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Girls’ Trip to New York City: Every Borough Has Its Own Beat

From a Tony-nominated show featuring the music of Alicia Keys to the birthplace of hip-hop to skyline views from a chic rooftop, NYC makes for an unforgettable summer getaway.

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Getty Images (3), Marc J. Franklin, Sipa USA/AP
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Have you visited New York? Would you like to? Do you have a favorite attraction or site? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

In the words of Alicia Keys, let’s hear it for New York! “The concrete jungle where dreams are made of,” as she sings, is always a great place to visit. But a Broadway musical featuring Keys’ music and life story makes the Big Apple an even more exciting destination for Black women now. "Hell's Kitchen," nominated for 13 Tony Awards, encapsulates the quintessential New York experience in a symphony of sights, sounds, and flavors. Set in the heart of Manhattan, the show mirrors the city's raw energy. The streets pulse with life—gritty yet glamorous, like a jazz riff echoing through narrow alleys. The show introduces us to a kaleidoscope of characters: struggling artists, ambitious dreamers, and seasoned New Yorkers. Alicia Keys' soulful tunes infuse the narrative. From brownstone stoops to subway platforms, her music becomes the soundtrack of our own New York moments.

Any native New Yorker will tell you; the city’s best attraction is people watching. But here are some unique things to do, see, hear, eat, drink and more in every one of NYC’s five boroughs.

The Bronx 

The Bronx, known as the home of the New York Yankees, has so much to offer. The borough and its parks played a big part in cultivating the hip-hop culture of the 70’s. The Bronx’s Cedar Park holds a special place in history. When a house party with DJ Kool Herc reached capacity, he took his turntable and mixer to the park next door. The Black and brown youth started this movement, and the world celebrated Hip-Hop’s 50th Anniversary in 2023. If you sign up for the Birthplace of Hip Hop Tour from, you can explore the city and some vivid murals celebrating hip-hop legends and graffiti artists in the Bronx.

If you want to continue engaging your artistic senses, head to the Black-owned, woman-owned The Lit Bar for a great read and a sip. You might meet some of your favorite literary artists. Tamron Hall recently stopped in for a book signing, and Mary J. Blige signed books there last year.

Where to stay: The landmark Opera House Hotel was known in days past as the Great Bronx Opera House. With a predominately Latin population in The Bronx, the Opera House was the center of Latin culture in the 1940s and 1970s. Several Latin nightclubs called the Opera House home. The renovated Opera House Hotel is reminiscent of the area’s rich history. It is steps away from major transportation that can whisk you to nearby attractions like the Bronx Zoo or Beatstro: The Hip Hop Restaurant. You can enjoy “Rhythm and Latin soul food” while vibing to amateur talent, live DJ parties, and dance battles here.


Brooklyn is the most populated borough in New York City. This may have played a part in the Nets’ move to Brooklyn in 2012. One thing for sure is that Jay-Z, a multifaceted businessman, legendary rapper, former Nets and Barclays Center stakeholder, and Brooklyn’s native son, was instrumental in making this deal happen. Jay-Z, born Shawn Carter, grew up in Brooklyn’s Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood. Recently, December 4th was commemorated as “Jay-Z Day,” celebrating all he has done for New York. So, before you take in a game or concert at Barclay’s Center, grab lunch at the notable Black-owned pizzeria, Cuts & Slices. Have your mind blown by a slice topped with untraditional toppings like salmon or oxtails. Then, wind down or up at the black-owned Franklin Bar in Bed-Stuy. Here, you can sip good wine while you feel good vibes spun by a DJ.

Where to stay: A once dilapidated mansion returned to its original glory as a beautiful Italianate villa, Akwaaba Mansion Brooklyn is situated in a charming tree-lined community with lovely brownstones. Akwaaba is a dream realized by Glenn Pogue and Monique Greenwood, who have fashioned each room with a mix of antiques and Afrocentricity. Start your day with a hearty Southern breakfast, sip tea in the secluded garden, or enjoy a dip in the jacuzzi.


