Things To Do in the Upper West Side

The Ultimate Upper West Side Guide

The nearly 4.3 mile stretch between the western part of Central Park and the Hudson River is one of Manhattan’s most cosmopolitan and culturally rich districts and there are many things to do in the Upper West Side. In the late 19th century, with the completion of Central Park, beautiful homes with breathtaking views of the green space were built right next to the park. In the 20th century, immigrants who arrived in New York in masses provided NYC with cultural diversity through restaurants and shops.

Getting to the Upper West Side

Multiple train lines lead you to the Upper West Side, therefore getting there isn’t a problem. The  ACB and D lines run along Central Park West. You can get off at the 59th Street / Columbus Circle stop and walk north. The 1 train goes along Broadway and also runs on the west side of Central Park. You can get off the subway at 66th Street/Lincoln Center station.

Top 5 Things To Do in the Upper West Side

Top 5 Sights

There are a lot of things to do in the Upper West Side and we understand that sometimes people don’t have a lot of time to see the whole neighborhood. With that being said, we compiled our top 5 things to do in the Upper West Side so you know exactly where to go. Later on in the guide, we’ll get to more places and attractions that you can also check out.

  • Central Park – If you want to get away from the skyscrapers and the buildings, then head on over to Central Park. Tourists and locals alike come here just to take a stroll and enjoy mother nature. It’s a nice place to just relax and perfect for families. (Address: Columbus Circle Entrance, Subway ACBD 59th Street/Columbus Circle Station)
  • Columbia University Campus – Columbia University is an Ivy League school which means it’s one of the most prestigious schools not just in the US, but in the world as well. People like to check out the campus as some of the brightest minds have attended school here. (Address: 116th St & Broadway, New York, NY 10027, Subway 1 116th Street/Columbia University)
  • Columbus Circle – This area is pretty much the beginning of the Upper West Side and is right on the border of Midtown, Manhattan. The Time Warner Center is located here and inside has shops like Whole Foods, J. Crew and H&M. Also, the entrance to Central Park West is located here as well. (Address: Columbus Circle Entrance, Subway ACBD 59th Street/Columbus Circle Station)
  • Lincoln Center – The venue is home to some of the best opera, film, theater and more. It’s an iconic spot in the Upper West Side and used to be the home of New York Fashion Week. There’s always something amazing playing at the Lincoln Center and is definitely one of the best things to do in the Upper West Side. (Address: 
  • American Museum of Natural History – If you’ve ever seen the movie “Night at the Museum” featuring Ben Stiller, then this place will look very familiar to you. As a matter of fact, the museum sometimes holds a special exhibition where you do get to actually stay overnight at the museum. If you want to save money, make sure to check out the New York Pass as it gives you access to this museum and many others as well. Click here to purchase the New York Pass. (Address: Central Park West & 79th St, New York, NY 10024, Subway ACB 81st Street/American Museum of Natural History)

Things To Do in the Upper West Side

If you have more time to stroll around the Upper West Side, here are some more spots we definitely recommend.

Food and Drinks in the Upper West Side

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Time Warner Center

Things to do in the upper west side

Situated right on Columbus Circle, Time Warner Center attracts many tourists and locals alike and is one of the things to do in the Upper West Side. It features amazing views of Central Park and some of the Manhattan skyline. It also features a bunch of restaurants and shops (We’ll get to the shopping portion in this guide later on). One of the most prominent restaurants in the world is located here. The venue, Per Se was founded by the famous chef Thomas Keller who also started the famous restaurant, French Laundry.

Riverside Park

We realize that Central Park is right in the neighborhood and while it is the most popular park, people sometimes forget about another beautiful greenery in Riverside Park. It’s also right next to the water making it perfect for a long walk, run or bike ride. The park starts in the Upper West Side (72nd St.) and ends in Harlem (158th St.).

