Harlem NYC – fun & history a subway ride away.


One of the great things about living in NYC are all the different neighborhoods one can explore. On any day all it takes is a quick subway ride to hit up any part of the city. Brooklyn (fuggetaboutit!), da Bronx, Queens, every part of Manhattan up down and all around, and even Jersey is easy to get to by the PATH train from NYC. I have explored many parts of the city area riding the rails. Today was no different as we headed up to one of my favorite hoods – Harlem USA – to hang out, shop, and grab a bite to eat.

What started out as an afternoon trip turned into quite a long day up in that part of town and we had a great time. The amount of shopping up there now along the Lenox Avenue (also known as Malcolm X Boulevard) and 125th Street (also known as Dr Martin Luther King Jr Blvd) area is pretty amazing. There are a ton of6521962575_46004c59c8_z places to shop at from electronics, to clothes, to housewares, music, and pretty much everything. All types of small mom & pops to major chain stores are up there now. I loved the hustle and bustle walking along the streets there today. It’s loud, music is pumping from storefronts, boom-boxes at sidewalk peddlers are jamming with old school tunes to reggae, people are hawking their wares, and it just seems to have an energetic feel of electricity in the area. People are hustling about. The streets are ALIVE. It just feels so REAL. There is so much history up here, and you can sort of sense it as you walk the streets.




You can find so many famous establishments here such as the Apollo for entertainment,





l (1)Sylvia’s for some down-home soul cooking like chicken and waffles (YUM!),




harlem-newyork-03and the Lenox Lounge (which just recently closed because of a ridiculous rent increase, which reportedly jumped from $10,000 per month to $20,000. Hopefully they will re-open), among others.



Mother African Methodist Episcopal Zion ChurchThere are also many beautiful churches that dot the area, and have that incredible gothic style look that I love so much.




brownstone-harlem-nyc-new-yorkAlso along these roads are some beautiful brownstones and wonderful examples of old architecture from a time gone by. I love these structures, as they have character and represent a time when buildings were built to have meaning and an eye pleasing design, unlike the soulless glass and steel look of today.


Along with the past, Harlem has seen a renaissance of sorts with former President Bill Clinton establishing an office up here, and the gentrification of the area with many new stores, bars, and restaurants that have set up shop and now call it home. We stopped in at a few spots this evening for a bite and some drink. I love checking out new places on a whim as sometimes you can stumble upon some hidden gems.

The Corner Social offered up a lively bar/restaurant scene with a nice beer list and some tasty food. Terrific service, cool vibrant decor, and a huge flat screen showing today’s football game. Cheeseburger Spring Rolls, Meatloaf Sandwich with house made potato chips, and Jerk Spiced Chicken Baguette with plantain chips. Perfect to fill our hunger.


We ended the day at the Astor Row Cafe which is an eclectic coffee shop/cafe for some delish cappuccino’s and dessert. Sweet potato bread!


It was a totally worthwhile way to spend a Saturday. If you ever have the chance to explore and wander around Harlem definitely do it. There is so much to see and experience here.

26 thoughts on “Harlem NYC – fun & history a subway ride away.”

  1. I was 22 the first time I went to Harlem. My sister and I volunteered for Meals On Wheels on Thanksgiving. We got off the 6 train in our fur-lined down jackets and were greeted by a group of guys shouting “Uh oh, snow bunnies!”, “The snow bunnies are here!” We had to crack up laughing.

    Of course, I eventually got to know the shopping and food in Harlem when I lived in Morningside Heights but I just love remembering my very first impression.

    1. Hi Jill!

      So you know what I’m talking about! Harlem has a life of it’s own. Such a cool part of the city.

      Thanks for reading Miss Snow Bunny!

  2. I have been to the Apollo and Sylvia’s a long time ago. Love Harlem. The feel is like no where else. It is so alive and vibrant. You are making me want to take a trip to NYC soon

    1. Hey Matt! The Apollo and Sylvia’s are classic up in Harlem. That part of town does feel so real. You have to go back again.

      Thanks for reading and commenting!

  3. Another great review Phil. I’ve only ever been to Manhattan and other than U2 singing about the “Angel of Harlem” I didn’t know too much about the place.

    Many thanks for the info, I’ll have to remember to check it out if I ever head back to NYC.

    1. Hello Guy!

      Hey, thanks so much for reading and the comment. One day you need to get back to NYC and exlpore a bit. Then write it in your terrific travel blog! 🙂

    2. HI 🙂

      Love that “the Guy” above me has pointed u2´s song….

      Because I thought about it when coming across your post, Phil…

      Just wanted to highlight when you describe that “old architecture from a time gone by”, when “buildings were built to have meaning and an eye pleasing design”…

      And finally the cool eclectic coffee shop “Astor Row Caf”e, which I´d love to visit one of this days…

      Great to meet you; phil; & Wishing you the best for the weekend;

      Aquileana 😉

      1. Hey Aquileana!

        Yes, The Guy is cool and he has a terrific travel blog. He travels throughout Europe mostly. You should check out his posts.

