Greenwich Village/West Village, New York City
Concierge.com's insider take:
The West Village extends from Houston to 14th streets and from the Hudson River to Broadway, where the East Village unofficially begins. Farmland in colonial times, it's now home to some of the most beautiful streets in the city: leafy, sometimes cobbled lanes dotted with 18th- and 19th-century brownstones and outdoor cafés. Poets, artists, writers, and anyone with an alternative lifestyle has long been drawn here. The gay community that used to make its headquarters along Christopher Street has mostly moved to Chelsea with the artists, but still takes to the Village streets for Gay Pride Day the last Sunday of June and for the nation's largest Halloween parade. Bleecker Street, which cuts a diagonal swath through the village from Hudson Street to Sixth Avenue, has become the epicenter of interest for visitors, thanks in part to landmarks such as Magnolia Bakery and a micro-neighborhood of swanky boutiques. Escalating real-estate prices mean many of the original pioneers have been replaced by high-income families and NYU college students, and national chains have replaced a number of the small, independently owned shops that used to give the area much of its character. But it's still easily the most charming neighborhood in Manhattan.