Any inhabitant of Manhattan should be jumping for joy, but Upper Manhattan residents are the most fortunate ones. Imagine an ever-friendly doorman welcoming you to a beautiful brownstone, Central Park as your backyard and world-class museums within walking distance. Take a sneak peak into this enviable life with below neighborhood guide to Upper Manhattan.
The gateway to the Upper West Side is Columbus Circle, a heavily trafficked roundabout in the Southwest corner of Central Park. Shopping is what draws hordes of tourists and locals to this area. The Shops at Columbus Circle is a popular mall housed in Time Warner Center. You’ll find some of the best holiday shopping in the elegant Columbus Circle Holiday Market. Top off the shopping experience with a cocktail and splendid view of the Circle and Central Park from the Mandarin Oriental‘s 35th floor Lobby Bar.
Fuel up: Magnolia Bakery‘s classic red velvet cupcake could be called the mother of all cupcakes. The bakery expanded from one West Village location to over twenty shops in NYC and beyond, helped by appearances in Sex and the City and The Devil Wears Prada.
Upper West Side
American Museum of Natural History
Wandering the impressive halls of the American Museum of Natural History brings thousands of years of natural history to life. It is easy to picture Ben Stiller’s vivid nights at the museum here. If you’re looking to relive the box office hit, there is self-guided Night at the Museum tour that takes you past the movie characters and exhibits. After your visit, head west to River Side Park for a scenic sunset over the Hudson River from the Boat Basin Cafe.
Fuel up: Calle Ocho‘s latin fare comes with bottomless sangria during weekend brunch. You can juggle between eight delicious varieties, four white and four red. Hands down my favorite brunch spot in the city.
Bike Tour of Central Park
Central Park is the city’s beating green heart. Spanning close to a thousand acres of land, the best way to explore Central Park is by bike. Relax at Sheep Meadow, run or walk around the Jackie Kennedy Onassis Reservoir and wander through the romantic Bethesda Terrace. There are several Citi Bike stops in Central Park, which allow you to never exceed the 30-minute limit of each ride.
Fuel up: Every summer, the Metropolitan Museum of Art opens up its rooftop terrace for cocktails amidst Central Park’s tree tops. Access to the Cantor Roof Garden Bar is included with a ticket to the museum.
Upper East Side
Metropolitan Museum of Art
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, nicknamed the Met, houses one of the world’s largest art collections. Displaying more than 5000 years of art from across the globe, you can easily spend a week at the Met. With its former pay-as-you-wish policy, this used to be an affordable affair. Unfortunately, this privilege is nowadays only reserved for New York state residents; out of state visitors pay $25. Just another reason why New Yorkers should be jumping for joy.
Fuel up: The Met Steps are almost as iconic as the museum itself, to Gossip Girl fans at least. This part of Museum Mile is usually lined with food carts. Grab a delicious Philly Cheesesteak and enjoy lunch at the Met Steps.
Game-day is classic USA, and New York City is no different. As most NFL games are played on Sundays, that’s when the fun happens. Bars broadcast a different game on each of their 10+ screens and lure people in with special deals. Residential Yorkville has many great neighborhood staples that fill up with local sports fans on Sunday afternoons. The Supply House is one of these, and has great Belgian beer as a bonus. Order some beers, wings and nachos and you’ll feel like a local in no time.
Fuel Up: Big Daddy‘s is a retro-style diner, serving classic American eats. With a full tater tots menu, a milkshake happy hour and candy-colored diner booths, Big Daddy’s can brighten up your worst day.
A masterwork both inside and out, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum is a must visit. The remarkable design by renowned architect Frank LLoyd Wright makes for a unique museum experience. You take the elevator to the upper level, to then spiral down past masterpieces from Picasso, Monet and Kandinsky. The Guggenheim has a relatively limited collection on display compared to other NYC museums, which allows you to savor every piece of art.
Fuel up: Variety Coffee Roasters is an excellent space to get some work done. While you do, the floor-to-ceiling windows make sure you don’t lose touch with the amazing reality of being in NYC.
Where Central Park stops at 110th Street, Morningside Park is ready to take over. A narrow strip stretching 13 blocks, it could be called Central Park’s baby brother. The park is situated on a cliff, which divides it into an upper and lower level. The upper level offers splendid views of Morningside Heights and Harlem.
Fuel up: Much of the park is adjacent to the prestigious Colombia University. The impressive campus is open to the public, and so is the coffee shop. Grab a coffee to accompany you on a morning stroll through Morningside Park.
Attending a Gospel worship is a unique experience, especially if you’re used to Christian masses where the volume rarely exceeds 50 decibels. Gospel is preaching, singing and dancing all at once, and can get pretty intense. Harlem is particularly famous to host many gospel churches and local churchgoers, although tourists often make up a large part of the attendees nowadays. The Bethel Gospel Assembly in Harlem holds a Sunday worship every Sunday morning at 10:15.
Fuel up: If you can’t get enough from the gospel, head to Red Rooster Harlem for their Sunday Gospel Brunch. There is live music and amazing soul food from chef Marcus Samuelsson. For Sunday dinner, live jazz is paired with creative Southern cooking.