Those who think Manhattan ends at Harlem are missing out on some of the borough’s greatest cultural and recreational treasures. Washington Heights, Inwood, and the rest of Upper Manhattan are home to fabulous hiking and biking trails, world-class art, and stellar historical sites.
Fort Tyron Park
This 67-acre park in Washington Heights overlooks the Hudson River, with views of the Palisades that will make you forget you’re in Manhattan. Its eight miles of trails for walking and bikeway—including the southern starting point of the Hudson River Valley Greenway, which extends up to Saratoga—are only one of its highlights. Fort Tyron Park also encompasses the borough’s largest dog run, two playgrounds, basketball and volleyball courts, green lawns, the Heather Garden with more than 650 types of plants, trees, and shrubs, and the Alpine Garden, designed to take full advantage of the park’s rocky terrain.
The Met Cloisters
Located within Fort Tyron Park, the Cloisters is part of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and a slice of medieval Europe in modern-day New York—even though it was built in the 1930s. The museum’s four wings, incorporating materials from several Old World abbeys, house thousands of European paintings, tapestries, manuscripts, and artifacts from the 12th to the 15th centuries. Just as breathtaking as the building and its treasures are the gardens, which like the rest of the museum evoke the Middle Ages.
Built in 1765 and the oldest remaining house in Manhattan, the Morris-Jumel Mansion briefly served as a headquarters for General George Washington during the American Revolution. Today you can tour the home, which has been restored with furnishings that reflect Georgian style as well as artifacts from Washington and Aaron Burr, who married Eliza Jumel, widow of the home’s one-time owner Stephen Jumel. (Lin-Manuel Miranda, in fact, wrote parts of Hamilton here.) The museum also hosts special exhibits, concerts, and monthly “paranormal historic investigations.”
Inwood Hill Park
This 196-acre park includes playgrounds, baseball and soccer fields, a dog run, a picnic area, paved trails, and tennis, handball, and basketball courts—the things you’d expect from an urban park. But it is also the site of Manhattan’s last natural salt marsh and forest. Old-growth trees, caves, boulders, and the occasional bald eagle are here for the discovering.
Built in 1930 as a vaudeville and movie house, United Palace today hosts concerts and spiritual events such as “Self-Healing Through Taoist Practices.” For pageantry, however, it’s difficult to top the venue itself. “Extravagant” doesn’t do justice to its interior, a golden cornucopia of filigree, stonework, and spiritual and cultural motifs from around the world.