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A guide to the Upper West Side in New York City

Seeing the daily life of the locals, walking the streets enjoying the architecture and discovering new spots is, at least for me, one of the most enjoyable things to do here in New York City. The Upper West Side is an area visited by tourists – mostly because of the Natural History Museum. But there is so much more than the famous museum to be explored and today I share with you a guide to help you with that!

Museums

The Upper West Side has many more cultural attractions than the classic American Museum of Natural History, but since we’re talking about it, it is worth saying that it’s one of the city’s most famous tourist attractions: four million visitors a year. The collection has about 32 million copies that tell the history of plants and animals on the planet. Remember that although the suggested ticket is $25 not everyone knows that you can pay as you wish, any day of the week. To buy your ticket like this, you need to go to the cashier. But be aware that you will not have access to special exhibits. Another tip: If you want to avoid the long lines, skip the main entrance (from 79) and opt for the entrance at 81!

Address: Central Park West at 79th Street. Open every day, from 10 am to 5h45pm.

Another museum is worth mentioning is New-York Historical Society, which is nothing more than New York City’s oldest museum and home to some beloved works of art from the city and country, including those by Thomas Cole, Rembrandt Peale and Gilbert Stuart, as well as all of John James Audubon’s 435 existing watercolors for Birds of America. Worth keeping an eye on the website to check out the temporary exhibitions – a while ago, they even had one about Harry Potter! The ticket costs $21 – but on Fridays, from 6 pm to 8 pm, you pay as you wish.

Address: 170 Central Park West. Open from Tuesday to Sunday, from 10 am to 6 pm; Fridays, until 8 pm; Sundays, until 5 pm.

With five fabulous floors of fun, Children’s Museum of Manhattan houses exhibits that help kids ages six and under learning about the culture, history, and science. Over 350,000 people visit the place every year. Some of the exhibitions: EatSleepPlay™: Building Health Everyday exhibit and experience interactive ways for families to create a healthier lifestyle together; Adventures with Dora & Diego, a series of high stakes animal rescue missions, that help to learn facts about animals and their habitats; PlayWorks, to help families prepare children to enter school ready to learn and grow. As children explore PlayWorks and participate in free, daily, drop-in Art Lab programs, they build their physical, social, math, art, science, literacy and problem-solving abilities—as well as the self-confidence, independence and awareness necessary for them to become life-long learners. Visitors can enjoy more than 80 workshops, classes, and performances free with admission to the Museum each week.

Address: 212 West 83rd Street. Admission $14 (free for children under 12 months). Free every first Friday of the month starting at 5 pm. 

Entertainment

If the idea is entertainment, you should know that New York City goes beyond Broadway musicals. And on the Upper West Side is one of the city’s most important institutions: the Lincoln Center, which is no less than home to twelve artistic companies, including the Jazz at Lincoln Center, the Metropolitan Opera, the New York City Ballet and the New York Philharmonic. The schedule is intense – check ou the calendar of events. And remember: many performances are cheaper than a Broadway show, for example. Also, it is worth walk by the complex building to appreciate the architecture and take photos, it is beautiful!

Address: Lincoln Center Plaza.

Upper West Side is also home to Symphony Space, a performing arts center that hosts musical and dance performances, literary talks, and is home to the popular storytelling radio show, “Selected Shorts.” You can also grab a drink before a performance at Bar Thalia. Check out the events calendar!

Address: 2537 Broadway at 95th St.

If you like to attend a music concert, remember that the options in the city are not restricted to Madison Square Garden and Barclays Center. Beacon Theater is a historic theater, has three floors and 2,894 seats. It was designed by Chicago architect Walter W. Ahlschlager and opened in 1929. Check out the calendar!

Address: 2124 Broadway.

Last but not least, another really cool thing to do in New York is to go to a comedy show! It’s part of the soul of the city! The West Side Comedy Club is in the basement of Playa Betty’s Mexican restaurant and is run by a couple who met while working together at Caroline’s Comedy Club in the early 1990s. Check out the calendar!

Address: 201 W. 75th St.

Eating

Upper West Side has amazing restaurants. In a lot of areas, you will walk the streets and find a restaurant next to another. Many times, I like to read the menus, see if it pleases me and we enter without thinking about it. But here are some suggestions:

 

 

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    • Playa Betty’s – This place serves California-style Beach Food, with a Mexican influence. The tacos are the specialty here, with choices based on meat, fish, pork, chicken and even vegetarian. Each taco costs, on average, from $4 to $5. The tacos have a great size and I would say three tacos are enough to get you satisfied. And there’s more: on Tuesdays, at Taco Tuesday, the promotional price of the tacos is $3 each! Address: 320 Amsterdam Ave. 

 

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    • Cafe Lalo –famous spot from the movie You’ve Got Mail. It serves brunch and also the delights you expect from a bakery such as pies, sandwiches, and everything. The environment is cute. It’s worth it for that afternoon break to recharge your energies. Address: 201 W 83rd St.

     

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  • Boulud Sud –With a fancy atmosphere, it serves Mediterranean food. Everything we ate was so well prepared: from the presentation to the aroma to the taste of the dishes. We were impressed. The menu includes plates like hummus and dishes with lamb and fish. The price-fix deal (appetizer and main dish) is $29. They also have a price-fix dinner menu from 5 pm to 7 pm for $ 65, including appetizer, main, and dessert – a very good price for the quality of the food and the environment of the restaurant. If you like Mediterranean food, be sure to try it.  Address: 20 W 64th St.

 

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  • Levain Bakery – It is the most famous cookie in New York. Levain Bakery was founded in 1994 by Connie McDonald and Pam Weekes. While training for Ironman, they started a conversation about making the best chocolate cookie in the world. Today, the place is famous for its cookie – and for the long lines. The most famous flavor is walnut chocolate chip – with a lot, a lot of chocolate. It comes warm, with the serious risk of making you smear with melted chocolate. Crunchy on the outside, soft on the inside. Other flavors: Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Chip, Oatmeal and Dark Chocolate Chip. Each cookie costs $4 on average. Watch out for the golden tip! Levain’s most famous address is at 167 West 74th St and as famous as the address is the line! A few minutes walk away, there is another location, without lines: 351 Amsterdam Avenue.

Shopping

 

Did you like my suggestions? Any other interesting place in the Upper West Side? 

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