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!
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 some of our gospel tours. The neighborhood is experiencing another revival, with new hot spots like chef Marcus Samuelsson’s Red Rooster Harlem. Get the full experience on a Uptown and Harlem Walking Tour. 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!
(Photo by Edward B.)
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 a “Crack is Wack” artwork hidden in the Crack is Wack playground. Yes, that’s really the name of that park.
3- The Culture
(Photo by David Keith)
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 exuberant gospel chorales, soul food joints, and African markets on 116th Street, there isn’t another place within the city where you can hit up more than a Jazz club, buy Soul and R&B mixtape CDs, and eat delicious soul food all on the same avenue. You can join Harlem Spirituals gospel tours on Sundays and Wednesdays to take part in a service and to hear the joyful singing of church choirs. Or, explore the area’s cultural heritage at the Studio museum and the Schomburg Center for research in Black Culture.
(Photo by Otto H. -Flickr)
One of the best ways to experience the music scene of Harlem is to go on our Soul Food and Jazz Tour or attend Amateur Night at the Apollo Theater. 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.
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.