Explore With Me: Upper West Side

Natalie Chinn, Deputy Features Editor

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  • Columbus Circle is a traffic circle located at the southwest corner of Central Park.

  • The statue of Christopher Columbus in the middle of the Circle, facing downtown.

  • The Museum of Arts and Design to the south of Columbus Circle. Students can get a ticket for $12 with a valid student ID.

  • Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts hosts many notable performing arts organizations including the New York Philharmonic and the Metropolitan Opera.

  • The Dakota is an apartment building near 72nd Street and Central Park West. It is famous as the home of former Beatle John Lennon from 1973 to his murder in the building in 1980.

  • The American Museum of Natural History is one of the largest museums in the world.

  • Skeleton in the entrance hall of the museum.

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The Upper West Side is located between the Hudson River and Central Park West, spanning from 59th to 110th Street. While this neighborhood is all the way uptown — near a certain Ivy League university — the architecture, calm atmosphere and endless movie references make it worth the trip.

The best way to start a day in the Upper West Side is with brunch. Try Good Enough to Eat, a homey, family-owned restaurant on Columbus Avenue with a picket white fence outside. This cozy restaurant has been open since 1981 and proudly makes everything from scratch. While its brunch menu boasts six kinds of pancakes and more than 14 different egg dishes, Good Enough to Eat is best known for its strawberry butter, which is a customer favorite.

After brunch, make your way off of busy Columbus Avenue and take a stroll down some of the quieter residential streets. Architecture buffs will enjoy gazing up at the grand apartment buildings lining Central Park West, one of several historic districts in New York City. Here, you’ll find the Eldorado, San Remo, Majestic and Century apartments, which were built in the 1930s and are known for having two interior towers each. These aren’t the only luxury apartment buildings in the area: the Dakota, John Lennon’s former home and where he was murdered, is located on 72nd Street. Other architecture hotspots include the neoclassical Congregation Shearith Israel synagogue on 70th Street and the beautiful row houses along Riverside Drive.

If lazy strolls aren’t your thing, the Upper West Side is home to two history museums: the New-York Historical Society and the American Museum of Natural History. The Historical Society is the oldest museum in New York, and its collection includes both historical artifacts and artwork from American and New York history. Check out George Washington’s camp bed and one of the world’s largest collections of Tiffany lamps. The Museum of Natural History is another great museum  to visit. It has been featured countless times in pop culture — you may recognize the reconstructed Tyrannosaurus rex and blue whale model from the “Night at the Museum” movies. While you may not get chased by a monkey during your visit, it’s the perfect place to wander around aimlessly.

For a late lunch or dinner, hit up Calle Ocho on 81st Street. This Latin restaurant brings a New York flair to traditional dishes. One of its most popular orders is the paella, which can be shared among several people. However, the restaurant is best known for its variety of sangria options, including tropical and berry flavors.

While you’re all the way uptown, you have to visit Lincoln Center, whether it’s just to walk around or to attend a show. Lincoln is a 16.3-acre complex that hosts 11 performing arts organizations, including the New York Philharmonic, the Metropolitan Opera and the New York City Ballet. The fountain outside the center is instantly recognizable from films like “Ghostbusters” and “Pitch Perfect.” Although tickets to shows are usually pricey, the NYU Skirball Center for Performing Arts frequently puts out great student deals on its website.

After a classy — and let’s be honest, pretty bougie — day in the Upper West Side, there’s no better place to end it than at the Empire Hotel Lobby Bar, where you can order “Gossip Girl” inspired cocktails.

Email Natalie Chinn at [email protected].