10 Fun Things To Do in Harlem

things to do in Harlem
Image by Jean-Philippe Delberghe from Unsplash.com

Harlem is popularly known for its musical, cultural history, and African American culture. It’s the neighborhood of Manhattan and has been a major attraction when talking about New York City.

Harlem resides stunning hotels and Airbnb. Full of vibrant energy, Harlem never disappoints its visitors. Famous dance moves such as toe wop, Harlem shake, and chicken noodle soup have been originated from Harlem. In the early 20s, Harlem was the center focus of the Harlem renaissance. When talking about things to do in Harlem, the list goes on and on.

Before exploring all of the activities in Harlem, it’s useful to observe and learn about its unique neighborhoods.

About Harlem

Central Harlem is the place where Harlem Renaissance started, and it is one of the most famous neighborhoods in Harlem. Central Harlem is situated among one hundred and tenth Street, the Harlem River, and Fifth to St. Nicholas Avenues.

East Harlem is also called El Barrio or Spanish Harlem, as it resides the NYC’s largest Hispanic Community. You can locate it among 96th Street, the Harlem River, Fifth Avenue, and FDR Drive.

Spanish Harlem is an excellent region to discover the Hispanic lifestyle. El Museo del Barrio is likewise in this location and an excellent place to stroll along the Boulevard.

West Harlem is one of the most stunning neighborhoods in NYC, and it’s discovered among 96th and 155th, Fredrick Douglass Boulevard, and the Hudson River. West Harlem consists of neighborhoods like Hamilton Heights-Sugar Hill, Manhattanville, and Morningside Heights. West Harlem is a great region to discover African American culture and Harlem restaurants.

Now let’s make a checklist of things to do in Harlem that you could complete during your visit.

10 Fun Things to Do in Harlem

1. Apollo Theater

A music hall hosting live music concerts, dance performances, film screenings, theatrical performances, and a place filled with the magic of the creative mind: The Apollo Theater should be a must-visit on your list of things to do in Harlem.

Apollo Theater in Harlem, New York City
Editorial credit: Federico Rostagno / Shutterstock.com

The Apollo became the primary theatre on Harlem’s major street, and its role displays its primary function in Harlem’s culture. Designed through New York architect George Keister, the construction became leased by Jules Hurtig and Harry Seamon and opened as Hurtig and Seamon’s New (Burlesque) Theater.

After some years, it was bought by a competitor and renamed as hundred and twenty-fifth Street Apollo Theater. The district around the building opened in the 1910s to African Americans, making the Great Migration out of the south, and withinside the Nineteen Twenties, Harlem became a Black residential and business area.

The theater was opened in 1914 and has been a nucleus for launching careers of great minds and popularizing genres throughout the generations. One of the most stunning presents Of the Apollo theater has been Amateur night, which started in 1934.

Apollo Theater is a platform that has popularized different forms of jazz and gospel. Over the years, this Amateur Night has lent the stage to great personalities like Sammy Davis Jr, Ella Fitzgerald, James Brown, and Lauryn Hill. Amateur Night is hosted each Wednesday even now.

The theater resumes hosting educational, musical, and comedic events. Buy a ticket to watch excellent performances of stunning artists and African Americans performers. Apollo Theatres is home to Showtime, which is a national television show.

2. The Red Rooster

Marcus Samuelsson started the American cuisine red rooster in 2010. Every household knows the red rooster’s menu; the menu features dishes such as shrimp, chicken, grits, and waffles. Present in the basement of Ginny’s Supper Club, the Red rooster also hosts DJ performances, gives musicians a stage to showcase their talent, and gives the customers a chance to spend a great evening.

As one steps inside the restaurant, the interior radiates a cozy environment. The wall inside consists of artworks from famous artists such as David Hammons and Brandon Cox.

The restaurant makes mouth-watering dishes with ingredients taken from local farmers and food makers. One can always visit here to have a warm evening. The red rooster should be a must on your things to do In Harlem checklist.

3. Harlem Meer

The water body Harlem Meer is situated at the Northeast corner, central park. The word “Meer” stands for small sea, which is reflected around the park, as the park consists of water bodies.

The Harlem Meer is a popular destination for the number of activities that take place around and its picturesque beauty.
The Harlem Meer is filled with multiple areas for picnicking, appreciating wildlife, relaxing, sunbathing, and strolling around rocky bluffs; the area is called Fort Landscape.

The area is popular among people as they can spend a reasonable amount of time with their loved ones by doing various activities such as skating, playing in playgrounds, and fishing.

The visitor center, The Charles A. Dana Discovery center, runs the Central Park Conservancy. The park also includes community programs and exhibitions. The conservancy conducted a major reservation of the Harlem Meer.

