New York City has it all, but where do you start? If you’re visiting for fun, pick a neighborhood near your friends, or somewhere new you want to explore — you don’t want to spend your time in city traffic. Traveling on business? We’ve rounded up the best things to do in Midtown and the Financial District, so you won’t have to settle for uninspired cuisine and corporate hotels.
Tribeca, Soho, and West Village
Each of these neighborhoods has a unique identity, but they’re close enough to each other that you can stay in one and easily enjoy the others.
The Best Luxury Hotels in Tribeca, Soho, and West Village
The Dominick Hotel is located in west Soho and has large rooms, which can be difficult to find in some of NYC’s older hotels. It has sleek, modern décor and a wonderful spa. However, it is currently across from a major construction site. Be sure to request a room that faces away from it. The Crosby Street Hotel is one of the city’s most charming properties. It has whimsical décor from Kit Kemp and a beautiful, plant-filled courtyard. It’s located on a quiet cobblestone street in Soho.
Down in Tribeca, The Greenwich Hotel is a serene escape from the busy city. It has one of the city’s best penthouses, which features 4,000 square feet of rooftop space spread across two floors and includes an outdoor fireplace, a grill, a heated spa pool, two dining areas, and breathtaking landscaping. The hotel is home to Locanda Verde, one of the city’s most beloved restaurants. It also has the serene Shibui Spa, which blends ancient and modern healing techniques in a tranquil setting.
The Mercer, Sixty Soho, 11 Howard, and the Soho Grand are somewhat trendier hotels in Soho, but the service can be uneven and the rooms small. The Standard, High Line, is located on the border of the West Village and Meatpacking District and has a unique vibe.
The Best Restaurants in Tribeca, Soho, and West Village
You are truly spoiled for choice in these neighborhoods. They are home to some of the city’s most classic restaurants, packed with both locals and tourists. Raoul’s, a charming French bistro in Soho, has a delicious Burger Au Poivre and cozy ambience. Blue Ribbon Brasserie is a late-night staple — it’s open until 4am — that has an excellent raw bar and world-famous fried chicken.
Lure Fishbar makes the most of its subterranean space with a yacht-inspired design complete with porthole-shape windows and an excellent seafood menu. Keith McNally’s Balthazar is bustling morning, noon, and night with diners savoring classic French fare, especially the steak frites. For one of the city’s best burgers, pop into the cozy Corner Bistro. A short walk eastward, Indochine has somehow remained one of the city’s hottest restaurants for nearly 40 years. The combination of tropical décor, celebrity sightings, and French-Vietnamese cuisine creates a magical ambience buzzing with energy.
Carbone, Sant Ambroeus, Charlie Bird, Via Carota, Locanda Verde, and Osteria Morini serve up delicious Italian food. Don’t miss the famous salad at Via Carota. Niche Niche and Tokyo Record Bar have lively, dinner-party atmospheres and menus that change almost every week. Lola Taverna has one of the prettiest outdoor setups in the city and transports you to the Mediterranean with its Greek fare. Sushi Nakazawa has some of the city’s best sushi — you may remember the chef from Jiro Dreams of Sushi.
Jack’s Wife Freda blends Israeli and African food at its two locations and is a favorite for brunch. Be sure to order the shakshuka or the halloumi with grapes (seriously). If you can get a reservation, 4 Charles Prime Rib appropriately has the city’s best prime rib. It also makes an amazing burger — it was opened by the owner of Chicago’s Au Cheval, which now has a location in New York, too.
What to Do in Tribeca, Soho, and West Village
These neighborhoods are made for leisurely strolls, popping into charming boutiques and art galleries to shop, as well as stopping in local restaurants for a snack and a glass of wine. The charming cobblestone streets are lined with historic buildings, such as Soho’s cast-iron buildings and the West Village’s brownstones. It’s well worth taking a walking tour if you’re an architecture buff. Little Italy is charming, but very busy and full of tourist traps. Unless absolutely necessary, stay far from Broadway, where big chain stores abound. Children will love to visit the New York City Fire Museum and the Color Factory. Additionally, they’ll have fun waiting in line for a famous Cronut or a cookie shot at Dominique Ansel Bakery.
