10 Best Things To Do in Upper West Side NYC: Attractions To See and Fun Things to Do in Central Park

10 Best Things To Do in Upper West Side NYC: Attractions To See and Fun Things to Do in Central Park

Upper West Side NYC

Overview of Upper West Side NYC

The Upper West Side of New York City beckons visitors with its rich cultural offerings and picturesque residential charm. Renowned for its iconic brownstone-lined streets, this neighborhood is a cultural hub boasting world-class institutions like the American Museum of Natural History and Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts.

From the vibrant culinary scene on Amsterdam and Columbus Avenues to the tranquil beauty of Riverside Park along the Hudson River, the Upper West Side offers a delightful blend of sophistication and leisure. Its accessibility, cultural significance, and diverse attractions make it a must-visit destination for those seeking an authentic and enriching New York experience.

History and Significance of the Upper West Side

The Upper West Side holds a significant place in New York City’s history, marked by its architectural heritage, cultural institutions, and social significance. Originally developed in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the neighborhood’s iconic brownstones and pre-war buildings showcase a glimpse into the city’s historic architectural evolution.

Home to the American Museum of Natural History, founded in 1869, and the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, established in the 1960s, the Upper West Side has long been a hub for intellectual and artistic pursuits. Its rich literary history is also notable, with landmarks like the Dakota Building, where John Lennon lived and ultimately met his tragic end.

The Upper West Side’s role in shaping New York City’s cultural tapestry makes it a living testament to the city’s dynamic past and enduring cultural legacy.

Geographical Location of Upper West Side

The Upper West Side location is in the borough of Manhattan, New York City. Bounded by the Hudson River to the west, Central Park to the east, West 59th Street to the south, and West 110th Street to the north, this neighborhood encompasses a rectangular area along the western side of the island. Its geographical location places it in close proximity to iconic landmarks, including Central Park and the Hudson River, contributing to its scenic and desirable setting within the city.

Cultural Diversity in the Upper West Side

The Upper West Side of NYC is a vibrant tapestry of cultural diversity, reflected in its eclectic offerings. Renowned museums like the American Museum of Natural History and the New-York Historical Society showcase a wealth of global perspectives and historical insights.

Strolling along the streets, one can encounter a variety of street artists, adding a dynamic and ever-changing artistic flair to the neighborhood. Broadway theaters, such as the Beacon Theatre, provide a stage for world-class performances, contributing to the Upper West Side’s reputation as a cultural haven. With its mix of culinary delights, cultural institutions, and artistic expressions, the Upper West Side offers a rich and inclusive experience for residents and visitors alike.

Top Attractions in the Upper West Side

If you looking for the most fun experience when exploring the Upper West Side of Manhattan, we got you! There are a lot of things to do in the NYC neighborhood from exploring the west side Community garden to visiting the bars and restaurants in the area. This guide has you covered, so let’s get started.

Upper West Side is known for its popular attractions like the Lincoln Center and Natural History Museum. So, I suggest that you start your tour with the following must-see attractions.

1. Central Park: The Heart of Upper West Side


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Central Park stands as a crown jewel in the heart of Manhattan, making it one of the must-visit destinations on the Upper West Side. This expansive oasis offers a myriad of activities, from leisurely strolls through the iconic Bow Bridge to boat rides on the serene Central Park Lake.

The Great Lawn provides a vast green space for picnics and outdoor recreation, while the Bethesda Terrace and Fountain showcase stunning architectural beauty. With its zoo, playgrounds, and seasonal events, Central Park caters to a diverse range of interests, ensuring that it remains a beloved and dynamic escape within the bustling metropolis.

Here’s an overview of the variety of fun activities New Yorkers’ enjoy in this Upper West Side institution.

  • Take a Boat Ride on Central Park Lake: Row or pedal boat for a serene experience on the scenic lake.
  • Visit Bethesda Terrace and Fountain: Admire the architectural beauty and enjoy panoramic views of the park.
  • Explore the Central Park Zoo: Encounter a diverse array of wildlife in this family-friendly attraction.
  • Relax at the Great Lawn: Unwind on the vast green expanse, perfect for picnics and outdoor activities.
  • Stroll through The Ramble: Discover the winding paths and hidden landscapes of this wooded area.
  • Visit the Alice in Wonderland Statue: Delight in this whimsical sculpture, perfect for photo opportunities.
  • Attend Performances at Delacorte Theater: Enjoy free Shakespearean productions in a beautiful outdoor setting.
  • Skate at Wollman Rink (seasonal): Glide across the ice in the winter months for a classic NYC experience.
  • Visit the Conservatory Garden: Revel in the meticulously landscaped beauty of this formal garden.
  • Explore the Central Park Conservancy’s Literary Walk: Wander among statues of famous literary figures lining this tree-lined pathway.
  • See the Strawberry Fields: This is a memorial dedicated to British rock musician and peace activist John Lennon, located on the west of Central Park between 71st and 74th streets. 

