Top 10: Things to Do in Harlem

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I have been living in Harlem for five years, and I decided to share with you guys 10 things to do while visiting or residing in the beautiful neighborhood.

Harlem was a Dutch village that was settled in the 1650’s and was named after a city in the Netherlands called Haarlem. Previous to the Great Migration Harlem was home to predominately Jews and Italians. Harlem became a destination for many African-Americans during the Great Migration in hopes for better job opportunities and to provide a better life for their families as well.  By the 1910’s African Americans only account for 10% of Harlem’s population, and by the 1930’s they made up 70% of the population.  With the population rise of African Americans in Harlem it is no surprise it became a mecca for the culture and people along with a popular tourist destination.  I have compiled a short list of things to do while visiting or living in Harlem.

  • Brunch

    • Previously on my blog I shared my Top 10: Brunch In Harlem list which is always a great place to start.

    • There are a number of soul food restaurants in Harlem that includes Melba’s, Sylvia’s, Amy Ruth’s, and more.

  • Catch some live music

    • Showman’s Jazz Club - This jazz club has been a haven for musicians since 1942 and where you can find “Old Harlem”.

    • Paris Blues - Celebrating their 50th anniversary in this Harlem staple is where can find live music any day by checking their calendar.

    • Minton’s - Since their opening in 1938 they have been associated with some of the most prominent musicians and singers such as Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong, and Billie Holiday. I strongly recommend reservations and putting on your Sunday’s best.

    • Ginny’s Supper Club - Underneath the famous Red Rooster is a supper club that is known for their lavish Gospel Sunday brunch and speakeasy vibes. Under the direction of Chef Marcus Sameuelsson you are the best of hands when it comes to a delicious meal.

    • The Shrine - Jazz, Modern Rock, DJs, Comedy, and anything else you can think of The Shrine has it along with a full bar and food menu as well.

    • Gin Fizz - Live music, DJ’s, and a great cocktail menu this place makes for the perfect weekend destination.

  • Walking tour

    • To book a tour in Harlem I recommend using Harlem Heritage Tours BECAUSE all tours are conducted by those that were BORN and RAISED in Harlem.

  • Apollo Theater

    • Before it being the Apollo, the building opened in 1914 as Hurtig and Seamon’s New Burlesque Theater, during this time in history blacks were not allowed to attend or perform.  In 1934, it later became the Apollo Theater and was known as the center of live entertainment for African Americans.

    • Be sure to check out their calendar in advance regarding future events.


  • Strivers Row

    • Striver’s Row is located on 138th and 139th between 7th Avenue (Adam Clayton Powell Blvd) and 8th Avenue (Fredrick Douglass Blvd).

    • Initially, these homes were built for upper middle-class white families.  In the early 1900’s a lot of the houses were abandoned by the whites and prominent and wealthy blacks were able to purchase the homes they were once denied before.


  • Grab a drink

    • I highlighted some of the best happy hours in Harlem on the blog previously. Click here to find a great spot to enjoy a libation.

    • Restaurant Row is a popular area to find a great place to grab a drink and starts at 110th to 125th on 8th Avenue (Fredrick Douglass Blvd).


  • The National Museum of Jazz Harlem

    • Jazz has always played a big part in African American history and the Harlem Renaissance, so it is fitting to have this in Harlem. There is a suggested donation of $10 to experience this great history.

  • El Museo del Barrio

    • This museum located at the end of the Museum Mile highlights Latino, Caribbean, and Latin American culture through film, exhibits, and art series.

  • Langston Hughes Home

    • Located at 20 East 127th Street you can view the parlor level and see his typewriter and grand piano.

    • There is a suggested donation of $5 that go towards I, Too Arts Collective that benefits individuals within the neighborhood and lovers of literature.

    • They are open Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday between 12 pm - 5 pm

I have been a resident of Harlem for over five years now, and I love my neighborhood.  If you have any additional questions, you can reach out to me via email at domnthecity@gmail.com, via Twitter at @domnthecity, or drop a comment below. Feel free to share places you feel others should know about in Harlem.


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