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Things to Do

Hamilton Heights: What to do and eat in the northern Manhattan neighborhood

Few Manhattan neighborhoods offer a true, full-day's worth of intriguing sites, rich history and quality eats with a sincere local vibe. Hamilton Heights is on that list. In fact, in putting together this guide, we had to make some tough choices (stay tuned for a separate feature on the Dance Theatre of Harlem next month).

So on your next plan-less day, wake up early, grab your camera and a water bottle, and spend 12 hours exploring this northern Manhattan enclave. Below are just a few of the spots we recommend visiting.

Step down for coffee

Keep your eyes peeled, because you can easily
Photo Credit: Colter Hettich

Keep your eyes peeled, because you can easily miss this underground caffeine cave at 3610 Broadway. Start your day by stepping down from street level into the Chipped Cup, a Lewis Carroll-inspired, self-described "Victorian psychedelic" cafe, opening weekdays at 7 a.m. and weekends at 8 a.m. A 20 oz. hot coffee will run you just $3.25, while a large iced costs $4. Throw in a shot of espresso for $1.50 while you're at it.

Visit Alexander Hamilton's house

Swing over to 141st Street and Hamilton Terrace
Photo Credit: Colter Hettich

Swing over to 141st Street and Hamilton Terrace to visit the Hamilton Grange Memorial, honoring founding father Alexander Hamilton. The co-author of the Federalist papers first came to New York in 1772 and spent two of his last years on a 32-acre estate in upper Manhattan. He commissioned architect John McComb Jr. to build the Federal-style country home, and it was completed in 1802. Hamilton named the house "The Grange" after his family's ancestral home in Scotland, according to the National Park Service.. Stop by for park ranger-guided tours at 10 a.m., 11 a.m., 2 p.m. and 4 p.m.

Stroll through the City College campus

Founded as the Free Academy of the City
Photo Credit: Colter Hettich

Founded as the Free Academy of the City of New York in 1847, City College moved to its prime real estate atop St. Nicholas Park in 1907, according to the college. The picturesque neo-Gothic campus at 138th Street and Convent Avenue is a beautiful place to stroll, with pockets of grass and plenty of shade around.

See a piece of jazz history

Hamilton Heights and the Sugar Hill Historic District
Photo Credit: Colter Hettich

Hamilton Heights and the Sugar Hill Historic District are home to an abundance of iconic residences. One you won't want to miss is that of jazz composer Billy Strayhorn at 315 Convent. Strayhorn composed "Take the 'A' Train" and "Chelsea Bridge," and collaborated with Duke Ellington on dozens of tracks including "Satin Doll" and "Sugar Hill Penthouse."

Or check out the home of Royal Tenenbaum

Another selfie-worthy home is that of fictional patriarch
Photo Credit: Colter Hettich

Another selfie-worthy home is that of fictional patriarch Royal Tenenbaum. Wes Anderson fans will recognize the corner of 144th Street and Convent Avenue where several exterior shots of the movie were filmed.

Grab fish & chips for lunch

Throughout our day in Hamilton Heights, we asked
Photo Credit: Colter Hettich

Throughout our day in Hamilton Heights, we asked several residents for fish & chips recommendations, and the response was unanimous: "Don't tell them about Devin's, it's our secret!" Sorry, but it's too good not to share. Devin's Fish & Chips reopened in 2017 at 747 St. Nicholas Ave. after being closed for several years. For less than $10 you can get three filets of white fish -- fried to order -- and a liberal serving of fries. But take your pick of the menu, you can't go wrong.

Reflect on NY's past at Trinity cemetery

The hallowed, sloping grounds of Trinity Church Cemetery
Photo Credit: Colter Hettich

The hallowed, sloping grounds of Trinity Church Cemetery and Mausoleum, 770 Riverside Dr., are the final resting place of Booker T. Washington III, author Ralph Ellison and former New York City mayor Ed Koch, just to name a few. Open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily, the plot is also home to the vaulting sanctuary of the Episcopalian Church of the Intercession. Take some time to walk and reflect among the towering trees and obelisks. You can also find a walking guide to the cemetery and mausoleum here.

Explore fine art at Essie Green Galleries

At the corner of 148th Street sits an
Photo Credit: Colter Hettich

At the corner of 148th Street sits an unassuming brownstone. If you buzz at the below-street-level door, you'll enter a treasure trove of work by the black masters of fine art. More than a dozen pieces by Romare Bearden are on display (and for sale) at Essie Green Galleries, in addition to everything from iconic paintings by William Edouard Scott to more contemporary work by Brooklyn-based visual artist Kimberly Becoat. The stunning collection is open to the public from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. from Tuesday to Saturday. If you're lucky, owner Sherman K. Edmiston Jr., will be available to share some artistic insights as well as some good ol'' New York stories.

Grab dinner at The Grange Bar & Eatery

Named for Alexander Hamilton's nearby residence, The Grange
Photo Credit: Colter Hettich

Named for Alexander Hamilton's nearby residence, The Grange Bar & Eatery at 1635 Amsterdam Ave. is an ideal spot to rest those barking dogs after a day of walking the hilly neighborhood. Veggie options include a roasted tahini cauliflower steak with sautéed carrot and mustard greens ($18) and a quinoa burger topped with alfalfa sprouts, roasted red pepper and avocado ($15). Meat lovers should dive into the pappardelle bolognese with veal ragu ($19). Drink prices are fairly standard ($9-$14 for a glass of wine, $7-$8 per bottle of beer), so might as well wait for a night cap at Harlem Public.

Watch the sun set above Jackie Robinson Park

High above Jackie Robinson Park -- formerly part
Photo Credit: Colter Hettich

High above Jackie Robinson Park -- formerly part of the old Polo Grounds -- is a sidewalk terrace with views you must take in. With plenty of benches, the Bronx on the horizon and kids playing in hydrants' spray, the vibe is quintessential New York summer. It's a perfect spot to watch the sun go down.

Cap off the day at Harlem Public

Before you head home, top off the night
Photo Credit: Colter Hettich

Before you head home, top off the night with brew at Harlem Public. It's hard to put your finger on what makes this watering hole special, you just feel it when you walk in. The bartenders are friendly, the taps are always rotating, and the food is deliciously greasy. Blue Point Brewery is the brewery of the month, and to celebrate the bar is hosting an event on July 25 at 7:30 p.m. with giveaways and samplings.

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