Lower Manhattan: Tribeca, Battery Park City & the Financial District

Chinatown, with its wealth of cheap dining options and resistance to the big-chain-store homogenization that has overtaken many other neighborhoods, has more recently become a destination for young hipsters interested in both its nightlife and its relatively cheap real estate. Chinatown's essential (and wonderful) insularity and grittiness endure, however, despite the infusions of new condo owners moving to what some call "Soho South." The neighborhood's store of treasures includes Columbus Park (Mulberry Street between Bayard and Worth Streets), the historical center of the Five Points neighborhood of "Gangs of New York" infamy; succulent seafood at Oriental Garden; soup dumplings at Joe's Shanghai; and divey karaoke at Winnie's.

Tribeca ("Triangle Below Canal") has long been known for its attractions to affluent young professionals (the late John F. Kennedy Jr. was a fixture in the neighborhood) and families: big, airy loft apartments, good schools and proximity to Battery Park. It's also increasingly become a great destination for dining (from homey brunch fave Bubby's to break-the-bank spots like Nobu and Chanterelle) and nightlife (the Church Lounge at the Tribeca Grand hotel; the Brandy Library).

The Financial District, which stretches across the bottom tip of the island and encompasses such top tourist destinations as South Street Seaport, Wall Street, the New York Stock Exchange, Trinity Church and the World Trade Center site, may be best enjoyed during the day. Things get pretty quiet at night, though the growing number of affordable luxury apartment buildings has led to ever-improving dining (including Adrienne's and the Bridge Café) and nightlife (the popular Irish pub Ulysses; New Zealand-themed Nelson Blue).
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