Top 30 Things To Do In New York City's Upper West Side - Updated 2021

things to do in upper west side

Nestled between Central Park and the Hudson River, New York City’s Upper West Side offers iconic architecture and a calm, residential respite from the hustle and bustle of downtown. It boasts some of the city’s most iconic apartment buildings such as the American Museum of Natural History which has been welcoming visitors from all over the world for over 140 years as well as the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Monument. Culture and artistic fans will love Lincoln Center, home to some of the world’s best theatre performances, the American Folk Museum and the Grand Bazaar NYC. The neighbourhood also features great parks such as Riverside Park, Dante Park, Straus Park and more, which are ideal for a leisurely stroll, meeting new friends or having some private time. Here is an exhaustive list of the things to do in New York City’s Upper West Side for your convenience.

1. Explore Jewish heritage and community (from USD 125.0)

It is always interesting to learn about the traditions of a destination you are visiting. New York City is not only rich in beautiful skyscrapers, but traditions and culture are also observed. By booking this tour, you will understand more about the Upper West Side’s Jewish neighbourhood. You will be making stops at different Synagogues as well as taking a stroll along Broadway and exploring the only Judaica Store in the neighbourhood. What is more, you’ll also be given the opportunity to sample delicacies from classic Jewish eateries like The Kosher Marketplace.

Kosher Style Food Tour of the Upper West Side

Duration: 2 hours

2. Tour the iconic American Museum of Natural History (from USD 83.74)

things to do in upper west side | tour the iconic american museum of natural history

The halls of the American Museum of Natural History which feature plenty of animal exhibits, galleries showcasing gems and minerals, and a movie theatre, provide an exciting trip to the past. It is mostly visited because of the dinosaur wing and the Milstein Hall of Ocean Life. Other interesting places that attract large crowds in the museum are the Hall of African Mammals, the seasonal Butterfly Conservatory and varieties of temporary exhibitions as well. The building itself is engraved with tributes to the former president and is surrounded by Teddy Roosevelt Park. Book this two-and-a-half-hour guided tour which includes entrance fees, a professional guide and private tour options.

NYC American Museum of Natural History Guided Museum Tour

Duration: 2 hour

11 reviews

3. Head to Hayden Planetarium to uncover space secrets

things to do in upper west side | head to hayden planetarium to uncover space secrets

The Hayden Planetarium is one of the highlights of the American Museum of Natural History in New York City best known for its impressive visuals of space. From the outside, the Hayden Planetarium appears to float inside a glass cube but the inside is where the magic happens. Video programming inside offers high-resolution glimpses of far-off galaxies, planets, and stars. Visitors to the planetarium get to witness the birth of the universe in the Big Bang Theater, walk the Heilbrunn Cosmic Pathway and check out Dark Universe. Visit the planetarium to learn more about the universe.

The Hayden Planetarium

Address: 81 Central Park West, New York City, New York, USA

Website: The Hayden Planetarium

Opening hours: 10am - 5.45pm (daily)

Price: From 13 USD

4. Have fun at Hippo Playground in Riverside Park

Hippo Playground is a gem within the beautiful Riverside Park that provides a space for children and adults alike to enjoy themselves. The Park is named Hippopotamus Playground as it features sculptures of hippos, jungle gym, swings with safety surfacing, comfort station and park house, wooden play equipment, green metal play equipment, picnic tables, benches, and much more. There is also a large hill on the east side of the playground which is used by the children in the area for sledging during the winter. Bring your children, friends and relatives to this wonderful park for an amazing time.

Hippo Playground

Address: 91ST St, New York, NY 10024

Website: Hippo Playground

Opening hours: 7am - 8pm (daily)

5. Admire and shop at American Folk Art Museum

things to do in upper west side | admire and shop at american folk art museum

American Folk Art Museum offers its visitors a variety of attractive American exhibits of folk arts and crafts. Visiting this museum will lead you to discover decorative exhibits like the American Indian chiefs’ quilts, 3D works, unique photographs, paper works and elaborate blankets made from hundreds of cotton patches. The museum is dedicated to making the study of folk and self-taught art available to all; support these pieces of art by visiting the museum to see them. Do not forget to shop for some souvenirs for decorating your home.

