UPPER WEST SIDE

Nestled between two gorgeous parks, this family-friendly neighborhood has culture for all ages among pretty brownstones and fancy high rises. Also see our guides to midtown and Central Park, plus upcoming events.

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EVENTS

Common Ground Festival & Morningside Lights

W 123rd Street & Morningside Avenue Harlem/Upper Manhattan
Sep 24

Join the Friends of Morningside Park for free activities for the whole family arts and crafts from around the world. Features performers from Burkina Faso, a kite-making workshop from India, an African fashion show, a Marionette Puppet performance, and much more. At 8 pm, (watch or join) “Morningside Lights,” a procession of mobile, illuminated sculptures created by local artists and the community.

Lincoln Center Presents at the Atrium

Broadway between West 62nd and West 63rd Streets
Sep 24

Join Lincoln Center for concerts with artists from across the globe in genres ranging from swing to Afro-Peruvian to opera. Performers change daily; some are more kid-friendly than others, but the vibe is usually relaxed with space to walk and dance in the back.

The indoor space is weather proof but with fountains and plant-covered walls giving it an open feel. Seating and entry are first-come, first-served; the line forms at the Atrium’s entrance on Broadway, between 62nd and 63rd Street.

Grand Bazaar

100 West 77th Street
Sep 25

Shop at an outdoor market featuring 80+ hand-picked independent local artisans and dealers. Find one-of-a-kind handmade candles, skincare, fashion, vintage accessories and collectibles, handmade jewelry and furniture, rare antique silver- and glassware, and delicious artisanal chocolates and foods. Check the calendar for fun weekly themes.

Profits are donated to four local public school.

Wake Up, Daisy!

Central Park, West 79th Street & West Drive
Sep 25

The historic, cozy Swedish Cottage Marionette Theatre is back in action with modern take on Sleeping Beauty. Marionettes and music tells the story of Daisy, a lively little girl living in the heart of New York City in an apartment overlooking Central Park. At Daisy’s much-anticipated birthday party, she encounters three special guests, known as her “Squad-parents”, from Brooklyn, Queens, and the Bronx who grant her the gifts of courage, knowledge, and a second chance. When an unwelcome guest shows up and casts a curse on her, Daisy’s life is forever changed, but through the support of her friends and an adventure throughout the city, Daisy’s strong self-determination and vivid imagination may be all she needs to break the curse.

Capacity is limited for social distancing. Unassigned seating on benches in a small theater (grown-ups are encouraged to sit in the back). Stroller parking available in the lobby. Near the lovely Shakespeare Garden.

Thursday-Sunday 11 am & 1 pm

New-York Historical Society Sunday Story Time

70 Central Park West at 77th Street
Sep 25

This weekly program in a charming children’s library includes the reading of a New-York-themed book, a related craft project and silly dances and games.

See our guide to New-York Historical Society.

Little New-Yorkers

70 Central Park West at 77th Street
Sep 30

Join museum educators in the lovely children’s library for story time and crafts. Each class includes a special hello song, silly dances and games, a story book reading, and a craft to do after the story. Themes related to New York history and current exhibits change monthly.

See our guide to New-York Historical Society.

Discovery Walks for Families: The North Woods

110th Street Between 5th and Lenox
Oct 2

Learn about the design of the largest of the Park’s woodlands, a 40-acre forest retreat in the middle of New York City, and how the plants and trees contribute to the health of an urban woodland community. Includes hands-on exploration and guided activities in a complementary Discovery Journal.

Jazz+Wednesdays

2 Lincoln Square (Columbus Avenue at 66th Street)
Oct 5

The Bill Wurtzel Trio play standards from the American Songbook outside the American Folk Art Museum (which has an interesting free exhibit on inside).

Capacity is limited; arrive early. Note that there is no standing room for this concert.

Discovery Walks for Families: The Ramble

Mid park around 79th Street Upper West Side
Oct 17

Explore how the Ramble, a carefully planned woodland, provides habitat for a variety of wildlife. Discover who calls the forest floor, the Lake shoreline, and the treetops their home  through hands-on exploration using kid-friendly binoculars, field guides, hand lenses, and a complementary Discovery Journal. Space is limited; advance online registration required.

