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Manhattan Neighborhood Guide: Upper West Side
Upper West Side Neighborhood Guide
The Upper West Side ranks as Manhattan’s third most populous neighborhood, with approximately 200,000 residents. Residents here live in quiet brownstones that look out on Central Park, Manhattan’s leafy green playground. Regarded by many as the Upper East Side’s younger sister, the Upper West Sides attracts everyone from hipsters to Wall Street bankers to its tree-lined and high-priced streets. With a vibrant nightlife and thriving arts scene, along with several of Manhattan’s most famous landmarks, the Upper West Side is a great place to call home.
Upper West Side Location and Getting Around
This spacious neighborhood spans the Hudson River to Central Park from W. 59th St. to W. 110th St. An easy spread to navigate, the Upper West Side’s proximity to everything makes venturing to other parts of the city a breeze. According to walkscore.com, the area gets great marks for walkability and transit, scoring a 98 and 99 in these categories, respectively. For those looking for the fastest transportation option, public transportation via the subway is your best bet. The neighborhood is served by the blue, orange, and red lines (A, C, B, D, 1, 2, and 3 trains). There are also several bus routes. If you’d rather travel on your own two wheels above ground, the Upper West Side also scores well for bikeability, with a bike score that’s 15 points higher than the rest of the city (80 out of 100).
Upper West Side Neighborhood Landmarks
The Upper West Side is home to some of New York City’s most prized landmarks, including Riverside Park, which stretches for four incredible miles along the Hudson River. This scenic greenspace is where Upper West Siders come to bike, walk their dogs, or simply take in the water views beneath a canopy of mature elm trees.
At the southern end of the neighborhood, the Lincoln Center is a year-round destination for cultural events and the performing arts. This famed cultural center, the largest of its kind in the world, is home to the New York City Ballet, the Metropolitan Opera, and the New York Philharmonic. It also hosts the Julliard School and the School of American Ballet, two of the most prestigious performing arts schools in the world.
The Upper West Side also doesn’t disappoint when it comes to museums. Just across from Central Park, on a 4-block plot between W. 77th Street and W. 81st Street, the American Museum of Natural History is popular with academics and kids alike who come to gape at the museum’s impressive collection. If you go for a visit, you’ll want to stop to admire the 94-foot Blue Whale replica or pose for a selfie with the painstakingly reconstructed T. Rex. Just a few streets away, at 170 Central Park W., the New-York Historical Society (yes, the hyphen is required) is where tourists come to learn more about the Big Apple and the cultural history of New York State. Enjoy browsing through the collections housed in the museum’s Center for Women’s History or stroll through special exhibitions like the dazzling Gallery of Tiffany Lamps.
Central Park acts as the Upper West Side’s eastern border, and it’s well worth spending an afternoon here picnicking with friends, playing catch on the expansive lawns, or simply soaking up the scenery (and people). If you’re lucky, you might even spot a movie shoot in progress along the park’s winding paths.
Best Upper West Side Restaurants
When they’re not enjoying a ballet performance or relaxing on a bench in Riverside Park, you’ll find Upper West Siders taking a bite out of the neighborhood’s best restaurants. Locals head to the Milling Room for special occasions, where the kitchen dishes up innovative, upscale twists on American classics in a chic atmosphere. For a quick drink or two, stop in at the restaurant’s Tavern, a casual pub at the front of the house that boasts incredible happy hour deals. When a hankering for comfort food strikes, Upper West Siders turn to the gigantic plates of mac ‘n’ cheese, fried chicken, and fried pickles at Jacob’s Pickles. This Southern transplant is also revered for its to-die-for fluffy biscuits and creamy cheese grits; just be sure to make a reservation because this place fills up. When date night demands Asian fare, Sushi Yasaka answers the call. Since 2011, this neighborhood gem has served some of the city’s best sushi, along with other traditional Japanese cuisine, in a warm, inviting setting. Those with an appetite for Latin fare or those seeking a different kind of brunch experience should try the unlimited sangrias and Nuevo Latino menu at Calle Ocho, a local mainstay. It’s hard to get a reservation here, so make sure to plan ahead. And if lobster rolls or East Coast clams are your thing, then join other seafood-loving Upper East Siders at The Mermaid Inn. The casual setting and intimate atmosphere of this neighborhood staple are perfect for enjoying a dinner with the family or a round of drinks after work (the daily $1 East Coast oysters and drink specials are hard to beat).
Top Upper West Side Gyms and Fitness Studios
UWS locals take their fitness as seriously as they take their food. Physique 57 follows the barre workout trend with small classes and a focus on form, while the conditioning and bootcamp workouts at FIT RxN are guaranteed to leave you both sweaty and sore. Hop on a spin bike at Flywheel Sports for a class that takes you through sprints, climbs, and flat roads to an intense finish. Classes here are big, but the spacious facilities mean you never feel cramped. The Nalini Method, founded by veteran fitness instructor Rupa in 2003, combines the intensity of a barre workout with Pilates, yoga, and strength training for a full-body experience you won’t soon forget. Over on W. 85th St., Upper West Side Yoga & Wellness is a small but dedicated yoga studio perfect for those seeking a place to relax and reconnect body and spirit.