American Folk Art Museum

Address: 2 Lincoln Sq New York, NY 10023 Upper West Side

Website: American Folk Art Museum

Opening hours: 11.30am - 7pm (daily)

6. Admire the architecture of Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Monument

Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Monument is a war monument at Riverside Park which honours the soldiers and sailors who served in the Union Army during the Civil War. The monument not only commemorates the soldiers but also acts as a shrine for all those who have served in the later wars. The Monument is made of marble and granite and stands 96 feet (29 metres) high. The south of the monument features two mounted cannons, and the west features terraces which offer majestic views of the Hudson River and Hippo Playground.

Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Monument

Address: Riverside Drive &, W 89th St, New York, NY 10024, United States

Website: Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Monument

Opening hours: 6am - 1am (daily)

7. Discover the wonders of the earth at Rose Center

discover the wonders of the earth at rose center
Source: joaomgaspar on Instagram

This is a large earth and space museum and planetarium situated near Central Park in Upper West Side, Manhattan. It is part of the American Museum of Natural History which features a ton of interactive and educational exhibits for adults and children alike. Rose Center features the Hayden Planetarium which shows off the cosmos and the incredible big bang exhibit. It also houses Space Theatre which features educational movies.

Rose Center for Earth & Space

Address: Central Park W at 79th St New York, US

Website: Rose Center for Earth & Space

Price: From 12 USD

8. Enjoy the cool breeze at Dante Park

Situated on a triangular plot of land, Dante Park is surrounded by Broadway, Columbus Avenue, and West 64th Street. It was established in 1921 to honour the Italian poet Dante Alighieri who gave rise to the body of literature. The park features a small statue of Dante at the centre and a number of benches at the opposite end of the park. This is a perfect spot for people to meet with friends, enjoy conversation, sip coffee, people watch or just gaze into the plaza of Lincoln Center.

Dante Park

Address: 1901-1917 Broadway, New York, NY 10023

Website: Dante Park

9. Head to New York City Ballet for some interesting dance stories

Founded in 1948, New York City Ballet was envisioned by Lincoln Kirstein, as a haven for young talent to foster under the guidance of the greatest ballerinas. Today, this is the largest ballet organization in the US, with performances at Lincoln Center’s David H Koch Theater 23 weeks a year. Unique choreographies, countless works and a sharp group of dancers characterize the New York City Ballet. Grab your tickets and head to the theatre to watch these great dancers known for their linear purity, and the sharpness of attack and musicality.

New York City Ballet

Address: 20 Lincoln Ctr, David H Koch Theater, New York, NY 10023

Website: New York City Ballet

10. Attend a festival at West Side Community Garden

This privately owned park located between West 89th Street and West 90th Street in Manhattan is a model of what comes out when neighbours work together. It is a peaceful and pretty spot to relax while strolling on the Upper West Side, to meet with friends, to read a newspaper while sipping coffee and also a great picnic spot for families. The park is devoted to flowers, vegetables, herbs, shade trees and seating areas. A sunken oval-lawn in the park serves as a playing area for the Shakespeare Festival and the Sunday Summer Concert Series, “Music in a Garden.”

West Side Community Garden

Address: 123 West 89th Street Between Amsterdam Ave & Columbus Ave, New York City

Website: West Side Community Garden

11. Shop at Grand Bazaar NYC on Sunday

Spend your Sunday at Grand Bazaar, one of NYC’s most popular, largest and perhaps the oldest marketplaces featuring local artists, designers and vintage dealers. Shop for vintage antiques like jewellery, home furnishings, watches and vintage collectables from independent antique dealers, local merchants, photographers, jewellers and furniture designers. Make sure you visit the artisanal food vendors and savour delicious treats and snacks. When you are in the city during the holidays, make sure you catch one of the Grand Bazaar’s special events. Moreover, Grand Bazaar NYC donates all of its profits to neighbouring public schools. Therefore, be part of this great charity by shopping here.

Grand Bazaar NYC

Address: 00 W 77th St.,at Columbus Ave. Manhattan

Website: Grand Bazaar NYC

Opening hours: Sun: 10am - 5.30pm (closed from Mon - Sat)

12. Learn about dinosaurs at the American Museum of Natural History

learn about dinosaurs at the american museum of natural history

Situated on the fourth floor of the American Museum of Natural History, Hall of Saurischian Dinosaurs is one of the most visited halls in the museum. It features more than 136 specimens of Saurischian Dinosaurs on display. These dinosaurs are characterized by hands that can grasp. Saurischian Dinosaurs have their thumbs offset enabling them a grip. Marvel at the sizes of the dinosaurs, their unique features and the great architecture in the hall as you learn about their history.

