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An Upper West Side day of adventure

An Upper West Side day of adventure

One of my favorite things about New York City is that it’s so easy to keep the spirit of travel alive, even in my fixed life: new neighborhoods to explore, new restaurants to try, new shows to see. Even though it’s easy to fall into a Brooklyn rut–especially when the weather gets chilly–I crossed the river on a weekend (an increasingly rare occurrence!) and headed to the Upper West Side for a day of adventure.
Christine Amorose & Kate Brennan at Levain Bakery
My friend Kate and I woke up early for a #ProductiveSaturday (pretty sure she is the only friend who would be up for an 8am meet-up time on a weekend!) and headed uptown. My boyfriend grew up on the Upper West Side, and his parents still live here, so I’ve spent a good amount of time in the neighborhood–but this was the first time that Kate had explored the area. We had a loose itinerary of places we wanted to see–namely, our first priority was a cup of hot coffee and a bagel–but we spent the day chatting as we wandered through the crisp, clean, well-kept streets. It was the first COLD day of the year, so our only totally unplanned stop was to pop into a store to buy matching mittens! Chilly or not, the leaves were changing and it was a such a magical day–I adore living in Williamsburg, but there’s something special about this neighborhood nestled between Central Park and the Hudson River.

Morningside Park in New York City Morningside Park in New York City Morningside Park in New York City

Morningside Park

One of the best things about the Upper West Side is the myriad parks. Morningside is one of my favorites because of how it’s built on an angle: the towering trees almost make it feel like a fortress, and the big grassy hills are made for frolicking. It was even more beautiful with all of the changing leaves!

Columbia University in New York City

Columbia University

Isn’t it crazy how sometimes stepping onto a college campus feels like stepping into another world? When you walk through the gates of Columbia University, it no longer feels like you’re in a city of skyscrapers and brownstones: it’s world of high-brow, fancy-schmancy academia.

Christine Amorose in Oren Daily Roast

Oren’s Daily Roast

Even though there seems to be a Starbucks on every block on the Upper West Side, I’m basically still boycotting its entry into Williamsburg. So! We popped into Oren’s Daily Roast for a hot cup of coffee–partly for the caffeine, but mostly for something warm to hold in the very cold weather.

Seinfeld Restaurant in New York City

Tom’s Restaurant

If you recognize the outside of this corner restaurant…it’s likely because you’ve seen at least one episode of Seinfeld. Seeing it always makes me want to go home and watch reruns!
St John the Divine Cathedral in New York CitySt John the Divine Cathedral in New York City

Cathedral of St John the Divine

The largest Anglican cathedral and church in the world, St John the Divine is a stunning example of Gothic Revival architecture in the heart of Manhattan. Right now, there is a giant art installation under the soaring ceilings–a little research, and I found out it’s one of the biggest pieces of sculpture ever displayed in the United States. Kate and I were both duly impressed by how the church made creative use of the space! Bonus: don’t miss the gorgeous sculpture garden next door.
Absolute Bagels in New York City

Absolute Bagels

I have eaten many, many everything bagels with plain cream cheese since moving to New York City, and I must say: nothing compares with Absolute. Without a doubt, one of the best bagels I’ve ever eaten–it’s no wonder the line goes out the door.
Strauss Park in New York City

Strauss Park

Such a lovely little triangle of tall trees, sun-drenched benches and cobblestone paths.
Pomander Walk in New York City

Pomander Walk

My ultimate goal on the Upper West Side was to sneak into the private Pomander Walk and take the most glorious #HousePortrait Instagram ever. Alas–we missed our opportunity, and I had to content myself with peeking through the (very secure) gate and taking a photo of the outer entry. However, I promise that I’ll be going back to try again!
Christine Amorose and Kate Brennan in Riverside Park

Riverside Park

My boyfriend grew up across the street from Riverside Park, and it’s one of my favorite places to walk/bike ride/throw the football or kick the soccer ball around when we staycation at his parents’ place. Not only does it overlook the Hudson River, but there’s a gorgeous leafy promenade and plenty of grassy knolls filled with dogs and children and flowers.

Zabar's in New York City

Zabar’s

Whenever we borrow my boyfriend’s parents’ car, we always pop into Zabar’s cafe to pick up coffee and a ham and cheese croissant–but the corner outpost has nothing on the iconic gourmet food emporium next door. The grocery store specializes in smoked fish and other kosher specialities, but it seems like they have just about anything and everything–we even spotted a basket of 59-cent snail shells!
Banksy Boy with Hammer on the Upper West Side

Banksy

When Banksy came to New York City last year, he completed this “Boy with Hammer” piece on 79th Street. It’s not my favorite Banksy piece and I’m not a huge fan of protecting street art–the whole thrilling joy is that it’s temporary–but still, it’s an interesting piece of current street art culture. (Side note: just got so stoked to learn about the new Banksy HBO documentary!)
Levain Bakery Chocolate Chip Cookies

Levain Bakery

The best chocolate chip walnut cookie in all of the world: six ounces of warm, gooey deliciousness. Levain Bakery, you are worth the wait.
Lincoln Center in New York City

Lincoln Center

After wandering down to Lincoln Center and soaking up a bit of chilly sunshine on the lawn overhang, we were inspired to buy tickets for a Julliard dance performance in December. The next girls’ night of adventure is on the books!

Note: some of our stops were inspired by taza’s new york city guide: upper west side and morning side heights, others were from friends’ recommendations and a few we stumbled upon! What would you most like to visit on the Upper West Side? 

  • Loved this! Whenever we go to NYC early December, we are staying in the Upper West Side, so I’m definitely going to be using some of these recommendations. 🙂 Thanks for sharing!

  • Isabel

    One of my favorite posts you’ve written as you mentioned so many of my favorite spots in my old neighborhood. I lived across the street from St. John the Divine and always marveled at the huge cathedral in the middle of the city. What I would do for an absolute bagel and gooey Levain cookie right now!

  • SINCERELYKATEB

    BEST DAY EVER!

  • Lucy

    I also love Banksy – but the artist may actually be a woman! Check this out: http://www.citylab.com/design/2014/11/why-banksy-is-probably-a-woman/382202/

  • i miss nyc so much. one day i shall be back and will have been inspired by this post. 🙂

  • camorose

    Oh wonderful! It’s such a gorgeous neighborhood, you’ll enjoy it. So nice to be so close to the park!

  • camorose

    It’s so funny–the UWS isn’t THAT far from me, but it really does feel like a different world. I wish there was an Absolute Bagel and a Levain Bakery in my neighborhood–but perhaps it’s best that it’s saved a treat to splurge on whenever I’m in that neighborhood!

  • camorose

    THE BEST!

  • camorose

    Oooh so fun! I can’t wait for the HBO doc!

  • camorose

    Yay! New York will always be here, don’t worry 🙂

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  • Just discovered your blog via Polly of Let’s Love Local, and I love it so much! I lived in NYC for nearly 7 years before moving to Moscow, and I proverbially kick myself all the time for the huuuuuuuge list of amazing things/places/foods/activities that I never took advantage of during all my time in the city.

  • camorose

    Ah I think that is a common feeling! I’ve lived in NYC for almost four years and I still feel like I haven’t done nearly anything I wanted to do! I’m trying to do more adventures in different neighborhoods around NYC this year–like this day in the UWS!–so that I can check more things off the list but it’s a constant challenge