Local Upper West Side Coffee Shops & Bakeries
Upper West Siders know good coffee. Whether it’s a quick cup of joe on the way to work or a mid-workday caffeine boost, there are plenty of coffee shops to choose from. Levain Bakery serves up the best chewy, oversized chocolate walnut cookies in the city; these pair well with the house coffee or a stout glass of cold milk. Joe Coffee, a mini-chain that’s local to NYC, serves up carefully curated, fair trade coffee in an unassuming atmosphere. At 2167 Broadway, Beard Papa’s is on a mission to deliver the best cream puffs ever – and locals say they more than hit the mark. On Broadway, Mille-Feuille Bakery is a tiny French patisserie with exquisite and decadent desserts. Sit for a bit and enjoy a full-bodied cup of coffee accompanied some of NYC’s best French pastries (you can’t go wrong with the macarons or the almond croissants). Last, but not least, local loyalists swear by Irving Farm Coffee Roasters for their morning cup. This New York roaster has 11 locations across Manhattan, so no matter where your day takes you, great coffee will always be close by.
Night-Life on the Upper West Side
When the day winds down and the lights get low, the Upper West Side heats up. If your day at the office has been a drag, there are plenty of fantastic options for a stiff drink. The Dead Poet is a favorite hangout among hipsters; all the specialty drinks are named after poets or famous works of literature (try the Earnest Hemingway for a little dose of Havana). The atmosphere at Shalel Lounge is both intimate and inviting; Upper West Siders come here for the menu of Turkish and Moroccan beers, and stay for the lamb meatballs. Despite the name, Dive Bar is more than just your typical sports bar; the food is just as good as the drinks. George Keeley, at 485 Amsterdam Ave, is a local favorite especially among the craft beer crowd – some regulars have been going for years. And for the winos, the Vanguard Wine Bar is a favorite spot for a glass of wine and some small bites before a show at Lincoln Center.
What These Businesses Love About Upper West Side
We reached out to each of the businesses featured above to get their opinions on what they love most about the Upper West Side. Here’s what they had to say:
We fell in love with a community that welcomed us with open arms. There’s no downtown equivalent because there’s no community like the UWS, with its history, intellectual activity, artists and culture. Our goal is to provide a homegrown style of hospitality to the established creative class.”
– Jacob Hadjigeorgis, Owner – Jacob’s Pickles
I’m a UWS native. It’s a joy not only to live in this community (again), but also to support its growth and give back to it. If you’re looking to amplify your life, cultivate your practice with us!”
– Stephan Kolbert & Ingrid Marcroft, Owners – Upper West Side Yoga and Wellness
I lived on the UWS for 10 years and loved it! It’s very warm and friendly. I love to being by Central Park, and there was all the shopping and eating that you need to not have to leave the neighborhood, should you choose!”
– Gabrielle Rubinstein, Co-Founder – Joe Coffee
What I love most about the neighborhood is the mix of what we have here. Obviously the park and museum being two blocks away is wonderful. Wonderful restaurants and bars. We’re in the greatest city in the world yet the UWS maintains a very neighborhood feel.”
– John Court, Partner – The Dead Poet
In a big city it’s easy to lose a connection to the smaller things. The UWS has a special feel for community and beauty in the small things. Everyone is friendly and works together. There’s something beautiful everywhere you look, from the small well appointed parks to the families walking down the sidewalks. We are happy to be nestled in the heart of the UWS.”
– Team FIT – FIT RxN
We’ve always loved the tree-lined blocks of brownstones on the Upper West Side and the deep sense of community we feel here.”
– Connie McDonald & Pam Weekes, Co-Founders – Levain Bakery
What I love most about the Upper West Side is its proximity to Central Park, and how it can really deceive you. It feels quieter and more relaxed than the rest of Manhattan, but when you get to know it, it is a vibrant and energized neighborhood with lots of hidden gems.”
– Dan Streetman, Green Coffee Buyer – Irving Farm Coffee Roasters
We are not only proud of our deep connection with the community here in the Upper West Side, but we sincerely believe there is no other neighborhood that can compare in charm and allure. It is always nice to receive praise for our space, service, and culinary expertise, however we believe what really makes The Milling Room special is our surrounding Upper West Side location and neighbors.”
– Samantha Moretti, Managing Partner – The Milling Room
Upper West Side Movers
Limited parking, crowded streets, and strict landlords mean moving to the Upper West Side can be a challenge. For a smooth transition, call Imperial Moving & Storage. We’ve been named one of NYC’s best movers, offering our moving expertise to Manhattan for over ten years. New York’s premier full-service mover, we offer an array of moving services – from residential packing and moving to long-term storage solutions. We want to help your relocation to the Upper West Side be as smooth as possible, from the moment you request a moving quote to the day your boxes get unpacked. Give us a call today to get started!
Upper West Side Neighborhood Infographic
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