Local Highlights

10 things to see and do your first month in Harlem


Few New York City neighborhoods are as rich with diversity, history, and culture as Harlem is. The neighborhood is a global epicenter for Jazz, the embodiment of the “melting pot” that New York is known to be, and a place where families and young people alike can live their best NYC life. 

Of those living their best Harlem life, members at The Heritage by Common might be getting the best deal. With rates starting at $1,286/month, Common’s Harlem rentals also offer its members access to a number of highly-coveted amenities – like on-site laundry, a regular cleaning service, and flexible leases. Oh, and household essentials are on us, so last minute grocery runs when someone (not pointing any fingers, here!) uses the last of the hand soap are a thing of the past. 

Now that we’ve figured out the best place to live in Harlem, another big question arises: how am I going to spend my first month in this legendary neighborhood? Fortunately, we can help there too.

1. Central Park North

The Heritage by Common has a lot going for it, but its close proximity to the northeast corner of Central Park is hard to beat. Enjoy the last shreds of summer and witness the gradual transition to fall from a bench near the water, or walk the tree-lined top of the most famous park in the country while you soak up both rays and inspiration.

2. Grab a cuppa at Dear Mama Coffee

New York City is the land of a thousand coffee shops, and if you sift through the sea of Starbucks you’ll find plenty of amazing neighborhood spots. Dear Mama Coffee is one of those places, and though they might be small-time their in-house roasts are far from it. From bold, immensely sippable cold brew to chunky chocolate chip cookies that will transport you back to childhood, Dear Mama’s menu will have you planning your next visit before you finish your latte. But it’s the community atmosphere–complete with local art and live entertainment–that will make you a regular.

3. See a show at the Apollo

The Apollo Theater bills itself at “the soul of American culture,” and we won’t argue with that. Hosting live events for over a century and providing a literal stage for the mainstream emergence of jazz and blues in America, the Apollo is a Harlem landmark in the truest sense of the word. During your first month at The Heritage by Common, catch an Amateur Night–a live music competition which first began in 1934–or attend a preview of Apollo New Works, which focuses on performances through the African diasporic lens. 

4. Randall’s Island Park

A spirited walk and a trip across the East River from The Heritage by Common takes you to Randall’s Island Park, a near 500-acre greenspace complete with athletic fields and a community farm. Grab a cup of coffee (from Dear Mama, perhaps?) and walk across the bridge for some A+ dog-watching and A++ skyline views.

5. Veg out at Seasoned Vegan

Harlem knows soul food, and although they do things differently, Seasoned Vegan is no exception. Chef B’s all-vegan menu is available via pickup or delivery only at the moment, but seeing as Seasoned Vegan is only a few short blocks from The Heritage by Common that shouldn’t be an issue. Besides, the “shrimp” po-boy and stuffed avocado are worth taking a bridge and tunnel for.

6. Soak in la cultura at El Museo del Barrio

Though the Met and the Guggenheim might get all the praise, El Museo del Barrio’s place on Museum Mile is every bit as rightful. Showcasing Latinx, Caribbean, and Latin American cultures, El Museo del Barrio is a tribute to the diversity of New York. After visiting El Museo, pop in to the Museum of the City of New York (just next door) to keep your artsy afternoon going.

7. Langston Hughes House

“Let life be like music,” wrote famous Harlem poet and activist, Langston Hughes, “and let death be a note unsaid.” Hughes knew all about the musicality of life in Harlem, and his brownstone apartment was converted in recent years to serve as a space for independent creatives. The home is now open to the public, and is worth visiting for those eager to see Harlem the way one of its most prominent voices saw it. 

8. Conservatory Garden

While everyone flocks to Little Island, walk a few blocks from The Heritage by Common to Central Park’s Conservatory Garden. Enter through an iron gate which once marked the entrance to the famed Vanderbilt Mansion, and enjoy six acres of floral design and fresh air. The garden’s fountain is twice as picturesque as Bethesda and half as crowded, so you can soak in the sights without the crowds.

9. Hang at the Harlem Meer

A stone’s throw from the Conservatory Garden is Central Park’s Harlem Meer, complete with lawns perfect for (very) late summer sunbathing or early fall picnicking. The Meer also hosts activities for true outdoorsy-types, like catch-and-release fishing, and should you venture slightly deeper into the park you’re rewarded with a walk beneath the Huddlestone Arch. Don’t let its shoddy-looking construction fool you–it has stood for over 150 years and will likely stand for 150 more!

10. Discover Historic Harlem

While it is impossible to cram hundreds of years of Harlem history into a walking tour, a guided trip through historic Harlem is a must during your first month at The Heritage by Common. Track the neighborhood’s role in the Harlem Renaissance and the Civil Rights movement while learning about the men and women who shaped Harlem — and New York City at large. 

If, like us, you’re already planning out your first month in Harlem, start by touring The Heritage by Common and discover why it’s one of the best ways to live in this iconic neighborhood. 

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