Midtown West, the vast area from 34th to 59th streets west of Fifth Avenue to the Hudson River, encompasses several famous names: Madison Square Garden, the Garment District, Rockefeller Center, the Theater District, and Times Square.
This is New York's tourism central, where you'll find the bright lights and bustle that draw people from all over the world.
As such, this--along with Midtown East--is the city's biggest hotel neighborhood, with choices running the gamut from budget to deluxe.
The 1, 2, 3, 9 subway line serves the massive neon station at the heart of Times Square, at 42nd Street between Broadway and Seventh Avenue, while the B, D, F, Q line runs up Sixth Avenue to Rockefeller Center.
The N, R line cuts diagonally across the neighborhood, following the path of Broadway before heading up Seventh Avenue at 42nd Street. The A, C, E line serves the west side, running along Eighth Avenue.
If you know New York but haven't been here in a few years, you'll be quite surprised by the "new" Times Square.
Longtime New Yorkers like to kvetch nostalgic about the glory days of the old peep-show-and-porn-shop Times Square that this cleaned-up, Disney-fied version supplanted, but the truth is that it's a hugely successful regentrification.
Grand old theaters have come back to life as Broadway and children's playhouses, and scores of new family-friendly restaurants and shops have opened (including the terrific Virgin Megastore on Broadway as well as Disney and Warner Bros. studio stores).
Plenty of businesses have moved in--MTV studios overlook Times Square at 1515 Broadway, and, taking a key note from the far more successful Today show, Good Morning America now has its own street-facing studio at Broadway and 44th Street.
The neon lights have never been brighter, and middle America has never been more welcome.
Most of the great Broadway theaters light up the streets just off Times Square, in the West 40s just east and west of Broadway. At the heart of the Theater District, where Broadway meets Seventh Avenue, is the TKTS booth, where crowds line up daily to buy discount tickets for tonight's shows.
Unlike neighboring Times Square, gorgeous Rockefeller Center has needed no renovation.
Situated between 46th and 50th streets from Sixth Avenue east to Fifth, this art deco complex contains some of the city's great architectural gems, which house hundreds of offices, a number of NBC studios (including Saturday Night Live, Late Night with Conan O'Brien, and the famous glass-walled
Today show studio at 48th Street), and some pleasing upscale boutiques (attention, shoppers: Saks Fifth Avenue is just on the other side of Fifth). Holiday time is a great time to be here, as ice-skaters take over the central plaza and the huge Christmas tree twinkles against the night sky.
Along Seventh Avenue south of 42nd Street is the Garment District, of little interest to tourists except for its sample sales, where some great new fashions are sold off cheap to serious bargain hunters willing to scour the racks. Other than that, it's a pretty grim commercial area.
Between Seventh and Eighth avenues and 31st and 33rd streets, Penn Station sits beneath Madison Square Garden, where the Rangers and the Knicks play.
Taking up all of 34th Street between Sixth and Seventh avenues is Macy's, the world's largest department store; exit Macy's at the southeast corner and you'll find more famous-label shopping around Herald Square.
Farther north, despite the presence of grand dame Carnegie Hall, West 57th Street has become a theme restaurant bonanza, with Planet Hollywood (for now, anyway; it may move to Times Sq.), the Harley-Davidson Cafe, Brooklyn Diner USA, and the venerable Hard Rock in residence, not to mention the back-in-business Russian Tea Room.
There are a good number of hotels in all price categories in this area, and their convenience to Central Park (which starts at 59th St.) is an extra plus.
If you're looking for something a little more culture-rich than an overpriced burger and a logo T-shirt, Midtown West is also home to the Museum of Modern Art, Radio City Music Hall, and the Intrepid Sea-Air-Space Museum.