Many would say that living in LA is where all your dreams will come true. If you’re a bit of an older Millennial, though, you probably already know that Manhattan, New York City is the place to be in the US. The bustling streets, a variety of restaurants, shops, and all sorts of culturally significant buildings, and crowds you’d mostly get to see at concerts — yes, Manhattan neighborhoods are lively and superbly interesting not only to visit but also to live in.
Nevertheless, among the 45 Manhattan neighborhoods found in New York today (not clearly defined and prone to changing borders), there are a few that definitely stand out and are synonymous with the overall feel of NYC, so well portrayed in various movies and TV shows.
Without further ado, here are the most interesting and rather charming neighborhoods you ought to visit someday or consider living in.
14 Fascinating Manhattan Neighborhoods to Visit or Call Home
1. Flatiron District
You could say that Flatiron is a neighborhood famous all over the world, all thanks to the triangular Fuller Building (now Flatiron Building). However, that’s not why someone might decide to live in it.
Indeed, one of its best traits is that it’s superbly connected to other parts of the city. An easy commute in NYC? Imagine that!
Still, that’s not the only thing that the Flatiron District offers. Contrary to how it may seem, it’s actually a relatively quiet neighborhood at night, which makes it a good option for growing families.
Of course, it’s as fast-paced as you can imagine during the day. Some would say that it is defined by the 9-to-5, with crowds forming in the early morning and dissipating late in the afternoon. Essentially, Flatiron is also a passageway between downtown and midtown. Conveniently enough, though, you can relax and take a nice stroll in the evening — the streets ought to be somewhat peaceful then.
As one of the most popular Manhattan neighborhoods, Chelsea is the first thing to come to mind when you think “upscale glam + eclectic downtown.” At first glance, it’s a neighborhood full of luxury buildings and world-class galleries. It also has a superb nightlife scene and an easy commute to other parts of Manhattan.
However, once you delve a bit further, you discover that Chelsea offers a mix of culture and class without the snootiness of some other areas. That’s what makes it so popular — it is a cultivated cultural haven for both the affluent and the artsy.
3. Greenwich Village
Greenwich Village was the focus of the bohemian movement in New York back in the 1960s. And even today, it’s at the center of everything that’s going on in the city. The Village is a bustling area full of brownstones and bars just waiting for you to visit.
It’s a great part of the city to live in, too; there are plenty of neat apartment options (walk-ups, doorman buildings, etc.). What’s more, there’s a lot to do around it, both day at night, especially at the Washington Square Park and world-famous Bleecker Street.
As one of the most quaint Manhattan neighborhoods, Nolita is famous for its cozy coffee shops, picturesque streets, and effortlessly charming walk-ups. It is a small neighborhood, no doubt. Still, it packs quite a punch, especially if you’re looking for a relaxing area with an old-world character and a tight-knit community.
It may be North of Little Italy, but it’s definitely more intimate and not a huge tourist attraction. That’s what makes it a wonderful place to live in; its friendly, cozy atmosphere lets it be the true heart of the city.
5. Upper East Side
Are you looking to live out your wildest NYC dreams on Fifth Avenue or embody the haughty and rather affluent characters of Gossip Girl? The Upper East Side is home to upscale real estate, luxe boutiques, and a wealth of private schools, five-star hotels, and fine dining restaurants.
However, despite the seemingly snooty image, it’s a quiet neighborhood with both breathtakingly beautiful (and expensive) townhouses and affordable, spacious apartments for growing families. Furthermore, this part of the city moves a bit slower than the rest. That ought to bode well with those who want to stay close to Central Park but avoid the constant bustle of the big city.
6. Midtown Manhattan
Oh, you DO like the hustle and bustle of the city? Well, in that case, none of those cozy Manhattan neighborhoods will do. What you need is a little bit of Midtown Manhattan!
As the home to the Chrysler Building, Rockefeller Center, Empire State Building, and Times Square, this part of New York is always full of not only proper New Yorkers but various tourists looking to experience some of that busy NYC life.
Still, that doesn’t make it a bad area to live in; in fact, Midtown Manhattan is a great combination of classic and contemporary, with both affordable walk-ups and luxe condos. Plus, you cannot beat the number of historic landmarks and exquisite attractions, like Broadway, Grand Central Station, and The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA).
As the ultimate boho-chic Manhattan neighborhood, SoHo is the perfect spot for all those fashion-forward individuals who have fully embraced their creativity. At one point, it became the main artist hub in NYC and the home to a number of photo studios, galleries, and fashion houses.
Today, its creative vibe is still quite evident and can be felt throughout its cobblestone streets. Wherever you look, there is a fashionista crossing the road, attracting many glances with her exquisite style.
But don’t be fooled — SoHo isn’t just a fashion haven. Its architecture is magnificent as well, and it also has a vibrant nightlife scene. Of course, you don’t have to take much part in the hustle and bustle. Though the area gets crowded fast, there are gorgeous quaint restaurants and cafes to hide in!
