Once you’ve had your fill of the sightseeing hustle and bustle of Times Square and the many famous attractions of Midtown Manhattan, it seems only right that you find a way to unwind by enjoying another side of New York City. In that case, just head a few blocks west into Hell’s Kitchen, where you can cut loose in one of Manhattan’s prime nightlife hotspots. Cuisines from all over the world, drinks at a range of price points, live music on every street: Hell’s Kitchen is a fun neighborhood to spend an evening exploring. And it’s a pretty neat place during the day, too, as you can tour a popular NYC museum, catch a guided cruise, or relax in one of several public parks here as well.
Hell’s Kitchen Neighborhood History
Ask 100 different people where the unforgettably distinctive “Hell’s Kitchen” moniker comes from and you’re liable to get 100 different answers, with each explanation involving one colorful story after another. At the end of the day, no matter which account you favor, the generally accepted version is that this area takes its name from the fact that it was once one of the tougher stretches of New York City to call home, an area riddled with tenement dwellings, crime, and gang violence.
Today, it’s a much different story, as Hell’s Kitchen contains notable tourist attractions, popular public parks, electric nightlife destinations, and is arguably the city’s hottest LGTBQ+ neighborhood. One thing remains the same, though: even as city leaders and real-estate executives have tried countless times over the past few decades to rebrand the neighborhood—more often than not as “Clinton”—the classic “Hell’s Kitchen”-label has to this day stuck.
Exploring Hell’s Kitchen
The northern entrance to the High Line is located at the southern edge of Hell’s Kitchen, near the rail yards at West 34thStreet and 12th Avenue. This 1.5-mile-long public park has become one of New York City’s most popular attractions, and adventuresome visitors can walk the entire expanse of the trail to encounter scenic views, local food trucks, beautiful gardens, art installations, and more before emerging between Chelsea and the Meatpacking District, two other fabulous New York City neighborhoods.
The Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum is another very popular attraction located within Hell’s Kitchen. You’ll find the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum at Pier 86 along the Hudson River. Housed on the decommissioned aircraft carrier USS Intrepid, the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum is home to multiple other ships, approximately 30 historic planes, and the NASA space shuttle Enterprise.
With so much to see and do in New York, it’s sometime easy to forget Manhattan is an island, and one of the most unique ways to experience it is from the water. Circle Line Sightseeing Cruises operate some of the city’s most popular guided cruises, with a variety of tours running regularly that’ll enable you to see the New York City skyline like never before.
Hell’s Kitchen is located along the Hudson River on the West Side of Manhattan. It’s bordered to the north by Lincoln Square, to the south by Chelsea, and to the east by Times Square.
Hell’s Kitchen Dining
While no longer the same rough-and-tumble neighborhood it once was, Hell’s Kitchen remains a remarkably lively area. Known for its vibrant nightlife, Hell’s Kitchen is a terrific place to make a whole evening of it, as the area is jam-packed with restaurants, bars, clubs, and music venues catering to many varied cuisines, styles, tastes, and budgets.
Hell’s Kitchen features an especially diverse dining scene. Here you’ll find Japanese ramen, wood-fired pizza, upscale Vietnamese, casual Peruvian, New American comfort food, Korean barbecue, and more brunch-centric restaurants than any one neighborhood has any right to have, all within a few blocks of one another.
If you’re just looking for a drink, or to catch some great live local music, Hell’s Kitchen has you covered, too. From wine bars to dive bars, stylish rooftop hangouts to dark, jazzy lounges, this West Side neighborhood is famous for fun. Beloved concert venue Terminal 5 is located here, too, and Hell’s Kitchen has a rich LGTBQ+ nightlife scene as well.
Hell’s Kitchen Shopping
While it’s true that Hell’s Kitchen is more of nightlife spot than a shopping destination, that doesn’t mean you won’t encounter retailers in the neighborhood that are well-worth your time and attention. Delphinium Home is a Hell’s Kitchen staple. This charming boutique sells a quirky assortment of housewares, home décor items, high-end beauty products, candles, gifts, and more. Fine and Dandy, proud purveyor of “Accessories For Dapper Guys,” lives up to its slogan by stocking its retro-tinged, brick-and-mortar location with everything a man could want for his upscale, vintage wardrobe.
Explore Hell’s Kitchen Like a Local
- Circle Line Sightseeing Cruises proudly advertise their Best of NYC Cruise as the only sightseeing cruise on the market today that takes guests all the way around the entire island of Manhattan. If it’s a beautiful day and you’re in the mood to get out on the water to see New York City like never before, this 2.5-hour tour is tough to beat.
- While Pier 86 (site of the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum) takes most of the headlines, there are several other piers worth checking out here in Hell’s Kitchen. Pier 84, in particular, is part of the lovely Hudson River Park and has a bunch of fantastic amenities. Here you’ll find bike rentals, kayak rentals, a dog run, an interactive fountain, and a spacious lawn crying out for a picnic.