Make the Most of Spring on the Upper East Side
Updated: Mar 29, 2022
Despite its close proximity to busy Midtown Manhattan, the Upper East Side offers a surprisingly serene reprieve from the city's hustle and bustle. Its tree-lined streets, colorful flowers, lush parks, and countless options for al-fresco dining make it the perfect place to enjoy the beauty of springtime in New York City.
With so much to do in the area, it can be hard to narrow down what to do and see. To help, our Brown Harris Stevens Manhattan agents have provided their best recommendations.
Explore the Parks and Gardens of the Upper East Side
For a great photo op, visit the Central Park Conservatory Garden, which is home to cherry blossoms and other flowers. -- Geoffrey Wigdor of The Wigdor Team
March marks the beginning of cherry blossom season in New York City. The flowered trees are often celebrated by locals as a symbol of the start of spring. They can be found throughout multiple locations on the Upper East side, including:
Along the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir at 90th St. and 5th Avenue
The colorful foliage doesn't stop at cherry blossoms, however. Throughout the Upper East Side, tulips can be found along Park Avenue.
For another picturesque retreat, visit the North Meadow Butterfly Gardens, recommended by Meryl Jacobs and Susan Burris. The gardens provide a safe habitat for more than 50 species of butterflies, which flock to the gardens alongside other small animals and insects for their colorful, fragrant plant life—all of which is strategically planted to support and nourish the wildlife there throughout the year.
If you're a tennis lover, Lauren Cangiano recommends purchasing a tennis permit from the NYC Parks department, which allows you to play tennis in any of the city's courts. "My favorite court is in Central Park at 97th Street," she said.
Make the Most of Museum Mile's World-Class Institutions
When the weather gets warmer there is nothing like taking a long stroll up Museum Mile and visiting the Neue Gallerie, the Cooper Hewitt, or the Guggenheim. -- Fern Hammond
The Upper East Side is home to NYC's iconic Museum Mile, a mile-long stretch of Fifth Avenue running parallel to Central Park that is home to the city's most sought-after museums, including the Guggenheim and the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
The stretch, however, is a free museum in its own right, with countless street performers and artists showcasing their talents along the sidewalk.
"It's essentially a block party," said Meryl Jacobs and Susan Burris.
For New York residents, the museums along the row offer donation-based entry with no fixed amount, and those with an NYC Culture Pass can enjoy free access to the museums throughout the year. Visitors from out of town can take advantage of pay-what-you-can or free-entry days at several museums. Click here for a complete list.
Enjoy the Weather and a Delicious Meal with Outdoor Dining
One of NYC's top destinations for exceptional dining, the Upper East Side is home to countless quaint eateries that span various cultures and flavors. One standout with outdoor dining options, recommended by Fern Hammond, is Sistina Restaurant at 24 E 81st Street. Housed in a stunning, landmarked mansion built in 1902, the restaurant is a fitting option for those looking to admire NYC architecture after visiting a museum or park.
Located on 86th Street and Second Avenue, Blume reopens each spring with a special seasonal menu served outdoors. "It makes you feel like you are in Europe," said Geoffrey Wigdor.
A brisk walk along Madison Avenue in Carnegie Hill, from 86th to 93rd Street, will yield several fantastic outdoor dining options, according to Lauren Cangiano. Among these is Table d'Hôte, a charming French-American bistro with a small but robustly flavored menu of French cuisine.
For dessert, look no further than Butterfield Market at 1150 Madison Avenue. The market sources fresh baked goods and ice cream from local bakers, providing the perfect place to grab a sweet treat to take with you while exploring the area's parks and gardens. Meryl Jacobs and Susan Burris recommend the frozen yogurt!