Think of New York City, particularly Manhattan, and the first few things to come to mind are probably skyscrapers, flashing billboards and SoHo shopping sprees.
And while there’s nothing wrong with joining in the fun of downtown hotspots, there’s much more to be seen. When you need a break from the hustle and bustle — think historic landmarks, riverside views, local food and plenty of dancing — hop on the 1 and A trains and head north to uncover the magic of uptown Manhattan’s neighborhoods.
Offering an unexpected respite from city life, Inwood is as green as it gets in the Big Apple, thanks to spots like The Met Cloisters in Fort Tryon Park. Located on the northernmost edge of Manhattan island, the neighborhood remains un-ventured territory for most city folk, and has stayed bucolic as a result.
When you’re tired of Central Park, hike over to Inwood Hill, the only natural forest and salt marsh left in Manhattan. Here you can enjoy ample shade, explore prehistoric caves and search for unique geographical features like glacial potholes that have been around for thousands of years.
Once you’ve reached the end of your stroll (you’ll know by the panoramic views of the New Jersey Palisades), recharge at the nearby Indian Road Cafe with fan favorites like the BBQ pulled pork sandwich and lobster macaroni and cheese. When the dancing bug hits, end (or begin) your night at La Marina, Dyckman Street’s waterfront restaurant and all-day beachside party.
Just south of Inwood and hugging the Hudson River, Washington Heights is vibrant neighborhood rich in history. Higher above sea level than the rest of island, the neighborhood earned its named from its strategic role as a defense point during the Revolutionary War. Visitors can head to Bennett Park to find the plaque commemorating the former site of the Continental Army’s stronghold, Fort Washington.
History buffs should also pay a visit to Highbridge Park, which hosts the city’s oldest standing bridge, as well as the iconic United Palace. Built in the 1930s, this terracotta masterpiece used to host live vaudeville shows. The extravagant space is now home to various cultural events and church programming.
All this history making you hungry? Head across the street from United Palace to Malecon Restaurant, which has been serving up its signature Dominican classic, mofongo (fried mashed plantains), for more than 30 years.
This neighborhood, named after Founding Father Alexander Hamilton, is home to the famous American’s final resting place, now known as the Hamilton Grange. If you’re looking for a spook or two, the area’s Trinity Church Cemetery & Mausoleum often hosts tours of its oak-covered grounds and notable permanent residents like John Jacob Astor and Alfred Tennyson Dickens.
For date night, head to Riverbank State Park where you can enjoy an evening picnic, followed by a skating session at the roller rink. If you’re feeling a little more frisky, take in a round of drinks and dancing at Sofrito, the park’s glamorous Puerto Rican restaurant offering regular live music and DJ nights.