Hall of Saurischian Dinosaurs

Address: Central Park West at 79th Street New York, NY 10024-5192

Website: Hall of Saurischian Dinosaurs

Opening hours: 10am - 5pm (daily)

13. Listen to music at New York Philharmonic

This is one of the memorable things you can do while in New York. It is an orchestra performance at New York Philharmonic which will leave you wanting more! Founded in 1842, New York Philharmonic is one of the oldest symphony orchestras in the world. It connects music lovers from all over the world through concerts, broadcasts, education programs, recordings and the Leon Levy Digital Archives. Whether you are an orchestra fan or not, make sure you attend one of their performances. To buy tickets visit their website.

New York Philharmonic

Address: David Geffen Hall 10 Lincoln Center Plaza New York, NY 10023-6970

Website: New York Philharmonic

14. Interpret the Banksy's "Hammer Boy" mystery painting

Who hasn’t heard of the mischievous street artist Banksy, the world’s most famous and celebrated graffiti artist from England whose artworks pop up unexpectedly? Banksy’s “Hammer Boy, ”was the piece created at Broadway and 79th Street. It is a silhouette of a young boy swinging a sledgehammer and its location next to a red standpipe, creates the illusion that the boy is going to smash it. The work has never been interpreted, why don’t you check it out and see if you can solve the mystery?

Banksy’s "Hammer Boy" Mural

Address: 233 W 79th St, New York, NY 10024, USA

Website: Banksy’s “Hammer Boy” Mural

Opening hours: 24 hours (daily)

15. Make new friends at Riverside Park South

Settled amid the historic Riverside Park and Hudson River Park, Riverside Park South is a recreational space and a native ecosystem that pays respect to the area’s vital role in the railroad history of New York City. The railroad tracks are covered by the Rotunda and the park is extended to the waterfront. People come here to relax, enjoy water views, people watch, meet friends and also to have some family fun. Head to Riverside Park South for some new memories.

Riverside Park South

Address: 475 Riverside Drive Ste 455 New York, NY 10115

Website: Riverside Park South

16. Have some quiet private time at Straus Park

have some quiet private time at straus park
Source: dontblamejme on Instagram

Named after Isidor Straus and his wife Ida, who died in 1912 when the Titanic sank on a voyage from England to America, Straus Memorial pays homage to Ida’s decision to remain with her husband rather than boarding a lifeboat to save her life. The metro park is a small inlet of trees, benches and a statue of a lady over a fountain. It’s quite lovely for people to read, take a solo walk, eat breakfast or relax. The trees lend the mind some peace and quiet while the beautiful flowers give it a little ambience.

Straus Park

Address: West End Ave. &, W 107th St, New York, NY 10025, United States

Website: Straus Park

Opening hours: 6am - 1am (daily)

17. Take a walk to the city's popular docking area

The West 79th Street Boat Basin is one of New York’s most popular docking areas. It houses the boats of luminaries like Frank Sinatra, and Malcolm Forbes. Canoes and sailboats making trips down the Hudson River have been launched at this basin. The area is also home to the Boat Basin Cafe, an open-air restaurant which serves grilled burgers, hot dogs, sandwiches. Take a walk to this place and later treat yourself to some delicacies at the cafe.

West 79th Street Boat Basin

Address: W 79th St, New York, NY 10024, USA

Website: West 79th Street Boat Basin

Opening hours: 5am - 1am (daily)

18. Check out Will & Grace's apartment from the popular sitcom

Grace's Studio from Will & Grace (925617685)
Source: Photo by user Rob Young used under CC BY 2.0

This attraction is located on the 9th floor of a building on 155 Riverside Drive. It is popular for being repetitively featured in the series Will & Grace. It is a two-bedroom apartment with two bathrooms and a fireplace. During Grace’s stay, she uses the guest bathroom while Will uses his own inside his bedroom. The living room and the dining table are in one spacious room while the kitchen is on an elevated ground. The fire escape is next to the kitchen. Head to this neighbourhood to see for yourself the shooting location for the sitcom series

