The Top 25 Things to Do in Harlem, New York

The African American Heritage, the musical scenes, and the various cultural institutions – these things practically define Harlem and New York City. Situated to the north of Central Park, this neighborhood is known for being an excellent creative hub. With the cultural renaissance, there was an influx of talent and new influences in the area, and Harlem became a hub for soul food, arts, fashion, and music. Below are the top things to do in Harlem.

Not visiting Harlem during your New York City trip will leave it incomplete. As every street of Harlem pulse with life, the place exudes a charm of its own. 

Red Rooster

Celebrity chef Marcus Samuelsson is behind Harlem’s Red Rooster restaurant. Established in 2010, this is one of the most preferred soul food destinations in the neighborhood. In the basement of Red Rooster, there is Ginny’s Supper Club, where DJs and musicians perform live every day.  

The menu consists of favorites like shrimp and grits, chicken and waffles, short ribs, etc. Former US President Barrack Obama also dined at this restaurant during a fundraiser in 2011.   

Red Rooster-001NY July 2013001

Address: 310 Lenox Avenue, New York, NY 10027 | Timing:  Monday to Thursday: 12:00 noon to 09:00pm, Friday: 12.00 noon to 09:45pm, Saturday: 11.00 am to 09:45pm, Sunday: 11.00 am to 09:00pm | Google Map Location: | Phone Number: +1 212.792.9001 

The Apollo Theater  

The Apollo Theater has turned into a legendary place. Established in 1914, many careers have been made from this platform. The popular Amateur Nights is a cultural gift to the neighborhood from the Apollo Theater.  

Musical, comedy, and educational events are also hosted at the theater. Various musical forms like swing, jazz, blues, R&B, gospel, and soul have been brought to the audience via the platform. 

Apollo Theater Harlem NYC 2010.JPG
By Hans Joachim Dudeck, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

Address: 253W 125th Street, New York, NY 10027 | Google Map Location: | Phone Number: +1 212.531.5300 

Studio Museum in Harlem  

Studio Museum in Harlem is a contemporary art museum. It is dedicated to African American artists belonging to the 19th and 20th centuries. The museum’s specialty is that it helps organize events and art shows for emerging Black artists.  

Along with a permanent collection, the museum also has rotating exhibitions. However, the museum is temporarily closed for renovation and expansion.   

Studio Museum of Harlem.jpg
By Beyond My Ken, CC BY-SA 4.0, Link

Address: 144W 125th Street, New York, NY 10027 | Timing: Thursday and Friday: 12:00 noon to 09:00 pm, Saturday: 10:00 am to 06:00 pm, Sunday: 12:00 noon to 06:00 pm | Google Map Location: | Phone Number: +1 212.864.4500 

El Museo Del Barrio 

Among the many art museums in New York City, El Museo Del Barrio needs special mention. The museum was founded in 1969 and has strived to bring to focus the art of underrepresented artists. The items present in the museum date back almost 800-1000 years. This is why it is considered an excellent resource and forum for Latino, Caribbean, and Latin American art.  

The permanent collection in the museum includes 6,500 collectibles, ranging from 20th century Nuyorican fine prints to contemporary art by Latino artists.   

WTM3 The Fixers 0056.jpg
By The Fixers, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

Address: 1230 5th Avenue, New York, NY 10029 | Timing: Saturday & Sunday: 11:00 am to 05:00 pm, Monday to Friday: closed | Google Map Location: | Phone Number: +1 212.831.7272 

Central Park Conservatory Gardens 

Thinking about what to do in Harlem? Central Park Conservatory Gardens are a great attraction in the neighborhood. Central Park can be reached from East as well as West Harlem. When entering from 5th Avenue, you can come to the Conservatory Gardens directly.  

There are three distinct styles in the garden – French (romantic sculpture of Three Dancing Maidens), Italian (12-feet high jet fountain and tiered hedges), and English (perennial plants and shrubs). A fragment of Europe can be seen in the US in this garden. Various kinds of events, including weddings, are hosted in the place.   

Central Park - Conservatory Garden - panoramio.jpg
By Pablo Costa Tirado, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

Address: 1233 5th Avenue, New York, NY 10029 | Timing: Sunday to Monday: 08:00 am to 06:00 pm | Google Map Location: | Phone Number: +1 212.310.6600 

Sylvia’s Restaurant 

About 60 years old, the renowned Sylvia’s is a restaurant that has brought Harlem into global news. Known for its soul food and Southern-style comfort food, the restaurant’s menu covers all classics, including the likes of barbecue short ribs, catfish and peach cobbler, fried chicken and waffles, etc.  

