North Harlem is boarded on the south by 125th street, on the north by 145th street, on the west by Amsterdam Ave and on the east by 5th Ave. South Harlem is one of the fastest growing areas of Manhattan. New stores, new developments, and a general overhaul of the neighborhood has helped 10026 become the new, niche neighborhood to call home. In fact, Curbed Magazine deemed Soha’s Frederick Douglass Boulevard “Neighborhood of the Year” in 2010.
Some of the best parks in NYC are in Harlem below 125th street. The northern part of Central Park is arguably the most fantastic. The North Woods at the Ravine is the dense woodlands covering the northwest quadrant of Central Park from 101st to 110th Street. This reserve,
with a wide variety of trees and shrubs, features an assortment of bird species and is a cherished retreat for naturalists. The north park also features Lasker Pool, a free public pool, which is transformed into an ice skating rink in the colder months.
Built on a steep incline, Morningside Park (110th to 123rd Street from Morningside Drive to Morningside Av.) features multiple playgrounds nestled at the bottom of its cliff-like hillside. Winding paths bordered with flowers and trees lead to a cascading waterfall, across from which local teams compete on baseball fields. Parents bring their children to play and learn in the park’s after-school program, and on Saturdays, local farmers sell their goods in an outdoor market. Essentially, Eden.
Marcus Garvey Park (or Mount Morris Park) is bounded by 120th & 124th streets, just west of 5th Avenue. This oasis features a public pool, farmer’s market, and amphitheater. Head north to tour the grounds of City College, the oldest of the City University’s twenty-three institutions of higher learning. City College’s thirty-five acre Manhattan campus along Convent Avenue from 130th Street to 141st Streets is on a hill overlooking Harlem; its neo-Gothic campus was mostly designed by George Browne Post and many of its buildings are landmarks.
Saint Nicholas Park is a 23-acre park bounded by 141st Street to the north, 128th Street to the south, St. Nicholas Terrace to the west, and St. Nicholas Avenue to the east. Much of City College’s thirty-five-acre campus, including the famous Shepard Hall, is located just across St. Nicholas Terrace. The wooded park features basketball courts, playgrounds, handball courts, a dog park, and New York City Department of Parks and Recreation designated barbecue areas.
Harlem is a bustling community full of people who very
much live within the work hard, play hard mentality. To
that extent, there is no shortage of outlets to work out
your stress and generate endorphins via different types of
To start, there are a host of gyms including two New York Sports Clubs in South Harlem – 125th/FDB and 115th/5th, as well as Planet Fitness at Lenox/126th. Blink Fitness (116th/ Lenox and 125th/FDB) is another great gym beloved by locals. Also check out My Gym Harlem (123rd Street/Saint Nicholas Avenue) for a unique fitness experience for the entire family. My Gym’s facility and program is designed to build physical fitness and cognitive development for children aged 6 weeks-10 years of age through a cohesive program comprised of dance, music, sports, games, gymnastics and more. Kids will have a blast while also building social skills and confidence.
Harlem’s YMCA, located on 135th between Adam Clayton Powell and Malcolm X Blvd has an inexpensive gym membership and offers community classes as well. If yoga is more your style, check out the Ashtanga-style Land Yoga (FDB/114th) that offers that balance between challenge and relaxation for all ages and levels. Unity Yoga at 350 St. Nicholas (at 128th), offers new members a 1-month unlimited membership for $60 which includes heated and unheated Vinyasa yoga.
Harlem is renown for its rich music history and many jazz
clubs. Apollo Theater (125th/FDB) is one of the oldest and
most famous music halls in the United States and was the
home of “Showtime at the Apollo,” a nationally syndicated
television variety show.
Harlem Stage is a performing arts center that celebrates the unique and diverse artistic legacy of Harlem and the indelible impression it has made on American culture. In their nearly thirty years, Harlem Stage has hosted legends such as Harry Belafonte, Max Roach, Bill Cosby, Abbey Lincoln, Maya Angelou and Tito Puente.
The Studio Museum in Harlem (125th/ACP) is focused on supporting African American visual, literary, and performing artists through exhibits, artists-in-residence, and a variety of other programs.
