What NYC Neighborhoods Do I Need to Visit?
July 27, 2006 10:13 AM   Subscribe

What NYC Neighborhoods Do I Need to Visit? I'm a big solo-walking-around-random-neighborhoods kind of guy. I'm taking my 4th trip to NYC in a year, and would like to keep it varied. Where should I go? I'm huge on walking around, something interesting, you know, the you-can't-really-get-it-anywhere-other-than-NYC place. Any interesting/cheap food (quick/takeout) places in those areas? I have already visited...

Greenwich Village
East Village
Little Italy
Murray Hill
Times Square (and all that Jazz)
Area around Columbia U
Upper East Side

Brooklyn Heights

Jackson Heights
posted by sandmanwv to Travel & Transportation around New York, NY (27 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
red hook. dumbo. koreatown out in flatbush is neat.
posted by luriete at 10:15 AM on July 27, 2006

Brighton Beach?
posted by mdonley at 10:17 AM on July 27, 2006

fort greene (e.g., dekalb ave between flatbush and classon ave)
park slope (e.g., 5th or 7th avenue between flatbush and 15th st.)
boreum hill (e.g., smith st between atlantic and 5th st)
coney island
posted by milarepa at 10:18 AM on July 27, 2006

The park right around the Cloisters. Take the A north to the end of it's ride in Manattan.
posted by piratebowling at 10:18 AM on July 27, 2006

You should definitely check out Tudor City, across the street from the UN. It's quite an odd little enclave.
posted by saladin at 10:19 AM on July 27, 2006

Hey, just to make an addendum to above:
In Astoria you should get to the Socrates sculpture garden, the Noguchi museum, the Museum of the Moving Image, and the Hell's Gate Bridge, which goes over Astoria's big riverfront park (which contains a gorgeous, enormous WPA era swimming pool) and eat at the Bohemian Hall Beer Garden.
In Jackson Heights be sure to enjoy some cheap delicious deli chai, and ask someone to direct you to where you can get some chaat (or snack food).
posted by Sara Anne at 10:22 AM on July 27, 2006

oops. You've already been to Astoria and Jackson Heights. Sorry.
posted by Sara Anne at 10:23 AM on July 27, 2006

Well, I was going to say my hood of Brooklyn Heights, but you've already been there. But heading south from there, you can find Carrol Garden, Cobble Hill, and Boerum Hill. Smith Street is turning into a more upscale Williamsburg vibe with plenty of great places to eat, both cheap and not-so. I guess I'm mostly seconding milarepa here.

Astoria, Queens isn't the most beautiful neighborhood in the city, but between all the Greek places and the Bohemian Beer Garden, it's worth a trip.
posted by Bookhouse at 10:26 AM on July 27, 2006

I also missed Astoria on the list. Oops.
posted by Bookhouse at 10:33 AM on July 27, 2006

City Island. How come you been skippin' da Bronx?
posted by paulsc at 10:46 AM on July 27, 2006

Response by poster: Whoops, I think I haven't been to Jackson Heights, but an area near there which was very hispanic near there? That was very cool too.

Jackson Heights is apparently very Indian right? I'm Indian, so I guess that would be very interesting.
posted by sandmanwv at 10:48 AM on July 27, 2006

Well I feel any proper trip to New York should include the Bronx Zoo / Botanical Gardens.

and I second City Island.
posted by Julnyes at 11:12 AM on July 27, 2006

Lower Manhattan--Tribeca, the Financial District, Battery Park. (And Ground Zero, if you're interested.)

If you've been to Brooklyn Heights, you probably won't find Cobble Hill too fascinating, although Atlantic Avenue and its array of Islamic stores might be worth a stroll. Or start in Carroll Gardens and walk east through Gowanus/Boerum Hill across the Gowanus Canal (the bridges at Carroll St. and 9th St. are picturesque--as is the "Russo" storefront at Smith and 9th) to Park Slope.

Then, if you go through Prospect Park or around it to the south, you'll find some fascinating neighborhoods in Flatbush, like Ditmas Park and Prospect Park South. These neighborhoods are completely unlike anything else I've seen in NYC, or any urban area for that matter--big historic mansions with huge yards, but a block or two away from seedy commercial streets and the subway tracks.
posted by staggernation at 11:18 AM on July 27, 2006

Also, Roosevelt Island, where you can see cool old ruins like this.

Unfortunately, I don't think the tram is currently running, so you'd have to take the bus or subway.
posted by dersins at 11:26 AM on July 27, 2006

Best answer: Manhattan:
Inwood/Cloisters/Ft. Tryon Park - Take the A train to 207th St, walk around the neighborhood of Inwood, take in the gorgeous architecture, the Dominican/Jewish/Yuppie/Student cultural mix and then check out Ft. Tryon Park and the Cloisters. It's the most non-Manhattan place in Manhattan.

Kensington/Flatbush - Let's just call this the "Ethnic variety tour". Take the F train to Church Avenue and walk down Church to Coney Island Avenue as the neighborhood shifts from Bengali to Russian to Polish to Jamaican in just 10 blocks. Continue south on Coney Island Avenue to the hipster enclave around Cortelyou Rd., the Mexican neighborhood around Ditmas Ave. and the massive Pakistani enclave around Avenue H. Then walk down Avenue J to see where the Orthodox Jews live and catch the Q train back to Manhattan. Stop for kulfi from Bukhara, falafel or a shwarma from Olympic Pita, pizza from DiFara's and a challah from the bakery on Ave J and be thoroughly, thoroughly full.