The place is packed with customers on Live Music Wednesdays and Gospel Brunch Sundays. Many eminent personalities have visited this popular Harlem restaurant. 

Harlem - Sylvia's Restaurant (48555310372).jpg
By Ajay Suresh, CC BY 2.0, Link

Address: 328 Malcolm X Boulevard, New York, NY 10027 | Timing:  Monday to Wednesday: 11:00 am to 08:00 pm, Thursday to Sunday: 11:00 am to 10:00 pm | Google Map Location: | Phone Number: +1 212.996.0660 

Harlem Haberdashery 

The family-run boutique, Harlem Haberdashery, is actually the retail extension of 5001 Flavors. Some of the favorites from the store include oversized hats, colorful three-piece suits, and completely white ensembles. Various types of stylish accessories are also available at the place.  

Many celebrities have adorned costumes and accessories from the store over the years. Spirit of 1970s and 80s is celebrated at the store with abundant men’s and women’s clothing collections. 

Source: Harlem Haberdashery

Address: 245 Malcolm X Boulevard, New York, NY 10027 | Timing: Monday to Saturday: 12:00 noon to 07:00 pm, Sunday: closed | Google Map Location: | Phone Number: +1 646.707.0070 

Graffiti Hall of Fame 

Located in East Harlem, the Graffiti Hall of Fame is one of the biggest attractions for street art enthusiasts visiting New York City. Initiated by a local “Sting Ray” Rodriguez, the first art was created in 1980. From here, street art gained reputation and appreciation, and many artists in Harlem started honing their skills.  

Presently, the walls of the schoolyard of Jackie Robinson Educational Complex and the open-air hall of fame are covered with brilliant, colorful, and meaningful graffiti. Locals, as well as international artists, have left their mark on the hall of fame. Fans, photographers, artists – everyone visits the place to explore the beauty of the art.   

Kay Slay

Address: 106th Street and Park Avenue, New York, NY 10029 | Timing: Open on weekends only | Google Map Location:   

The Honey Well 

The retro-style cocktail bar is a great place for letting your hair down and relaxing. With a theme dating back to 1970s, the disco cocktails at the place are truly amazing. The saloon doors, the sunken bar, and the mosaic of Tom Shelleck give a retro feel to the place.  

Browse through the extensive cocktail list and order the one you like. Mocktails are also available. Advance reservation is recommended to confirm a seat.  

Source: The Honey Well

Address: 3604 Broadway, New York, NY 10031 | Timing: Sunday to Monday: 04:00 pm to 12:00 am | Google Map Location: | Phone Number: +1 646.861.0489 

Bill’s Place 

Founded by musician Bill Saxton in 2006, Bill’s Place has its origin in the Prohibition era. If you want to experience and explore the times of Harlem Renaissance, you can do that comfortably at Bill’s Place.  

There is a saxophone recital by the eminent saxophonist Saxton every evening. Apart from this, many prominent musicians have graced this place with their presence over the years.   

Things to do in Harlem: Bill's Palace
Source: Bill’s Place

Address: 148W 133rd Street, New York, NY 10030 | Timing: Friday & Saturday: 06:30 pm to 11.30 pm, Sunday to Thursday: closed | Google Map Location: | Phone Number: +1 212.281.0777 

Take a Food & Culture Tour  

As a first-time visitor in Harlem in New York City, start your trip with the food and culture tour of the neighborhood. The tour will help you explore the culture and history of Harlem and particularly gain information about the Harlem Renaissance.  

While at it, stop by to grab some quick bites on the way. You can taste some of the best local cuisines in the restaurants in the area. Try some of the best recipes of Senegalese cuisine, African teas, spicy and sweet chicken, and many such delicacies.  

Soul Food at Powell's Place.jpg
By Jennifer Woodard Maderazo, CC BY 2.0, Link

Go on a Walking Tour  

Walking tours are always interesting as they help in knowing about any place in detail. If you are wondering what to do in Harlem, we suggest you hit the streets and go on the walking tours organized by various guides and tour agencies. There are plenty of options and you can choose the one that suits you the most.  