2. American Museum of Natural History: A Must-Visit Museum

The American Museum of Natural History, situated on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, stands as the largest natural history museum in the world. Boasting an extensive and diverse collection, visitors can marvel at life-size dinosaur fossils, explore exhibits on human evolution, and encounter specimens from the Earth’s farthest reaches. The museum’s iconic halls, including the Hall of Ocean Life with its famed blue whale model, offer an immersive and educational experience, making it a captivating destination for individuals of all ages.

3. Lincoln Center: The Hub for Performing Arts


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Lincoln Center, synonymous with world-class performing arts, is a cultural hub in the heart of the Upper West Side. Renowned for its iconic modernist architecture, this complex is home to prestigious institutions like the Metropolitan Opera, the New York City Ballet, and the New York Philharmonic. Visitors can enjoy an array of performances ranging from opera and ballet to symphony concerts, making Lincoln Center a must-visit destination for those seeking a refined and diverse cultural experience in the heart of New York City.

Best Things To See,  When Exploring the Neighborhood

If you’re looking for a more fun adventure and ready to participate in the hustle and bustle of this neighborhood in Manhattan, then get ready because, in the next section, we present you with the best museum in NYC, the best place to go for shopping and dining, and more.

4. Columbus Circle: A Vibrant Hub for Shopping and Dining

Nestled at the southwest corner of Central Park in the Upper West Side, stands as a bustling and iconic intersection with multiple attractions. The towering Time Warner Center, with its upscale shops and dining options, makes it a shopping and culinary destination. The Circle also offers stunning views of Central Park and the surrounding cityscape, making it an ideal spot for relaxation and people-watching. With its vibrant energy, cultural significance, and proximity to Central Park, Columbus Circle is a must-visit location for both locals and tourists exploring the Upper West Side.

5. New-York Historical Society: Unraveling the History of UWS

This American history museum and library in New York City, along Central Park West between 76th and 77th Streets, on the Upper West Side of Manhattan was founded in 1804 as New York’s first museum. The Society is one of the oldest museums in the United States, enriching visitors with its deep-rooted connection to the city’s past.

This institution offers a diverse array of exhibits, artifacts, and documents that chronicle the history of New York City and the nation. From its vast collection of historical artifacts, including iconic Tiffany lamps and Thomas Cole’s renowned paintings, to rotating exhibits exploring various aspects of American history, the society provides an immersive journey through time. The Henry Luce III Center for the Study of American Culture further enhances the visitor experience, ensuring that the New-York Historical Society remains a vital resource for understanding and appreciating the rich tapestry of American history.

6. Beacon Theatre: Enjoying Live Performances


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The Beacon Theatre, a historic venue on the Upper West Side, is renowned for its iconic marquee and exceptional live performances. Hosting a diverse range of events, from concerts to comedy shows, the theatre boasts superb acoustics and an intimate ambiance. Its rich history is palpable in the ornate decor and architectural details, creating a unique setting for audiences. With a capacity of around 2,800, the Beacon Theatre offers an immersive experience for attendees, ensuring that every live performance is a memorable and intimate affair in the heart of New York City.

7. Grand Bazaar: The Best Flea Market in NYC


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Grand Bazaar, located on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, is not just a flea market; it’s a vibrant community hub that fosters support for local artisans and dealers. Providing affordable retail spaces for these entrepreneurs, the market serves as a platform for showcasing unique, handcrafted goods.

What sets Grand Bazaar apart is its commitment to social impact; the market channels a portion of its profits into funding enrichment programs and providing classroom essentials for public school children. With a mission to create original experiences and win-win opportunities for independent local merchants, consumers, partners, and the community. It embodies a dynamic blend of commerce and social responsibility in the heart of New York City. There you will find unique things for souvenirs, so you should not miss it when you are visiting New York City.

8. Levain Bakery: Try Its Famous Chip Cookie


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Levain Bakery, a renowned establishment on the Upper West Side, has gained fame for its irresistible chocolate chip walnut cookie and decadent dark chocolate peanut butter cookie. Tourists flock to this iconic bakery not only for its warm and gooey pastries but also for the sheer indulgence in the flavors that have become synonymous with Levain’s name.

