Are you planning a trip to New York City? I’m jealous! It’s my favorite city in the world. I’ve spent my whole life exploring NYC, and still have not uncovered all there is! There are so many things, you couldn’t possibly even make a dent in the amount of exploring, eating, and learning to be done!
Once you’ve checked off all of the top sites (which if you’re a first timer – you should see!), it’s time to discover some of the hidden places in NYC. The Upper West Side is one of my favorite neighborhoods. It’s got Central Park, Riverside Park, the Museum of Natural History, plus tons of boutique shops and restaurants.
I highly recommend spending a day exploring this neighborhood of Manhattan (and check out this itinerary while you’re at it!). Visiting these 7 Hidden spots in NYC’s Upper West Side will make your trip a little more special. It feels like you are part of a secret that not everyone knows about!
Arthur Ross Terrace
If you’re weekend plans in NYC consist of finding a rooftop to lounge at, be prepared for crowds and high prices. Luckily, the Arthur Ross Terrace has got you covered. This family friendly rooftop patio is the perfect place to cool off and relax in the UWS, and best of all…it’s free!
The splash pad, tables and umbrellas, and shade under the trees means everyone in the family will be happy here. Plus in the winter, it turns into a skating rink.
Find it: On the second floor of the Museum of Natural History. No ticket is needed to get to the terrace.
Septuagesimo Uno Park
At ⅖ of an acre, Septuagesimo Uno Park is the tiniest park in Manhattan. Don’t let its small size make you think any less of it, though. Originally built in the sixties, this ‘pocket park’ is a lovely place to step away from the busy streets and have a quiet rest. It gets locked at dusk, so be sure to visit during the day.
Find it: The park is hidden between two Brownstone’s on 71st Street between West End and Broadway/Amsterdam
The Lotus Garden
This is a top secret spot hidden above the streets on the roof of a parking garage. It’s amazing to see a rooftop garden with fish ponds, fruit trees, and paths to stroll through. It definitely feels very removed from NYC. Since it is so private, it is only open to the public during a small window of time: Sundays from 1-4 from April to November. If you’re a local, annual membership is low, and worth it if you really love this garden.
Find it: 97th Street between Broadway and West End Ave. Find the wrought iron gate east of the parking garage
Pomander Walk takes charming to a whole new level. This NYC landmark is straight from the pages of a storybook – think french village from Beauty and the Beast. Originally built in 1922, the 27 Tudor-style buildings are kept in immaculate shape. Bright colors, stucco and brick facades, and flower boxes from second story windows make this a secret escape from the streets of New York. It’s not open to the public anymore, but it is still fun to look between the gates at this little oasis.
Find it: 94th-95th St. between Broadway and West End. Hidden behind gated doors, the 94th street entrance has a sign out front.
Upper Riverside Park Statues
Riverside park is no secret, but it does feel like you are in on something special when you explore this low key green space in the city. It is often overlooked for nearby Central Park. The upper part of Riverside Park is even more quiet – separated from the rest of it by Riverside Drive. This peaceful section of Manhattan is where you will discover various bronze statues, memorials, and monuments dotted throughout the park from 72nd up to 113th. Eleanor Roosevelt, Joan of Arc, and Grant’s Tomb are some of the coolest of the statues. Grant’s Tomb is in Sakura Park, another secret place that is beautiful to see cherry blossoms in the Spring.
Find it: Start at 72nd Street and Riverside Drive
Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine
Technically, this church is not in the UWS, but Morningside Heights. It’s just such a cool place, I couldn’t not put it on this list. This Gothic Revival landmark is the 4th largest church in the world, filled with sculptures, artwork and 27th century artifacts. Synod Hall, in the southwest corner of the property, is a beautiful building with intricately engraved statues that seem to sing. The singing comes from birds nestled somewhere deep inside the architecture! Even better, the property is home to a few peacocks, donated from the Bronx Zoo in the eighties. That’s right. A few peacocks stroll around the grounds of a church in NYC.
Find it: 1047 Amsterdam Ave. (between 111th and 112th St.)
West Side Community Garden
Here is another garden that will make you feel like you are being transported away from Manhattan to another world. This is a public garden, free for anyone to wander around, but maintained by volunteer members. The seasonal flowers means there is something during all times of the year. And there are plenty of events, like BBQ’s, plays, and festivals to keep you entertained.
Find it: 89th Street between Columbus and Amsterdam
Do you know of any other hidden spots in The Upper West Side or other parts of New York City?
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