Top 22 Things To Do In The Upper East Side, New York - Updated 2021

things to do in upper east side
Alex
Alex 
Updated

Known as one of the most affluent neighborhoods in New York City, the Upper East Side is made up of a few different areas of the city. Located between Central Park, 59th Street, the East River, and 96th street. The area has historically always been a part of the city’s more affluent denizens because, during the decades following the Civil War, living accommodations in the area went from decrepit to upper-middle-class mansions and townhouses. Some of New York’s most famous families live or have lived in the district, for example, the Kennedy’s, the Roosevelts, and the Rockefellers. Of course, such an illustrious neighborhood means tons of important landmarks from museums and churches to art galleries and fancy hotels are all located here. The area also has some of the best Airbnb vacation rentals. But you don’t have to be a Rockefeller to enjoy this neighborhood; here are some of the best things to do in the Upper East Side, New York, that you can experience when you visit.

1. Experience the Gossip Girl sites tour (from USD 66.0)

things to do in upper east side | experience the gossip girl sites tour

There are so many TV shows and movies that are set in New York City that it would be impossible to list them all. But one famous TV show that’s known for opening every episode with “Hello, Upper East Siders” is Gossip Girl. Take a tour of all the locations from this famous teen drama. You’ll get to visit over 40 different locations that were used in the show including the Vera Wang boutique and the Empire Hotel. The tour is over three hours and it’s guided by a professional actress.

Gossip Girl Sites Tour

Duration: 3 to 181 hour

212 reviews

2. Admire the creations at Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum

Cooper Hewitt
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Ajay Suresh used under CC BY 2.0

Located in the area known as the “museum mile”, Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum is part of the Smithsonian family of institutions. The museum is the only one in the United States dedicated to historic and contemporary design, with exhibitions over 240 years old. The building in which the museum is located is Andrew Carnegie’s former mansion and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places

Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum

Address: 2 E 91st St, New York, NY 10128, USA

Website: Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum

Opening hours: 10am - 6pm (daily)

Price: 7 - 16 USD

3. Check out the art at Acquavella Galleries Inc

Editor's Note: Photo taken from the establishment's official social account


Located on East 79th street, Acquavella Galleries Inc started with an Italian immigrant to New York who specialized in trading art from Naples, mostly focusing on works from the Italian Renaissance. Throughout the gallery’s life, the art styles changed from Rennaisance Italian to cubism, surrealism, and impressionism, but the gallery has remained true to its purpose of selling art and displaying priceless works from Picasso to Monet.

Acquavella Galleries Inc

Address: 18 E 79th St, New York, NY 10075, USA

Website: Acquavella Galleries Inc

Opening hours: Mon - Sat: 10am - 5pm (closed on Sun)

Price: 35 USD

4. Head to The Met Breuer

Editor's Note: There's no photo available at the time of writing

The Met Breuer is part of the Metropolitan Museum of Art (the Met) and is one of New York’s more modern museums. Established in 2016, the location is the former site of the Whitney Museum of American art. The museum is dedicated to a more modern art approach but does also feature a plethora of works from iconic artists like Bassano and Sézanne. Everything from paintings to more modern approaches like digital art can be found here.

Met Breuer

Address: 945 Madison Ave, New York, NY 10021, USA

Website: Met Breuer

Opening hours: Tue - Sun: 10am - 5:30pm (closed on Mon)

Price: 25 USD

5. Admire the contemporary art at Lévy Gorvy

Editor's Note: There's no photo available at the time of writing

Lévy Gorvy art gallery is another one of the Upper East Side’s cool and contemporary art galleries. Located just a short walk away from Met Breuer, you can easily spend an entire afternoon just walking through all the galleries in this little part of town. The gallery is fairly new having been established in 2012, and the gallery’s founder, Lévy Gorvy, maintains galleries throughout the world and hosts artists from all over in his galleries. That being said, you will also find works from notables like Picasso, Warhol, and Basquiat in his galleries.

