The cultural lines between Harlem and the Upper East and West Sides of Manhattan are getting progressively blurred. While the face of Harlem is changing, the soul food and its fanatics only grow with every new restaurant. The world famous Apollo Theater, Amy Ruth’s, and Sylvia’s are all classic spots that have contributed to cultivating Harlem as we know it today. New mainstream businesses are opening alongside the mom & pop stores, while several upscale restaurants are taking up 8th Avenue in the southern part of Harlem. There’s no special way to narrow down the list of all the extremely interesting things to do and see in Harlem but here are the reasons why you want to check it out!
(Photo by City Foodsters
1- The Food
Harlem is known for its soul food – chicken and waffles, mac and cheese, collard greens – and if there were ONE place you should eat at, nearly anyone off the street would suggest Sylvia’s. Which, by the way, is a brunch stop on our Wednesday Harlem Gospel Tour and a dinner stop on our Soul Food & Jazz Tour. The neighborhood is experiencing another revival, with hot spots like superstar chef Marcus Samuelsson’s Red Rooster Harlem and Street Bird Rotisserie. Beside its delightfully comforting and amazing taste, soul food is also an important aspect of Harlem’s culture and uniqueness. When you are hungry, there’s no better way to acquaint yourself with one of New York’s most culturally rich and vibrant neighborhoods than to order up a heaping platter of soul food in Harlem! Get the full experience of Harlem’s delicious food on our Uptown and Harlem Walking Tour.
(Photo by Edward B.)
2- The Art
If you’re searching for an artsy way to enjoy Harlem culture, the Studio Museum hosts exhibitions centered around black culture. Don’t forget to take one of the free postcards on the way out; a number of them are miniature models of the artwork you’ll find in the museum. If you’re a fan of pop art or if you’re simply looking to take a unique Instagram selfie, head to the East side of 127th to see some great street arts. There is even the famous Keith Harring’s Crack is Wack mural artwork hidden in the Crack is Wack playground. Yes, that’s really the name of that park.
3- The Culture & Architecture
Yes, downtown Manhattan is packed with restaurants and Brooklyn is an oasis for hip bohemians, but Uptown locals would argue that New York City’s cultural mecca is Harlem. New York’s most iconic African American neighborhood has, for the most part, shaken off the stigma of its subsequent urban decay. Best-known for its image of African-American cultural capital of the world, Harlem is the birthplace of so many famous books, poems, music and dance trends, there isn’t another place within the city that played such an important role for the black community in New York. In addition to its multiple cultural treasures, Harlem is also home to beautiful architecture with its legendary Brownstones, typical West Side Story style buildings, and more than 400 churches, which you can admire while strolling the streets of the neighborhood on our Harlem tours.
(Photo : Steven Pisano)
4- The Music
Music has always played a central role in the identity of Harlem, ever since the Harlem Renaissance in the 1920s. Be it Jazz, Hip-Hop or Gospel, one of the best ways to experience Harlem today is through its music. Join a Soul Food and Jazz Tour or attend Amateur Night at the Apollo Theater to get a feel of the local Jazz scene. Imagine a performance with undiscovered talent, while the audience dances along to hip hop music during transitions between the acts. That, and well, this is the birthplace of numerous musical legends’ careers like Stevie Wonder, Michael Jackson, and of course Lauryn Hill. Or join Harlem Spirituals gospel tours on Sundays and Wednesdays to take part in a service and to hear the joyful singing of church choirs.
5- Explore Harlem on our tours
Join our friendly and knowledgeable guides on our Harlem tours and learn everything about the neighborhood storied past while discovering its most famous sights and monuments. You’ll also get a taste of Harlem best soul food and listen to authentic Jazz and Gospel music, two of Harlem’s most exciting cultural treasures!
- Book the Harlem Gospel Tour on Sunday (in option: with Brunch)
- Book the Harlem Gospel Tour on Wednesday (in option: with Lunch)
- Book the Harlem Walking Tour & Gospel Concert on Wednesday
- Book the Soul Food & Jazz tour on Monday and Thursday
- Book the Harlem Walking Food tour
If you are interested in finding more to do in New York City, search through our complete range of tours, attractions and activities. We can also tailor-make programs specifically to match your desires and budgets. Harlem Spirituals is the ideal one-stop-shop to simplify your planning! Find more information on www.harlemspirituals.com or contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Today, many areas of Harlem are gentrifying. However there’s still a strong local community, beautiful architecture, and plenty of reasons to visit this neighborhood. What’s your favorite thing to do in Harlem? Have you tried the soul food here before? Let us know in the comments below.