Are you up for listening to live jazz in a soulful speakeasy? Perhaps doing a lap of a lake in a paddle boat or maybe just kicking back in a taproom sampling local craft beers? Whatever your mood or interest, New York City has something for you – you just need to know where to find it. Follow these quick guides to some of the most exciting neighbourhoods across all five NYC boroughs and start planning your perfect holiday.

For Foodies: Belmont


Ask anyone from The Bronx for directions to Little Italy and they won’t be sending you to Manhattan. Instead, you’ll find yourself on Arthur Avenue – the artery of one of New York City’s main Italian-American neighbourhoods that overflows with authentic shops and eateries. At Arthur Avenue Retail Market, hot dried salami, sharp pecorinos and glistening fruit and veg line packed stalls and shops that feel more Napoli than New York City. Zero Otto Nove, serving up Sorrento-style pizza (crispy crusts with a softer middle) plus fresh pasta and seafood, has been awarded a Michelin Bib Gourmand. Madonia Bakery is your go-to for just-filled cannoli and crusty breads. 

Where to stay: The 1913 Bronx Opera House is now the Opera House Hotel – a charming hotel with spacious rooms and handy amenities like 24-hour fitness and business centres. It’s a breezy 30-minute bus ride along Third Avenue from Belmont and 2.3 kilometres from Yankee Stadium.

For Trendsetters: Chelsea and Bushwick

Chelsea bushwick

Every inch of New York City sets a trend but here are two spots that stand out for hipness. Chelsea, the neighbourhood that brought you The High Line, the cutting-edge Whitney Museum of American Art and the foodie haven that is the Chelsea Market, is home to the city’s coolest park, Little Island. Green space perched atop waves of curved concrete pedestals rising out of the Hudson River provides a place to wander with Lower Manhattan and the Statue of Liberty in sight. Back on land, browse vintage shops and pop-up indie designer sales before grabbing a coveted table at Shukette for modern Middle Eastern cuisine (reservations recommended). 

The edgy, former industrial Brooklyn enclave of Bushwick is now lined with warehouses converted into galleries and live music venues. Roberta’s is considered one of the city’s best pizza joints and the murals along Troutman Street form a vibrant open-air exhibition. Also on Troutman, Kings County Brewers Collective has a large and lofty taproom where you can sample a wide variety of the craft beers brewed on site.

Where to stay: The High Line Hotel, inside a seminary originally built in 1895, feels like you’ve stepped out of New York City and into a Victorian fantasyland where antique meets Americana in the eclectically decorated luxe rooms with plush beds. On the eastern edge of Williamsburg, dark hues and industrial finishes are complemented by floor to ceiling windows and light marble accents at 42 Hotel, where you’re just over a 20-minute walk from Roberta’s and a further 10 to Troutman and its murals.

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For Families: Flushing Meadows

Flushing meadows

You could spend an entire holiday in Queens’ Flushing Meadows Corona Park alone. This grassy expanse has serene parkland and then some. The New York Hall of Science offers play-based experiences such as a science playground and an educational minigolf course and The Queens Museum’s miniature model of New York City keeps kids busy for hours (just try counting all of the 895,000 buildings represented). North and South American critters, like adorable Andean Bears and playful California sea lions, call Queens Zoo home and everyone can go wild cheering on the Mets at a ballgame inside Citi Field. When it’s time to wind down, rent a paddle boat or quadricycle and explore the peaceful space in and around Meadow Lake.

Where to Stay: The Collective Paper Factory, an actual paper factory that’s been renovated into a chic boutique hotel, might look too cool for school at first glance but spacious rooms and a prime location near the 36th Street Subway stop in south Astoria make it a choice spot for families. The King Deluxe Room features a king bed, queen bed and sofa bed.

For Music and Culture Hounds: Harlem

apollo hushtours

Harlem bares its soul through music, art, food and stories. An epicentre for Black culture, it's where jazz, poetry and hip-hop evolved and thrived, and where key civil rights moments – like marches led by Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X – took place. Visit the shop inside the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture for an inspiring curation of books, clothing and gifts created by Black artists. Join Hush Tours for a walking tour that takes in historic jazz clubs, the Graffiti Hall of Fame and landmarks you’ll probably recognise from your favourite music videos. Catch some comedy or live music at The Apollo, then chase it all down with sublime fried chicken from Red Rooster and cocktails and tunes in its basement speak-easy, Ginny’s Supper Club

Where to stay: Handily located within five minutes’ walk of The Apollo or the nearest subway station, Aloft Harlem is a bright boutique hotel with colourful rooms, a 24-hour gym and a lobby designed for living, featuring a pool table and paintings from local artists.

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For Explorers: Staten Island

Staten-island snug harbour botanical garden

Yes, you could just ride the free ferry to Staten Island, see the Statue of Liberty on the way and go straight back to Manhattan. But those who spend more time exploring the island are rewarded with historic architecture, sprawling parks and an impressive list of museums for all ages. At historic St George Theatre just a few minutes’ walk from the ferry terminal, world-class acts perform live comedy, music and dance in a stunning baroque interior with rich gold finishes. Head east along the shoreline to the Snug Harbor Cultural Centre & Botanical Garden and you’ll find the Staten Island Children’s Museum, an interactive play space and learning centre where kids can beat you at giant-sized board games, put on their own puppet show or learn about insects and gardening. Alice Austen House Museum, located on a leafy waterfront garden with the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge in view, pays homage to Austen’s pioneering documentary style photography from the late 19th and early 20th centuries, as well as the intricacies and significance of her 56-year relationship with partner Gertrude Tate. Keep going (it’s worth it) and you’ll hit Great Kills Park, where you can relax by the waves on one of four sandy beaches. Nearby Seaside Wildlife Nature Park has a cool ocean-themed playground with a lighthouse and boat structures that kids can climb.

Where to Stay: Italian luxury hotel Casa Cipriani sits on top of a working Manhattan ferry terminal and is just steps from the Staten Island ferry. Expect sumptuous details such as imported Milanese linens, bespoke furniture, and even cashmere wall coverings in the Presidential Suites. Some also have private terraces with spectacular harbour views.

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SEE ALSO: Secret New York City Food Spots Only the Locals Know About

Image credits: Nik Shuliahin, Zero Otto Nove - Arthur Avenue Retail Market, Iwan Baan - Little Island, NYC Parks - The Queens Museum, Hush Tours (left), @shaharazran1 - The Apollo (right), Snug Harbour Cultural Center & Botanical Garden, 

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