Five Ways to Spend the Springtime on the Upper West Side

There are so many beautiful times of year to visit New York City, from crisp autumn to festive, colorful December. But we love the early springtime, when winter’s chill lifts and the streets fill with hundreds of locals, restless from hibernating in their apartments. As we await the groundhog’s verdict on when spring will begin, here are five ways you can spend a day on the Upper West Side during this magical season.

Picnic in Central Park

Picnicking in Central Park is a great way to honor the city’s incredible history: New Yorkers have been partaking in this tradition since the park was created in the late 1850s. Pack your picnic basket with salads from local markets like Zabar’s or Citarella, bagel sandwiches from local delis like Barney Greengrass or Fine & Schapiro, cupcakes from Magnolia Bakery, and wine and beer from Acker Merrall & Condit (America’s oldest liquor store!) — or alternatively, customize a basket with Perfect Picnic NYC. Then, shake out your picnic blanket and enjoy your feast on the Great Lawn, Sheep Meadow, or Strawberry Fields.

Attend a Street Fair

Street fairs offer a way to experience the neighborhood’s shopping scene without having to head indoors. As the city shuts down streets like Broadway and Amsterdam Avenue, hundreds of vendors set up booths, selling everything from custom jewelry to knitwear to hand-carved instruments and transforming the neighborhood into an open-air mall. It’s a great way to sample some tasty cuisine as well — there’s usually a section devoted to carnival-style snacks, like sausage and peppers and frozen lemonade.

Dine Outdoors

Hundreds of restaurants throughout the city celebrate springtime by setting up outdoor-dining areas, and the Upper West Side is no exception. In fact, we think our neighborhood offers some of the best outdoor dining in the city. We’re always particularly impressed by the “restaurant row” along Columbus Avenue in the low 80s, and the Lincoln Square area. So pull up a chair at a venue such as Fiorello’s, The Smith, or Bar Boulud, where you can sample hearty seafood, meat, and pasta dishes, and fine cocktails and wines — all while taking in the fresh spring air.

Watch a World-Renowned Ballet

Lincoln Center-based New York City Ballet performs classic Balanchine ballets in springtime, and this is also the only time of year when American Ballet Theater dancers perform at the famed Metropolitan Opera House. Catch short ballets like “Jewels,” “Sylvia,” and “The Four Temperaments,” and new work from NYCB, or enjoy ABT’s sumptuous full-length productions: “Swan Lake,” “Giselle,” and “Romeo and Juliet,” to name a few. You can even score tickets to the NYCB gala, which doubles as a sought-after fashion event.

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ON STAGE THIS WINTER // Described as “pink champagne” and choreographed to a selection of works from Romantic-era composer Léo Delibes, one of Balanchine’s favorite composers for ballet, La Source is a charming tribute to 19th-century French dancing. Interspersed amongst the principals’ technically demanding solos, two adagios, and a finale, Balanchine excerpts his earlier ballet Pas de Deux & Divertissement of 1965, in the form of ensemble parts reminiscent of French operetta. Violette Verdy, on whom the ballet was choreographed, alongside John Prinz in 1968, described La Source as “ornamented, very detailed, with a lot of subtle nuances of charm, femininity, and coquetry.”⁠⠀ ⁠⠀ See La Source, last performed at NYCB in 2011, on the All Balanchine program JAN 22, 24, 25 mat & eve, 28, 29. Click the #linkinbio for tickets and more information.⁠⠀ ⁠⠀ Photo credit: Paul Kolnik⁠⠀ ⁠⠀ @gonzalogarcia79 #gonzalogarcia @shyltin #sterlinghyltin #georgebalanchine #balanchine #ballet #dance #nycb #nycballet #newyorkcityballet

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Enjoy Extended Museum Hours

OK, so you’ll have to cross over to Fifth Avenue for this one (directly next to Central Park) — but we couldn’t resist including Museum Mile, the amazing springtime block party that sees eight world-famous museums offering extended hours and complimentary admission. Drift between venues such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Guggenheim Museum, the Jewish Museum, the Africa Center, and more, while stopping to watch music performances by groups like Asphalt Orchestra and Avenida B.

Plan Your Springtime Stay

Want to experience this magical season in New York City for yourself? Check out the latest offers from The Excelsior Hotel and start planning your visit.

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