The Upper West Side is a quaint residential neighborhood in Manhattan, but its quintessential New York ambiance has been captured in shows and movies such as Only Murders in the Building, Seinfeld, West Side Story, and more, where the brownstones and storefronts make for the perfect “rainy day in New York” footage, or add a perfect touch of mystery and romance.
Take a trip up to the west side and venture amongst the famous sights and bites for yourself! Here are 26 things we recommend doing on The Upper West Side:
1. 5 Napkin Burger
5 Napkin Burger serves up premium, deluxe burgers offered with toppings such as truffle, avocado ranch, buffalo chicken, and more. If you’re looking to elevate your burger experience, try out this burger joint, but not without tasting one of their milkshakes, which have the option of being boozed up.
Where: 2315 Broadway
2. Maison Pickle
Maison Pickle earned buzz on social media for its visually appealing food that makes your mouth instantly salivate. Their pull apart garlic and parmesan bread, French dip, moules-frites (mussels and fries), and other French delicacies makes this one of the most sought-after establishments currently.
Located more towards the Morningside Heights neighborhood, Seinfeld fans are well acquainted with this coffee shop and restaurant. Beyond its value as TV-show memorabilia, Tom’s offers classic American diner food, making it a location worth visiting for both the nostalgia and a good meal.
Hibachi lovers can make their way to Flame, a Japanese restaurant serving contemporary Asian dishes, sushi (classic and sashimi) and classic hibachi that of course, is cooked in front of you.
📍100 W 82nd Street
5. The Milling Room
The Milling Room is a deluxe Italian-American restaurant serving dishes like branzino, squid ink linguini vongole, roast farm chicken, and other hearty foods in a romantic setting. Satisfy your sweet tooth before leaving with peach tart, pistachio creme brûlée, or chocolate molten cake.
📍446 Columbus Avenue
6. Barney Greengrass
This deli is a neighborhood favorite for its smoked fish, egg scrambles, sandwiches, and Jewish delicacies such as latkes and matzo ball soup. For a quick but delicious breakfast or lunch on the go, Barney’s is the place to be.
📍541 Amsterdam Avenue
Jacob’s Pickles is a Southern eatery with a heavy emphasis on pickles. Their slogan? “Beers. Biscuits. Pickles.”
Choose from their selection of pickles, which come in unique flavors such as candy red beets, sweet and spicy carrots, and even thyme jalapenos! Then, feast from their menu that offers Southern classics like chicken biscuit sandwiches, shrimp and bacon grits, baby back ribs, and some insanely stretchy mac and cheese.
📍509 Amsterdam Avenue
8. Cafe Luxembourg
Cafe Luxembourg serves French-style comfort foods in an upscale Parisian setting. Steak and parmesan fries, fish and chips, mac and cheese, and other warm, feel good meals are offered with a European flair. For those wanting a high-class dining experience, their menu also reflects that with selections of oysters, steak tartare, and pan roasted salmon.
To end off your meal, try a sticky toffee pudding (the European version of a sponge cake) or caramelized banana trifle, and maybe then Paris won’t feel so far from home.
📍200 W 70th Street
9. Gray’s Papaya
Much like Papaya King on the Upper East Side, the Upper West Side has their own go-to hot dog joint, similarly titled Gray’s Papaya. According to Eater NY, back when Papaya King operated as a franchise, a former store owner reopened his Upper West Side location as Gray’s Papaya , and “the two stands have had a rivalry as fierce as that of the Mets and Yankees ever since.”
Like it’s competitor, Gray’s Papaya offers hot dogs and specialty tropical drinks (Pina Colada, banana, coconut, and of course, papaya.) Their specials run a bit differently, however. Currently, Gray’s is offering a “Recession Special,” where customers can get two hot dogs & a medium tropical drink for $6.95.
Visit Gray’s Papaya and Papaya King once it has officially relocated, and find out which hot dog stand is the better bang for your $10 bill.
10. Noi Due Cafe
This Kosher restaurant is beloved for its brick oven pizza, speciality pasta, and variety of fish delights such as salmon, branzino, and sole. While there is a heavy emphasis on Italian cuisine, customers rave about their shakshuka, an egg dish infused with Mediterranean, North African and Middle Eastern influence.
The dessert is not to be ignored either. Classic items such as creme brûlée and tiramisu are served, but more speciality dishes such as silan, dulche de leche cheesecake, and chocolate bourbon pecan pie make the perfect ending to a mouthwatering meal.
📍491 Columbus Avenue
11. The Hungarian Pastry Shop
The Hungarian Pastry Shop is a relic of New York. This Eastern European bakery serves communities outside of the Upper West Side, being one of the most frequented places in the city for a number of famous authors. Outside of their Hungarian coffee, their large selection of delectable and affordably-priced pastries is what keeps New Yorkers coming back for more. Baklava, strudel, and linzer tortes are among their specialty items, but their pie and cheesecake slices are equally top-notch.
📍1030 Amsterdam Avenue
12. Alice’s Tea Cup
Escape into the whimsical fantasy of Alice In Wonderland at this eclectic, themed tea shop. Alice’s Tea Cup offers an assortment of treats for your very own tea party, which you can have by yourself or with friends. Nibble on scones, sandwiches, and other selections from their menu alongside a pot of house-made tea. From their tea list, you can choose from speciality concoctions like Chocolate Chai, White Champagne Raspberry, Stardust, or even “Un-Birthday” tea!
📍102 W 73rd Street
13. Levain Bakery
Levain has numerous locations throughout the city, but enthusiasts of the famed cookie chain might find it worth a trip to the one that started it all.