Lévy Gorvy

Address: 909 Madison Avenue at, E 73rd St, New York, NY 10021, United States

Website: Lévy Gorvy

Opening hours: Tue - Sat: 10am - 6pm (closed on Sun & Mon)

Price: 25 USD

6. Explore Carl Schurz Park

Carl Schurz Park
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Jon Platek used under CC BY-SA 3.0

Carl Schurz Park is a 14-acre (6-ha) public park in the Upper East Side area known as Yorkville. The park was established in 1910, and at the time, the area of Yorkville was a pretty big German-American community, hence the people named the park after a German-born secretary of the Interior, Carl Schurz. The park is very historic as it contains the Gracie Mansion, which is the official home of the mayor of New York. Because of the fact that the park overlooks the East River, it was also an important location during the American Revolution during the Battle of Long Island.

Carl Schurz Park

Address: East 86th Street &, East End Ave, New York, NY 10028, United States

Website: Carl Schurz Park

Opening hours: 6am - 12am (daily)

Price: Free

7. Exercise at John Jay Park

Editor's Note: There's no photo available at the time of writing

For those visiting New York and wanting to get a little workout in but don’t want to splurge at the gym, check out John Jay Park. The Upper East Side’s little park was named after New York Governor John Jay and it features tons of great amenities for an afternoon in the New York City sun. The city built a public pool and bathhouse here in the 40s as well as a gym and recreation room soon after. Extensions were made later on, which included a playground for kids as well as free outdoor exercise equipment like pull-up bars, monkey bars, and parallel bars. If sports is more your thing, then head to the basketball or handball courts and play a pick-up game.

John Jay Park

Address: FDR Dr, New York, NY 10021, USA

Website: John Jay Park

Opening hours: 7am - 10pm (daily)

Price: Free

8. Hang out at Park Avenue Armory

Seventh Regiment Armory - Park Avenue Armory
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Ajay Suresh used under CC BY 2.0

Park Avenue Armory, or the Seventh Regiment Armory, is a historic structure that is often missed when exploring the Upper East Side. The historic brick building fills an entire block and was built in the 1880s in Gothic Revival Style. The building originally served as headquarters for the 7th New York Militia and it is one of two remaining armories in the U.S that was built with private funds. The building is opulent and rooms are furnished with marble, glass and ornamental woodwork. The current use of the building is to provide a space for Veterans, a women’s mental health shelter and an alternative art space.

Park Avenue Armory

Address: 643 Park Ave, New York, NY 10065, USA

Website: Park Avenue Armory

Opening hours: 10am - 6pm (daily)

Price: 10 - 15 USD

9. Check out new art at Tilton Gallery

Editor's Note: There's no photo available at the time of writing

If the Met and Guggenheim are a little too mainstream for your art tastes, check out the works of art at the Tilton Gallery. Located near the beautiful Central Park, Tilton Gallery is well known for promoting the work of burgeoning new artists from all over the world. Established in 1983, Tilton Gallery has worked for over three decades to provide some of the newest and best art from artists’ locations across the globe.

Tilton Gallery

Address: 8 E 76th St, New York, NY 10021, USA

Website: Tilton Gallery

Opening hours: Tue - Sat: 10am - 6pm (closed on Sun & Mon)

Price: 20 USD

10. Watch a live performance at 92nd Street Y

92Y
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Ajay Suresh used under CC BY 2.0

The 92nd Street Y is not part of the YMCA but is actually a part of New York’s Jewish heritage. Founded in 1874 as the YMHA by German-Jewish professionals and businessmen, the organization has been guided by Jewish principles but has always been open to those of other faiths and races. The space operates a performing arts area where people can watch live music performances, attend talks, seminars, lectures, education programs for adults and kids and even work out at the fitness center.

92nd Street Y

Address: 1395 Lexington Ave, New York, NY 10128, USA

Website: 92nd Street Y

Opening hours: 5:30am - 10:30pm (daily)

Price: 0 - 30 USD

11. Spend time at The New York Society Library

The New York Society Library - members' reading room
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Lasnydes used under CC BY-SA 4.0

The New York Society Library is one of the oldest cultural institutions in New York City dating back to 1754. During the time when New York City was the capital of the country, The New York Society Library was the official Library of Congress and until the New York Public Library was built in 1895, it was the city’s official library as well. The building is listed on the National Register of Historic places and during the revolutionary war, it was looted by the British Army. The library is also known to have lent books to such notable people like John Adams and Alexander Hamilton as well as George Washington, who allegedly failed to return two books due in 1789. The library has since waived his 300,000 USD late fees.