Midtown Manhattan may not be the trendiest place to stay, but it’s certainly one of the most convenient places for many business travelers. It is home to some of the city’s most historic and opulent hotels, has fabulous shopping, and some great restaurants, if you know where to look. To be in the center of it all, there’s no better place to stay than Midtown.
The Best Luxury Hotels in Midtown Manhattan
Baccarat Hotel is one of the city’s newest hotels, and it’s certainly unique. This opulent hotel is a homage to the famed crystal maker and all things French. It has decadent furnishings and immense crystal chandeliers. The hotel is sleekly decorated in neutral shades, with lots of black and white punctuated by the house’s signature red. The Grand Salon is one of the most gorgeous spaces in New York, perfect for afternoon tea or a leisurely lunch. The Bar is a moody take on French glamour, with natural wood walls covered with artwork, a barrel-vaulted ceiling, and crystal everywhere. The 60-ft bar is the focal point, and, naturally, it serves all of its craft cocktails and wine in Baccarat glasses. Dining is inspired by Alsace, France, and overseen by two-Michelin-starred chef Gabriel Kreuther. Don’t miss Spa De La Mer, a jewel-like space with fabulous facials and a gorgeous underground pool.
The Plaza, The St. Regis New York, and the Peninsula New York are three of the city’s most storied hotels. They opened in the early 1900s — the Peninsula originally opened as Gotham Hotel — and have maintained their sumptuous style and traditional décor ever since. These hotels have opulent designer suites with beautiful moldings and details, luxurious finishings, bespoke furnishings, and impeccable service.
Dining options are more limited at these hotels and are better suited to breakfast or tea. However, they do have fabulous bars steeped in history. Stop by the Champagne Bar at The Plaza for caviar and Champagne. Or savor a cocktail at The King Cole Bar at the St. Regis, which was the first bar in the US to whip up a Bloody Mary, here called the Red Snapper. Grab a seat at the dark wood bar so you can marvel at the enormous mural of King Cole by Maxfield Parrish, or reserve Table 55 for a curated chef’s menu and access to a special wine list.
For stunning views, head to Salon de Ning at the Peninsula, the hotel’s gorgeous rooftop bar and restaurant. It has two outdoor terraces and an indoor bar where you can order shared plates from its small menu — better for a snack, not dinner — and inspired cocktails, such as the Pop Fashion, which infuses popcorn into Maker’s Mark.
Located on Billionaire’s Row, Mandarin Oriental has sleek rooms and modern design and is among the best luxury hotels in New York City. I.M. Mandarin Oriental is located at the top of the Time Warner Center at Columbus Circle and specializes in discreet luxury.
For something more contemporary, check into Park Hyatt New York or 1 Hotel Central Park. Park Hyatt is noted for its incredible art collection, tranquil Spa Nalai, and gorgeous 65-ft indoor swimming pool with triple-height glass windows overlooking Carnegie Hall. The pool plays music underwater from the renowned concert hall, a truly one-of-a-kind experience. Wellness addicts will love 1 Hotel Central Park, which styles itself as a nature retreat in Midtown. It has organic cotton sheets and mattresses; natural wood ceilings; cozy reading nooks; a three-story living green façade; and casual, healthy dining options.
The Langham Fifth Avenue is a little further south, closer to Herald Square and Bryant Park. It has wonderful dining, including the Michelin-starred Italian restaurant Ai Fiori from chef Michael White.