📍167 W 74th Street
Finding good gelato that could even closely measure up to the authentic Italian delicacy is hard to come by, but Amorino does the job with a mission to bring European influence to America in the form of natural, decadent flavors free of preservatives.
Initially based in Paris, Amorino has over 36 flavors of creamy gelato, and other treats such as crepes, waffles, and even gelato-filled macarons. Amorino sources their ingredients internationally, resulting in flavor profiles unique to most customers, such as Sri Lankan coconut, Indian-imported mango, Ecuadorian chocolate, and most recognizable, bourbon vanilla from Madagascar.
📍 414 Amsterdam Avenue
15. Da Capo
Da Capo is an Italian espresso bar that serves your coffee and cocktail needs. This “day-to-night” experience offers an intimate ambience regardless of the time, whether you’re looking for an afternoon cappuccino and pastry or a pasta dish paired with one of their signature cocktails such as the Caribbean Roast.
Their happy hour from Tuesday-Friday includes $10 food bites with $10 spritzes or $8 wine and beer.
📍322 Columbus Avenue
16. Gebhard’s Beer Culture
While this tavern offers a selection of cocktails, Gebhard’s is the place to go for crafted beers on tap. A more relaxed establishment, wind down with a 16 oz Guinness Draught or Ace Pineapple Cider. But if you’re unsure of what to get, try four 4 oz. pours for $14.
📍228 W 72nd Street
17. Ashford & Simpson’s Sugar Bar
Ashford & Simpson’s brings Southern-inspired cuisine to a brownstone at this quintessential New York-style restaurant and bar. Dine on catfish or crab meat stuffed jumbo shrimp while washing it down with one of their signature cocktails. Alongside drinks such as the Sugartini, Banana Rum Punch, and lime mules, they ironically serve a speciality named “UWS Manhattan.”
Sunday brunch at this place is not to be missed. From 12-4 p.m, customers can indulge in the $20 brunch special, which includes one of their brunch dishes served with a complimentary mimosa, bellini, or Bloody Mary.
📍254 W 72nd Street
18. The Dead Poet
The Dead Poet is a literary-themed Irish pub with drinks and food named after, you guessed it, deceased poets. Specialty cocktails include the Edgar Allen Poe and the Walt Whitman, but from their limited spring reading list menu, you can choose from a selection named after famous books such as Grapes of Wrath, Huckleberry Finn, Dr. Jekyl & Mr. Hyde, and more.
📍450 Amsterdam Avenue #2
19. Grand Bazaar Flea Market
Every Sunday, Grand Bazaar hosts the largest indoor and outdoor flea market in NYC. Grand Bazaar has all of the unique finds that you will typically come across at a flea market, ranging from vintage to handmade artisan goods sold by the local vendors that line the usually crowded stalls.
📍100 W 77th Street
20. Absolute Bagels
Absolute Bagels encapsulates the novelty NYC experience at their down-to-earth Thai-owned bagel shop. Opened up by a former Ess-A-Bagel employee, this cash-only place draws lines with their homemade bagels and wide selection of cream cheeses that are offered in flavors such as blueberry, scallion, walnut raisin, and bacon with cheddar.
This famous gourmet deli and marketplace sells all your grocery needs, and some not-so-essential necessities such as caviar and smoked fish. Zabar’s is also a great stop to pick up a last minute gift basket full of delicious cheeses, desserts, or bagels, and even a place to browse for houseware. Not to mention, they have some of the finest house-blend coffee options available.
📍 2245 Broadway
22. American Museum of Natural History
Offering an onslaught of exhibits, a planetarium, and a giant blue whale you could spend forever staring at, there really is no reason to not give the American Museum of Natural History a visit at least once. With a brand new 230,000 square-foot science center that is set to soon be open to the public, this museum leaves no stone unturned in the realm of science. Observe animals, planets, gems, and even fossils at this atrium of natural history.
For NY, CT, and NJ residents, this museum is pay-what-you-wish.
📍 200 Central Park West
23. Children’s Museum of Manhattan
For those with kids or who may be on babysitting duties for the afternoon, the Children’s Museum hosts a variety of fun activities catered for your young ones to do. Admission is free for infants, but is otherwise $16 for children and adults.
Children can enjoy exhibits such as a Nickelodeon-sponsored Adventures with Dora and Diego, a combined art and learning experience known as Playworks, or even Superpowered Metropolis: Early Learning City, an interactive superhero-themed exhibit that allows children to navigate a built-in city while being superheros!
📍212 W 83rd Street
24. American Folk Art Museum
The American Folk Art Museum is the only museum in NYC that is solely dedicated to showcasing folk and self-taught artists. Admission is free at the museum, which is always a plus when finding things to do in the city. With all of the exhibitions and programs offered, it doesn’t hurt to give this museum a visit. And who knows, you might become a folk-art enthusiast.
📍2 Lincoln Square
25. Lincoln Center
Lincoln Center is iconic for its role as a cultural arts center, hosting ballets, operas, and other performing arts. It is also host to some of the best free and choose-what-you-pay activities in New York, with their upcoming “Summer for the City” fest making its return in June. Check out their free music, social dance events, spoken word, and multi-disciplinary art performances this summer!
📍Lincoln Center Plaza
26. Color Me Mine
On a rainy day, pottery painting can make for a fun activity to do for both kids and adults. Color Me Mine on the Upper West Side offers over 400 different pottery options to create your new favorite ceramic household item.
📍 Corner of 177 Amsterdam Avenue & W 68th Street