10 Best Things to Do and See on the Upper East Side NYC: Discover UES of Manhattan

10 Best Things to Do and See on the Upper East Side NYC: Discover UES of Manhattan

the Upper East Side NYC

Introduction to Upper East Side NYC

Welcome to the Upper East Side, (UES), one of New York City’s most prestigious neighborhoods. Renowned for its upscale residences, luxury shopping, and world-class cultural institutions, the UES offers a refined and iconic experience in the bustling heart of Manhattan.

Overview of the Upper East Side

The Upper East Side is known for its affluence, elegance, and cultural richness, making it one of the most sought-after neighborhoods in New York City. Renowned for its luxurious residences, upscale shopping along Madison Avenue, and renowned art institutions such as The Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Guggenheim Museum, the UES offers a sophisticated and refined atmosphere.

The neighborhood’s iconic landmarks, including Central Park’s eastern stretches and the historic Park Avenue, contribute to its charm and desirability. With its upscale dining options, high-end boutiques, and proximity to cultural treasures, the Upper East Side stands as a premier destination for those seeking a blend of opulence and cultural sophistication in the heart of Manhattan.

The Upper East Side (UES) is widely regarded as one of the best neighborhoods in NYC for several reasons. Its historic charm, elegant brownstone-lined streets, and iconic landmarks contribute to a timeless and sophisticated atmosphere. Renowned museums such as The Metropolitan Museum of Art and cultural institutions like The Frick Collection add to the neighborhood’s allure.

With its upscale dining options, high-end shopping along Madison Avenue, and proximity to Central Park, the UES offers a combination of affluence, cultural richness, and recreational opportunities, making it a highly desirable and well-rounded residential and lifestyle destination in the city. Upper East Side is home to the wealthiest people in New York and offers opulent housing options and a lavish lifestyle.

Historical Background

The Upper East Side has a rich historical background that dates back to the late 19th century. Initially considered remote farmland, the area began to transform with the construction of mansions along Fifth Avenue during the Gilded Age.

Over the years, the neighborhood evolved into a residential haven for the city’s elite, attracting prominent families and leading to the construction of luxurious townhouses and apartments. The completion of Central Park in the mid-19th century further contributed to the area’s appeal.

Today, the Upper East Side stands as a historic and affluent district, reflecting a century-long journey from rural outskirts to an iconic and culturally significant neighborhood in the heart of New York City.

Significance of UES in NYC

UES holds immense significance in New York City as a symbol of affluence, cultural refinement, and architectural grandeur. Renowned for its historic mansions, luxury residences, and iconic museums, the UES has long been a preferred address for the city’s elite. Its cultural institutions, including The Met and the Guggenheim, contribute to the neighborhood’s status as a global hub for art and culture. The Upper East Side stands as a testament to New York City’s enduring legacy of wealth, sophistication, and cultural prominence.

Best Things To Do When Exploring the Neighborhood of the Upper East Side of Manhattan

Are you looking for the best things to do in NYC? If you are in New York and intend to stay on the Upper East Side here are some of the best places to see and visit. There are a lot of Upper East Side hidden gems that wait for you to discover them. use this page as your Upper East Side neighborhood guide as you explore the place the will surely captivate your heart.

1. Visit the Notable Museums in NYC Along Museum Mile

Museum Mile, located along Fifth Avenue in the Upper East Side, is a renowned stretch hosting seven world-class cultural institutions, making it one of the city’s finest collections of art, design, and culture. The institutions lining this iconic mile include The Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, the Cooper Hewitt, the Smithsonian Design Museum, and more. Each museum offers a distinct and rich perspective on art, history, and design, collectively providing visitors with an unparalleled cultural experience. Whether exploring the extensive exhibits of The Met or experiencing the modernist architectural masterpiece of the Guggenheim, Museum Mile stands as a cultural haven, offering a comprehensive journey through the diverse realms of human creativity and achievement.

Here’s a list of the museums along the Museum Mile:

2. See Frick Collection — One of Hidden Gems in UES

The Frick Collection is famous for housing one of the most exceptional private art collections in the world. Located in the former residence of industrialist Henry Clay Frick, the museum features an exquisite array of European paintings, sculptures, decorative arts, and antique furniture from the Renaissance through the late 19th century. Notable masterpieces include works by renowned artists such as Vermeer, Rembrandt, and Goya, displayed in a setting that preserves the ambiance of a grand mansion, creating a unique and intimate atmosphere for art enthusiasts and visitors alike. The Frick Collection is celebrated for its exceptional curation, providing an unparalleled glimpse into the opulent tastes and artistic discernment of its founder.

