NYC Guide

Things to do in Morningside Heights, NYC (Columbia area)

Morningside Heights is a neighborhood on the West Side of Upper Manhattan in New York City. Columbia University is located there – but there are so many other activities in the area! So, either you live in the city or if you are visiting and looking for not obvious things to do, Morningside Heights can be a great choice!

Columbia University was founded in 1754 and is the oldest higher education institution in the state of New York and the fifth oldest in the United States and is ranked among the best universities in the country. The campus is huge but undoubtedly the most famous spots of Columbia are the Low Library, where is the Alma Mater statue, and the Butler Library. There are interactive maps that help you to locate on campus. Columbia offers “self-guided tours” for those who want to explore the facilities of the university. Simply pick up the materials at the Visitors Center, which is open Monday to Friday from 9 am to 5 pm. But remember that to enter the buildings you must have a university ID – only the Low Library is open to the public. You should also visit the Barnes & Noble location, featuring a lot of university merchandise like sweatshirts, t-shirts, and notebooks.

Address: 116th St & Broadway.

Cathedral of Saint John the Divine – when it comes to churches in New York, I bet most people only remember St Patrick Cathedral, located on Fifth Avenue. The truth is that the city is full of churches, with beautiful architecture. This one is really impressive. First,  because it is huge, taking an entire block. The contrast of Gothic architecture with the buildings around is fantastic. With 121,000 sq ft, this cathedral disputes with Liverpool Anglican Cathedral the title of “largest Anglican church in the world.” It is also the fourth largest church in the world, with 600 ft long and 230 ft high (the highest point). Designed in 1888 and started in 1892, the cathedral has undergone profound aesthetic changes and went through a period of standstill in the period of the World Wars. In December 2001, a fire interdicted the cathedral for repairs and it was only reopened in 2008. It was the most amazing cathedral I have ever visited, it’s impossible not to be a little shocked. The cathedral accepts donations – it was not clear to me whether it is mandatory to make a donation to enter, but you pay as you wish. The place is open every day from 7:30 am to 6 pm. There are also paid guided tours,  you can check here.

Address:  1047 Amsterdam Ave. 

Riverside Church – Riverside Church it is modeled after the 13th Century gothic cathedral in Chartres, France. The gothic tower stands as a beacon to the world. The Riverside Church is located at one of the highest points of New York City, overlooking the Hudson River and 122nd Street. It is 100 feet wide and covers two city blocks. Construction began in 1927 with the first service held on October 5, 1930. The Nave seats nearly 2,000 worshipers. The 20-floor tower, rising to a height of 392 feet, contains offices, meeting rooms, and the 74-bell Laura Spelman Rockefeller Memorial Carillon. The Carillon’s 20-ton Bourdon bell is the largest turned bell in the world. The smallest bell in our Carillon weighs 10 pounds. It is the kind of place that you get in and say: WOW! So beautiful! It opens from 9 am to 5 pm.

Address: 490 Riverside Dr.

Parks –  New York City has a lot of parks, and this area is no different. Morning Side Park is a smaller park, located from West 110th to West 123rd Street, and between Manhattan Avenue, Morningside Avenue, and Morningside Dr. It is one of four historic parks in Harlem and has monuments, a recreation area, a lake, and even a waterfall. Another amazing park and is Riverside Park. As its name suggests, it is on the edge of the Hudson River, which provides beautiful views.  Sunset is particularly special! Among the attractions, there are bike paths, monuments, and statues as well as public courts designed to practice sports such as baseball, volleyball, basketball, and tennis. Another highlight is Cherry Walk, a continuous four-mile-long path along the Hudson River from 72nd to 158th Street. It’s amazing to walk through this path!

Address: see the map.

General Grant National Memorial – The final resting place of President Ulysses S. Grant and his wife, Julia, is the largest mausoleum in North America. It testifies to a people’s gratitude for the man who ended the bloodiest conflict in American history as Commanding General of the Union Army and then, as President of the United States, strove to heal a nation after a civil war and make rights for all citizens a reality. The architecture is wonderful, inside and out. The area is quiet and there is a gigantic patio with trees.  It reminds me of some monuments in Washington DC. It opens from Wednesday to Sunday, from 10 to 5 pm. There is a Visitor Center across the street, where you can watch a video about the history of the Civil War.

Address: W 122nd St & Riverside Dr. 


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Pisticci – it is an Italian restaurant, a great option for lunch or dinner in the area. When it was opened in 2002, the goal was simple: create a neighborhood restaurant, the type people enjoyed going to. Later, they stopped looking at Pisticci as only a restaurant but as a place for a change. They started profit sharing with the employees, set up flextime so they control their own hours and respect their goals.  In addition, it is a Green Certified Restaurant and also uses renewable energy. Pisticci also has its own urban farm, Pisticci Full Circle Farm, without the use of chemical inputs or heavy machinery. The inputs are derived from organic matter from the restaurant and grow by sustaining strict organic principles. Organic matter is derived from scraps of food, napkins, and all paper products. Obviously, the highlights here are the pasta, whose price ranges from $10 to $16, depending on your choice.  One of the best pasta I’ve eaten here in New York City. Also, the service of the restaurant is great and the atmosphere is also a cutie. The region where it is located is super charming.

Address: 125 La Salle Street. 


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The Hungarian Pastry Shop – this is a classic spot in the area – and it has fed generations of authors and students. The place has no Wi-Fi, and the lighting is not perfect, but you can get coffee refills for free. Also, pastries include croissants & Eastern European treats.

Address: 1030 Amsterdam Ave.


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Finally, I could not forget this suggestion: Levain Bakery, famous for the delicious cookies – some people say they are the best in the city – also has a location in the region. Cookies are huge (you can share), with a crunchy crust on the outside, soft inside, freshly baked, warm! No doubt it’s a great way to end this tour. Moreover, this address usually has far fewer lines than the location at 74th St. Ah, cookies cost $ 3.50, on average.

Address: 2167 Frederick Douglass Blvd.

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