4. Graffiti Hall Of Fame

things to do in Harlem
Karl Hedin/ Unsplash

Once a year, in the street, the artwork is accumulated for two days in August for paint and play. The track is loud, spirits are high, and superb work of art is created. The Graffiti Hall of Fame stretches among 106th and 107th Streets, along the expanded Metro-North educate on Park Avenue in El Barrio. Known as a street artist since 1980 and now a vacation destination, it’s far not often open (besides through personal tour) to the public.

Harlem Community leader Ray Rodriguez converted the concrete walls of Jackie Robinson Schoolyard into the Graffiti Wall, situated in East Harlem. The wall has been a major attraction for all the street artists around the world for around 30 Years and continues.

Primarily Ray Rodriguez created a semi-unauthorized gallery, where Ray and their supporters wanted to make space for every Graf artist could come and practice their skills. The Graffiti Hall of Fame embraces all the artists, local fans, and photographers interested.

5. Marcus Garvey Park

Marcus Garvey Park is spread over a 20.2-acre area; it is famous for outdoor activities. The park consists of two playgrounds which include Richard Rogers Amphitheater, Harlem fire Watchtower, Fritz Recreation Centre, and a Baseball field; also, one can take swimming lessons with a certified coach at the swimming pool. The playgrounds are filled with slides, drawbridges, and fountains.

Classes such as kickboxing, computer skills, and karate are offered to all those interested. It’s one of the best options if one wants to figure out things to do in Harlem.

6. Historic And Cultural Destinations in Harlem

we me museum in Harlem
Kayobi / Shutterstock.com

6.1 El Museo Del Barrio

If you like the arts, you’ll visit El Museo del Barrio, majorly known as El Museo. It is on Fifth Avenue; El Museo is New York’s primary Latino cultural institution.

As you stroll via the museum, you’ll see wide-ranging collections and exhibitions covered by Latino, Caribbean, and Latin American artists. El Museo celebrates Latino film, literature, culture, and performing arts.

6.2 Studio Museum

You must go to The Studio Museum in Harlem to discover artwork from African American artists. The series inside the museum concludes two hundred years of records and has more than 2,500 artwork from seven hundred artists.

Every piece withinside has been stimulated and inspired through Black culture, encouraging travelers to suppose and trade thoughts about the artwork. It gives perception into the results of gentrification of the region and Black culture as a whole.

Visiting the studio museum is one of the best things to do in Harlem.

6.3 Langston Hughes ( Supporter of Harlem Renaissance)

Langston Hughes was a famous African American poet as well as an activist who was a supporter of the Harlem Renaissance.
He was known as the Poet Laureate of Harlem. He arrived in New York City in 1921 and studied at Columbia University.

He was an LGBTQA icon, and it has been acknowledged that he stayed inside during his lifetime to make a living being a black writer. Langston Hughes’s brownstone house has been empowered as a New York City landmark since 1981.

6.4 Jackie Robinson Park

Jackie Robinson Park is situated in the Hamilton Heights neighborhood of the culturally Black enclave of Sugar Hill Historic District. The Jackie Robinson Park is edged through 145th Street to the south and 155th to the north, and then Bradhurst Avenue to the East and Edgecombe to the west.

It covers about ten metropolis blocks. Jackie Robinson Park, previously referred to as Colonial Park, sits on land that changed into a part of the Bradhurst Estate set up by wealthy businessman and author Samuel Bradhurst.

Today, Harlem citizens within the location experience park facilities, including basketball courts, baseball fields, entertainment, and the famous swimming pool.

6.5 Spanish Harlem

Spanish Harlem is situated East of Fifth Avenue and north of 96th Street toward the Harlem and East Rivers. It is also referred El Barrio; Spanish Harlem is bounded via way of means of the Harlem and East Rivers,96th Street, Fifth Avenue.

The Community was predominantly Puerto Rican with an enormous number of Dominican, Cuban, and Mexican multi-generational residents, further to a fast-developing Chinese populace and remnants of being a preceding enclave for Italians.

There are records to discover in Spanish Harlem, including the Young Lords Organization, a Puerto Rican (and different Hispanic cultures) activist collective stimulated by the Black Panther Party based in 1968. Other must-attempt locations encompass the sector’s famed El Museo museum, offering artists of Latin descent, and more recent eating places like Contento, featuring the area’s wealthy culinary scene.

6.6 Striver’s Row

One of the most visited regions in Harlem is the Mount Morris Historical District (119th to 124th among MalcolmXBlvd, Lenox Avenue, and Mount Morris Park West). Here you, a visitor, get knowledge regarding the structure of the time and spot the stunning brownstone homes. The intersection of West 116th Street among Nicholas Avenue and Morningside Park is called Little Senegal.

One of the unusual activities in Harlem is to check Strivers’ Row. Here you may discover proper African culture. The Malcolm Shabazz Harlem Market is especially famous here. Jewelry and Clothing from elements of West Africa are offered at this weekly market.

It’s also referred to as the St. Nicholas Historic District (138th to 139th Street), which is a well-preserved set of row houses from 1891. This area of Harlem is so pristine that one authentic road signal continues to say, “Private Road, Walk Your Horses.”