The sheer size and satisfying texture of their cookies have elevated them to legendary status among dessert enthusiasts. With its commitment to using high-quality ingredients and the perfect blend of flavors, Levain Bakery offers a sweet treat that is not just a cookie but a delightful experience that visitors to the Upper West Side should undoubtedly savor. So, after visiting the UWS attractions, one of the best things to do is indulge in the best chocolate chip cookies in the neighborhood.

9: Zabar’s: Taste The Absolute Bagels


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Zabar’s, an iconic culinary institution on the Upper West Side, is celebrated for its gourmet offerings and has been a beloved destination since 1934. Renowned for its extensive selection of bagels, Zabar’s elevates this quintessential New York staple with a range of delectable spreads and toppings.

The smoked fish counter at Zabar’s is a standout, offering a diverse array of expertly cured and flavorful options. The store’s impressive olive bar and cheese selection further contribute to its reputation as a paradise for food enthusiasts seeking top-notch quality and variety. Zabar’s has become synonymous with a culinary journey through the finest New York flavors, making it a must-visit destination for New Yorkers and tourists alike.

10.  Jacob’s Pickles: The No. 1 Brunch Destination


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Jacob’s Pickles, nestled in the heart of the Upper West Side, is a beloved establishment celebrated for its Southern-inspired comfort food. Among their standout offerings, the best seller is undoubtedly their namesake pickles, which come in a variety of creative and mouthwatering flavors. The restaurant is particularly renowned for its indulgent brunch menu, featuring dishes like biscuits with sausage gravy, chicken and waffles, and, of course, their signature pickles. With its cozy atmosphere and dedication to hearty, flavorful fare, Jacob’s Pickles is a go-to spot for those seeking a satisfying and distinctive culinary experience.

Jacob Hadjigeorgis of Jacob’s Pickles also owns the Maison Pickle, which is known for its best-selling shrimp pillow dumplings.

Best Place To Stay on the Upper West Side

Discover the epitome of elegance and comfort in the heart of the Upper West Side by choosing the best place to stay in this iconic Manhattan neighborhood. With its prime location, sophisticated amenities, and a blend of classic charm and modern luxury, this accommodation promises an unparalleled experience for those seeking the perfect retreat in New York City.

Here are some of the recommended places to stay in New York, if you’re in the Upper West Side and looking for a hotel in NYC.

  • The Lucerne Hotel: A classic choice, The Lucerne Hotel boasts timeless architecture and upscale amenities, providing a sophisticated stay in the heart of the Upper West Side.
  • Hotel Beacon: With spacious suites featuring kitchenettes, Hotel Beacon offers a home-away-from-home experience, conveniently located near Central Park and the Beacon Theatre.
  • The Excelsior Hotel: This historic gem combines Old World charm with modern comforts, offering guests a refined stay near the American Museum of Natural History and Central Park.
  • The Belnord Hotel: A budget-friendly option, The Belnord Hotel provides cozy accommodations with a touch of historic appeal, making it an ideal choice for those seeking affordability without compromising comfort.
  • The NYLO Hotel: Known for its chic design and vibrant atmosphere, The NYLO Hotel offers a contemporary experience with panoramic views of the city skyline, ensuring a stylish and memorable stay.

Choosing the Ideal Accommodation on the UWS

Upper West Side is one of the best neighborhoods in New York. You have a lot of options in the area. So to help you decide where to stay, here are some tips.

  • Location Proximity: Look for accommodations close to Central Park, cultural institutions like the American Museum of Natural History, and convenient access to public transportation to make the most of your Upper West Side experience.
  • Amenities and Comfort: Prioritize hotels that offer a mix of modern amenities and comfort, ensuring a relaxing stay in the midst of the vibrant city. Look for features like spacious rooms, complimentary services, and a welcoming atmosphere.
  • Budget Considerations: While exploring upscale options, also consider budget-friendly choices like boutique hotels or guesthouses that provide a comfortable stay without breaking the bank.
  • Local Dining Options: Choose accommodation near diverse dining options to savor the culinary delights of the Upper West Side, from classic diners to upscale restaurants, ensuring a variety of culinary experiences at your doorstep.
  • Neighborhood Vibes: Research the neighborhood vibes and choose an accommodation that aligns with your preferences, whether it’s the historic charm of brownstone-lined streets or the dynamic energy of bustling avenues, to tailor your stay to your personal tastes.

Wrap Up

Upper West Side has a lot of things to offer for both locals and tourists. It’s one of the best neighborhoods in New York City with the best parks, eateries, museums, attractions and more. If you are looking for the best things to do in NYC, don’t miss seeing this neighborhood because it will make your visit to the Big Apple more fun and unforgettable!

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