Manhattan offers visitors attractions like Central Park and the Empire State Building. Central Park serves as an escape from the concrete that binds the city together and the greenspace sees many visitors. Still, many may not know that “Before Central Park was created, the landscape along what is now the Park’s perimeter from West 82nd to West 89th Street was the site of Seneca Village,” according to the Central Park Conservancy. From 1825 to 1857, Seneca Village was a predominantly African American community that allowed Blacks to own property, which was rare.

Other districts in this borough include Lower Manhattan, Washington Heights, and Harlem. Harlem, dubbed the “cultural capital of Black America,” has several historical attractions. Sites include The Apollo Theatre, the Paris Blues Jazz Club, and Amy Ruth’s Homestyle Southern Cuisine. If you want to simultaneously feed your soul with good food and melodic sounds, head to the Red Rooster Harlem. The restaurant is co-owned by famed Ethiopian-born Swedish-American celeb chef, restauranteur, television personality, and author Marcus Samuelsson. At Red Rooster Harlem, you can savor the mac and cheese and sounds of jazz, gospel, soul, and R&B.

Where to stay: The Harlem Flophouse, owned by Latin-born New Yorker Rene Cavo, is known for its beauty and has been the backdrop for fashion models and musicians. It’s the place to go if you want to escape the hustle and bustle of New York. The hotel is a quiet haven with no televisions or telephones to disrupt your calm. You can even unwind to live music, including the Blues or Jazz.


Queens, also known as the “world’s borough,” is a large mixture of diverse people and is said to be the “most diverse county in America.” With this bountiful array of cultures comes an eclectic grouping of dining, shopping, and cultural experiences like no other. Many visitors love Queens because they can embark on an international journey by simply visiting one neighborhood to the next. Head to Jamaica, Queens, and try New York’s #1 meat patties at Jamaican Flavors. Or head to Flushing, New York, and taste the authentic Asian foods. Be sure to visit Chinatown for authentic Chinese cuisine.

Where to stay: Queens is the largest borough based on its area, so you have many hotel choices. For a modern, trendy hotel, consider a stay at the Boro Hotel. Enjoy the rooftop terrace and more. If you are staying in Flushing, you might book a room at the Renaissance New York Flushing Hotel at Tangram. Here, you can enjoy various activities with your family, from tennis to movie nights and evening entertainment. Plus, there is a kids’ club and a free airport shuttle service.

Staten Island

The “borough of parks” is known for its expansive green spaces and cultural scene, including numerous museums. Staten Island is also home to our nation’s oldest free Black settlement, Sandy Ground. According to, Sandy Ground was once known as Harrisville, Africa, and Little Africa. In years gone by, Sandy Ground boosted lush strawberry fields, but that has been replaced with homes, including a few owned by descendants of the 1820s town.

Beyond this intriguing fact, another unique fact about Staten Island is that it is not connected to the other boroughs by subway. Instead, a ride on the ferry gets you there and allows you to enjoy a view of the New York skyline and the Statue of Liberty. On the island, you can trace the steps that members of the Wu-Tang Clan, hip-hop royalty, walked as kids. Today, the intersection of Vanderbilt Avenue and Targee Street is known as the Wu-Tang District. You could also visit Art Hall Way and pay tribute to a Black running pioneer. Art Hall often placed at the top of The New York Marathon in the 1970s and was posthumously inducted into the Staten Island Hall of Fame in 2015. Once you have sampled the sites, you might enjoy a bite at Black-owned, woman-owned Shaw-Nae’s House and sample sensational flavors like the visitor-approved sweet potato cornbread.

Where to stay: The Harbor House Bed & Breakfast is an attractive option for many visitors to Staten Island. The accommodations are different from most New York hotels. This bed & breakfast atmosphere feels like a beach house, boasting spacious rooms that look out on the water.

Have you visited New York? Would you like to? Do you have a favorite attraction or site? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Follow Article Topics: Culture-&-Style