Bedford-Stuyvesant is the cultural heart of Brooklyn's African American population – it's where the Notorious BIG grew up and film director Spike Lee shot Do the Right Thing – and has one of NYC's largest African American populations by neighborhood. It sprawls across north-central Brooklyn between Flushing and Atlantic Aves and incorporates everything from picturesque row houses to bleak public-housing projects.

The nationally registered Stuyvesant Heights Historic District is located near Bed-Stuy’s southern limits, stretching from around Tompkins Ave (west) to Malcolm X Blvd (east) and from Macon and Halsey Sts (north) to Fulton St (south). It vies with Brooklyn Heights and Park Slope for beautiful streets lined with gorgeous late-19th-century brownstones, as well as a few freestanding houses left over from the 1860s and '70s, such as the Italianate Akwaaba Mansion Inn. Take the A or C train to Utica Ave to get to Stuyvesant Ave.

Parts of these neighborhoods bordering Bushwick and East New York – namely Brownsville and Ocean Hill – can get sketchy. If you're keen on urban-adventuring, ask some locals before setting out.