The Upper West Side (UWS) has long been one of my favorite neighborhoods in New York City. If I’m honest, I think nostalgia plays a big part in that.
I’ve travelled to NYC countless times with my husband and various friends but every solo trip I take, I rent a tiny studio apartment on West 69th Street just steps from Central Park. I sleep with the windows open and let the city sounds put me to sleep at night and the chirping birds wake me up in the morning.
One thing that makes the Upper West Side so special is that it is geographically situated between two of the most beautiful parks in the city. Riverside Park, parallel the Hudson River, runs along on its west side and the world renowned Central Park along its eastern border. Not only are there amazing encounters with nature in both these parks (a rarity in the “concrete jungle”), but recreational opportunities are plentiful. There are running paths, walking trails, bike lanes, baseball and soccer fields, sports courts of all types, dog parks, playgrounds and even opportunities for fishing and bird watching. No matter where you are on the Upper West Side, you are mere blocks away from the opportunity to exercise or play in the great outdoors.
Another reason I am so taken with the Upper West Side is the friendly, established neighborhood feel. There are businesses in this neighborhood that date back many decades, some a half-century or more! Take for instance Zabar’s, a gourmet food emporium on the corner of West 80th and Broadway. It has been family owned and operated since 1934. Their bagels are everything you would want them to be and they slice you the thinnest, freshest, most mouthwatering lox to order.
And then there’s 67 Wine on West 67th and Columbus, established in 1941. They have an unparalleled wine selection and offer guaranteed delivery on the UWS within an hour of receiving the order! They offer tastings and are happy to help you find the exact wine you’re looking for. They source from all over the world.
The Sensuous Bean has been in the neighborhood since 1976. In addition to having an incredible global selection of coffee beans, it’s their loose leaf tea selection that makes my heart swoon. They are aromatic, delicious and so very beautiful, featuring dried flowers, berries and rinds. I highly recommend stopping in for a hot drink, a quick chat and something lovely to take home with you.
A neighborhood like the UWS has a unique ability to make the big city feel small. Longstanding, locally owned businesses like these serve as anchors in an otherwise transient city, where businesses and people move in and out with regularity. Their stable presence brings familiarity and people are on a first name basis which to me, is the essence of a neighborhood.
Are you planning a trip to New York City? Be sure to put the Upper West Side on your list! I’d recommend spending at least a full day exploring this neighborhood. Feel free to reach out to me if you’d like help building a custom itinerary.