If you need a break from Brooklyn but can’t afford to take a vacation far away, don’t worry! New York City is huge, so just hop on the subway and check out a new spot in a different borough. You could head to Hamilton Heights, for instance, between 135th Street and 155th Street between the Hudson River and St. Nicholas Avenue, to check out some great museums, historical homes and restaurants uptown. “When in Harlem” as they say, be sure to hit up…
Riverside Drive, between West 72nd Street and St. Clair Place
An oldie but a goodie. This area of Riverside Park is absolutely gorgeous. There are picnic tables lining the waterfront from 145th Street to 158th Street where you can always find people picnicking, and true to Harlem fashion, playing music. Enter through Riverbank State Park (see below) on 145th and Broadway. Look for the staircase to your right once you cross the pedestrian bridge and walk down to the bottom level where the water is. You won’t regret it.
Riverbank State Park ice skating rink
679 Riverside Drive
$5 admission, $6 skate rental, opens mid-November
After you get your fill of the waterfront, head back up stairs to explore everything this one of a kind park has to offer. The 28-acre Riverbank State Park sits 69 feet above the Hudson and includes a huge soccer/football field with a running track around it, four tennis courts, four basketball courts, a full amphitheater and so much more! Created in 1993, Riverbank State Park is constantly being revitalized with a $2.6 million renovation to its ice skating rink culminating last year. A hot new restaurant, Sofrito also surfaced a few months ago with happy hour 4pm to 7pm Monday through Friday.
414 West 141st Street
So why is the area called Hamilton Heights? You guessed it; Alexander Hamilton. He lived here for the last five years of his life and you can check out the house he built for himself, though its been moved twice since it’s completion in 1802. You can take a self-guided tour of his estate located in St. Nicholas Park or travel through the home with a ranger. The museum is open Wednesday through Sunday year-round and admission is free! Check out the website for specific hours of tour times.
65 Jumel Terrace
Free to walk around, $10 to enter the museum
Didn’t quite get your fix of 18th century government official residences? While you’re uptown, head to Washington Heights to visit the oldest house in Manhattan. This mansion was built in 1765 and wound up being a huge wartime advantage to George Washington and his Patriots due to the expansive (and stunning) views of the island and river. Enter the house to see what the big man was working with from 10am to 4pm Tuesday through Sunday or take a yoga class (yepp, you read correctly) in the house Sundays at 1pm for $5 (mats and blocks are free for use).
Sylvan Terrace Homes
Sylvan Terrace, between St. Nicolas Avenue and Jumel Terrace
Take a walk by Sylvan Terrace: the street that leads up to the Morris-Jumel Mansion. Walking here feels so much like stepping into another era that it’s hard to believe residents pay Con Ed every month. This street is also part of the Morris-Jumel Historic District and oh, Boardwalk Empire filmed there so that’s proof enough you need to check it out.
343 Lenox Avenue
$10 often with additional perks included
Head a few avenues East to the center of Harlem to get your learning on. Don’t be fooled by the unassuming outside of this film center. Maysles is the only independent film house in Manhattan north of Lincoln Center and always has a kick ass line-up. They have screenings two-four nights per week often followed by Q and A’s with the creative team or food/beverage tastings associated with the films. Free Mezcal after the documentary on November 15? Yes please!
144 West 125th Street
$7 adults, $3 students Thursday through Saturday, free on Sunday
This Studio Museum is dedicated to artists and arts education as well as its artwork. This cultural hub is famous for emphasizing artists of African descent and for its artist-in-residents program, which helps foster growing talent. If you can’t swing the $7 from Thursday to Sunday, you can get in for free thanks to Target Free Sundays.
If you’re exploring the area, you’ll probably want to get a drink too. (If nothing else, the commute home will go much faster with a buzz). Here are some standout spots:
1635 Amsterdam Avenue
Gorgeous new Hamilton Heights establishment The Grange has happy hour from 4pm to 7pm on weekdays, a live jazz band from 7pm to 10pm on Sunday nights, and a special late-night happy hour from 12am to 4am on Sunday nights. Split the seared ahi tuna appetizer with a friend in true Brokelyn style, you won’t regret it.
126 Hamilton Pl.
Black tilled walls and an amazing selection on draft makes Hogshead incredibly unique. Check out their happy hour Monday through Friday from 4pm to 7pm, or their bottomless brunch from 12pm to 4pm on weekends. They also have food/drink specials for Pride nights on Sundays and show Monday Night Football every week.
At The Wallace
The sister bar of the slightly more mainstream Harlem Public, At The Wallace is a great bar to hang out with friends. You can play oversized Jenga in the back or one of the many (regular sized) board games the bar has to offer. No happy hour here but you can find incredibly reasonable draft beers, canned wine (yes that’s a thing), and grilled cheese with tomato soup!
763 St. Nicholas Avenue
Tsion is a unique restaurant/hang out spot that has coffee, alcohol, awesome food, and couches all in one place! Tsion manages to marry Ethiopian and Mediterranean food as seamlessly as they’ve married the culture of the area and fun, relevant events. Featuring the art of local artists on their walls, they are home to open-mic nights, film screenings, artist debuts, as well as happy hour from 4pm to 7pm on weekdays. Check out their Facebook and Twitter for updates on what’s happening next.