Photo by Alex Maisuradze / Creative Commons
Upper East Side might not be the most budget-friendly of neighborhoods, but if you want to go all out and treat someone (and yourself) to something really special in New York City, then a stay in Upper East Side might be right up your street – or is that Fifth Avenue?
During the Gilded Age in the United States, the Carnegies, Rockefellers, Roosevelts and other members of the country's rich, famous, and influential elite lived along Fifth Avenue in grand, palatial residences. Their presence earned the street the nickname of 'Millionaire's Row,' and, while many of these old mansions have since been torn down and replaced with luxury apartment blocks, Fifth Avenue remains exclusive to this day.
Before you hit up Fifth Avenue, however, and only after you've had breakfast and a read of the day's paper at your hotel, first explore some of Upper East Side's less obviously glamorous but no less affluent side streets. There a few better neighborhoods in New York for brownstone buildings and leafy, tree-lined streets; enjoy a relaxed, aimless wander for an hour or so – stopping somewhere for coffee along the way – for the most pleasant of starts to your day.
You might not be able to resist the lure of Fifth Avenue for too long, however. As famous today for its luxury boutique shopping as it was in the late 19th-century for its Gilded Age mansions, Fifth Avenue is where you take your shiny new credit card or go for a spot of upscale window shopping. Alternatively, or after a spot of lunch in one of the neighborhood's hip cafes and posh restaurants, do some more aimless wandering, this time around Central Park. This most famous of green spaces runs along the western boundary of Upper East Side and is the perfect environment for people-watching and stretching your legs.
Following lunch, it's time to head back to Fifth Avenue but this time to the area between 82nd and 105th streets, otherwise known as 'Museum Mile.' The Metropolitan Museum of Art (aka the Met), The Museum for African Art, El Museo del Barrio, the Guggenheim, The Jewish Museum, the Neue Galerie New York or one of the area's other renowned cultural institutions. Spend your afternoon in one of these or even try and see a couple, although you can always come back the next day, of course.
The Met also stays open late on Friday and Saturday evenings, which is perfect for if you want to dodge the worst of the crowds during the day. There's also an impressive rooftop bar, so you can have a drink here before heading out to a restaurant or another bar for more drinks. You'll find a high concentration of both around the East 82nd Street and 2nd Avenue intersection, or jump on the subway and head down to other neighborhoods for a more raucous night out – the Meatpacking District or East Village are always pretty good bets and are popular with the locals.
Comparing NYC neighborhoods? Read our New York city and neighborhood guide.