The New York Society Library

Address: 53 E 79th St, New York, NY 10075, USA

Website: The New York Society Library

Opening hours: 9am - 8pm (daily)

Price: Free

12. Learn about New York's Asian population at the Asia Society and Museum

Asia Society building, Manhattan, NY
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Daniel Case used under CC BY-SA 3.0

Founded in 1956, the Asia Society and Museum has dedicated itself to educating the people of New York and abroad about Asian cultures and society. Designed to strengthen the understanding among the people of the United States and the East, the Asia Society and Museum has offices all around the world, including Los Angeles, Mumbai, and Zurich. Promoting art, business, ideas, and insights through meetings, talks and exhibitions, is what you’ll find in this museum.

Asia Society and Museum

Address: 725 Park Ave, New York, NY 10021, USA

Website: Asia Society and Museum

Opening hours: Tue - Sun: 11am - 9pm (closed on Sun & Mon)

Price: 15 USD

13. Take in the views of the city from Tramway Plaza

Tramway Plaza, Lenox Hill, New York City
Source: Photo by Flickr user Andrew Milligan sumo used under CC BY 2.0

The Tramway Plaza is a great spot in the city to get some great views without having to pay to go to the top of the Empire State Building. The tramway connects Roosevelt Island to the Upper East Side. Hop on in and take a tram ride across the East River and take in some views of the city; just don’t forget your camera. Guests can pay using cash or a metro card if they purchased one for transport around the city. The Tramway Plaza has a great seating area and pedestrian walking area into the tramway.

Tramway Plaza

Address: Second Ave. bet. E. 59 St. to, E 60th St, New York, NY 10022, United States

Website: Tramway Plaza

Opening hours: 6am - 1am (daily)

Price: 2.25 - 4 USD

14. Learn about Judaism at Temple Emanu-El

Temple Emanu-El New York
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Gryffindor used under CC BY-SA 3.0

Temple Emanu-El was the first Reform Jewish Congregation in New York City and because of its size and importance in the city, the building became a landmark as one of the biggest Synagogues in the world. The Romanesque Revival style building sits prominently on Fifth Avenue and it was founded in 1845. Founded mainly by German-Jews in the nearby area, the Temple Emanu-El not only is a functioning place of worship to this day but it also houses Bernard Museum of Judaica. The collection spans over 1,000 objects from the congregation over the years.

Temple Emanu-El

Address: 1 E 65th St, New York, NY 10065, USA

Website: Temple Emanu-El

Opening hours: Sun - Thu: 10am - 4pm (closed from Mon - Wed)

Price: Free

15. Check out the free art installations at Doris C. Freedman Plaza

James Yamada's "Our Starry Night" at Doris C. Freedman Plaza
Source: Photo by Flickr user Hrag Vartanian used under CC BY-ND 2.0

Doris C. Freedman Plaza is located at the southeast corner of Central Park. The little corner of the park is part of a public works project that aims to bring different art installations to the people of New York for free, courtesy of the city’s public art fund. Installations rotate and projects have been set up here since 1977. Named after a pioneer in the domain of public art, Doris C. Freedman Plaza is a great place to seek out on your trip through Central Park.

Doris C. Freedman Plaza

Address: Grand Army Plaza &, 5th Ave, New York, NY 10019, United States

Website: Doris C. Freedman Plaza

Opening hours: 24 hours (daily)

Price: Free

16. Learn about German art in Michael Werner Gallery

Editor's Note: There's no photo available at the time of writing

Michael Werner Gallery is a German art gallery that was tarted in Cologne in 1969 by Michael Warner who had taken over the gallery from Galerie Heke there. The Michael Werner Gallery shows a lot of art from around Europe especially Germany and France, with a big emphasis on post-war German art such as works from Immendorf and Pelke. The New York branch opened in 1990 in a house formerly owned by Leo Castelli, an Italian-American art dealer.

Michael Werner Gallery

Address: 4 E 77th St # 2, New York, NY 10075, USA

Website: Michael Werner Gallery

Opening hours: Mon - Sat: 10am - 6pm (closed on Sun)

Price: 25 USD

17. Learn about Irish history at The American Irish Historical Society

Editor's Note: Photo taken from the establishment's official social account


Originally founded in Boston in the late 19th century, The American Irish Historical Society aims to promote Irish heritage in New York in a non-partisan and non-sectarian manner. The American Irish Historical Society was relocated to its current spot in 1904 and throws various cultural events throughout the year. Many prominent people were members of The American Irish Historical Society including President Theodore Roosevelt and Liam Neeson.