        I do love the older structures. To me it seems that the modern buildings lack character and style. That is what is great about European cities. They still keep the old buildings and honor the past. Here in NYC we are only a few hundred years old but still have many older structures that have style, but many are being torn down to make high-rise buildings. Harlem is one of those spots that still has many turn of the century “brownstones” that just have such an elegant old world style charm to them.

        Thanks for reading and commenting. Have a great weekend!

  4. I really enjoy beautiful places with the sense of beauty & history you described. It’s one of the things I loved about growing up in the suburbs of Chicago. We could catch a train into the city to explore. You just don’t find very many historically preserved & interesting places like you described in the part of Florida I’m at…of course, that may be hurricane related. 🙂
    Harlem sounded awesome. I’ll have to add it to the places to see when I finally get to New York.

    1. Hello Kitt!

      Living in a city with subways and rail systems we are spoiled. So easy to get around and explore. Harlem is a must visit. So many good spots for soul food there and shopping too.

      Yes, hurricanes do tend to mess things up a bit!

  5. I have to admit that I am a Texan. My husband is from NYC and says that I am too friendly for NYC. One small incedent and you are label forever. Okay I am a little trusting and who would of thought he just wanted my wallet, purse, and my coffee. But I was fine and the hotel did not kick me out until my brother n law drove from New Jersey to pay my bill. I will admit that I talk to everyone. And the lecture all the way back to my home in Maryland did not change my view, you should be friendly. It is in my genes. We are just friendly folks in Texas. Big hair, overly happy, and good food that is my moto. I have to get one of those Cheeseburger spring rolls. And if I could afford one of those brownstones, I would move to NYC tomorrow and learn talk less and not befriend people who want my purse.

    1. Hi Cynthia!

      We have family in Texas so I know what you mean.

      Sorry to hear you had a bad experience when here in the past. He wanted your coffee too? I would have beat him for that one!

      I am in the same boat, be nice and friendly, but also have street smarts living here in NYC! We are a bit jaded too, but most are friendly good people. Thanks for reading!

  6. Looks like a great place to go, and you did a good job selling it to me.

    You’ve just got to stop teasing me with FOOD. Fried plantain, chicken etc… yummy, but that piece of cake next to the coffee was a tad too small for me. I really liked what you called ‘brownstones’, they look really beautiful and I’d love to live in a building that looks like that. I can see myself sitting on the steps baking in the hot sun with a large ice-cream in my hand.

    I happen to live in an area where it seems glass and steel are the in things for sure. If we ever had an earthquake, the amount of shattered glass would cause the most damage and finish you off, no joke. Nice Post.

    1. Hey Rum Punch!

      Thanks for reading and liking my blog post.

      I love exploring the city I live in. So much to see and do here. So much to eat and drink too!

      The old brownstones are beautiful structures with such character.

      FYI – I’ll be teasing you all more with future food postings. Good thing I have a gym membership!

  7. I am looking forward to touring NYC. It’s been on my list of “things to do” for as long as I can remember.
    I remember reading the comedian and movie director Woody Allen is a New Yorker who celebrated his home city in his work.
    Excellent blog.

    1. Hello John!

      Thanks for dropping by and reading. I appreciate the compliment!

      So much to see and do in NYC. Lot more than just the Times Square tourist trap area. Definitely visit in spring or the fall when the weather is much nicer.

  8. You know, I have never had chicken and waffles, and I cannot have them… Well that is until the day before I die! LOL… Should I just plan on killing myself tomorrow, so I can eat them today, or are they not that worth it, LOL – JK! That was a gruesome comment I just left, LMFAO!!!!!!!! Totally NOT my style but I tend to just write the first thing that comes to mind in a comment when I read a blog post – Word Association! 😉

    1. Hey Gigi!

      Thanks for dropping by and reading!

      You never had? Don’t know what you are missing! Of course you can have them, just some extra treadmill time will burn it off. 🙂

      I like your style! Demented like me. I dig crazy chicks! Comment like that all you want – I appreciate it!

  9. I love chicken and waffles! My husband has spent the last month searching for the new Lays chicken and waffle potato chips and finally found them tonight 🙂 I wasn’t a fan, but he seems to love them!

    1. Hi Frugal!

      I also want to try those chips but have not seen them. I want to try all three, but wish they sold them in the small bags that you see at delis and 7-11’s. A real good plate of chicken and waffles is so good!

  10. Things sure are different in NYC these days. I noticed that there’s a subway stop on Roosevelt Island. I took the tram there one day. It had some interesting ruins.

    1. Hey Astro!

      It is an interesting place to explore. I have not been there in a while. Yes, NYC certainly has changed over the years. Thanks for reading!

Feel free to comment! We all have opinions!