MUSEUMS

Inside Art: Create, Climb, Collaborate

212 West 83rd Street between Broadway & Amsterdam

Explore new ways of seeing everyday spaces with dynamic interactive art installations and commissions in CMOM’s next edition of its acclaimed visual art exhibition, Go inside a surrealist inspired house by Isidro Blasco, add to  a wishing tree by Aya Rodriguez-Izumi that visitors can add to, and make art in a multi-story installation designed by BARarchitekten.

Join daily art-making programs by resident artists, including Ebony Bolt, Francisco Donoso, Borinquen Gallo, Armita Raafat and Catalina Schliebener, among others, who are creating site-specific installations that involve the CMOM community and that will evolve over time as visitors add to the work.

See our complete guide to CMOM.

 

Cathedral of St. John the Divine & Peace Fountain

1047 Amsterdam Avenue at West 112th Street Upper West Side

The largest Cathedral in the world, built in 1892, is open for visitors  Monday-Friday 9:30 am–3 pm and Saturday–Sunday 9:30 am-5 pm. Timed tickets strongly encouraged.

Explore rotating art exhibitions that span centuries, celebrating the creativity of 17th century weavers to modern painters and everything in between. 48 relief panels on the giant bronze front doors depict scenes from the Old and New Testaments and the Apocalypse.

Outside, see charming small bronze animal sculptures created by K-12 students from NYC and tri-state area around a 40-foot high bronze sculpture by Cathedral Artist-in-Residence Greg Wyatt. Depictions of a giant crab, nine giraffes, a double helix, Albert Einstein  the sun and satan represent the eternal conflict between good and evil. Also look for peacocks roaming around the lovely grounds.

Pick up at cappuccino, croissants & Eastern European treats at the funky Hungarian Pastry Shop across the street.

Sharks

West 81st Street & Central Park West

Get up close with dozens of life-sized models of spectacular, surprising, and often misunderstood sharks. Go inside the jaw of an megalodon, see fossils, touch models of teeth, hunt like a hammerhead and more in touch-free interactive displays. Take a photo inside a giant jawbone and turn yourself into a shark on augmented reality screens.

Lots of scary teeth and models, but also info on the rarity of shark attacks to reassure.

Timed tickets required. See our complete guide to the Natural History Museum.

Dynamic H2O

212 West 83rd Street between Broadway & Amsterdam

Cool off at a splashy water exhibit with 800 sq. ft. of of hands-on interactives and colorful graphics. Children can trace the path of New York City’s water as they play and explore. Learn about the water cycle, pretend to fish, pump water to the top of a skyscraper, create a 92 mile aqueduct and construct a city at the water’s edge.

See our guide to CMOM.

Children’s Museum of Manhattan (CMOM)

212 West 83rd Street between Broadway & Amsterdam

Explore interactive, educational, well-designed exhibits for babies to pre-teens.

Assemble, create, peek into, crawl under, and walk through one of a kind sculptures and installations in Inside Art.  Cool off at splashy (outdoor) water exhibit Dynamic H2O with 800 sq. ft. of of hands-on interactives and colorful graphics.  Cross a rainbow bridge, learn Spanish, dance in Dora’s bedroom and imaginative play in the spacious Adventures with Dora and Diego.  Sit on your own presidential desk and learn what voting is and why it matters and the role of the president of the United States in Right to Vote. Step into a playful, comic book version of New York City with a lively team of pigeons, Zip, Zap, and Zoom in Superpowered Metropolis.

Enjoy educator-led experiences and special guest artist including weekly themed art projects, art scavenger hunts, storytime, dance-time & music.

Daily 10 am – 5 pm

See our complete guide to CMOM.

American Museum of Natural History

West 81st Street & Central Park West

Lovers of dinosaurs, sea creatures, outer space and more can get their animal & nature fix at this giant (45 fascinating halls) treasure trove of wonders. It can get very crowded on weekends and holidays, but there is always a quiet nook to explore.

* Learn about moon rocks and meteorites in the stunning Rose Center for Earth and Space. A 94-foot-long blue whale hangs over an assortment of sea creatures in the Hall of Ocean Life. Be dazzled at the sparkly Halls of Gems and Minerals.  Zebras, giraffes and other jungle animals surround a family of elephants in the Hall of African Mammals on the second floor. The famous dinosaur bones fill most of the fourth floor.

* Add on special exhibits  for $3.50-$5.  Go inside the jaw of an megalodon, see fossils, touch models of teeth and hunt like a hammerhead interactive Sharks . Experience advanced planetarium projections in Lupita Nyong’o-narrated, Worlds Beyond Earth. See the stunning Wings over Water in giant IMAX.