The American Irish Historical Society

Address: 991 5th Ave, New York, NY 10028, USA

Website: The American Irish Historical Society

Opening hours: Mon - Fri: 11am - 4pm (closed on Sat & Sun)

Price: Free

18. Relax at St. Catherine's Park

Editor's Note: There's no photo available at the time of writing

This quaint little park is a good little spot to bring the kids if you’re traveling with the family or simply just sit back and relax in a cute little park. St. Catherine’s Park has picnic tables and benches as well as a playground for kids and basketball courts and a track.

St. Catherine's Park

Address: 1245 1st Avenue, New York, NY 10065, USA

Website: St. Catherine’s Park

Opening hours: 7am - 9pm (daily)

Price: Free

19. Learn about Ukrainian history at the Ukrainian Institute of America

Exterior of Ukrainian Institute of America
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Jjbnyc used under CC BY-SA 4.0

The Ukrainian Institute of America is located in Henry F. Sinclair house and it aims to promote Ukrainian culture and art in New York. The building is designated as a National Historic Landmark and it once belonged to oil Millionaire Henry.F. Sinclair. After he passed, he donated his home to be an art gallery until the art was moved in 1955.

Ukrainian Institute of America

Address: 2 E 79th St, New York, NY 10075, USA

Website: Ukrainian Institute of America

Opening hours: 12pm - 6pm (daily)

Price: Free

20. View German and Austrian art at Neue Galerie

Neue Gallery
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Ajay Suresh used under CC BY 2.0

Neue Galerie is located on 86th street in William Starr Miller House. The museum is one of the newest on the Upper East Side’s Museum Mile, having been established in 2001. The museum is divided into two floors with one being dedicated to objects and the other to paintings.

Neue Galerie

Address: 1048 5th Ave, New York, NY 10028, USA

Website: Neue Galerie

Opening hours: Thu - Mon: 11am - 6pm (closed on Tue & Wed)

Price: 35 USD

21. Step back in time at Mount Vernon Hotel Museum & Garden

Mount Vernon Hotel Museum & Garden
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Dmadeo used under CC BY-SA 3.0

Mount Vernon Hotel Museum & Garden is one of the few buildings still standing in New York that is from the Antebellum period. The house was originally planned as an estate house for Colonel William S.Smith and his wife Abigail. This building was never fully completed but did become a hotel in 1826. At the time, the city experienced substantial growth and the hotel offered a place to stay that was far from the dirt, noise, and bustle of the city. Today, the building operates as a museum.

Mount Vernon Hotel Museum & Garden

Address: 421 E 61st St, New York, NY 10065, USA

Website: Mount Vernon Hotel Museum & Garden

Opening hours: 11am - 4pm (daily)

Price: 10 USD

22. Take a bike tour around Central Park (from USD 110.0)

Put on some comfy biking clothes and shoes and go on this guided tour of New York’s most famous neighborhoods. The Central Park and Harlem Bike Tour brings guests around these distinct New York neighborhoods admiring the elegant and historic buildings of the Upper East Side and through the scenic gardens and parkways of Central Park. The five-hour tour includes live poetry and gospel reading in Harlem, a stop at a delicious restaurant for a soul food lunch and admiration of New York’s ritzy apartments.

The Sensational Park & Soul Bike Tour

Duration: 5 hours

1 review

Something for everyone

Upper East Side NYC
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Alex Maisuradze used under CC BY-SA 3.0

The Upper East Side is home to some of the city’s most historic places, buildings, art galleries and cafes. For those interested in the art scene, the Upper East Side is the place to be and for those interested in history, every block is filled with something important to the city.

Disclosure: Trip101 selects the listings in our articles independently. Some of the listings in this article contain affiliate links.

Get Trip101 in your inbox

Unsubscribe in one click. See our privacy policy for more information on how we use your data

Alex is a Canadian university graduate with degrees in English literature and History. He was born in Montreal and when he's not traveling he enjoys movies, video games, playing the drums and...Read more

 Want to contribute as a Local Expert?
Explore Upper East Side
Looking for accommodation?
Good things are meant to be shared!