for families, for a quiet stay, for free, delicious breakfasts and amazing rooftops.
TIP: If you are on a tight budget, take a look at our post on 15 Ways to Find Cheap Accommodation in NYC as well as this list of 25 Best Cheap Hotels in New York City.
Midtown West: Best Area To Stay In New York For First
This area makes up Times Square, the Broadway Theater District, and all the way west to the Hudson River between 30th Street and Columbus Circle at 59th Street. First-time visitors will be in walking distance to the main sights in Midtown East and have plenty of transportation options. There are also familiar restaurants in Times Square but I strongly encourage NYC first-timers to skip these tourist traps and head a bit further west to 9th Avenue for restaurants and bars more typical of what youd find in New York.
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Upper East Side Best Neighborhood To Stay For Museum Lovers
The Upper East Side is definitely one of Manhattans wealthiest areas. Located between 59th and 96th streets to the north and south and the East River and Central Park to the east and west, it is a quieter area stay in comparison to Chelsea or Midtown.
Pros of Staying in
- Not evocative of the real old New York
Located on the west side of Manhattan between Midtown and Greenwich Village and close to the Hudson River. We loved walking around cobblestone streets, sitting in one of the trendy cafes sipping a latte, and just getting lost in the vibe that comes with being in this part of the Big Apple. People love it.
You must make sure to visit Chelsea Market and take a stroll over to Union Square where they have a great Greenmarket every Monday and a cool Christmas Market during the winter.
The High Line is still very fun with the incredible Hudson Yards development to the north and the vibrant and crazy nightlife of the Meatpacking district to the south. The Whitney has some great works of art and wonderful views. And there is some serious shopping around as well. There is a lot to do here without ever leaving the neighborhood.
Where To Stay In The West Village
The Marlton Hotel
This boutique 107-room property takes inspiration from postwar Paris as well as Greenwich Village in the Beat era. Below the nine floors of guest rooms, Margaux, a petite cocktail bar and restaurant lets visitors escape into a chic bistro reminiscent of another time.
8th Street, New York, NY 10011, 321-0100,
To book: expedia.com
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Do You Want To Stay At One Of The Historic Hotels In Nyc
A Superior guest room at The Carlyle.
The most famous hotel in New Yorkif not the worldis The Plaza, home to Eloise and the Beatles . This 19-story building opened for guests in 1907 and now boasts shops and dining open to the public on its lower floors.
Other historic hotels in NYC include The Carlyle on the Upper East Side, which has provided classic New York luxury since 1930. The Carlyle also boasts a preeminent performance space and Bemelmans Bar for drinks amidst one-of-a-kind murals. Theres also Hotel Edison, nearly a century old and a short walk from Times Square and Broadway. Hotel Edisons Rum House also made our list of great cocktail bars near Broadway shows, in case youre up for a Dark and Stormy. With a gold-gilded lobby, three bars including the recently reopened Gold Room, and a grand staircase that leads up to the Madison Avenue entrance and its iron-gated courtyard, Lotte New York Palace embodies the opulence of the Gilded Age along Fifth Avenue.
Best Cheap Mid Budget And Luxury Hotels Near Times Square New York City
Times Square hotels are plentiful and span the entire travel budget range. This area has the highest concentration of low budget rooms in NYC.
We stayed at AC Hotel for a night, which was great. It has a rooftop bar and affordable room rate. The Riu Plaza often runs discounted prices but our top pick for Times Square is CitizenM as long as you can get it at a good rate.
Top tip: If youre a photographer and cant afford to stay at Renaissance Times Square, go in to the lounge for a drink and youll get one of the most iconic views over Times Square.
Here are the best hotels for each budget around Times Square :
- 10. Luxury The Chatwal 9.1
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Williamsburg Coolest Place To Stay In New York City
Across the East River in cool Brooklyn, youll find Williamsburg, a hipster hood that oozes cool around every turn.
Williamsburg isnt just the coolest neighbourhood in New York City it routinely ranks as one of the trendiest neighbourhoods in the world, characterised by its thriving arts scene and vibrant nightlife. This is the place to see and be seen in New York.
At the centre of Brooklyn, Williamsburg is well connected to Manhattan and easy to reach from the rest of NYC. Its home to eclectic restaurants, boutique shops, stylish bars, hip tattoo parlours, and rustic rooftop patios.
Best Cheap Mid Budget And Luxury Hotels In Midtown South Manhattan New York City
Hotel selection here is of a very high quality and standard. Dozens of highly rated hotels whittled down into the top 3 from each price point.
We would suggest either staying at a budget or luxury hotel in this category. The difference in quality between budget and mid-range is minimal, plus Park Terrace and Archer are very affordable in the luxury bracket.
Top tip: The Archer Hotel has a king room with direct views of nearby Empire State Building.
Here are the best hotels for each budget around Midtown South :
- 9. Luxury The Langham 9.1
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