To those who love Harlem, they frequently refer to it as a village. Against the backdrop of impressive, landmarked buildings is the atmosphere of a small town neighborhood, created by people on brownstone blocks whose personal history is as rooted in the streets as the architecture. It is customary for people to greet each other on the sidewalk as they pass by, regardless if they actually know each other. If you are new to Harlem and come from other parts of New York City, it can be odd to have strangers greet you, but this is the Village of Harlem.
The holiday season brings a heightened sense of this wonderful community spirit as local stores, restaurants and homeowners all participate in the festive vibe. Below are some great options for exploring Harlem during the holidays.
- For gift giving, one of the best stores is Nilu, located at 191 Malcolm X Boulevard between 119th and 120th Street. Here you will find a collection of unique, curated gifts, many of which are sourced locally and celebrate Harlem.
- Need a thoughtful present for a child? Head across the street to Grandma’s Place at 84 West 120th Street. This local institution started as a literacy center and has been providing upscale toys and learning to neighborhood children for decades.
- The closest thing you might find to a Santa sighting could be Dapper Dan’s Giving Tuesday event with GAP on 125th Street this Tuesday, November 29th. The world famous Harlem fashion designer will be debuting his DAP GAP hoodies and signing them for purchasers at 9AM.
- For lovers of the nightlife you can shop, dance and eat at The Harlem Night Market held at La Marqueta on 115th Street and Park Avenue on December 3rd, 10th and 17th from 4-8 PM.
- Holiday lights go up early on 125th street thanks to the 125th Street Business Improvement District. Lights are prominently displayed between 12th Avenue all the way to 5th Avenue along 125th Street.
- If you are starting your tour on the Western edge of 125th street, take some time to explore the Columbia University expansion including the Wallach Art Gallery.
- On a chilly day, you can grab a bowl of homemade ramen at Jin Ramen to warm up before you continue exploring.
- Other great options for dining include the restaurants along Frederick Douglass Boulevard between 110th Street up to 124th Street. Some of the outstanding options include: Lido, Bixi, Vinateria, Clay and Levain Bakery for sinfully good cookies.
- A box of Lee Lee’s rugelach (possibly the best in the city) makes a great gift for those with a sweet tooth on your holiday list.
- Around the corner, stop by The Winery, Harlem’s local purveyor of artisanal wines and spirits. The staff is friendly, and knowledgeable and delights in helping you find something special.
- If live music is what you are seeking in December, you have some world class options. On Wednesday, December 8th you can celebrate the Winter Soulstice at The Museum of the City of New York with DJ Rehka.
- Then on Saturday, December 10th, The Apollo Theater, hosts their Amatuer Night Holiday Special. Jazz club options are plentiful; for a classic, check out Minton’s Playhouse, one of the city’s most famous spots which has been revived in recent years.
Happy Holidays from The Boland Team! Loving, living, and selling Harlem since 2004.