Which Area of New York Should You Stay in for Sightseeing?

By Casey Makovich

Wondering where to stay in New York City? Planning a sightseeing tour of the Big Apple can at first seem overwhelming. There are so many attractions in the city that you won't want to miss, but seeing all of New York City can take a lifetime. The neighborhood in which you're staying plays a huge role in your trip. You want to choose a hotel that's located in an area close to major attractions, such as:

  • The Empire State Building
  • Rockefeller Center
  • The 9/11 Memorial & Museum
  • The Intrepid
  • The Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island
  • Museum Mile on the East Side of Central Park

Free Entry with The New York Pass®

Free entry to many of these popular New York attractions and activities are included on The New York Pass®. Used by over 3.5 million travelers, the New York Pass is the ultimate sightseeing pass, which includes admission to 90+ attractions, Fast Track Entry at select attractions, a free guidebook, & much more. Learn more about the New York Pass benefits & how to save up to 70% off attractions. Of course, this list includes just a few of the hundreds of attractions that are sure to strike your interest. To plan the best possible trip, you should research the neighborhoods of New York first. Choose the one that most interests you and offers easy access to your must-see attractions.

Where to Stay in New York City - 5 Neighborhoods to Consider Times Square/The Theater Distinct/Hell's Kitchen

The Times Square area is probably one of the most iconic parts of New York and one of the most popular places to stay for sightseers. It's centrally located to many of the biggest attractions. Times Square is in roughly the same area as the Theater District and the Hell's Kitchen neighborhood. This part of New York has everything. Times Square itself is one of the world's most famous tourist attractions. You'll be walking distance from attractions such as Ripley's Believe it or Not and Madame Tussaud's. From Times Square, you're just a brief walk from major Broadway theaters in the city including the Shubert Theatre, the Minskoff Theatre, the Winter Garden Theatre, and the New Amsterdam Theatre. If you like to eat good food when you're on vacation, you won't be disappointed by the offerings of Hell's Kitchen. This area of the city is notorious for its culinary offerings and offers world-class cuisine from all over the world. Stay in the Time's Square/Theater District neighborhood if you want to be conveniently located to attractions like the Empire State Building and Rockefeller Center and also hit a few Broadway shows during your stay.


Chelsea is located to the south of Hell's Kitchen. The area extends from around 15th Street to 38th Street on the west side of Manhattan. If you're wondering where to stay in New York City to fully experience the arts and culture scene, Chelsea delivers. Known as one of NYC's premier artsy destinations, Chelsea is filled with tons of art galleries that rival the MoMA and fine dining restaurants. If you stay in this neighborhood, one of its highlight attractions is Chelsea Market, a historical area that's home to a variety of eating establishments and little shops that sell fresh produce, meats, baked goods, crafts by local artisans, and more. Another attraction that's convenient to Chelsea hotels is the Chelsea Piers Sports & Entertainment Complex on the Hudson River. This is a sporting complex offering a spa, indoor soccer fields, a rock climbing wall, ice skating rinks, and a marina. Chelsea is right next to Hell's Kitchen, so it is also not too far from attractions like the Empire State Building, the Broadway theaters, and Rockefeller Center.

Union Square/Flatiron

Union Square is centrally located toward the southern tip of Manhattan. It is just east of Chelsea and northeast of Greenwich Village. The Flatiron building, which was constructed in the early 20th century, is probably the most iconic sight in this part of the city. One of the biggest advantages of the Union Square/Flatiron area is that it is located at a central hub of the New York City subway system, making it a convenient place to stay for those who are planning on getting around by subway. Tip: Union Square/Flatiron is a good option for an area to stay if you want to hit both Midtown attractions like Times Square and the Empire State Building while also making it to some of the major attractions way downtown like the Statue of Liberty and the 9/11 Memorial & Museum.