The Best Restaurants in Midtown Manhattan
Midtown is home to many Michelin-starred restaurants, including Per Se, Masa, and Le Bernardin, three of the city’s five restaurants with three stars. There’s also Jean-Georges, Aquavit, The Modern, and Gabriel Kreuther, which each have two stars. These fine-dining restaurants are some of the best in New York City. For something more casual (but still delicious), head to Empellon for tacos and inventive desserts, Casa Lever for power breakfasts and al fresco Italian lunches, The Grill for a taste of old-school New York and superb steaks, Le Jardinier for exquisitely plated vegetable-focused dishes in an absolutely gorgeous space, or Sushi Yasuda for a fantastic omakase meal in a serene environment.
What to Do in Midtown Manhattan
Midtown is home to MoMA, the Museum of Modern Art, one of the world’s finest modern art museums. For something a little more niche — and less busy — head to the Museum of Arts and Design in Columbus Circle, which has fabulous exhibitions of objects ranging from jewelry to crystal to works of stained glass.
There’s plenty of shopping on 5th Avenue and 57th street, with many brands’ flagship boutiques, as well as famed department stores, such as Saks Fifth Avenue and Bergdorf Goodman. For jewelry and watches, there’s no better place to be. Wempe and Tourneau are great multi-brand destinations, and many watch brands have their own boutiques. Harry Winston and Cartier have stunning mansions (Harry Winston is under renovation), and Saks Fifth Avenue has The Vault, which curates a unique selection of independent designers. For one of the best views of the city, head to the top of Rockefeller Center. If you want to avoid crowds of tourists, you can get the same view at Rainbow Room.
Hudson Yards entices visitors to the far west of Midtown Manhattan for shopping, picture taking at the Vessel, and art at the Shed. It’s also home to Edge, a 100-story-high sky deck with unbelievable views of the city. It’s the highest sky deck in the Western Hemisphere and has 360-degree views, angled glass walls that let you see the city below, a glass floor for the daring, and a Champagne bar.
The Financial District and Lower Manhattan
Downtown Manhattan used to be a ghost town at night and on the weekends — not anymore. The area has been completely revitalized with stunning architecture, two upscale shopping malls, countless skyscrapers, and luxury hotels and restaurants.
The Best Luxury Hotels in the Financial District and Lower Manhattan
Four Seasons Hotel New York Downtown is by far the most luxurious, full-service hotel in the area. It has large, well-appointed rooms, Cut by Wolfgang Puck, and a sprawling spa that spans an entire floor. The spa features indulgent treatments, such as a caviar facial and a four-handed massage. There’s also an Instagram-worthy lap pool. The Beekman New York is located in a historic 19th-century building with a soaring, nine-story atrium, Victorian wrought-iron railings and balustrades, as well as a notable art collection. The Bar Room in the atrium is one of the most beautiful places in the city for a drink. Tom Colicchio operates two restaurants in the hotel, the rooftop Temple Court on 10 and Temple Court. For a truly unique stay, book one of the two Turret Penthouses West, which give you a bird’s-eye view of the city and have private rooftop terraces.
The Best Restaurants in the Financial District and Lower Manhattan
Danny Meyer’s Manhatta is located on the 60th floor of 28 Liberty Street, giving it enviable city views. The three-course menu includes classics like foie gras terrine, matzah ball soup, squab en croute, and apple tarte tatin. The Dead Rabbit, crowned the world’s best bar many times, has inventive cocktails and an amazing whiskey selection. There’s also a menu full of Irish favorites like corned beef, shepherd’s pie, bangers and mash, and fish and chips.
Cut by Wolfgang Puck has superb steaks, including a 50-day dry-aged porterhouse and A5 Japanese Wagyu sirloin, as well as an excellent wine list. South Street Seaport has undergone a massive transformation in recent years. It now has some great restaurants, including The Fulton, Barbalu, Industry Kitchen, and Momofuku Ssäm Bar. They can be quite touristy, but the views are unmatched. The Greens, located atop Pier 17, changes from a winter wonderland with cozy, private cabins to a sun-soaked spot for games and rosé in the summer.