After the devastating 9/11 attacks, Tribeca had to be injected with some newfound positive energy and a bit more life. Luckily, ever since then, it has been thriving. Now, it’s the go-to area for those looking for a quiet and sophisticated neighborhood, tucked away from the busy downtown.
Home to the wonderful Hudson River Park and gorgeous mid-rise elevator buildings and luxe lofts, Tribeca ought to fit anyone who wants to use all the entertainment perks of New York without having to live at the center of it all. Still, sometimes it simply cannot avoid the spotlight — like when it’s the host of the Tribeca Film Festival or the latest New York Fashion Week.
9. East Village
You could definitely say that East Village is one of the most iconic Manhattan neighborhoods, not only because of its vibrancy but the mix of cultures too. Back in the 1950s, it was home to a number of artists, poets, and writers looking to make a living for themselves. Today, it’s full of 20-somethings who are eager to embrace the NYC lifestyle without having to dodge tourists at every corner.
Of course, this isn’t a quiet neighborhood by any means, although it may seem that way during the day. At night, however, East Village’s bar scene becomes its focal point, alongside the many popular restaurants and nightclubs. In essence, this is a lively neighborhood for the younger population that thrives on downtown living and all its perks.
If diverse and culturally rich neighborhoods are at the top of your list, Harlem just may be perfect for you. As the center of the 1920s renaissance movement, it boasts a tradition as creative and avant-garde as it is today. However, back then, it was mostly a haven for black writers, intellectuals, and musicians.
Today, the demographics have changed a bit. Harlem is now a gorgeous neighborhood for anyone looking for a quiet residential area with a rich history and a diverse community. Plus, it’s rather affordable in comparison to some other parts of Manhattan. Of course, it’s also home to some attractive landmarks and institutions, like the Apollo Theater and the National Jazz Museum.
11. Hell’s Kitchen (Clinton)
Even though it was named after a 19th-century motorcycle gang, Hell’s Kitchen is not as gritty as it was before. Today, this neighborhood offers a little bit of everything to everyone, no matter their race, accent, interests, or level of education.
Naturally, you’ll notice that the streets of Hell’s Kitchen are often crowded. But that’s only because it is close to various tourist attractions, like the world-renowned Broadway theaters. Many residents actually say that it’s a fun area to live in. After all, it has a diverse bar scene, an eclectic community, and a rather unpretentious welcoming atmosphere.
12. Little Italy
The US culture is evident everywhere in NYC, that much is true. However, Little Italy is one of those Manhattan neighborhoods that can give you a glimpse into the old European traditions.
Small but lively, this neighborhood is historically rich, extremely charming, and let’s face it — a delicious food hub. In Little Italy, food is the focal point. Therefore, expect to see many authentic Italian restaurants and discover flavors you’ve never tasted before.
Apart from that, you’ll also get to enjoy the lively Italian-like atmosphere. It ought to remind you that the residents have come from far away but are still very much proud of their origins. Evidently, that sort of vibe is not only entertaining but rather welcoming too.
And you’ll see, Little Italy is not afraid or tourists or other New Yorkers. In fact, it welcomes them with open arms and immediately offers an array of treats to try out, like ricotta-cream cannoli or, even better, chocolate biscotti!
Unlike the more high-class Manhattan neighborhoods, Chinatown offers a simpler way of life at more affordable price points. Still, it shouldn’t be underestimated at all; indeed, it thrives with its homely atmosphere and immersive culture, which ought to help anyone fit in well.
Naturally, Chinatown is also a foodie’s heaven, with lots of little restaurants that let you try out authentic Asian cuisine. Furthermore, it has a strong community that likes to spend the afternoons in the parks, playing games like Mahjong or going for a bit of karaoke. Overall, it’s a lively neighborhood, no doubt, and even a great nightlife option for clubbers.
One of the best parts about Chinatown, though, is the fact it’s so easily accessible from other boroughs. Its location makes it a real catch for those who don’t mind commuting often and would like to be in close proximity to other neighborhoods, like SoHo and the Lower East Side.
Finally, there’s Gramercy, a gorgeous neighborhood with a small village vibe. If you aren’t into a bustling nightlife scene and would rather enjoy some peace and quiet, Gramercy is a dream come true. With great cuisine, lots of activities to do outside, and a moderate bar scene, it has the perfect small-town feel for families and more peaceful residents.
Still, the main selling point of Gramercy is the lush greenery. Rightfully so, it has attracted various affluent residents, such as the Roosevelts, throughout the years.
The main attraction, of course, is the member-exclusive Gramercy Park. Imagine having an oasis in the middle of the neighborhood that not everyone can get in. Now that’s proper high-class Manhattan living!
Concrete jungle or not, it’s evident that New York City has that X factor that keeps bringing in the tourists. Still, it’s essential to keep in mind that it’s not just a tourist spot. It is, after all, a city with a rich culture and a great number of charming neighborhoods.
If any of these Manhattan neighborhoods have sparked interest in you, visit them at the first chance you get. The whole of Manhattan is culturally rich, superbly diverse, and downright gorgeous. It’s definitely a place everyone should visit at least once in their lifetime. If they’re lucky enough, they may even get to call it home.