Image of the Upper West Side and Central Park, Manhattan
The Upper West Side and Central Park seen from Midtown Manhattan
If your heart is set on staying in Manhattan for an upcoming trip to New York City, consider the vibrant neighborhood of the Upper West Side! The Upper West Side is ideally located within the borough of Manhattan: it borders Central Park and is close to many famous landmarks of the Big Apple. The upscale Upper West Side is also well known for its great selection of stores, restaurants and, not to forget, apartments! Its lively yet residential environment makes this neighborhood perfect for both short-term and long-term stays in New York City.

Welcome to the Upper West Side

View of the Upper West Side is amazing! Photo credit: Peter Burka (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Like its name suggests, the Upper West Side is located in the northwest of Manhattan. It’s bordered by Morningside Heights to the north, Central Park to the east, Hell’s Kitchen to the south and the Hudson River to the west. This means it’s lodged between West 59th Street & West 110th Street, between the river and the park. Because of this, the Upper West Side is a very green neighborhood with many amazing parks and tree-lined streets. The architecture is also quite striking, with beautiful brownstones alternated by great old apartment buildings close to Central Park.

The neighborhood is easily accessible as it’s serviced by two subway lines: the 1 & 2 metro line that runs north to south in the center of the neighborhood, and the A, B, C & D line that runs north to south next to the western border of Central Park. Broadway and Amsterdam Avenue are two large streets that run through the neighborhood and feature many shops, bars, cafes and restaurants. The Upper West Side is often perceived as a very cultural, intellectual and diverse area of New York.

Go shopping in Manhattan’s Upper West Side

Besides Broadway and Amsterdam Avenue; Columbus Avenue is the next big shopping street in the neighborhood. The Upper West Side offers a wide array of shops ranging from big department stores such as Century 21 to small gourmet shops such as Zabar’s. The following are some of our favorites in the area.

  • Picture of Manhattan’s The Shops at Columbus Circle
    The Shops at Columbus Circle in the Upper West Side of Manhattan
    The Shops at Columbus Circle
    is a huge shopping center located in the impressive Time Warner Center right next to Columbus Circle on 59th Street & Broadway. The Whole Foods Market in the concourse of the building is one of the biggest and best grocery stores in Manhattan. On the ground and upper floors you’ll find big brands such as Hugo Boss, Davidoff, Sephora and J. Crew. The center also houses several upscale restaurants and the music venue Jazz at Lincoln Center. For more information about the area, check out our Video Tour of Columbus Circle.
  • The Century 21 department store on 67th Street & Broadway offers a great selection of discounted designer clothing. Try to come early in the morning or late in the afternoon to beat the crowds.
  • The Designer Shoe Warehouse on 79th Street & Broadway definitely lives up to its name! The huge store offers shoes from many different designers in all shapes and sizes. There’s also a great clearance section you shouldn’t miss!
  • The Upper West Side has one of the coziest and most classic Barnes & Noble bookstores in town. The store on 82nd Street & Broadway offers a great selection of literature and a comfy café where you can sit down with a cup of coffee and a good read.
  • On 67th Street & Broadway you’ll run into a huge glass structure: the Upper West Side’s Apple Store. The beautiful design is something to see, and this location is somewhat (but not much) quieter than the one on the Upper East Side.
Image of Zabar’s in the Upper West Side of Manhattan
Zabar’s is an institution of the Upper West Side, Manhattan
  • Zabar’s on 80th Street & Broadway is an institution in the Upper West Side. This amazing gourmet store offers everything from exotic cheeses to delectable smoked salmon, and also has an amazing bakery section. If you’re in the area, and even if you’re not, be sure to check it out and try one of their bagels!
  • Another amazing grocery store is Fairway Market on 75th Street & Broadway. Fairway has a great healthy food selection including lots of organic food.
  • The list wouldn’t be complete without Trader Joe’s on 72nd & Broadway. This grocery store is especially amazing when it comes to fresh produce.

Upper West Side Cafes, Restaurants and Bars

The Upper West Side has an abundance of amazing cafes, bars and restaurants. Offering everything from chain restaurants to tiny coffee rooms, you’ll be hard pressed to see everything the neighborhood has to offer — even if you had a year! The following are some of our favorite venues in the area.

  • Cafes

If there’s one drink the Upper West Siders can’t live without, it’s coffee. So it comes as no surprise that Upper West Manhattan boasts some of the best cafes and coffee rooms in town. Joe on 86th & Columbus has become such an institution on the Upper West Side, people actually talk about ‘getting a cup of Joe’ instead of a cup of coffee! At Aroma Espresso Bar on 72nd between Columbus & Amsterdam you’ll come for the coffee and leave with a delectable salad or sandwich. Irving Farm Coffee Roasters on 79th between Broadway & Amsterdam serves some of their special coffee drinks in mason jars! Three other cafes that definitely deserve a visit are Arte Around the Corner, The Muffins Cafe, and Zanny’s Cafe.

