The Harlem Meer!
As a Native New Yorker, you get the unique experience to watch a much loved city evolve over time. The metamorphosis of New York City always begins with the neighborhoods that change as fast as the restaurant scenes. Spanish Harlem was once a neighborhood ruled by the Italians, Puerto Ricans and is now home to a hodgepodge of people. What was once a place deemed too far to care is now getting its time to shine.
East River Plaza: When you think about places to visit during your New York vacation, you don’t necessarily put a shopping mall complex very high on the list. Unless it has something special to offer, like the first Target and Costco store in Manhattan. This recently opened 2010 shopping mall offers a plethora of shopping stores that were normally located downtown or in other boroughs for uptown New Yorkers. It’s located on the FDR Drive by the East River where you can enjoy summer strolls and nice views of the shape of Manhattan.
Harlem Meer: Named after the Dutch word for lake, the Harlem Meer is one of the last (or first, depending on how you look at Central Park) parts of Central Park's major landmarks. This tranquil spot is much loved by locals and tourists since most Central Park lovers tend to flock to the downtown areas. It's a great spot for families who can enjoy the Lasker Rink and Pool in the winter and summertime, respectively. Look out for wedding photos being shot at the nearby beautiful Conservatory Garden, the point where Harlem Meer ends and what was once the original end of Central Park.
Cuchifritos: Sink your teeth into true Spanish Harlem cuisine at the famous Cuchifritos. It's the Puerto Rican version of fast food. This is the best bang for your buck as well with fried treats starting at $1.50 and lunch meals at $6.00. Get your fill of fried pork rinds, cheese and meat patties and a platter of rice and beans with a side of fresh chicken. To top it off, you can get a fresh squeeze juice so you won’t feel too bad about counting calories! You can also walk off the calories by exploring 116th Street; the main street in Spanish Harlem. (Also where the Cuchifritos is located; on the main strip!)
Museum of the City of New York: If you've spent all of your time in downtown Manhattan, this Museum will give you a reason to visit the area where the streets are in the hundreds! The Museum of the City of New York tells the story of insightful New York City events in its rich history. Exhibits are extremely interesting and focus on all NYC boroughs. If you're particularly interested in Spanish Harlem, visit the next door Museo del Barrio, devoted especially to Puerto Rican culture.
Justo Botanica: Whether or not you believe in spirituality or religious cleansing, you’ve got to visit the Justo Botanica. Spanish Harlem is filled with believers of good faith and of darkness that may ruin their path. You'll be in awe of the candles, statues and products being offered at this eclectic store. Speak to one of the owners to learn about what the items mean and the beliefs of those who visit. Interesting objects include path opener candles, purification cleansing oils and money incenses. Whether or not they work is truly up to you!
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