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What to do & eat in Riverdale: Head to the Bronx to explore the historic neighborhood

You may not find Archie here, but there is much to discover in Riverdale.

In this quiet neighborhood based in northwest Bronx, there’s no shortage of playgrounds, dog runs and parks — a contrast to some of the more bustling parts of the city.

Riverdale is home to good eats, including Irish and Italian cuisines, and rich with New York City history. Big names including author Mark Twain, President Theodore Roosevelt and actor Tracy Morgan have previously called the neighborhood home.

To reach Riverdale, take the 1 to Van Cortlandt Park-242 Street; Metro-North’s Hudson Line to Spuyten Duyvil or Riverdale, or one of multiple buses. It takes at least an hour if you’re traveling from Manhattan, Queens or Brooklyn, but the trip is worth it.

When you’re ready to explore, check out these local hot spots:

Get an early start at a café

Craving a yogurt parfait? Start your morning at
Photo Credit: Moss Café via Instagram

Craving a yogurt parfait? Start your morning at Moss Café, located at 3260 Johnson Ave., which opens around 7 a.m. during the week. This pescetarian, kosher restaurant uses fresh produce from small, local farms and caters to vegan, vegetarian, dairy-free and gluten-free diets. Go-to dishes for early morning risers include the Sweet Bowl ($10), a porridge topped with dates, honeyed apples and almonds, and the Farmer's Plate ($14), which includes two eggs, potatoes, greens and toast. It gets crowded between noon and 2 p.m., so be sure to stop by way before then.

Take a hike in Riverdale Park

Located near the northern end of Riverdale, at
Photo Credit: Meghan Haugh via Instagram

Located near the northern end of Riverdale, at W. 254 Palisade Ave., Riverdale Park is an ideal place for exploring nature and wildlife. The 144-acre park is ideal for taking long treks through its vast woodlands and watching the sunset along an extended shoreline of the Hudson River. Riverdale Park is also a destination for bird-watchers. In addition to ducks, hawks and songbirds, you just might catch a glimpse of the native screech owl.

Admire the unique historic houses

After breakfast on a beautiful summery day, take
Photo Credit: Wendy Lu

After breakfast on a beautiful summery day, take a walk through the landmark neighborhood of Fieldston, which is bound by Henry Hudson Parkway, Manhattan College Parkway, Broadway and 250th St. The neighborhood is characterized by lush greenery and several rows of upscale houses, with unique details such as an outdoor spiral staircase and wooden arches. No house looks like any other, and architecture ranges from Tudor style to Colonial Revival. The neighborhood is part of the Fieldston Historic District and has previously been home to United Nations ambassadors, former President John F. Kennedy and other prominent figures.

Cool down at MacLaughlin Playground

In between destinations, take a few minutes to
Photo Credit: Wendy Lu

In between destinations, take a few minutes to rest on one of the many park benches at MacLaughlin Playground, situated at Greystone Avenue between W. 236th and W. 240th sts. Kids can enjoy the swing sets, a stone play horse and a full-service playground under the shade. Children and adults alike can cool themselves down with the giant sprinkler next to the playground, perfect for hot summer days.

Tour the oldest house in the borough

Designated as a New York City historical landmark,
Photo Credit: Yana Orlova via Instagram

Designated as a New York City historical landmark, the Van Cortlandt House Museum is the oldest building in all of the Bronx. The Georgian-style house was constructed in the mid-18th century on the Van Cortlandt family's plantation, and then it was eventually converted into a museum in 1897. Visitors should set aside at least one hour to tour the entire estate, and you'll want to call in advance to make sure the museum isn't temporarily closed for film shoots or house repairs (it happens occasionally). Pick up a postcard, lavender soap, kitchen towels or other souvenir at the museum shop after the tour, and you'll remember the Van Cortlandt House for years to come.

Open six days a week, the Van Cortlandt House Museum is located at 6036 Broadway in the eponymous park. General admission is $5. For seniors and students, it's $3. (Kids ages 12 and younger get to visit for free.) On Wednesdays, admission is free. Fun fact: During the Revolutionary War, the house was used by President George Washington.

Go ahead and grab a slice

In the middle of a day trip at
Photo Credit: Wendy Lu

In the middle of a day trip at Riverdale, squeezing in lunch at Goodfellas Pizza is quick and inexpensive. This casual pizza joint on 3661 Waldo Ave. offers gourmet pies, pastas such as fettuccine Alfredo ($12.95), eggplant parmigiana hero ($7.45) and calzones ($5.45), just to name a few. Order a pie on your birthday and you might get a message spelled out in pepperoni.

Learn something new

Chat up the locals and make new friends
Photo Credit: Wendy Lu

Chat up the locals and make new friends at the Riverdale-Yonkers branch of New York's Society for Ethical Culture, a nontheistic community based at 4450 Fieldston Road. The building that houses the local branch has been around since the 1960s, although ethical culture is an ideology that dates back to the 1800s. While the society teaches the principles of ethical culture to its members, it also hosts inspirational talks, film screenings, barbecues, concerts and other events that are all open to the public. Recent talks have focused on building compassion and experiencing joy. The society is also a nice place to relax if you're just passing through, with beautiful artwork on the walls and a porch in the backyard.

Break a sweat at a walk-in fitness class

For fitness enthusiasts, the Bronx Barbell Club (also
Photo Credit: Bronx Barbell Club via Instagram

For fitness enthusiasts, the Bronx Barbell Club (also known as BXBC) at 451 W. 238th St. is a popular destination. With CrossFit programs, a weightlifting club, yoga, boxing classes and gymnastics, the BXBC has something for everyone. (Nutrition and lifestyle coaching classes are available, too.) If you're not a fan of exercising in groups, you can sign up for private lessons. And for those who are still refining their workout routines, don't worry: Beginners are strongly encouraged to join the club. Anyone can sign up, and walk-ins are available. Head on over to their Instagram feed to get an idea of what a typical BXBC workout session looks like.

Get a taste of Irish cuisine and local art

If you can't decide between dining in and
Photo Credit: Wendy Lu

If you can't decide between dining in and catching a show at night, do both at An Beal Bocht Cafe on 445 W. 238th St. This Irish-style restaurant and bar, a local gem since 1991, features live music several nights a week as well as open mic nights, comedy and art exhibits. It also doubles as a regular venue for Poor Mouth Theatre Company based in the Bronx. Hungry patrons should opt for the Bangers and Mash (Irish sausage, mashed potatoes and baked beans, $14), the Gaelic Burger featuring Irish bacon, mushrooms and cheese ($14) or a Shepherd's Pie ($15). Round off the night with some mulled cider.

Insider tip: Near the doorway, there's a mini library where visitors can take one or two books of their choice from the bookshelf (and leave one behind, if they're so inclined).


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