* In warm weather, frolic in large fountains on the second floor terrace outside the planetarium  – don’t forget a bathing suit & towel.

See our complete guide to the Natural History Museum.

Daily 10 am – 5:45 pm

New-York Historical Society

70 Central Park West at 77th Street

Learn about the layered, diverse history of NYC at this fascinating museum.  In the Children’s History Museum on the bottom floor, explore 350 years of history through interactive exhibits, digital games and a charming library. Try cross-stitch, see historic baseball gear, ride an Orphan Train, play a newsies video game and much more. Join weekly history-themed  storytimes and other family programming.

Look for kid-friendly objects throughout the galleries like a Noah’s Ark toy and historical fire fighting equipment. Design-your-own Tiffany lamp in the gorgeous fourth floor galleries. Explore a detailed re-creation of the White House Oval Office and hear audio recordings of presidential musing in the Meet the Presidents. More exhibits include Title IX: Activism On and Off the Field and Confronting Hate 1937–1952. Immersive multi-media films New York Story and We Rise screen alternating on the hour from 12 to 3 pm.

Wednesday–Thursday 11 am – 5 pm
Friday 11 am–8 pm (pay-what-you-wish 6-8 pm)
Saturday–Sunday 11 am – 5 pm

See our complete guide to the New-York Historical Society.

OUTDOORS

Hippo Playground

Riverside & 91st Street

Frolic and splash with beloved hippo statues in this well maintained playground in lovely Riverside Park featuring swings, wooden and metal play equipment, slides, a spray shower, picnic tables, benches, sand pit, a drinking fountain, bathrooms and summer weekday art projects.

River Run Playground

West 82rd Street & Riverside Drive

A shady large playground nestled in pretty Riverside Park is  just big enough for range of ages but small enough not to lose wanderers within its fences.  Play on all sorts of equipment including see saws, swings, multiple jungle gyms, and monkey bars and a large sand pit.

On hot days, sprinklers create a replica of the nearby Hudson River, perfect for splashing and playing. Picnic tables and bathrooms available.

Diana Ross Playground

West 81st Street & Central Park West

Summit Rock, the highest natural point in Central Park, provides a shady (climbable) backdrop to this pretty playground. A large wooden climbing structure with multiple levels of platforms and decks links to ladders, slides, and tire swings, all set in a naturalistic sand area. Also enjoy toddler swings and spray showers in the summer.

Named after the  famous singer, who funded the construction of the playground following her concert in 1983 on the Great Lawn. No bathrooms, but across the street from the Natural History Museum (where all city kids should be member, not just for the bathroom usage).

Heckscher Playground

Sixth Avenue & Central Park South

Central Park’s largest playground features a shaded area with swings and slides, a large, maze-like climbers, seasonal water features, sloped turf, a large sandbox area, low monkey bars, tunnels, ramps and (our favorite) giant rocks to climb. Plus a spacious bathroom.

Face painters, musicians and giant bubble makers often congregate at the entrance.

Belvedere Castle

Mid park around 79th Street Upper West Side

One of the most iconic features in Central Park, this miniature castle is located atop the huge rock outcrop known as Vista Rock, the second highest natural point in Central Park.

The whimsical structure, designed by Calvert Vaux and Frederick Law Olmsted in 1869, provides the highest and best views of the Park and the adjacent cityscape – plus has bathrooms, water fountains, some informational displays plus medieval-esque staircases and doorways for playing princess/knight.

Download the Belvedere Castle Audio Guide  (available in English, Spanish and American Sign Language for info about the architecture and history of the castle.

EAT

Levain Bakery

351 Amsterdam at West 77th Street

Everything is baked on-site throughout the day at this legendary bakery, from an array of rustic breads to the world-famous, super-gooey, six-ounce cookies in five flavors: Two Chip Chocolate Chip, Walnut Chocolate Chip, Dark Chocolate Chocolate Chip, Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Chip & Oatmeal Raisin (plus a gluten-free chocolate chip option).

Other options include sour cream coffee cake, brioches, whole wheat walnut raisin rolls are also yummy (and a little healthier).

Outposts also in Harlem, the UES, NoHo and Williamsburg.

