The Cast of 'In the Heights' Shares Their Favorite Neighborhoods in America

Lin-Manuel Miranda, Jimmy Smits and Olga Merediz reflect on places they've called home

"What's your favorite neighborhood in America?"

To the cast of In the Heights, there is of course the obvious answer of Washington Heights in New York City. Communities mattered more than ever this year, and In the Heights is creator Lin-Manuel Miranda's love letter to his.

"It's an insanely picturesque point in Manhattan," the 41-year-old says of the place he still lives with his wife and two sons, the inspiration for his Broadway show turned movie. "I love it so much."

But the stars' answers go beyond as they talk up some of their favorite cities in honor of PEOPLE's latest issue on 100 Reasons to Love America.

"One of my favorites is the French Quarter in New Orleans, Louisiana," says Olga Merediz, 65. "New Orleans is a mixture of French, Spanish, Black, Creole and American cultures, in the food and the music. There's amazing restaurants. It's a real combination of cultures and it's steeped in history. And it's really beautiful, too."

RELATED PHOTOS: Sneak a Peek at PEOPLE's 100 Reasons to Love America in 2021

Jimmy Smits, 65, give a shout-out to his adopted hometown of Los Angeles, but can't discount his "hood," Brooklyn. "Just going to see the Brooklyn Bridge and seeing Manhattan's skyline over that bridge just brings back a lot of memories to me," he says. "It makes me think about dreams and blessings that have been realized."

And Gregory Diaz IV, 16, gives a hopeful take on a neighborhood that will once again be bustling when it opens in September: New York City's Theater District.

"It's just so vibrant and there's so much going on," he says. "People are going into their shows and they're hyped and you hear the buzz of them talking about what they're going to expect. And then you see them walk out of their shows and everyone's super excited because they just saw this amazing play or this amazing performance."

Catch In the Heights in theaters and on HBO Max now. And pick up PEOPLE's issue on 100 Reasons to Love America on newsstands.

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