3. Explore Central Park


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It’s impossible to talk about our favorite places in the upper east side without mentioning Central Park. The park is a must-explore destination on the Upper East Side, offering a verdant escape in the heart of Manhattan. Its notable features include the iconic Bethesda Terrace, the tranquil Central Park Lake, and the picturesque Bow Bridge, providing a serene and picturesque backdrop for leisurely strolls or relaxing afternoons. The park is one of the best free things or places to explore when you are visiting or living in NYC.

It has expansive lawns, lush woodlands, and architectural landmarks, such as Belvedere Castle, offer a diverse range of experiences, from outdoor activities to cultural events. Among the things to do in Central Park are strolling through the Conservatory Garden, climbing up Bleverde Castle, and riding the carousel. As one of the best places on the Upper East Side, Central Park, an iconic NYC landmark, provides a respite from the urban hustle, inviting visitors to immerse themselves in nature, art, and recreational pursuits within this iconic urban oasis.

4. See East River Waterfront Esplanade


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The East River Waterfront Esplanade is one of the best things to visit. It’s approximately 9.44 miles along the East River. It offers one of the best views of the East River. This revitalized waterfront space along the East River Greenway provides a picturesque pathway for walking, jogging, or simply enjoying the stunning vistas of the river, Roosevelt Island, and the Queensboro Bridge.

Incorporating the esplanade into an Upper East Side itinerary offers a delightful combination of outdoor recreation and breathtaking views, providing a serene escape from the city’s hustle. Whether taking a leisurely stroll or including it as part of a larger exploration, the East River Waterfront Esplanade adds a touch of tranquility and natural beauty to the Upper East Side experience.

5. Relax at Carl Schurz Park


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Carl Schurz Park, nestled along the East River on the Upper East Side, is renowned for its picturesque setting giving you the best views in NYC and various attractions. One of the best features is Gracie Mansion, the official residence of the Mayor of New York City, situated within the park’s grounds. Visitors also enjoy the well-maintained gardens, playgrounds, and scenic pathways offering stunning views of the river and the nearby Roosevelt Island. The park’s serene atmosphere and diverse amenities make it a favorite destination for both locals and visitors seeking a peaceful retreat in the heart of the city.

6. Visit Guggenheim Museum

The Guggenheim Museum stands as one of the most iconic buildings in New York, renowned for its distinctive spiral design created by architect Frank Lloyd Wright. This architectural masterpiece not only houses a world-class collection of modern and contemporary art but also provides a unique exhibition experience with its spiraling ramp gallery.

The museum’s cylindrical form, often referred to as the “temple of the spirit,” showcases a diverse array of artworks as visitors ascend or descend the spiral, creating a dynamic and engaging encounter with the exhibits. The Guggenheim’s architectural significance, combined with its impressive art collection, makes it a must-visit destination for art enthusiasts and architecture aficionados alike.

7. Explore Roosevelt Island

Roosevelt Island, nestled in the East River between Manhattan and Queens, offers a unique escape from the bustling streets of New York City. Accessible by the iconic Roosevelt Island Tramway or the subway, the island boasts scenic parks, historical landmarks like the Smallpox Hospital, and the iconic Franklin D. Roosevelt Four Freedoms Park. The area is renowned for the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Guggenheim Museum, Central Park, and Madison Avenue’s upscale shopping, making it a cultural and leisure haven just a stone’s throw away from Roosevelt Island. This is one of my favorite Upper East Side attractions!

8.  Dine at Lexington Candy Shop

Lexington Candy Shop, a nostalgic gem on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, has been a local institution since 1925. Known for its timeless charm and classic diner atmosphere, the menu boasts an array of delectable treats. Indulge in their signature milkshakes, hand-spun to perfection, or savor the refreshing taste of old-fashioned lemonades. The iconic egg creams, club sandwiches, and tuna melts are crafted with precision, embodying the essence of traditional American diner fare.

For breakfast enthusiasts, it serves up a delightful selection of omelettes, from classic to creative, alongside perfectly golden toasts and fluffy pancakes. One of the shop’s unique charms is its dedication to making Coca Cola the old-fashioned way, harking back to a bygone era of soda fountain craftsmanship. Step into this vintage haven, where each dish tells a story of the timeless culinary heritage that has made Lexington Candy Shop a cherished destination for generations. It’s one of the best restaurants on the Upper East.