Will & Grace's Apartment

Address: 155 Riverside Dr, New York, NY 10024, USA

Website: Will & Grace’s Apartment

Opening hours: 24 hours (daily)

19. Enjoy a free concert at Richard Tucker Park

enjoy a free concert at richard tucker park
Source: nyphotoscb on Instagram

Located in a small park triangle adjacent to Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, is this nice city square park with seating and nice views. The park is named after Richard Tucker, an American Operatic tenor who died in one of his concert tours. The park was designated to him in tribute to his legacy. A bronze portrait bust of the opera star sits on a polished granite on which are inscribed the titles of the operas that he performed. There are free lunchtime concerts on Wednesdays at the park too.

Richard Tucker Park

Address: Columbus Ave &, W 66th St, New York, NY 10023, United States

Website: Richard Tucker Park

Opening hours: 24 hours (daily)

20. Relax with your family at Theodore Roosevelt Park

relax with your family at theodore roosevelt park

Surrounding the American Museum of Natural History is the lush green space of Theodore Roosevelt Park. The park is rated among the top five small parks in New York. It is a decent, clean park featuring big trees with benches under it perfect for people watching, relaxing, enjoying lunch and meeting with friends. Not many people know about this park since its a block away from Central Park. That means you will meet more of the locals here. The park is maintained by The Friends of Roosevelt Foundation, which is a non-profit organization.

Theodore Roosevelt Park

Address: 200 Central Park W, New York City, NY 10024-5102

Website: Theodore Roosevelt Park

Opening hours: 6am - 9pm (daily)

21. Spend a romantic evening at Septuagesimo Uno

Despite being the smallest of the small among Manhattan’s tiny park spaces, Septuagesimo Uno’s beauty is so big that it invites you to stay in for more time. Its name Septuagesimo Uno is Latin for ‘Seventy One’. The park is sandwiched between two brownstones and offers several benches and lush gardens which is enough for one to take a breather in an urban environment. It is a great place to bring your dog, read a book or bring your significant other for some romantic time.

Septuagesimo Uno

Address: W 71st St And Amsterdam Ave New York, NY 10069

Website: Septuagesimo Uno

22. Enjoy phenomenal food at The Milling Room

enjoy phenomenal food at the milling room

This is the new go-to family restaurant that features impeccable service and consistent food. The restaurant serves locally sourced American cuisine in a skylit dining room- the highlight of the restaurant. It also features a tavern-inspired bar. This place is the perfect spot to celebrate a special occasion such as graduation, birthday or even engagement. It is also the best place to spend some romantic time with your significant other.

The Milling Room

Address: 446 Columbus Ave New York, NY 10024

Website: The Milling Room

Opening hours: Sun - Thu: 5pm - 11pm; Fri - Sat: 5pm - 12am

23. Admire Eleanor's sculpture at Eleanor Roosevelt Memorial

This monument at 72nd Street honours humanitarian and First Lady Anna Eleanor Roosevelt. Eleanor Roosevelt is in the first of First Ladies, to be recognized in sculpture in a presidential memorial. The bronze sculpture depicts her half-seated with the support of a large rock. It is set at the threshold of Riverside Park in a circular landscape. Come by the park and admire this lovely sculpture as you get inspired to be as great as Eleanor Roosevelt.

Eleanor Roosevelt Memorial

Address: 72nd Street and Riverside Drive, New York, NY 10023, USA

Website: Eleanor Roosevelt Memorial

Opening hours: 6am - 1am (daily)

24. Swing by Manhattan Cricket Club

swing by manhattan cricket club
Source: madkrish on Instagram

Founded in 2013, The Manhattan Cricket Club pays respect to the prominent colonial gentleman’s clubs. These clubs were places for gentlemen to discuss, debate, contemplate and drink some of the finest spirits. Today, the club features the finest selection of cocktails by famous mixologists and serves them in a comfortable, luxurious atmosphere of the late 19th century. The club provides an intimate space for guests to enjoy the comforts of an elegant home and fine cocktails.

