With a long, illustrious history, Harlem has seen it all. In just the last ten years, the area has experienced yet another evolution. There has been quite a bit of attention paid to the development on Frederick Douglass Boulevard, but a critical mass on Lenox Avenue is also forming and worth a look by visitors and locals alike.
Today, we bring you old and new world Harlem activities you won’t want to miss. Our recommendations:
Stay at Harlem Grand Bed and Breakfast: Located at 343 West 122nd Street between Morningside and Manhattan Avenues, Harlem Grand is a charming bed and breakfast where each beautiful room offers guests a relaxing atmosphere and a variety of amenities to ensure the utmost comfort during their stay.
One of our favorite rooms to stay in at Harlem Grand is, hands down, the Poitier Suite. Like the man it is named for, this space is peaceful, elegant, finely appointed and gracious. All of the suites are wonderful, but the elements of this room: grand fireplace, comfy, beautiful pewter bed, and spacious en suite bathroom with original claw foot tub signal instant relaxation.
Eat lunch at Sylvia’s Restaurant, a delicious 50-year old Harlem staple that has been named the “sweetheart of soul food.” You’ll want to try the fried chicken, bbq ribs, fried catfish, collard greens, and, of course, the pie.
Sylvia Woods, the “Queen of Soulfood,” is the founder and owner of the world famous Sylvia’s Restaurant, located in the historical village of Harlem, since 1962. What was originally no more than a small luncheonette consisting of a counter and a few booths, has now flourished into a family owned enterprise which consist of: Sylvia’s Restaurant in Harlem, Sylvia’s Also, a full-service catering hall, Sylvia’s Catering Corp., a nation-wide line of Sylvia’s Food Products, two deliciously amazing cookbooks, and ATOC, Inc., a real estate firm.
Sylvia’s unwavering vision, hard work, and determination was shared by her late husband Herbert Woods, and was instilled in their four children, Van, Bedelia, Kenneth, and Crizette, who together with their children manage this family enterprise. To-date there are three generations of the Woods family working tirelessly, to ensure that their familyÕs business continues to make strides over the next forty-three years.
Do the Harlem Gospel Tour & Brunch: A great way to see all the Harlem sites is through the Welcome to Harlem tours, and one of our favorites is the Harlem Gospel Tour and Brunch. Stroll through the Mount Morris Park Historical District and enjoy the incredible architecture, scenery, and people. Visit and celebrate with the world famous congregational choirs of the Convent Avenue Baptist Church, United House of Prayer, Abyssinian Baptist Church and the Roman Catholic Church of the Resurrection who will have you clapping and dancing in your seat. Then, after a busy morning of historical Harlem, enjoy a delicious brunch at one of Harlem’s fine eateries.
This tour takes place every Sunday at 9:00am and lasts for four hours. Adult tickets cost $65, children between the ages of four and 11 are $45, and kids under four are free. This price includes sightseeing through Mount Morris Park Historical District, gospel service and brunch. Tours must be booked at least 48 hours in advance and they depart from 2380 Frederick Douglass Boulevard between 126th and 127th Streets.
Shop at Harlem Haberdashery: Owned and operated as a family business specializing in selling upscale men and women’s clothing, check out this brand new store located at 245 Lenox Avenue between 122nd and 123rd. The story just opened in April and price points range from $20 to $1,000 offering custom designs through their own brand 5001 Flavors, which has supplied the entertainment industry with tailored clothing of the highest caliber since 1990. The staff works tirelessly and enthusiastically to create new and innovative designs for all occasions, body types and professions.
5001 FLAVORS is the brainchild of talented Harlem-born designer, Guy Wood and his business partner Sharene Wood. The duo launched the company after noticing a lack of unique style for many of the artists they had admired in the entertainment industry. Their instincts were right, as a flood of requests for their fashions started pouring in, thanks to a word-of-mouth buzz, and the company has been growing steadily since.
Eat dinner at Melba’s Restaurant: Another Harlem staple is Melba’s Restaurant. Located at 300 West 114th Street at Frederick Douglass Boulevard, Melba’s has been serving up an incredible menu of American comfort food since 2005. A comfortable, chic setting, Melba’s is a great place to enjoy dinner with a side of live music – live bands play on Tuesdays and a DJ plays classic hits on Thursdays. Their Friday night happy hour is also one of the best in the City!
The dinner menu includes a variety of tasty entrees from Pecan Crusted Tilapia and Grilled Salmon, to BBQ Turkey Meatloaf and Tres Macaroni and Cheese. We recommend the Southern Fried Chicken & Eggnog Waffles, which was the winning dish on Food Network’s Throwdown with Bobby Flay!
Cocktails at Corner Social: According to NYMag.com, “There’s something for nearly everyone here, with a sturdy comfort-food menu, friendly scattershot décor, and a multipurpose space that simultaneously qualifies as sports bar, group-meeting ground, and quiet dinner destination in Harlem. With a craft-heavy draft line, a menu of re-fashioned fast-food standards like “cheeseburger spring rolls,” and a full liquor shelf (sans cocktail list), the Social nurtures a business-casual atmosphere in keeping with the string of upscale restaurants (like Chez Lucienne and Red Rooster) that have populated nearby blocks in recent years.” Corner Social is located at 321 Lenox Avenue near 126th Street.
These are just of few of the many incredible Harlem establishments you can enjoy this summer and we hope you get to experience them all!
If you are vacationing in Harlem this summer, what’s on your to-do list?