9. Visit Neue Galeri New York

Neue Galerie New York, nestled on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan, stands as a cultural treasure dedicated to early 20th-century German and Austrian art and design. The museum’s collection showcases iconic works from luminaries such as Gustav Klimt, Egon Schiele, and Otto Dix, encapsulating the dynamic and transformative period of Central European creativity. Notable masterpieces like Klimt’s “Adele Bloch-Bauer I” and Schiele’s haunting self-portraits are displayed within the museum’s ornate setting, offering a profound immersion into the aesthetics of the Wiener Werkstätte movement.

Its commitment to the era extends beyond paintings, featuring exquisite examples of decorative arts, including the renowned “Goldman Collection” of German and Austrian silverware. The museum is dedicated to preserving and celebrating this cultural epoch while allowing visitors to delve into its rich tapestry and artistic brilliance.

10. Stroll Lexington Avenue


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Lexington Avenue, a bustling thoroughfare in New York City, stretches through diverse neighborhoods, offering a vibrant mix of cultural experiences. As it intersects with East 125th Street in Harlem, visitors encounter a dynamic fusion of history and contemporary charm.

The area is renowned for unique and affordable shopping, with an array of boutiques and markets showcasing local craftsmanship and international influences. From trendy fashion finds to eclectic home decor, the retail scene on Lexington Avenue and East 125th Street provides a distinctive and accessible shopping experience, inviting both locals and visitors to explore the diverse offerings of this dynamic neighborhood.

Cultural Attractions in UES

The Upper East Side (UES) of New York City is a haven for cultural enthusiasts, boasting an array of world-class attractions. The Metropolitan Museum of Art stands as a crown jewel, showcasing an extensive collection spanning millennia. Nearby, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum’s iconic spiral architecture is a testament to modern art innovation. The Frick Collection, housed in a Gilded Age mansion, offers an intimate encounter with European masterpieces, making the UES a cultural epicenter for art connoisseurs.

Art and History at The Met

At The Metropolitan Museum of Art, visitors embark on a captivating journey through the corridors of art and history. The museum’s vast collection spans diverse cultures and epochs, presenting a comprehensive narrative of human creativity. From ancient artifacts to contemporary masterpieces, The Met’s rich tapestry of exhibits ensures a profound exploration of art and history for every enthusiast.

Entertainment and Events

The Upper East Side of Manhattan adds a touch of sophistication to the city’s entertainment scene with its upscale cultural offerings. Renowned venues like The Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Guggenheim Museum frequently host exclusive events, from elegant galas to art exhibitions. The fun Upper East Side neighborhood’s charm extends to upscale bars, fine dining, and boutique theaters, creating an intimate yet refined atmosphere for entertainment in this iconic New York City district.

Dining and Relaxation

The neighborhood also offers a delectable array of dining options, with some of the best burgers found at renowned spots like J.G. Melon and the Burger Joint at Le Parker Meridien. For those with a sweet tooth, Levain Bakery is a must-visit, known for its giant, gooey cookies that have become iconic in the neighborhood. They serve one of the best cookies in town. The combination of exquisite dining and laid-back establishments ensures that the Upper East Side is not only a culinary delight but also a haven for relaxation and indulgence.

Cafes and Restaurants

Here are some of the best restaurants and cafes in the neighborhood that wills surely keep you full after you visit the top attractions we recommend above.

  • J.G. Melon: A classic American bar and grill, J.G. Melon is an Upper East Side institution famous for its exceptional burgers, casual ambiance, and timeless appeal.
  • Sarabeth’s: Known for its charming decor and delectable brunch options, Sarabeth’s is a beloved spot where Upper East Siders indulge in signature dishes like their famous fluffy pancakes and velvety scrambled eggs.
  • Cafe Boulud: Helmed by renowned chef Daniel Boulud, Cafe Boulud offers an elegant French-American dining experience, combining exquisite flavors with a sophisticated atmosphere.
  • Pastrami Queen: A New York delicatessen icon, Pastrami Queen on the Upper East Side serves up mouthwatering pastrami sandwiches, matzo ball soup, and other classic Jewish deli fare in a nostalgic setting.
  • Lady M Cake Boutique: For those with a sweet tooth, Lady M is a pastry haven offering an array of decadent cakes and pastries, including their famous Mille Crêpes, in a chic and inviting setting.

