While people often opt for Manhattan when planning a trip to New York City, the destination is actually composed of five boroughs. Each borough -- including Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, The Bronx and Staten Island -- features worthwhile offerings worth exploring.
Manhattan is where you’ll find the most tours and attractions, and it is the most heavily frequented by tourists. It is composed of a number of distinct neighborhoods with unique offerings. For example, while Times Square is where you’ll find flashing neon signs, giant billboards, themed restaurants, Broadway shows and actors dressed up as colorful characters, SoHo is known for its excellent shopping offerings. In the Meatpacking District, you’ll encounter the stylish side of the city with upscale shops and posh nightclubs, while in Chelsea you can spend hours perusing the many art galleries. Fill up your MetroCard and spend time hopping around the different neighborhoods and getting to know their personalities. Additionally, visit world-renowned attractions like the Empire State Building, Statue of Liberty, Chrysler Building, Central Park and the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Brooklyn is the hipster capital of the world. Neighborhoods where at one time people wouldn’t even think of stepping foot into -- like Williamsburg and Bushwick -- are now littered with farm-to-table restaurants, craft cocktail bars, beautiful parks, art galleries, wineries, breweries, distilleries and venues offering fun things to do. Of all the boroughs Brooklyn is the most populous, and if it were its own city would be the fourth-largest in the country. Some top attractions in Brooklyn include Coney Island, the Brooklyn Museum, the Brooklyn Bridge, the Brooklyn Botanic Garden and Prospect Park.
Visiting Queens is like traveling the world in one day, as it is the most ethnically diverse borough with over 170 languages spoken. One of the most interesting Queens neighborhoods is Jackson Heights, or Little India, full of Indian restaurants, shops and even a Bollywood movie theater. Moreover, Queens is home to NYC’s second-largest Chinatown. Queens is a great place to sample authentic ethnic cuisine as well as peruse some museums like P.S. 1 Contemporary Art Center, the NY Hall of Science and the Museum of the Moving Image, see a Mets game and visit the Flushing Meadows–Corona Park.
Known as the birthplace of rap and hip hop and the home of the Yankees, The Bronx has a unique culture of its own and many worthwhile attractions. The Bronx Zoo is one of the most popular local attractions, home to over 6,000 animals, a butterfly garden, a 4-D theater, sea lion and penguin feedings, camel rides and much more. Another must-experience in the Bronx is the New York Botanical Garden, which features 250 acres (101 hectares) of vibrant flowers and educational gardens. Some other top attractions in The Bronx include Orchard Beach, the Edgar Allan Poe Cottage, Woodlawn Cemetery, Hall of Fame for Great Americans and Van Cortlandt Park.
Of all the boroughs Staten Island feels most like the suburbs and is divided into about six main neighborhoods. This borough is home to one of New York’s best free and scenic experiences, riding the Staten Island Ferry. It also has the Historic Richmond Town, a living history village and museum complex and includes 30 original historic structures as well as the country’s oldest homes. Other top Staten Island attractions include the Staten Island Children’s Museum, Chinese Scholar’s Garden, Staten Island Zoo, Snug Harbor Cultural Center and Franklin D. Roosevelt Boardwalk and Beach.