6.7 The Cloister’s

The Cloisters are located north of Harlem; it’s been constructed withinside the center of Fort Tryon Park, overlooking the New Jersey-owned, wooded bluff of the Hudson River and the George Washington Bridge.

Built from 1934 to 1938, with elements of 4 French and Spanish monasteries integrated, with the collection of medieval artwork from the Metropolitan Museum.

The museum resides more than 5000 works of artwork, which include remarkable sculptures, illuminated manuscripts, stained glass, and the well-known unicorn tapestry. The following historical sites should definitely be on the list of things to do in Harlem.

6.8 The Hamilton Grange

This place of Manhattan was rural land. Alexander Hamilton, considered our nation’s outstanding founding father, appreciated the place greatly, and he determined to construct a summer home there in 1802. Known as Hamilton Grange (named after his grandfather’s property in Scotland), it nevertheless stands nowadays in St. Nicholas Park.

Visitors can discover the residence and experience its usually authentic features; in addition, they can learn about Alexander Hamilton’s existence and legacy.

6.9 Jazz Museum

Situated at fifty-eight West 129th St. at Malcolm X Blvd. This Smithsonian-affiliated museum is located near the streets north of Sylvia’s. It is a small museum; however, for Jazz fans, you will leave the place feeling very satisfied.

While they’ve got the right of entry to the Smithsonian’s Jazz collection, this museum prefers jazz thriving via lectures, discussions, and stay performances.

You can pay attention to loads of ancient recordings of early jazz pioneers, including uncommon recordings that are not available in the entire world except in this place.

Take the time to speak to the docents, and you’ll have a far more profound experience. Visiting the jazz museum is one of the best things to do in Harlem.

7. Sylvia’s Restaurant

Present at 328 Malcolm x Blvd, After a complete stroll of Harlem city, there’s no better option than to seize the day with a meal at Sylvia’s, the mouthwatering soul meals of Sylvia Woods which was founded in 1962.

Even after almost 60 years, Sylvia Restaurant maintains to feed, love, and nourish its customers with their well-known international dishes like fried chicken, peach cobbler, and cornbread; however, additionally, as an uptown epicenter for Black culture, justice, and social existence that stays famous with celebrities, politicians, and artists.

Among others, a few well-known faces who’ve dined right here consist of President Barack Obama, Nelson Mandela, Whoopi Goldberg, and lots more. Sylvia Restaurant is a must on the list of things to do in Harlem.

8. Harlem Haberdashery

Harlem Haberdashery is a boutique run by a family. With 5001 flavors in Retail extensions, this custom clothing has been running for 25 years. The boutique styles amazing three-piece suits, oversized hats, and much more. Celebrities including Lebron James, Jay z, and Dj Khaled have worn pieces from 5001 flavors. The Harlem Haberdashery is not just known for celebrities’ outfits; they also offer clothing options in men’s and women’s designs.

9. Walking Tour Harlem

Explore the streets of Harlem and get to know about its history. Explore uptown Harlem via the eyes of residents living there on the two-hour walking tour. Join everybody at Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, from where the walking tour starts.

See highlights along with Abyssinian Baptist Church, Apollo Theater, Malcolm X-associated sites, Headquarters of William J. Clinton Foundation, and Strivers’ Row. Note that this walking tour does not allow visitors to enter the buildings.

The walking tour then comes to an end at Apollo Theater. After the lengthy walk, take a meal at a few scrumptious soul meals at Sylvia’s Soul Restaurant. This is a great way to know about the city and a must in your list of things to do in Harlem.

A walking tour is one of the best things to do in Harlem, as one can get to know about Harlem much better through these tours.

10. Central Park

Do not forget to explore this well-known city park with several people and a very prominent place while visiting Harlem. It is spread over 843 acres. One can observe various plant life and fauna withinside the wooded regions and lawns along with The Ramble, Sheep Meadow, Hallett Nature Sanctuary, and Central Park Zoo.

Relax withinside the peace and calmness surrounded by artificially created water bodied including the lake and Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir. Have fun at Wollman Rink and Central Park Carousel.

Visiting this park is among the best things to do in Harlem. There are about 6.1 miles of the area used for running, walking, jogging, biking, or skating. The park also has sports centers and numerous activities such as tennis, basketball, soccer, baseball, and volleyball.

Concluding Thoughts

So the above list mentions numerous places one can visit while their trip to Harlem, which is full of vibrant, historical, and cultural energy; Harlem is for people of all ages.

There are many things to do in Harlem, from the amateur night at apollo theater, eating soul food at Sylvia’s restaurant and at famous red roosters, visiting EL Museo Del Barrio, taking a walking tour, and visiting Central park, knowing African American culture, visiting the Hamilton Grange or Marcus Garvey Park and much more. This city never disappoints its travelers and visitors. An individual can never get bored here as there are lots of things to do in Harlem.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here