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Things to Do in Harlem, NYC

Walking in Harlem, you'll notice every street, building, and local business has a story to tell. Let's dive into a few things to do in the neighborhood, and we hope you'll take plenty of detours along the way to discover your own local favorites and hidden gems.

You can hear more New York City stories with Gesso’s self-guided New York audio walking tours, which you can experience at your own pace.

brownstones on the streets of harlem with green trees surrounding them

Red Rooster Harlem and Ginny's Supper Club

Red Rooster pays homage to a famed local speakeasy from back in the day. When the acclaimed chef Marcus Samuelsson, who has Ethiopian and Swedish roots, opened the doors in 2010, he had a vision: to honor the heart of American cuisine while nodding to the diverse food cultures that make Harlem so special. Even former President Barack Obama has dined here. You can also head downstairs, to Ginny's Supper Club, another gem in Samuelsson's crown. Ginny's Supper Club has it all: live music, soul food, and an atmosphere that's electric.


When Sylvia Woods from South Carolina moved to the Big Apple in 1962, she found work as a waitress at a cozy little spot known as Johnson's Luncheonette. So when the owner decided to pass on the torch, Sylvia saw her opportunity. Sylvia's mother believed in her daughter's dream so much that she mortgaged the family farm back in South Carolina to help Sylvia buy the place. And just like that, Sylvia's Restaurant was born, with a menu spotlighting Southern-style soul food. Sylvia's has charmed the palates of some pretty big names. Music maestro Quincy Jones, former presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama – they've all been drawn in by these flavors. Sylvia's children and grandchildren are now the ones running the show, continuing her legacy.

Harlem Haberdashery

This boutique is the retail expression of the 5001 Flavors brand, a custom-made apparel company that has been turning heads since 1992 and the brainchild of Guy and Sharene Wood. Over the years, 5001 Flavors has wooed a clientele straight out of a red-carpet event - think entertainment biggies, sports stars, and corporate hotshots – you know like LeBron James, P. Diddy, Alicia Keys, Lady Gaga, and Jay-Z.

Bill's Place

Nestled inside a historic Harlem brownstone, this intimate jazz club hums with a rich history. It's run by Bill Saxton, a Harlem-born jazz virtuoso who's jammed alongside numerous jazz legends during his illustrious career. His dedication to safeguarding Harlem's profound jazz lineage is deeply ingrained in every inch of the club. Bill's Place isn't just about showcasing established talent; it's also a stage for the next generation of jazz musicians to strut their stuff.

Strivers Row

Sitting snug between Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Boulevard and Frederick Douglass Boulevard, Strivers’ Row tells a tale of Harlem's architecture during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. It's a fusion of Italian Renaissance, Queen Anne, and Colonial Revival architectural styles, side by side—pretty unusual and undeniably unique. Famed architects McKim, Mead & White and Bruce Price brought these houses to life between 1891 and 1893. Initially crafted for wealthy white residents, these homes didn't sell as anticipated. Fast forward to the early 20th century, and the doors of these properties swung open to black professionals and middle-class families, all striving for the ladder of progress and success. And so, Strivers' Row found its fitting name.

Discover more local history with our New York audio walking tours, and see which nearby New York City neighborhoods you want to explore next.


Gesso was created for urban explorers who find joy in life's hidden gems. Find audio tours on the Gesso app, available via the App Store or Google Play, and share your New York City adventures with us on Instagram.


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