I adore the different neighborhoods of Manhattan. They are brimming with culture and tradition. Some are known as residential or family neighborhoods while others are predominately catering to tourists, commerce or the arts. You can truly feel the energy shift in a matter of a few blocks. For example, take a brief walk from the heart of the financial district where business suits abound and you are smack dab in the middle of Chinatown, walking through Columbus Park where people are practicing tai chi and the retired community is gathering to play Chinese chess, spectators huddled around perhaps a dozen deep.
There are over 50 neighborhoods in Manhattan and the best way to experience them is on foot. On an hour long walk, it’s quite possible to pass through a half dozen neighborhoods or more. Some of my favorite neighborhoods are: the Upper West Side for its accessibility to both Riverside Park along the Hudson River and Central Park; Chelsea for its laid-back neighborhood feel and its crown jewel Chelsea Market; Union Square for its four day a week Green Market and Greenwich Village featuring the iconic Washington Square Park.
To maximize your experience of the city, I recommend picking a starting point at the beginning of your day, like a bakery or café in a neighborhood you’d like to see, and then developing a 1-2-mile walking route that will take you through several neighborhoods ending at a nice lunch spot in another neighborhood. For example, begin in Chelsea at the Sullivan Street Bakery for coffee and a light breakfast (try the Prosciutto Tartine!). From there wander a mile and a half through Chelsea, the West Village, Greenwich Village and SoHo ending in Nolita at Rubirosa for lunch. The sights are worth it all and so is the pizza a Rubirosa! I recommend the Tie-Dye pie.