The majority of Harlem attractions are covered on these walking tours. Gather excellent memories of the neighborhood as you walk along the streets of Harlem.  


Levain Bakery  

Sticky buns from the house of Levain Bakery were extremely popular way back in 2009. But what has made this bakery stand out in the crowd is its highly chocolaty chocolate chip cookies.  

Long serpentine queues are seen in front of the bakery on weekends. However, once you get the cookies, you can delve into an ultimate chocolaty experience that you won’t forget in life. The bakery has been attracting local crowd as well as international tourists.  

NYC - UWS: Levain Bakery

Address: 2167 Frederick Douglass Boulevard, New York, NY 10026 | Timing: Sunday to Monday: 08:00 am to 08:00 pm | Google Map Location:   | Phone Number: +1 917.464.3789 

Eat Some Soul Food 

Harlem’s local soul food is a must-try when you visit this neighborhood in New York. It is actually African American cuisine, which has origins in the south and has now spread across the country. This culinary fusion took place during the Great Migration when many black migrants flocked to American cities.  

Some excellent destinations in Harlem that specialize in this cuisine include Jacob’s Restaurant, Sylvia’s, etc. Try short ribs, braised ox-tails, barbecue ribs, and grilled catfish.  

Amy Ruth's Soul Food Harlem NYC NY

Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture  

This public library is one of the most interesting things to see in Harlem. Many of the walking tours in the neighborhood start from this point. The library, located in central Harlem, is dedicated to the preservation, research, and exhibition of various items that focus on African American culture, heritage, experiences, and the diaspora. There are more than 10 million documents, objects, artifacts, art pieces, and recordings in the library.   

NYPL Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture.jpg
By Beyond My Ken, CC BY-SA 4.0, Link

Address: 515 Malcolm X Boulevard, New York, NY 10037 | Timing: Monday to Saturday: 10:00 am to 06:00 pm, Sunday: closed | Google Map Location: | Phone Number: +1 917.275.6975 

Abyssinian Baptist Church  

Abyssinian Baptist Church is one of the first African American Baptist churches in NYC, which started in 1808. However, the branch in Harlem was opened in 1923, under Dr. Adam Clayton Powell, Sr. For more than 30 years, Reverend Calvin Butts has served as pastor of the church and has been involved in many social works in the area. 

The church has some mandatory rules for visitors. According to its Tourist Policy, visitors can attend the 11:00 am service on Sunday; but they have to stay for full 2.5 hours until the service is completed. It is recommended to be moderately dressed while visiting the church.  

Abyssinian Baptist Church Harlem1.jpg
By DennisInAmsterdam, CC BY-SA 2.0, Link

Address: 132W 138th Street, New York, NY 10030 | Timing: Monday to Sunday: 10:00 am to 07:00 pm | Google Map Location: | Phone Number: +1 212.862.7474 

Visit Northern Part of the Central Park 

The Northern Part of the Central Park is the best spot for spending some quality time amid nature and natural settings. The Harlem Meer is a major attraction of the place. There is a small pristine lake, which is surrounded by benches and willow trees.  

You will find dense vegetation in North Woods, another attraction, and once there, you will feel as if you are in some countryside. Enjoy a grand picnic with your family or loved ones in the area.   

Central Park-North Woods, 10.26.13

Address: New York, NY | Google Map Location:  

Minton’s Playhouse 

Minton’s Playhouse is your ideal destination in Harlem if you are a jazz enthusiast. It is an iconic place in the neighborhood where bebop was invented, as well. Today, the place has upgraded itself to an upscale supper club.  

On Sundays, jazz brunch is the specialty of the place. However, on other days, there are evening performances, too. Just keep one thing in mind. According to the dress code, men need to wear jackets. 

Minton's Playhouse.jpg
By MR.119th. STREET, CC BY-SA 2.0, Link

Address: 206W 118th Street, New York, NY 10026 | Timing: Sunday to Saturday: 06:00 pm to 12:00 am | Google Map Location: | Phone Number: +1 212.243.2222 

Harlem’s Murals 

Harlem’s murals will leave you spellbound. If you want to explore the best street art in New York City, there is no better place than Harlem. You will be amazed by the intricacy of the artwork, the use of bold and bright colors. and the representations of life on these long stretches of murals.  