Bay Ridge - Take the R train to 86th Street. Get out on the east side of 4th Ave. Does this street look familiar? It better - this is where John Travolta strutted to Stayin' Alive in Saturday Night Fever. Walk down 86th Street to 5th Avenue, walk up 5th Avenue to check out the endless Italian, Turkish and Lebanese stores, grab a beer at one of the Irish pubs on 5th Ave and then walk down Bay Ridge Avenue to Colonial Road to check out the mansions. Then take in the killer view of the Verrazano Narrows Bridge. Ain't too shabby.

The Bronx

City Island - Seconded. Just go, go go.

I also highly recommend the site Forgotten New York, which offers plenty of walking tours and some amazing pictures as well.
posted by huskerdont at 11:38 AM on July 27, 2006 [2 favorites]

Wow, you walked thru Williamsburg? Not when I was growing up in Carroll Gardens.

Going there gives you Brooklyn's version of Little Italy, specifically Henry St. between Sackett and President. The Italian bakery that Nicolas Cage worked at for Cher's Moonstruck is right there on the corner (last time I was there in '88 anyway lol).

Say Hi to the northern version of the good 'ol boys for me!
posted by BillyG at 11:39 AM on July 27, 2006

Washington Heights/Inwood
see a working class neighborhood turned into yuppieville before your very eyes!
Hispanic Society

The Bronx
Arthur Avenue - the most authentic Italian 'hood in NYC even if half of the residents are Albanians. But where else can you see Little Tirana?

Sputen Duyvil up to Riverdale, gorgeous river views

Second City Island

Incredible diversity
Walk down Kissena Blvd until you hit Kissena Park, right near there is this huge urban farm where people rent little parcels and grow all sorts of stuff. Mind-blowing!
Best Korean food in North America

Formerly German, now Balkan plus right next to Bushwick in Brooklyn.

Alley Pond Park
larget tulip tree in the country is there.
Great bat-watching at night, a good urban oasis
Kettle Ponds, glacial erratics, and other geological charms.

Jamaica Bay WIldlife refuge
Amazing bird watching and you can take a subway to it!

Park Slope, but you should walk away from the ceonter to the parts that aren't totally Upper West Sided, down toward 4th or 3rd ave, or down towards Windsor Terrace.

Borough Park, and the hasidic parts of Williamsburg, especially on a Sunday. Like a shtetl two hundred years ago, as long as you are respectful and don't treat them as zoo exhibits the hasidim are pretty cool.

Second Brighton Beach,
Coney Island, of course!

While Staten Island isn't walker friendly, if you have your own transportation, there is the greenbelt - which has good urban hiking.
posted by xetere at 11:47 AM on July 27, 2006

Going there gives you Brooklyn's version of Little Italy, specifically Henry St. between Sackett and President. The Italian bakery that Nicolas Cage worked at for Cher's Moonstruck is right there on the corner (last time I was there in '88 anyway lol).

Unfortunately, that bakery is now a yuppie coffee shop called, if I recall correctly, Naidre's.

Amici's Deli / Salumeria on the corner of Union & Henry is now a bagel store (!), and that place with the amazing fresh mozz and caponata (the name of which, to my dismay, I cannot remember) just on the other side of the BQE is a real estate office.

All these changes (and many, many more) happened in the 5 years I lived at the corner of Union and Henry.

And, yes, I was part of the problem.

At least Mazzola's bakery is still there.

For now.
posted by dersins at 11:52 AM on July 27, 2006

and the hasidic parts of Williamsburg

I second this, it is like a time warp. You will feel very uncomfortable and get some looks maybe, but it is worth it.
posted by Falconetti at 11:58 AM on July 27, 2006

Go to the Forgotten New York site as noted above.
posted by jeremias at 12:21 PM on July 27, 2006

Best answer: I don't have any suggestions, but, I thought the phrase "I'm huge on walking around" was hilarious.
posted by trbrts at 12:41 PM on July 27, 2006

At least Mazzola's bakery is still there.

Mmm... lard bread.
posted by staggernation at 1:17 PM on July 27, 2006

Definitely K-town (Koreatown) in Manhattan between 5th and 6th Ave on 32nd Street.

As for Cheatp Eats: New York Magazine just came out with their "cheap eats" edition.
posted by Juggermatt at 1:19 PM on July 27, 2006

Take a look @ 43Places's New York City Locals Page...you'll find news, tips, reviews and recommendations posted by residents about their neighborhoods. (Full disclosure: I'm a frequent contributor to 43P but am in no way compensated for posting this. I just think it offers a very personalized, grounds-eye view of a vibrant community.)
posted by NYCinephile at 3:27 PM on July 27, 2006

I'm a student living in NYC, and I was really excited about New York's "cheap eats" edition. When I actually read it, though, I came away feeling like they weren't really gunning for cheap so much as just "not as expensive as some places." I mean, Degustation? Bruni just reviewed that in his regular column, which isn't exactly a bastion of "cheap eats." No digs at you, Juggermatt; it's still a great list of places I'd love to eat, but I felt like the NYM food editors missed the mark on the cheap part.

I prefer the Village Voice's Best of NYC, as well as their Cheap Chow Now. Both a bit more esoteric and certainly more "ethnic food"-centric, but also just more affordable.

There's a teensy bit of Japantown (easily missed!) between 2nd and 3rd Aves. on 9th and 10th Streets in the East Village. There's a tea place called Cha-An which does a traditional Japanese tea service, and a lot of restaurants which go beyond the usual sushi, etc.

Forgotten NY has an upcoming tour in Central Park.
posted by anjamu at 3:34 PM on July 27, 2006

Hell's Kitchen not mentioned yet? I mean, wha?
posted by CunningLinguist at 4:53 PM on July 27, 2006

If strolling around Harlem gives you second thoughts, go early on a Sunday morning. That's what I used to do. The streets are deserted. And there is lots to see.
posted by vronsky at 5:36 PM on July 27, 2006

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