From the East River to the Hudson, Harlem is a fascinating rush of cultures that spans the top of Manhattan and includes cool Central Harlem and East Harlem or El Barrio as locals affectionately call it, and of course, Museum Mile. TRAINS: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 A, B, C, D to various stops.
See & Do
The Museum of the City of New York, Museo del Barrio, the Conservatory Garden are right on Museum Mile. Further west is Malcolm Shabazz Harlem Market, Studio Museum, and The Schomburg Center. Latest attractions: Sugar Hill Children’s Museum of Art & Storytelling and High Bridge links Upper Manhattan to the Bronx. Don't miss the National Jazz Museum in El Barrio, the Julia De Burgos Cultural Arts Center and The Poets Den for off-beat entertainment.
Harlem's restaurant renaissance is a fine match for it jazz legacy with innovative celebrity chefs featuring recipes from the African Diaspora to down-home Southern cooking based on family recipes to haute cuisine, ramen and craft cocktails. Gospel brunches on Sundays at Sylvia's is a classic experience while Zoma, Sylvia's and Chocolat are among those establishments credited with helping to kick off what is now known as Restaurant Row along Frederick Douglas Blvd.
Supper clubs and jazz keep Harlem hopping at the Apollo Theater and now The Cecil with Minton’s below. Look for live music and late-night joints as well as whatever is happening in the neo-classical structure known as The Apollo Theater. Since 1935, the Apollo has hosted greats like Count Basie, Nat King Cole, Sammy Davis, Jr., Stevie Wonder and the Jackson Five and "Showtime" and "Amateur Night at the Apollo" are still very popular. Right behind it, though a tad younger is the Lenox Lounge's Zebra Room that once counted on Billie Holliday and John Coltrane as regulars.
Newly renovated brownstones in this revitalized neighborhood offer a taste of classic Harlem. The charming 102 Brownstone has its fans as does the the Harlem Flophouse if you’re a jazz lover. More conventional stays can be had at Aloft Harlem. More options are up and running: Sugar Hill Harlem Inn, 710 Guest Suites, The Park Venue North, Allies’ Bed and Breakfast and the Harlem YMCA to name a few.
No doubt about it, Harlem's rebirth has attracted big-box stores Target and H&M but shop local for edgy-yet-preppy wares including a few Brooklyn transplants (Carol's Daughter). Other names to track down: Harlem Underground, Harlem Haberdashery. For the flea-finders try the Sugar Hill Market in Spring, the Malcolm Shabazz Harlem Market a bazaar of African crafts and textiles; for culinary creativity, visit El Marqueta (115th St. & Park).