You've seen it from Metro-North as you curve underneath the Henry Hudson Bridge. You've seen it from the elevated 1 train as you traverse the Harlem River between Manhattan and the Bronx. You may have even seen its glorious parks from the West Side Highway. It's time you see it on foot. Inwood boasts a diverse population with sprawling green spaces and a rich history. When -- not if -- you take a day to explore the area, don't miss these spots:
Start your day at the Indian Road Cafe
Stop in early at the eclectic Indian Road Cafe (600 W. 218th St.) for some granola-and-yogurt ($11) or croissant-and-a-cappucino (~$7) at the full-service coffee bar. If you prefer to settle in later for a cozy dinner, go for the house-made tagliatelle with wild mushroom ($18) or roasted beef "short rib" with the fixings ($25). This local-favorite also hosts pub trivia every Wednesday starting at 8 p.m.
Head over to the greenmarket
Every Saturday, the Inwood Greenmarket takes over a block of Isham Street between Cooper Street and Seaman Avenue. Vendors include market staples like Bread Alone and Ronnybrook Farm Dairy, but if you hurry you may catch Nolasco Farm, specializing in Mexican produce and herbs, and Valley Shepherd Creamery, and sheep cheese from Hunterdon County, N.J., according to grownyc.
Wander through Fort Tryon Park
Put on your walking shoes -- the winding, lush paths of Fort Tryon Park are worth at least a couple hours of wandering. Start at the entrance on Broadway and Riverside Drive (little ones will love the fountain and playground). From there, choose your route to the flagpole at the park's highest point for sweeping views of the Hudson River, northern Manhattan and the Bronx. The flagpole serves as a monument to one of the sites of the Battle of Fort Washington (the name Tryon comes from Major General William Tryon, who was the last British governor of colonial New York City, according to fortryonparktrust.org). Also take time to stroll Heather Garden while you're up there. The gardens were initially planted in 1935, and offer picturesque looks at the George Washington Bridge and the Palisades.
Brush up on NYC history at Dyckman Farmhouse Museum
It may be hard to picture, but northern Manhattan was mostly farmland in the 1700s. After the Revolutionary War, the Dyckman family rebuilt their homestead on Kingsbridge Road -- a.k.a. Broadway -- and what is now 204th Street. The farmhouse was completed before 1800, according to dyckmanfarmouse.org, and exists as Manhattan's last standing Colonial farmhouse. Tour the house (donations encouraged) Thursday - Saturday from 11 a.m. - 4 p.m., or Sundays from 11 a.m. - 3 p.m. You can nose around the yard, too, which is still home to the old smokehouse, a stone military and munitions hut and a vegetable garden.
Step back in time at Dichter Pharmacy
Stepping into Dichter Pharmacy (4953 Broadway) feels like stepping into the 1930s, and for good reason: It's been on the block for more than 101 years, according to the soda jerk. And if you don't believe him, check out the framed images on the wall. Take a load off on the padded chrome stools at their traditional soda counter, where you can get all the classics. Old-timers -- and first-timers -- won't want to miss the egg cream ($3) made with Fox's U-bet chocolate syrup, but you can also get an old-school malted ($6) or a scoop of Gifford's ice cream ($2.75/single, $3.75/double).
Grab a snack at Choc NYC on your way into Isham Park
As the sun sets, one of the best vantage points is cozy Isham Park. Like most of the parks in Inwood, there are several entrances and charming paths up, but either way be ready to climb some serious stairs. Before you head up, stop across the street at Choc NYC (4996 Broadway) near 212th Street. The bakers at Choc churn out goods so attractive you'll almost feel bad about biting into them. Since you'll be in the park, go for the finger-friendly individual fruit tart ($5.75), the pistachio eclair ($4.50) or the coconut macaroon ($2.75).
Stop in for a pint at Liffy II
If you boil Inwood down to it's essence, and consider it's how it's changed over the last 100 years, you're left with two emblematic gems: Liffy II and Empanadas Monumental. Liffy II (5009 Broadway) is an Irish bar rife with memories of a time when Inwood was predominantly populated by Irish and German immigrants. On St. Patrick's Day, the bar hosted a free corned beef and trimmings buffet, and the bartender will be happy to tell you stories that only a Liffy II bartender could.
Polish off your day with an empanada
Empanadas Monumental (522 W. 207th St.), on the other hand, represents a shift in Inwood's population over the past few decades to be predominantly Dominican. We feel confident you won't find a better empanada in Manhattan than the flakey, handmade melt-in-your-mouth fried wares of this joint.