Top 9 Tourist Spots to Visit in Uptown NYC
"New York is Always a Good Idea"
I've been to New York 15 times and still long to go back! There's so much to cover that I couldn't fit it all within one post so I'm creating a series of NYC blog posts. This post will focus on the Uptown area (see below for the list of areas covered in this post).
The Plaza Hotel
Museum of Arts & Design
Museum of Natural History
Roosevelt Island Tram Ride
Dylan's Candy Bar
For an overall introduction on visiting New York (tips on getting around the city, tours, museums to check out, etc.), read my Overview of NYC post. Click here for the full NYC series to date (Midtown, Downtown, places to eat etc.).
1. CENTRAL PARK
In such a busy city, with a huge demand for space, Central Park is very impressive in size and acts as a peaceful relief from the chaos that surrounds it. Every so often you are still reminded of the hustle and bustle happening close by when you catch a glimpse of the towering skyscrapers above the trees. The Park stretches over 3 avenues in width and all the way from 59th Street to 110th Street in length. It is a must-see for tourists! I've been lucky enough to see the Park both during Summer and Winter months. It was especially magical when I was there early one Winter morning when it was covered in a blanket of snow!
Check out The Central Park website for events that may be taking place during your visit. Some of the many things to discover while wandering through the Park are games of tennis, volleyball, softball, and basketball. There is also a Carousel, playgrounds, beautiful Bow Bridge, Strawberry Fields (the famous memorial to John Lennon who was murdered close by at the Dakota Building) and, one of my favorite places in New York, that of the pond where the Model Boat Sailing happens! I visited this area on a beautiful summer evening and sat by the pond while lie jazz musicians performed beside me - it was probably one of my most enjoyable moments in NYC to be honest! Delacorte Theatre and Swedish Cottage Marionette Theatre can be found in the Park too and here you may find theater, concerts, and puppet shows taking place. There are also several places to dine in the Park.
Surrounding Central Park is some of the most expensive properties in New York. Billionaires Row is located close by Central Park (57th Street) and you will find luxurious residential skyscrapers along here.
LOEB BOATHOUSE, BETHESDA SQUARE & BOAT RIDE
Bethesda Fountain is found in Bethesda Square and is one of the central locations in the Park. Here is where you will see the beautiful Angel of the Waters statue acting as a centerpiece to the Bethesda fountain. This is a popular meeting place in the Park...and where I have even spotted several wedding photos being taken!
The extremely popular Loeb Boathouse restaurant is found close by the iconic Bethesda Square. The Boathouse is a beautiful location where you can enjoy some food while taking in views of the Central Park lake. If you want to visit the Boathouse but are on a budget then you can visit its Express Cafe. This is also part of the Boathouse though not its main restaurant. We quickly grabbed a bite to eat in here to top us up while exploring the Park. Also, one item still on my list is to book a boat ride on the lake which you can book from the Boathouse!
GETTING AROUND THE PARK
Another very touristy thing to do in New York is to take a Horse and Carriage Ride through Central Park. You will find them lined up along the southern entrance to the Park (opposite the Plaza hotel and Apple store). For me personally, and as a 20 year vegetarian, I would no longer choose to take a horse and carriage ride because I have realized more and more as I've got older that I don't like the use of animals purely for human entertainment. However, many years ago I did take a carriage ride on two of my first visits to New York; the first time our guide was super friendly and pointed out several landmarks and movie set locations along the way. The second time the guide barely spoke to us...so it seems to be hit and miss when you grab a guide at the last minute.
Also, I believe that walking and bike rides are a better way to see Central Park because the horse and carriage rides only touch through a small section of the Park. I would advise anyone who wishes to see a large portion of the Park to rent a bike.
Walking tours are also available in the Park, or just grab a map and walk it yourself. If you want to see a lot then I would advise on pre-planning your route and having a map at hand because Central Park is vast and can be difficult to navigate at times.
I visited Belvedere Castle when Central Park was covered in a blanket of snow, it was quite a magical experience to see the views in this way from the majestic castle setting. The miniature castle provides beautiful views over the Great Lawn and Ramble areas within the Park. The Parks visitor center and a gift shop are found within the castle too. Plus, it is free to enter!
As mentioned, Angels of the Waters is a beautiful sculpture that is the centerpiece on top of the Bethesda Fountain. It is one of the most famous sculptures in the Park. One of the other 29 sculptures which are very popular is that of Alice in Wonderland. This sculpture is found north of the Conservatory Water Pond (where the Model Boat Sailing is found); I love this area of the Park and find it very peaceful on a Summer evening! Live jazz musicians were performing by the pond in the evening that I visited here. It was one of my favorite moments in Central Park!