Daily 7 am – 9 pm

Alice’s Tea Cup

102 West 73rd Street at Columbus Avenue

Enjoy scones in rotating flavors as magical as the decor, sandwiches, salads and treats with optional fairy wings and glitter at a whimsical tea house inspired by Alice in Wonderland. Choose from hundreds of teas served in charming mismatching pots and cups.

Gets crowded on weekends; reservations recommended. Go early to beat the crowds (or take the scones to go for a Central Park picnic).

Also in the East 60s.


Wednesday–Sunday 11 am – 6 pm

Orwashers UWS

440 Amsterdam Avenue @ 81st Street Upper West Side

Try some of the best jelly donuts in the city, plus choose from salads, sandwiches, amazing healthy artisanal bread and not-so-healthy pastries at the UWS outpost of the 100+-year-old Orwashers Bakery with counter service and indoor/outdoor seating.

Also at 308 East 78th Street (between 1st & 2nd Aves).

Monday-Saturday 7 am – 6 pm
Sunday 7 am – 6 pm

Épicerie Boulud

1900 Broadway at West 64th Street

Chef Daniel Boulud’s casual outpost is one of our favorite stops before or after Lincoln Center shows. My daughter gets a gourmet hot dog, I have a tasty salad or quiches, my son gets a hearty sandwich, we all end with colorful macarons. Counter service with limited seating; we like to go across the street to Dante Park or Lincoln Center on sunny days – then come back for the artisanal gelato.

By the Way Bakery

2442 Broadway at 91st Street

A small cute bakery with muffins, cakes, cookies, cupcakes and more tasty treats, all of which happen to be gluten free but appeal to those without allergies too.

Also on the UES (1236 Lexington Avenue), Greenwich, CT and Hastings-on-Hudson, Westchester.

Daily 8 am–6 pm

Cafe Lalo

201 West 83rd Street

The extensive cheesecake-heavy dessert menu and charming Belle Époque decor lure locals to this cash-only tourist favorite. Dine on salads, sandwiches, pastries and all-day waffles, quiches and omelets or choose from exquisite desserts including 20+ cheesecake flavors, dozens of pies tarts and cakes (including 10 gluten-free options) and jumbo cookies a al a mode.

So Parisian and pretty it was in a Meg Ryan/Tom Hanks romantic comedy.

Monday-Thursday 9 am-1 am

Friday-Saturday 9 am-3 am

Sunday 9 am-1 am

Caffe Storico

170 Central Park West at 77th Street

Feast on antipasti, artisanal pastas, paninis and other Italian=inspired inventive, ingredient-driven dishes, plus mac & cheese and grilled cheese – at Caffe Storico, a classy yet kid-friendly eatery within the engaging New-York Historical Society (museum admission not required).

Indoor and outdoor seating available.

Wednesday – Sunday  11 am – 3 pm
Friday – Saturday  5 pm – 8 pm

Kee’s Chocolates

228 Columbus Ave at W 72st Street

Artisanal chocolates, freshly handcrafted by Kee Ling Tong, come in inventive flavors like sesame, green tea, ghost pepper, balsamic and more. Fresh ingredients from around the around world include yuzu from Japan, sea salt from France, and saffron from Spain. Available flavors of bonbons, truffles, pralines and macarons change based on seasonal ingredients.

Tuesday–Sunday 11:30 am – 6 pm

Pier I Cafe

500 West 70th Street

Enjoy casual al fresco dining with scenic river views and dramatic sunsets. The counter pickup menu includes lobster rolls, fish tacos, hamburgers, assorted pastries from Amy’s Bread, house-made blueberry lemonade and more family-friendly selections (plus adult beverages).

 

L’Arte Del Gelato Stands

65th Street & Broadway

This artisanal Sicilian gelato shop, always at Chelsea Market, sets up carts in the summer in front of cultural destinations across NYC including the Met, the Guggenheim, Natural History Museum, High LineLincoln Center Plaza and Oculus at World Trade Center. Gelato and sorbet flavors vary; if you’re lucky they’ll have Nocciola delle Langhe (hazelnut).

Ample Hills Creamery UWS

526 Amsterdam Ave between 85th & 86th Streets
The Upper West Side outpost of this popular Brooklyn-based ice cream shop features a this-location-only flavor Night at the Moo-seum, inspired by our neighboring at the American Museum of Natural History – a deep, dark chocolate ice cream with salty pretzel swirl, Raaka chocolate flakes, chocolate sandwich cookie dust and colorful chocolate geodes.