6 Things to Do in Harlem, New York City

See a show at the Apollo Theater, eat Southern food at Red Rooster and explore the National Jazz Museum.
 

Photo by tatarac/iStock

A hub for African-American culture, Harlem continues to evolve while preserving its rich culture and heritage. Start at 125th Street and Malcolm X Boulevard to discover the heart of this neighbourhood, then venture north or south to explore more.

1. See a show or perform at the Apollo Theatre

Photo by Richard Levine/Alamy

Amateur Night at the Apollo Theater happens every Wednesday at 7:30 p.m., but be forewarned: the audience is tough, and your fate (or fame) is in its hands. If taking the stage isn’t on your bucket list, buy a ticket to a music or comedy performance instead.

2. Indulge at Red Rooster

Red Rooster, photo by Tracy Kaler

Harlem resident and chef Marcus Samuelsson cooks up classics such as shrimp and grits, chicken and waffles and bourbon-glazed ribs at his hotspot, Red Rooster. Listen to live music seven nights a week, or head downstairs to Ginny’s Supper Club for the Gospel Brunch on Sundays.

3. Take a walking tour through the St. Nicholas Historic District

Photo by Wendy Connett/Alamy

Also referred to as the St. Nicholas Historic District, Strivers’ Row is an alluring two blocks that stretches from 138th to 139th streets, and from Frederick Douglass to Adam Clayton Powell boulevards. The Neo-Italian and Georgian townhouses have been home to some of the most affluent members of the black community including musicians Scott Joplin and Eubie Blake and tap dancer and actor Bill “Bojangles” Robinson. The Free Tours by Foot pay-what-you-like tour includes a stop at Strivers’ Row.

4. Eat ice cream at Sugar Hill Creamery

Photo by Evi Abeler

Cool off with a double scoop, chocolate shake or a root beer float at family-owned Sugar Hill Creamery, a shop selling seasonal, small-batch ice cream and non-dairy frozen desserts. Previous flavours such as A$AP Rocky Road (chocolate ice cream with hazelnuts and marshmallows) and Bee’s Knees 2.0 (honey ice cream with lavender) were inspired by owners Nick Larsen and Petrushka Bazin Larsen’s Midwestern and Caribbean backgrounds.

5. Shop at Harlem Haberdashery

Photo by Driely S

The Harlem Haberdashery team has mastered the art of dressing well. With its beginnings as a fashion company specializing in custom designs for the entertainment industry, the brownstone-housed retail shop now offers complete looks for men and women, with signature wardrobe pieces all made in NYC.

6. Learn about music at the National Jazz Museum

Photo by WikiImages/Pixabay

Jazz is paramount to Harlem culture, and there’s no better place to appreciate it than at the National Jazz Museum in Harlem. Finish your day with live music at Bill’s Place, where jazz fans reflect on the Harlem of yore. Sax pro Bill Saxton and his All-Star Quartet bring down the house on Fridays and Saturdays.


More spots to check out in Harlem

Pick up crafts and unique wares by local artists at NiLu Gift Boutique on Malcolm X Boulevard.

Catch an in-studio ballet performance at the 50-year-strong Dance Theatre of Harlem.


[This article appears in the August 2019 issue of WestJet Magazine.]