What to Do in the Financial District and Lower Manhattan
If you haven’t done it yet, head to One World Observatory atop the Freedom Tower. This high-tech wonderland will delight children and adults with its elevators that whiz up 102 stories in just 47 seconds. At the top, the Observatory has unbelievable skyline views with iPad guides. There’s also a restaurant, if you want to soak up the views for a longer time. Explore Brookfield Place for shopping and the Oculus, a soaring architectural masterpiece from Santiago Calatrava with shops, restaurants, and a major transportation hub. The Financial District is full of important historical sights, both new and old. You can visit the National September 11 Memorial & Museum, take the ferry to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island National Museum of Immigration, and see Trinity Church, where Alexander Hamilton is buried.
The Upper East Side
This tony neighborhood is one of New York City’s most elegant areas. It’s full of luxury shopping, charming restaurants, wonderful museums, and, of course, hotels with fantastic service. And of course, you’re right by Central Park. The Upper East Side is a great destination for families. Younger visitors looking for more of a trendy scene should stay downtown.
The Best Luxury Hotels on the Upper East Side
Many luxury hotels in the Upper East Side focus on keeping classic design elements when updating their properties, which can sometimes feel a bit stuffy. Sometimes, like in The Pierre’s stunning Rotonda or Bemelman’s Bar, it’s brilliant. The Mark took a different approach, daringly reimagining the historic hotel. From the moment you step into the bold, black-and-white-striped lobby, you know you’re in for something different. While the décor is contemporary, the service and amenities are still classic and of the highest caliber.
The Mark has a fabulous restaurant by Jean-Georges Vongerichten, a chic bar with wild cow-print furniture and orange carpets, a boutique salon from Frédéric Fekkai, and The Mark Penthouse, one of the largest and priciest suites in Manhattan. If you’re looking for a more traditional feel, we love The Pierre, Hôtel Plaza Athénée, and The Carlyle. They are also considered among the best luxury hotels in New York City.
Where to Eat on the Upper East Side
Daniel is one of the best restaurants in New York City. It’s well worth the trip even if you aren’t staying in the Upper East Side. The two-Michelin-starred restaurant, Chef Daniel Boulud’s flagship, is known for its classic French tasting menu, impeccable service, and extensive wine list.
Also, there are wonderful sushi spots on the Upper East Side. If you’re looking for a special omakase menu, head to Sushi Noz, which has one Michelin star. Both Sushi Gari and Sushi Seki have wonderful omakase and à la carte menus. Further, Sushi Seki is known as a late-night spot — it doesn’t close until 2:30 in the morning.
J.G. Melon is an Upper East Side institution with an amazing burger and cottage fries. It also serves up classic salads and sandwiches and makes a mean Bloody Mary. J.G. Melon is a cash-only restaurant, so come prepared.
What to Do on the Upper East Side
The Upper East Side has incredible shopping. Every — and we mean every — luxury brand on Earth has a boutique here or around 57th Street and 5th Avenue, just a few blocks down. Once you’ve finished shopping, visit one of the Upper East Side’s many museums. The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum is a work of art in itself — it is one of Frank Lloyd Wright’s most famous buildings and is a National Historic Landmark. Inside, it features an extensive collection of early Modern and contemporary art.
The Frick is a charming and manageable museum — you can spend just an hour or two perusing the collections and not miss a thing. The historic Gilded Age mansion is under renovation, scheduled to reopen in 2023, so the collection is currently located at the Marcel Breuer Building. The collection focuses on Old Masters and includes many mediums, from paintings to sculpture to furniture and objets, including some sensational clocks and textiles.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art is one of the most famous museums in the world, and for good reason. The historic building overlooks Fifth Avenue and Central Park and has more than two million works of art that cover over 5,000 years of human history. You can easily spend an entire day here, but don’t expect to see it all. To avoid being overwhelmed, pick an exhibition or two to focus on so you can truly enjoy and appreciate the experience.