Manhattan Cricket Club

Address: 226 W 79th St, Level 2, New York, NY 10024

Website: Manhattan Cricket Club

Opening hours: 6pm - 12am (daily)

25. Visit The Beresford

visit the beresford
Source: herodotus34 on Instagram

The Beresford, a massive residential building is distinguishable by its three towers, is located in Central Park. It houses 175 apartments across 23 floors. It is a historical landmark overlooking the American Museum of Natural History. Residents here enjoy fantastic views of the Central Park and the city as well as modern amenities in their apartments. The Beresford features a rooftop deck, a full-time doorman, full-service garage and a health club. The famous Jerry Seinfeld lives here!

The Beresford

Address: 211 Central Park West, New York, NY

Website: The Beresford

26. Shop for souvenirs at Theater Circle

Theater Circle & One Shubert Alley are cherished destinations for theatre fans seeking souvenirs from their favourite Broadway plays and musicals. It is situated on 44th Street and features floor-to-ceiling shelves of scripts and a rolling ladder. The theatre carries a wide range Broadway knick-knacks, from posters to magnets, t-shirts to shot glasses, CDs and DVDs, jewellery, tote bags, sheet music, costume and make-up books, photo frames and much more! Shop for some souvenirs for your kids or tag them along to choose for themselves.

Theater Circle

Address: 268 W 44th St New York, NY 10036

Website: Theater Circle

Opening hours: Mon - Sat: 10am - 11pm; Sun: 11am - 6pm

27. Take your children to Neufeld Playground

take your children to neufeld playground
Source: elainekb on Instagram

Neufeld Playground also referred to as the Elephant Playground features separate play areas for toddlers and older kids and special play areas for children with mobility issues. It is also a great place for your kids to create new friends who they will be having playdates with. Let your kids playing freely with the swings, bask in the spray showers, frolic in the jungle gyms, chat through the speaking tubes or create soundscapes with bongo drums. Carry a book to keep yourself busy or chat with other parents as you keep an eye on your children.

Neufeld Playground

Address: 76th Street & Riverside Drive, New York, NY 10023, USA

Website: Neufeld Playground

28. Laugh your heart out at West Side Comedy Club

This is a great place in New York City Upper West Side where customers get to laugh and comics get to bring their own productions. The setting is very intimate and there is no such thing as a bad seat. Listen to unique stories from your talented comedians who bring out their jokes naturally. Hang out with your friends, spend your date night here or surprise your loved ones on their birthday with a ticket to the club. Be sure to have a great time!

West Side Comedy Club

Address: 201 W 75th St New York, NY 10023

Website: West Side Comedy Club

Opening hours: Sun - Thu: 7am - 11pm; Fri - Sat: 7pm - 1pm

29. Watch a movie at AMC 84th Street 6

AMC 84th Street 6 has been in existence since 1920 and continues to grow by coming up with new ways of delivering their services. The AMC shows the latest exciting movie technology and features great amenities like spacious rocking seats, luxury recliners, innovative menus and expanded food and drink options. Some of the premium offerings at the AMC include IMAX, Dolby Cinema, and Prime. Spend your date night or your hang out here and be sure to enjoy every moment! Visit their website for more information!

AMC 84th Street 6

Address: 2310 Broadway, New York, New York 10024

Website: AMC 84th Street 6

30. Head to Children's Museum Of Manhattan for a fun family outing

Located in Upper West Side Manhattan, this museum for children encourages toddlers and young children to explore and nurture their own minds with interactive toys and displays. The museum features a variety of exhibits and activities for kids less than six years to play with. There is an outside area called City Splash which uses water activities if your child wishes to play outside. Let your child have fun as he explores new fields.

Children's Museum Of Manhattan

Address: 212 W 83rd St New York, NY 10024

Website: Children’s Museum Of Manhattan

Opening hours: Sun - Fri: 10am - 5pm; Sat: 10am - 7pm

The scenic New York's Upper West Side

Central Park and New York's Upper West Side. Original image from Carol M. Highsmith’s America, Library of Congress collection. Digitally enhanced by rawpixel.
Source: Photo by user Rawpixel Ltd used under CC BY 2.0

With a range of historic buildings, recreational parks and kids activities, this side of New York makes for the perfect destination for family vacations. Plan your trip to the city’s neighbourhood using our list of things to do in New York’s Upper West Side.

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

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