The Financial District

The Financial District is located down at the southern tip of Manhattan. This area offers vacationers a bit more quiet than more bustling neighborhoods like the Theater District and Chelsea. However, the Financial District is also home to some attractions that most vacationers visiting New York won't want to miss. Most people who sightsee in New York these days will want to see the emotionally-charged World Trade Center Complex and the 9/11 Memorial & Museum, an essential attraction that recognizes one of the most important events in New York's history. The Financial District is close to other important historical attractions like the Statue of Liberty. In addition to being located near these attractions, the Financial District is the home of Wall Street and perhaps one of the most important business hubs in New York City and the entire world.

The Upper East Side

Historically, the Upper East Side (UES) has been home to some of the crème de la crème of New York society. This is one of the wealthiest neighborhoods in the city with some of the most valuable real estate. The UES is also an ideal place to stay if art and culture are what is drawing you to New York. It's convenient to Museum Mile and some of the best art museums in the city. Museum Mile is the stretch of Fifth Avenue that runs along the East side of Central Park and is home to the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Guggenheim. In addition to the art museums, Central Park itself is very accessible to hotels on the Upper East Side and is a must-see New York attraction.

Remember to Save on Attraction Admission

Choosing where to stay in New York City to maximize your sightseeing itinerary is a great start to planning your trip. Next, choose the hotel in that area that works best for your budget and needs. And remember, being in close proximity to the most popular attractions can save you time in your day and allow you to visit more attractions. With more stops on your itinerary, that means you'll be spending more money on admission. Therefore, you should look into purchasing a New York Pass which grants you free entry to over 90 attractions in New York City. For more information on the New York Pass, click here.

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Exhibitionism - The Rolling Stones Now Free with the New York Pass

[URIS id=1024] [spacer height="20px"] Exhibitionism - The Rolling Stones has opened its doors in the West Village and we could not be happier to announce that you can now visit it for free with your New York Pass. The exhibit covers an extraordinary amount of material and memorabilia from the 50 years of existence of The Rolling Stones, one of the world's most legendary rock bands. The exhibit takes you through every facet of existence of the band, ranging from a replica of their humble dwellings in London in the early 60s, a collection of musical instruments, notebooks, sheets of music, through fan memorabilia, costumes and a whole lot more. Expect to spend between 1 and 2 hours walking through this exhibit, admiring all the artifacts detailing a true rock 'n' roll lifestyle. You can also watch footage of band members and managers talking about their experiences, the music and the lifestyle. One part of the exhibit lets you mix your own Rolling Stones songs and the whole thing is concluded with a 3D movie from a 2014 concert, so you can imagine what it would be like to see the Stones live. The exhibit is open through March 12th during the following hours: Sunday - Thursday: 10 am - 6 pm (last entry at 4:30 pm) Friday - Saturday: 10 am - 9 pm (last entry at 7:30 pm) Address: Industria 356 W 12th St. (at Washington St.), New York, NY 10014 How to get there: Subway: L, A, C, 1, 2, 3 trains to 14th St., then a short walk down 12th st. The box office is located across the street from the exhibition space, which is adjacent to Barbuto, a staple West Village restaurant.
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Valentine’s Day Itinerary