General Grant National Memorial

Riverside Park has another landmark on the Upper West Side. The General Grant National Memorial is the resting place of Ulysses S. Grant (1822-1885), War of Secession General, and 18th President of the United States. His wife is also buried in the mausoleum.

Go Watch a Show at Beacon Theatre

The theater opened up in 1929 and is an iconic piece of architecture in the neighborhood. Some of the best things to do in the Upper West Side is to catch a show at Beacon Theatre where world class talent come here to perform. Former performers include David Bowie, Duran Duran and Mariah Carey.

Relax at Boat Basin Cafe

Situated right next to the Hudson on 79th street, Boat Basin Cafe is a great place to take a break. On days with really great weather, the weekend tends to get packed with tourists and locals day-drinking or just relaxing and enjoying the view. If you’re not looking for a really busy crowd, make sure to stop by during the week in the morning.

Enjoy the Architecture the Upper West Side Has to Offer

NYC is filled with numerous and unique architecture and the Upper West Side is no different. The San Remo is another iconic building in this particular area. It opened in 1930 and is a two tower luxury apartment that can be seen from Central Park. Famous figures have and still occupy the building. Former and present occupants included the likes of Tiger Woods, Steven Spielberg and many more.

Columbia University

One of Manhattan’s famous campuses is Columbia University and is located in the Upper West Side. It’s an Ivy League school and has an outstanding reputation that’s globally recognized. Present and former leaders have attended this school. With a recognized name, tourists and locals view the campus daily.

Shopping on The Upper West Side

The area around Columbus Circle is considered a popular shopping area and rightly so. The Shops inside Time Warner Center offers a range of retail chains, such as H&M, Michael Kors, J.Crew and many more, as well as a Whole Foods Supermarket. For the running fanatics out there, the New York Running Company has a store in the Time Warner Center also. Here, runners can store their valuables here and go out and run around Central Park as well as purchase the the latest collections of popular sports labels and a huge selection of running shoes. The staff here is highly-qualified as well and knows their stuff when it comes to running.

Century 21 Department Store

For the people that LOVE designer clothes but are on a budget, then Century 21 is for you. Here you’ll find great deals on high-end clothing such as Off-White, Yohji Yamamoto and many more. The prices can still be a little steep but it’s better than paying full price. Definitely take your chances because you never know what kind of deals you can find.

The Art and Museums in the Upper West Side

The Upper West Side provides tons of cultural highlights. In addition to the events and shows offered by Lincoln Center alone, it is the museums that makes this neighborhood shine culturally making it one of the best things to do in the Upper West Side.

The American Folk Art Museum

The American Folk Art Museum offers its visitors over 5,000 attractive exhibits of folk arts and crafts. Here you’ll discover American Indian chiefs’ quilts, elaborate blankets made from hundreds of cotton patches from early American settlers and many other decorative exhibits. (Address: 2 Lincoln Square / 66th Street corner).

American Museum of Natural History

If you really wanted to, a full day can be spent at the famous American Museum of Natural History. Many of you may know it from the hit movie, “Night at the Museum”. On five floors, the history of the planet as we know it is exhibited. From the Stone Age to the Space Age, from dinosaur bones to distant galaxies, it’s an interesting journey on an incredible 111,483 square feet of space. The museum gives you a lesson on the past and our lives on planet Earth. The American Museum of Natural History opened in 1869 and spans four blocks on Central Park West. (Address: Central Park West & 79th St). With the New York Pass you even have free entrance to the museum and you can also just walk past the often long lines. 

The Museum of Arts & Design

The Museum of Arts & Design, located on Columbus Circle, is dedicated to contemporary crafts and design. It is considered the best of its kind in the US. The museum shop is great and offers a large selection of various articles. Also, definitely make a stop in the café because you’ll be able to enjoy a fabulous view of Central Park (address: 2 Columbus Circle).

