Who could fail to recognize the American Museum of Natural History’s larger-than-life blue whale, the beckoning lights of Lincoln Center, or historic city architecture? What’s more, who could recognize these Upper West Side attractions and still resist the neighborhood’s pull? Here are 11 reasons to see the Upper West Side for yourself.
American Museum of Natural History
Natural History Museum
Milstein Hall of Ocean Life | © Image courtesy of American Museum of Natural History
Upscale dining options
Satisfy upscale appetites at one of the area’s high-end eateries. At the three Michelin-starred Per Se, an award-winning wine list featuring over 2,000 bottles is served alongside neighborhood-inspired plates, such as pumpernickel blinis with beet “tartare” and white sturgeon caviar. Meanwhile, at Jean-Georges (another recipient of three Michelin stars), fine fusion cuisine is what’s on the menu.
Per Se, Time Warner Center, 10 Columbus Cir, New York, NY, USA, +1 212 823 9335
Jean-Georges, 1 Central Park West, New York, NY, USA, +1 212 299 3900
Offering up-close vistas of New York’s famous Hudson River, Riverside Park boasts the honor of being “Manhattan’s most spectacular waterfront park.” The 86-block stretch hosts cafés, running paths, art installations, numerous outdoor sports facilities, and more. Explore the offerings of this urban oasis (including the West 91st Street promenade as seen in beloved New York City film You’ve Got Mail), and you’ll understand why Riverside Park is one of the city’s eight official scenic landmarks.
Riverside Park, New York, NY, USA, +1 212 870 3070
Since opening its doors in 1929, the Beacon Theatre has hosted talents such as Michael Jackson, the Rolling Stones, and Broadway’s Tony Awards. As if these performances weren’t enough, the theater boasts a breathtaking Art Deco design that makes even intermissions memorable. Today, the nearly 90-year-old music hall is still going strong, with all-stars including Pat Benatar and Ringo Starr gracing its stage.
Beacon Theater, 2124 Broadway, New York, NY, USA, +1 212 465 6500
It’s home to the best Jewish cuisine
For its bagel-and-lox, pastrami, and smoked fish needs, New York turns to the Upper West Side’s Barney Greengrass and Zabar’s. Not much has changed since the spots opened their doors in 1908 and 1934 respectively, and that’s just how locals like it. Whether you’re looking to cater Seder dinner or enjoy classic home cooking in public, this neighborhood will satisfy your wish—and your cravings.
Barney Greengrass, 541 Amsterdam Ave, New York, NY, USA, +1 211 724 4707
Zabar’s, 2245 Broadway, New York, NY, USA, +1 212 787 2000
Explore under-the-radar museums
Think AMNH owns the area? These Upper West Side institutions invite you to think again. At the Children’s Museum of Manhattan, kids-friendly culture is what’s on the program. Meanwhile, the nearby American Folk Art Museum showcases the work of the nation’s top self-taught artists.
Children’s Museum of Manhattan, 212 W 83rd St, New York, NY, USA, +1 212 721 1223
American Folk Art Museum, 2 Lincoln Square, New York, NY, USA, +1 212 595 9533
In a city full of bakeries, one Upper West Side establishment has earned over 5,400 Yelp reviews. One bite of the cult-favorite offerings at Levain Bakery will tell you why. The hot spot’s crispy on the outside, gooey on the inside cookies, which come in chocolate chip, dark chocolate-peanut butter, and oatmeal raisin varieties, may just be better than how Mom used to make. (Sorry, Mom).
Levain Bakery, 167 W 74th St, New York, NY, USA, +1 212 874 6080
It’s home to New York and American history
It makes sense that an institution dedicated to exploring history happens to be New York City’s oldest museum. Since 1804, New-York Historical Society has committed itself to “making history matter.” Through its collection of over 1.6 million artworks, 500,000 photographs, and timely exhibitions such as Alexander Hamilton: The Man Who Made Modern America, the museum and library succeed in making the past pertinent.
New-York Historical Society, 170 Central Park West, New York, NY, USA, +1 212 873 3400
To admire historic architecture
There’s a reason the Upper West Side is the dwelling of choice for so many New York television icons, such as Seinfeld’s Jerry Seinfeld and 30 Rock’s Liz Lemon. Contemporary contractors haven’t gotten their hands on this neighborhood, which retains the charm of Old New York. On the area’s multiple landmarked stretches, you’ll find the historic Eldorado and the Dakota apartments, charming row houses, and Art Nouveau architecture.
A largely residential area, the Upper West Side boasts a quality missing from most Manhattan neighborhoods: a sense of community. Here, locals-only mainstays such as the beloved 79th Street Greenmarket and GreenFlea promote community pride on the Upper West Side.
79th Street Greenmarket, Columbus Ave, New York, NY, USA, +1 212 788 7476
GreenFlea, 100 W 77th St, New York, NY, USA, +1 212 239 3025