February 5, 2020 Ah, Valentine’s Day. The holiday actually began as a Western Christian Feast Day in honor of two saints named Valentinus. It became associated with romantic love in the 14th century—although no one is really sure where that association came from, or why. Today, there's a lot of pressure surrounding the holiday. It needs to be perfect! Or at least, very, very good. It needs to be incredibly romantic! Yet, effortlessly casual. It needs to be quintessentially New York! Well, that part we can help with. We’ve got the Valentine’s Day itinerary that ticks all the boxes. The romance part of it is up to you. Tartine Start off your day with a lovely breakfast/brunch. The West Village has all the right vibes, and many places there actually serve breakfast, as opposed to brunch, where patrons often can't actually eat until around the time the rest of would call lunch.. You might consider heading to Tartine (their website says they thrive on love, so there you go.) Go traditional, with Eggs Benedict, or maybe French toast with homemade brioche and smoked bacon. The more adventurous might want to try the Tunisian breakfast, with poached eggs, wilted spinach, chickpeas and Sriracha, or perhaps just a latte and croissant. Mais oui! Top of the Rock After that, why not a stroll uptown? (OK, it’s February, so perhaps a very brisk stroll.) The Top of the Rock Observation Deck is the perfect place to take in New York from on high. They have indoor and outdoor viewing decks and unbelievable views of the city. On a clear day, you can see, you know. It's quintessntially New York, and a perfect part of your Valentine's Day itinerary. The Rink at Brookfield Place From there, take advantage of one of New York’s great outdoor winter activities--ice skating! (It is winter, after all.) Head to the Rink at Brookfield Place, with plenty of public skating sessions and spectacular city (and Jersey) views. Plus it’s small-ish (and thus cozy.) You can also dip inside Brookfield Place itself for refueling. Maybe Blue Ribbon Sushi? Or the For Five Café—the coffee is from a micro-roasting facility in Queens. Yes, Queens. For more of a scene, check out the rink at the Winter Village at Bryant Park. It’s louder, more crowded, and quite fun, plus you can always run into the glorious main branch of the Public Library on Fifth Avenue if you get cold. Photo courtesy The Rink at Brookfield Place Museum of Sex If you’re feeling frisky, perhaps head to the Museum of Sex as part of your Valentine's Day itinerary? The museum actually presents a wide array of exhibitions designed to look at the history, evolution, and culture of human sexuality, such as a current interactive exhibit that charts the history of the carnival. Courtesy of Museum of Sex Central Park Zoo If it’s not too cold, you can head to the Central Park Zoo. There’s nothing more romantic that gazing at a red panda. (No, seriously, there’s a high aww factor.) Make sure to watch one of the animal feedings, and pose for some pics with your faves. It’s a beautiful spot in its own right, with more than six acres and a panorama of the city spread out around it. Did you know that the zoo's precursor was first open in 1864, and was the first public zoo in New York City? It’s also appeared in countless books and films, like Madagascar. Just some trivia in case a quiet moment stretches on too long. Central Park Carousel As long as you’re in the park, why not head to the carousel? No matter your age, it’s hard not to be charmed by this iconic landmark, which has been around for almost 150 years. Four carousels have been on the site since 1871; this one was built by a Brooklyn firm in 1908. It too has appeared in literature and films, like the classic Catcher in the Rye. And at $3 (yes, $3) a ride, it’s arguably one of the city’s best deals. Romantic and thrifty—a winning combination. One if by Land, Two if By Sea If you’re lagging, and the day is waning, it’s time to briefly part and reunite for dinner. You can go old school at One if By Land, Two if By Sea, a beautiful restaurant as well known for proposals as it is for the food and the ambience. It’s got the ambience and the candlelight and the classic white tablecloths, and it's supposedly haunted by the ghost of former owner Aaron Burr. (Yes, that Aaron Burr.) They have a special Valentine’s Day menu (both lunch and dinner), with such choices as lobster gnocchi, pan-seared scallops, and Beef Wellington. We told you it was old school. Looking for something less traditional? Try the incredibly cool Llama San, known for its mix of Peruvian and Japanese food known as Nikkei. (The menu is so minimalist that it basically contains no information at all.) The food combinations are often unusual and unexpected—think aged duck over cilantro rice, with a banana slice and nasturtium leaf. Yes, that is an actual dish. And finally, wind down your evening with a nightcap. Depending on where you are, you might check out the underground speakeasy-style Little Branch in the West Village. It's too cool for a website, but you can’t go wrong with the classics, or you can try a winter-perfect Penicillin, with scotch, ginger, honey, and lemon. It’s a drink and a cough drop! Photo courtesy One if by Land, Two if by Sea With this array of choices, your Valentine’s Day itinerary has a lot going for it. And if it doesn’t work out the way you planned, well, as the ballplayers say, there’s always next year.
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