If you’re interested in documentaries, check out the Maysles Documentary Center & Maysles Cinema (Lenox Ave/127th). Founded by Albert Maysles, whose over forty documentaries include Grey Gardens, Gimme Shelter, and Salesman, the non-profit institute is dedicated to the exhibition and production of documentary films that inspire dialogue and action. They also offer diverse, year-round programming for youth and adults in Harlem, Northern Manhattan, and South Bronx communities.r>
If you prefer to dine at home, Whole Foods (125th and Lenox) offers a wide variety of healthy foods and ready-to-serve meals. There’s also Central Market (110th/Frederick Douglass Blvd) and Best Market (118th/FDB), which has freshly made pizza, smoothies, deli sandwiches, and sushi, and a large selection of craft brews. For grass-fed, organic meats, stop in at Harlem Shambles (FDB/116th), where you’ll find your basic cuts and some more adventurous offerings like marrow bones, beef heart, and tongue. Westside Market (110/Broadway) offers an array of pre-cooked foods, salad bar, deli, and home delivery.
Take a stroll across 125th between Lenox Ave and Frederick Douglass Blvd and see that Harlem has your fashion needs covered. There you’ll find large chains such as H&M, Sephora, Gap, Banana Republic Factory Story, DSW, Bed Bath & Beyond and American Apparel, not to mention the Whole Foods shopping center at 125th and Lenox which includes Burlington Coat Factory, Raymour & Flannigan, and Olive Garden. Venture over to Saint Nicholas Ave and you’ll find more small shops, such as Nicole’s Boutique.
Harlem Underground (FD Blvd. and 120th) is a local favorite that will help you look your best while out on the town. Check out Moe’s Sneaker Spot (ACP Blvd. and 115th) for the latest kicks to get you where you’re going. For unique gifts created and inspired by all good things, people and places in Harlem, stop by Harlem’s own gift shop NiLu (119th/Lenox). Harlem has your floral needs covered with Franz James Floral Boutique (FDB/114th). This boutique offers artfully crafted arrangements that make perfect gifts. For stylish clothing and accessories at affordable prices, drop by Bebe Noir (124th and ACP). Harlem Underground (Frederick Douglass Blvd. at 119th St.) is a clothing company to help you look your best while out on the town.
Vying for the title of best soul food, Harlem is home to the legendary Sylvia’s (126th/Lenox) and
Amy Ruth’s (116th/Lenox) where you can order up the “Rev. Al Sharpton” (fried or smothered chicken and waffles) or the “Stan Hoffman & Lu Willard” (BBQ spare ribs). Red Rooster on 125th and Lenox features soul food by celebrity chef Marcus Samuelsson of Aquavit and Food Network’s Chopped. Lolo’s Seafood Shack (116th St. at FDB) is a small but beloved counter-order place offering Caribbean-inspired fare including seafood steampots. If you’re headed north, People’s Choice (145th/FDB) is the authentic local stop for all your Caribbean cravings
including beef patties and oxtail soup. Don’t forget to stop at the ATM — this slice of the Caribbean in Harlem is cash only.
Have a hankering for chicken and waffles or buffalo wings with nuclear hot sauce? There are several area restaurants where you can get your fix. For something cheap and quick, stop by Atomic Wings (113th/FDB) where the hot sauce comes in the following flavors: hot, abusive, nuclear, and suicidal. Dinosaur Bar-B-Q (125th/12th Ave) offers a “donkey punch” that will kick your ass. Don’t forget to hit Melba’s (114th/FDB) and Miss Mamie’s Spoonbread Too (110th/Columbus) where celebrities like Angela Bassett, Mike Tyson, and Bill Clinton have dined.
For homemade Mexican cuisine, visit Lolita’s (113th/Lenox) or Cantina Taqueria & Tequila Bar (ACP Blvd. at 111th St.) which also serves yummy tacos and burritos, plus drinks at the bar.
There are plenty of bars along FDB Avenue including the always packed Bier on 113th featuring international beer and food, Moca Lounge on 119th, and 67 Orange (a speakeasy) on 113th. If you’re over on Lenox Ave, stop in at Corner Social at 126th and enjoy one of their cocktails on their sidewalk cafe. There is also Harlem Tavern, an outdoor beer garden on the corner of 116th with jazz brunches, Lobster Tuesdays and Karaoke Mondays.
The A, B, C, D Trains all stop at 125th St and
Saint Nicholas Ave, and the B, C Trains run local and
stop at 116th and Frederick Douglass, and also 110th
and Central Park West. The 2 and 3 Trains stop at 110th St and Lenox, 116th and
Lenox, 125th and Lenox, and 135th and Lenox. The 3 Train
continues north to 145th and Lenox, and its last stop is at
148th and Adam Clayton Powell Blvd. The 2 Train then
heads into the Bronx.
The M2, M3, M7, M10, M102, and M116 buses each run through Harlem and offer access to downtown NYC, uptown NYC, Central Park, and more!