While many of the murals carry public messages, some are drawn for honoring a person. Some of the murals also depict phases and people from the Harlem Renaissance. 

Harlem, New York

Address: East Harlem, New York, NY | Google Map Location:,-75.7114315,6z/data=!3m1!4b1?hl=en   

Striver’s Row 

Striver’s Row is a historic district in Harlem that is registered on the National Register of Historic Places. Around 130-row houses, which were constructed from 1891 to 1893, have been divided into four blocks. These were originally known as King Model Homes.  

There are different blocks in the area with several building styles. While some are red-brick and brownstone buildings, other houses are made of yellow brick and white limestone along with terra-cotta trim. Between some houses, there are small land plots, which were stable mews. Many eminent people have their residences in the area.  

Harlem strivers row West 139th Street by Stanford White.jpg
By Aude, CC BY 2.5, Link

Address: W 138th and W 139th Street, New York, NY 10030 | Timing: Open 24 hours | Google Map Location: 

Alexander Hamilton Grange National Memorial 

This historic house is located in Hamilton Heights, North Harlem. Dating back to 1802, the home belongs to Alexander Hamilton — a significant figure in American History. Besides being one of America’s founding fathers, he was also the founder of the US Treasury System. A Broadway play has also been staged after him.  

At the Grange National Memorial, the rooms are historically furnished. Guided tours are available or you can also explore the place on your own, as well.   

Hamilton Grange National Memorial

Address: 414 W 141st Street, New York, NY 10031 | Timing: Wednesday to Sunday: 09:00 am to 05:00 pm, Monday and Tuesday: Closed | Google Map Location: | Phone Number: +1 646.548.2310 

Hotel Theresa 

You will be simply amazed by the grand architecture and design of Hotel Theresa in Harlem. Constructed in 1912-13, the place was a prominent social hub in Harlem. Due to its magnificent architecture, the hotel is also known as “Waldorf-Astoria” of Harlem.  

The hotel also has historical significance. Many eminent personalities have been here time and again. Some prominent names include Malcolm X, Martin Luther King Jr., Fidel Castro, etc.  

NYC - Harlem: Hotel Theresa

Address: 2070-2080 Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Boulevard, New York, NY 10027 | Timing: 24/7 | Google Map Location:  

Go Bar Hopping 

Bar hopping in Harlem is one of the most favorite night-time activities among the locals and tourists. The place abounds in cocktail bars and pubs where people of all age groups throng in the evenings and nights.  

Along with drinks, many of these places serve delectable finger foods as well as proper meals. You can also catch some live performances, including jazz, in many of these places.  

Multiple Alcoholic Mixed Drinks at a Bar

Google Map Location:,-74.258188,10z/data=!3m1!4b1?hl=en  

Try African Tea and Coffee at Serengeti Tea and Spices 

Serengeti Tea and Spices in Harlem is one of the hotspots for enjoying a cup of freshly brewed coffee or tea. You must definitely try African tea at the place along with other variants of cocoa, coffee, and hot beverages.  

If you are feeling down, try their ginger turmeric tea with lemon and honey, and you will surely feel rejuvenated right away! A highly recommended café for your tea/coffee cravings! 

Fragrant dry tea from bark, spices, and roots on burlap

Address: 22E 125th Street, New York, NY 10035 | Timing: Wednesday to Friday: 12:00 noon to 07:00 pm, Saturday: 12:00 noon to 08:00 pm, Sunday & Tuesday: 12:00 noon to 06:00 pm, Monday: closed | Google Map Location: | Phone Number: +1 212.837.1057 

Marcus Garvey Park 

The Marcus Garvey Park sprawls across 20.2 acres. It is an excellent destination in Harlem when you are looking for outdoor fun, particularly with kids. There are two large playgrounds in the park including Pelham Fritz Recreation Center, Harlem Fire Watchtower, a small league baseball field, Richard Rogers amphitheater, a swimming pool, and a dog run. There are fountains, slides and drawbridges in the park where kids can enjoy to their maximum under the sun.  

Marcus Garvey Park

Address: 6316, Mt. Morris Park W, New York, NY 10027 | Timing: Sunday to Monday: 06:00 am to 10:00 pm | Google Map Location: | Phone Number: +1 212.639.9675 

With this extensive list of things to do in Harlem, you can now plan your trip accordingly to cover most of the attractions.