  • Restaurants
Picture of Shake Shack on the Upper West Side of Manhattan
The Upper West Side location of the famous Shake Shack in Manhattan
Like burgers? Come to Shake Shack on 77th & Columbus! If you don’t want to wait in line, come late in the evening. Calle Ocho on 81st between Central Park West & Columbus is a fantastic Cuban place for brunch. The restaurant can get crowded so be sure to make a reservation well in advance! Good Enough to Eat on 85th & Columbus is another great place for brunch, and a neighborhood favorite. Visit Nougatine on 61st & Central Park West for fine dining in a classy French restaurant. For those on a budget, the popular hot dog joint Gray’s Papaya on 72nd & Broadway is a great alternative. Other favorites in the area include Boulud, Flor de Maya, Fred’s Restaurant, French Roast and PJ Clarke’s.

  • Bars & Pubs

Jake’s Dilemma on 81st & Amsterdam is a bar with great music and beer pong tables! Blondies over on 79th & Amsterdam is a traditional sports bar that serves delectable chicken wings. The Dead Poet is an offbeat “artsy” bar that serves cocktails with some very original names. If you’re a fan of the 1920s you should definitely pay a visit to the speakeasy-like Prohibition on 84th & Columbus. This bar has a great vibe and often features live music! Two other popular bars in the area are Stone Rose Lounge and Brother Jimmy’s West.

Live Like a Local in the Upper West Side of Manhattan

The Upper West Side of Manhattan is ideally located for a stay in New York City. If you’re visiting on holiday, we have many vacation rental apartments in the Upper West Side that are close to Central Park and the famous skyscrapers of Midtown Manhattan! The Upper West Side is known for being an especially family friendly neighborhood, so it’s a great pick if you plan on bringing kids.

If you’re coming to New York for a longer period, our Upper West Side furnished apartments provide a great home-away-from-home in this residential area of the city. Alternatively, you can also choose to rent a room in a shared apartment in the Upper West Side. This is a great option for interns or students coming to New York City, as Columbia University is just one of the many schools nearby. By living on the Upper West Side you’ll truly get to experience what it’s like to live in New York City like a local!

What to See & Do in Manhattan’s Upper West Side

You’ll never find yourself bored when you’re living in the Upper West Side of Manhattan. This cultural neighborhood offers many options ranging from the New York City Ballet to the Museum of Natural History! When the sun is out you’ll also be able to fully enjoy the parks in the area.

Image of Central Park’s Imagine Memorial at the Strawberry Fields
The Imagine Memorial at the Strawberry Fields in Central Park
Central Park is located on the eastern border of the neighborhood, so the park is often just a couple of blocks away when you’re in the Upper West Side! The park features many famous sites, such as the Imagine Memorial for John Lennon at Strawberry Fields. Enjoy picnics in the park and free theater at Shakespeare in the Park in the summer, and visit the ice-skating rinks in the park in the winter! For more information about Central Park through the seasons, see Explore Central Park in Manhattan.

Another great park in the neighborhood is the Hudson River Greenway. This strip of green runs along the Hudson River, and is a great place to go jogging.

Picture of Manhattan’s Museum of Natural History
The impressive Museum of Natural History in the Upper West Side of Manhattan
On a rainy day you can set out to discover one of the many great museums in the area! The Museum of Natural History is probably the most famous of the set, but the Children’s Museum of Manhattan, New York Historical Society and Museum of Art and Design are all well worth a visit.

Image of Manhattan’s Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts
Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts in the Upper West Side, Manhattan
Sticking with the cultural theme, the Upper West Side is famous for its amazing theater and dance venues. The most famous of these is the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, which houses the Metropolitan Opera, New York City Ballet and David H. Koch Theater. The Peter Jay Sharp Theater and Symphony Space are two other great venues in the area. The Upper West Side also houses two impressive movie theaters: the AMC Lincoln Square and the AMC Loews. These cinemas are often a lot less crowded than the movie theaters in Times Square.

When it comes to landmarks, the Upper West Side is well known for its splendid apartment buildings. You’ll find most of these beside the park on Central Park West. The most famous of all is probably the Dakota Building, where John Lennon was shot in 1980. Other beautiful buildings in the area include the San Remo Apartments, El Dorado Apartments, Dorilton Apartments and Apthop Apartments. Lastly, the Shearith Israel Synagogue is a beautiful building to behold, and the Joan of Arc Monument is also very impressive.

We hope you’ve enjoyed this introduction to Manhattan’s Upper West Side. What’s your favorite neighborhood in Manhattan?