As an Irish person, it is worth mentioning the sculpture of Victor Herbert (an Irish born German raised in America) who was a composer, cellist, and conductor. Balto (Alaskan Sleigh Dog) and Hans Christian Anderson are two more popular sculptures. Click here for a list of all of the sculptures found in Central Park.
There's even a small Zoo found within the grounds of Central Park. You can stroll through its gift shop for free and buy some lovely animal teddies and memorabilia of the Central Park Wildlife Center.
2. THE PLAZA HOTEL
The Plaza Hotel is located opposite the entrance to Central Park at The Pulitzer Fountain (59th Street). Many films and t.v. shows have been shot here and the iconic Plaza is well known as a world leader in hotels. There used to be free tours of the hotel but unfortunately, these seem to be no more! However, you can still take a wander in and stroll through the Shops at The Plaza or, enjoy some dining at The Plaza Food Hall or Todd English at The Plaza.
Madison Avenue offers high-end shopping (such as Chloe, Hermes, Chanel, etc.) and is located just an avenue away from Central Park.
Bloomingdales 815,000 square-foot flagship store is located just three Avenues from Central Park at 59th and Lexington Ave. This famous department store (where Rachel worked in Friends!) is a dream for upscale shopping and has a Magnolia Bakery for when you need a cupcake sugar rush for all of the shopping that you do! Not too far from Bloomingdales is another popular sweet store, Sprinkles Cupcakes, which until recently even had a cupcake ATM outside of it!! There is still another of these ATMs located in the city so check out their website for more details! Dylan's Candy Bar is located opposite Bloomingdales...read on for more details on this fabulous candy store!
For designer vintage shopping at a discount, check out Designer Revival on 81st Street. This store is quite far up but it's not too far from the MET museum so it's worth dropping into to check out any deals if you are in this area!
The Shops at Columbus Circle offer over 50 retail shops and boutiques and are located right at the corner of Central Park (59th Street & Eighth Avenue) at Columbus Circle. Here you will also find a statue of Christopher Columbus sitting on top of a monument in the center of the square and The Columbus Circle Globe sculpture. Spot The Empire Hotel in the background of the Globe photo too (Gossip Girls fans will be familiar with this hotel!)!
4. MUSEUM OF ARTS & DESIGN
The Museum of Arts & Design is located at Columbus Circle - opposite to The Shops at Columbus Circle. I wasn't expecting the museum to be focused so much on the craft and design side of art; personally, I am not a huge fan of the craft side so I preferred The Whitney, Guggenheim, MoMA, etc. However, I still enjoyed my trip here.
5. AMERICAN MUSEUM OF NATURAL HISTORY
The American Museum of Natural History is one of the largest Natural History museums in the world! It is located in a beautiful Art Beaux building along the West side of Central Park (at 79th Street). The museum consistently receives great reviews, an abundance of visitors, and it impressively contains more than 30 million artifacts! If you are a fan of astrophysics then you are sure to enjoy the impressive Rose Center for Earth & Space. Another popular section of the museum is the Butterfly Conservancy (Nov-May) which contains more than 600 butterflies.
I was happy to have visited here but, I wouldn't tend to be a huge fan of Natural History Museums, so at times I was slightly bored. I did still spend a lot longer than I had expected to here though! The museum is very big, 1.5 million square feet, so if you are a science lover then you should put a lot of time aside to spend here because there is a lot of space to cover!
6. LINCOLN CENTER
Another famous building close by Central Park is Lincoln Center. Lincoln Centre houses the Metropolitan Opera, the New York City Ballet, and Juilliard School of Music among others. It is located a block from the Park at 64th Street and Columbus Avenue.
I called by the Center one year when fashion week was being held in it and I got to see them prep. for some of the fashion events!
7. MUSEUM MILE
Museum Mile is also found along Central Park. It is located at the section of 5th Avenue which runs along the East side of the Park. This stretch of street contains many famous museums. I have been lucky enough to visit three of them so far! See below for a full list of the museums along Museum Mile and also for a summary of my visit to the three that I visited!
El Museo del Barrio 105th St.
The Jewish Museum 92nd St.
Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum (part of the Smithsonian Institution) 91st St.
The Guggenheim Museum 88th St.
Neue Galerie 86th St.
Metropolitan Museum of Art 82nd St.