Best Places to Stay on the Upper East: Accommodation and NYC Travel Tips

If you plan to stay for a couple of days in the neighborhood and you’re looking for a place to stay in NYC’s Upper East Side, you’ll find a lot of options from luxury hotels to boutique hotels. In fact, this New York neighborhood has the best hotels on the Upper Manhattan.

Best Places to Stay in UES

The Upper East Side of Manhattan offers a luxurious and refined setting for visitors, and choosing the right place to stay is crucial for an elevated New York City experience. From elegant boutique hotels to iconic establishments with unparalleled views of Central Park, the Upper East Side boasts a selection of accommodations that combine comfort, style, and proximity to some of the city’s finest attractions.

Here are some of the best hotels in the Upper East Side that New Yorkers and tourists approved.

  • The Surrey: An upscale boutique hotel that exudes timeless elegance with its stylish rooms and suites, exceptional service, and a rooftop garden offering breathtaking views of the Manhattan skyline.
  • The Carlyle, A Rosewood Hotel: A classic icon on the Upper East Side, synonymous with sophistication and luxury. Its opulent Art Deco design, high-profile clientele, and the legendary Café Carlyle make it a quintessential New York experience. It’s one of the most popular hotels on the Upper East where celebrities and royalties love to stay.
  • The Mark: With its sleek and modern design, The Mark stands out as a contemporary gem in the neighborhood. This five-star hotel offers a combination of cutting-edge amenities, chic interiors, and a prime location near Central Park.
  • The Pierre, A Taj Hotel: Overlooking Central Park, The Pierre combines old-world charm with modern luxury. This iconic hotel, with its rich history and elegant accommodations, promises a refined and indulgent stay on the Upper East Side.
  • The Plaza Hotel: A symbol of grandeur and a historic landmark offering a palatial experience. From its opulent rooms to the renowned Palm Court for afternoon tea, The Plaza exudes a timeless allure at the heart of the Upper East Side.

Traveling Around UES

Here are some tips to have a smooth and more enjoyable experience while navigating Upper East Side’s top attractions. Exploring Midtown and Lower Manhattan is a fun thing, especially if you immerse yourself in UES, so take in mind the following tips.

  • Cultural Exploration: Take advantage of Museum Mile, a stretch along Fifth Avenue that houses some of the world’s most renowned museums. Plan your visit to iconic institutions like The Met and the Guggenheim for a comprehensive cultural experience.
  • Upscale Shopping: Madison Avenue is a shopper’s paradise with high-end boutiques and designer stores. Budget accordingly for indulging in luxury retail therapy along this famous avenue.
  • Central Park Escapade: Allocate time for a leisurely stroll or bike ride in Central Park. The park offers a refreshing break from the urban hustle and bustle and is a picturesque oasis in the heart of the city.
  • Transportation from New York: For a scenic and efficient journey from New York to the Upper East Side, consider taking the NYC Ferry. This waterway transport not only provides a unique perspective of the city but also offers a convenient and enjoyable alternative to traditional modes of transportation. But you can also reach UES from New York City by subway, bus, taxi or on foot.
  • Dining Diversity: Explore the diverse culinary scene, from iconic delis to upscale restaurants. Don’t miss out on local favorites and hidden gems that cater to various tastes and preferences.

Map Guide for Exploring UES

Navigating the Upper East Side of Manhattan is made seamless with a map guide that unlocks the neighborhood’s treasures. Begin your exploration by strolling along Museum Mile, home to iconic cultural institutions like The Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Guggenheim Museum. Delve into the upscale boutiques on Madison Avenue, savor culinary delights at renowned restaurants, and take a leisurely walk through the scenic Central Park.

You can use this interactive map of the best things in UES. A well-curated map guide ensures you uncover the charm and sophistication of the Upper East Side, offering a tailored experience for every explorer.

Wrap Up

Exploring the Upper East Side of Manhattan promises a journey filled with cultural richness, upscale indulgence, and scenic beauty. From world-class museums to high-end shopping and leisurely Central Park strolls, the experience is bound to be both fun and unforgettable. The neighborhood’s unique blend of sophistication and charm ensures that every moment spent in this iconic enclave becomes a cherished memory in the vibrant tapestry of New York City.

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