New York Historical Society

Founded in 1804, the New York Historical Society Museum is the oldest museum in New York City. Re-opened in April 2011 after a three-year refurbishment, the museum attracts many visitors with its collection of 500,000 photographs from 1850 to the present day, a variety of everyday items, newspapers, letters and an impressive collection of glass lamps by Louis C. Tiffany (address: 170 Central Park West). The New York Pass also offers you free admission here.

Living in the Upper West Side

The Upper West Side stretches from Columbus Circle on 59th Street all the way north to 110th Street. Central Park West is on the eastern side and Riverside Park on the Hudson River is on the west. It is no secret that money just like its counterpart on the eastern side of Central Park, the Upper East Side, plays a big role. Well-kept brownstone houses and immaculate facades gives the the Upper West Side a village charm. The West and the East Side are equally attractive to rich families. The difference, however, is that the west side has far fewer real estate in direct comparison.

Hotels in the Upper West Side

Neighborhoods Right Next to the Upper West Side

There are a lot of things to do in the Upper West Side and if you enjoyed the neighborhood make sure to check out the surrounding neighborhoods as well.

Neighborhoods that are Similar to the Upper West Side

Which NYC Neighborhood Do You Belong In?

What I love about New York? The city is a melting pot of cultures and people and has just the right neighborhood for everyone! Which neighborhood suits you best? Find out with our “neighborhood advisor”!

Are you a Brooklyn Boy or maybe a Queens Queen? Find out now!

Hip & Trendy

You’re walking through the streets as you spot bearded men in flannel shirts in the distance. They are wearing sunglasses with thick black frames. The women next to them are wearing small, black hats that cover their autumn color hair, falling onto their leather jackets and ponchos. The group is drinking from Mason jars and eating sweet potato fries topped with truffle mayo served on wooden boards. What do you do?

  • You are using the front camera of your smartphone to ensure your mustache is twisted properly - or - your pastel colored clutch that you just snagged from a fancy pop-up store is hanging off your shoulder. You're happily walking toward the crowd.

  • You're curious about these people. You decide to observe them from a closer distance, as you wanted to head that way anyway.

  • You're not really in the mood for a circus, so you decide to turn around and go somewhere else.


Food & Drink

You’re enjoying your day in New York. When your stomach starts rumbling, you decide to…

  • ... get a quick snack to satisfy your hunger

  • ... look for a top restaurant nearby to sit down and eat, because what could possibly make the day better than a great meal?

  • ... ignore it! Time is too precious to spend at restaurants.



You’re strolling through a park and observe a family having a picnic. Immediately, the sight makes you..

  • ... smile, because spending quality family time is the best thing in the world!

  • ... think that you could really use a cold beer and a hot dog right now.

  • ... laugh, because (thank God)- you're by yourself and don't need to take care of anybody. Instead you're free to do whatever you want!



For you, meeting fellow tourists in the most amazing places in the world is like…

  • ... a bonfire at camp: the perfect opportunity to learn incredible stories.

  • ... a night at a wild party followed by a nasty hangover. You can't have one without the other.

  • ... a large glas of expired milk: simply the worst!



We say shopping, you say…

  • ... Michael Kors meets Sex and the City

  • ... drop a new item into the online cart and click "Order Now".

  • ... *facepalm*



You and nightlife, that’s like…

  • ... the cast of the Jersey Shore out first pumping.

  • ... Humphrey Bogart and Katharine Hepburn in the Golden Havana Bar.

  • ... two bears hibernating in their cave for the winter


Art & Culture

Back in 2015, one of Picasso’s art pieces was auctioned for a record breaking $200 million. What’s your first thought?

  • A masterpiece like this belongs into a museum, so everybody can enjoy it.

  • I would sell my last shirt to own one of Picasso's works.

  • Who would have thought that Pokemon could paint!


Profilbild Selwyn
About the author

Being a photographer and creative in general, New York City, I think is the perfect place to be. I moved to NYC from Boston in 2013 and never looked back. Loving New York has given me the opportunity to do what I love and share those images with you all.

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