In the city that never sleeps, where is actually the best nightlife in NYC? It’s hailed as having some of the best, most diverse, and most exciting nightlife in the world. But New York City is so big that exploring everything that’s on offer would be a huge, if not impossible, undertaking. Every neighbourhood has its own distinct personality, whether that’s commercial like the Meatpacking District or bohemian like Williamsburg. But whatever you think would best suit you, you’ll find it here. Here’s where to go for the best nightlife in NYC.
Best Nightlife in NYC
1. The East Village
The artsy East Village in Manhattan is known for having some of the best nightlife in NYC. You can always count on a good night here – hopping around live music venues, old-school bars, cocktail lounges, natural wine bars, and hip speakeasies. The East Village was once the epicentre of New York’s punk scene, and that rebellious, counter-culture spirit hasn’t gone anywhere. You can find one of the city’s oldest bars here – Irish pub McSorley’s Old Ale House.
Brooklyn’s Greenpoint is effortlessly cool. Think dive bars, diverse restaurants, independent ale houses, and outdoor patios lit up by fairy lights. It used to be a Polish neighbourhood and that international spirit has happily stuck around, expanding into a blend of cultures. Greenpoint is the place to go for food and drinks with a group of friends, casual yet lively.
3. Meatpacking District
Located on the far west side of Manhattan, the Meatpacking District has come a long way. As its name suggests, it was the centre of slaughterhouses in the city, but it’s developed into one of the most hip neighbourhoods in NYC. Glamorous but still attainable, it’s full of trendy bars and bouncing clubs. Its past means that many of the venues have a cool, industrial-chic vibe going on. And if you really want to feel like you’re living out your ‘noughties rom-com set in New York’ dream, head to the Whitney Museum for their beloved evening soirées.
4. Lower East Side
The Lower East Side is yet another Manhattan nightlife powerhouse. It has a funky, gritty vibe blended with a strong international presence. It’s where you’ll find Chinatown, Little Italy, and a plethora of international restaurants. After you’ve satisfied your stomach, there are tonnes of bars and clubs full of a young, cool crowd.
5. Greenwich Village
Leafy Greenwich was the epicentre of New York’s counter-culture movement in the 1960s. It’s one of the most important LGBTQ+ neighbourhoods in the city, and it also has some of the best nightlife in NYC. From history to underground jazz clubs, there’s a lot to love about Greenwich. Jazz is a huge part of this neighbourhood, living harmoniously with late-night, popping gay clubs. If you’re looking for a guaranteed great night out, Greenwich is the place to be.
If you think you’re cool, one walk through Williamsburg will humble you. It’s not just a cool spot, though, Williamsburg undoubtedly has some of the best nightlife in NYC. It’s a hub of breweries and beer halls, casual yet incredibly lively. There are tonnes of entertainment spots here – live jazz bars, outdoor music venues, supper clubs, bowling alleys, and more. When you want to have a dance later on, there are some cool upmarket clubs and some dingy underground venues too.
7. West Village
The West Village is synonymous with the best nightlife in NYC. This quirky neighbourhood is another important LGBTQ+ area, with tonnes of exclusively gay and gay-friendly bars. The Duplex is the go-to place for drag shows, cabaret shows, and more. For the city’s oldest gay bar, head to Julius’ Bar. And of course, the most iconic and historical place in the West Village is the Stonewall Inn. The beloved bar was an influential landmark in the gay rights movements – hence the Stonewall riots – and continues to be a popular hangout spot. There’s more to the West Village than its gay scene, too. Jazz is intrinsic to the neighbourhood, home to some of the city’s most famous jazz bars.