Located between Central Park and the Hudson River, the Upper West Side is one of New York City’s most relaxing and culturally rich neighborhoods. Its residential, leafy streets are home to some of the city’s most important arts and educational institutions, from Lincoln Center to the American Museum of Natural History. Livable, convenient, and oh-so-beautiful, the Upper West Side is the place to be in New York City. 

From guided museum experiences to Central Park explorations, here are the five best guided tours for exploring Manhattan’s Upper West Side. We’ve also included the driving and/or walking distance from these guided tours to The Lucerne.  

Guided American Museum of Natural History Tour

(3 min. drive / 8 min. walk)  

The American Museum of Natural History is an absolute must-visit destination on the Upper West Side. Since its founding in 1869, it has highlighted millions of artifacts, discoveries, cultural relics, fossils, and more, that illuminate the entire history of the world. From ‘Lucy,’ one of the oldest extant hominid fossils, to a full mammoth skeleton to heads from Easter Island, the Museum of Natural History’s 45 permanent exhibits are full of fascinations.  

That being said, it’s difficult to know what, exactly, to see if you are exploring the Museum of Natural History on your own. One of the best ways to make sure you’re understanding every exhibit and seeing the best the museum has to offer is by participating in one of their guided tours. The museum itself offers free guided tours every day, in multiple languages. 

To sign up, head to the information desk on the first floor of the Theodore Roosevelt Memorial Hall. Tours are 75 minutes long, and they are first come first serve.  

Kosher Food Tour of the Upper West Side

(2. min walk) 

The Upper West Side has long had a thriving Jewish community and important Jewish roots, so there’s no better way to learn about this element of the neighborhood than by embarking on a kosher food tour. Per Jewish law, ‘kosher’ is a designation that determines what many Jewish people can eat. It includes guidelines on the preparation and pairing of meat and fish, as well as other rules, which you can read about here.  

The UWS Kosher Food Tour’s licensed tour guide will take you to some of the most famous Jewish restaurants in the neighborhood, including Zabar’s — a gourmet deli/emporium/grocer that was featured in the 1998 rom-com You’ve Got Mail, the Kosher Marketplace, and Murray’s Sturgeon Shop. Throughout the tour, you will be able to sample kosher foods and learn about the Upper West Side’s Jewish history.  

This is a group tour designed for a private party of six adults, and it costs $600 total, including food. It is available every Sunday at 10:00am You can read more about it and book tickets here

New York in One Day Guided Sightseeing Tour

(8 min. drive / 34 min. walk) 

Only in New York City for a short time and looking to see as much as possible of what it has to offer? Head out on the New York in One Day Guided Sightseeing Tour. Operated by USA Guided Tours, this six-plus hour exploration of the city covers all the major sightseeing spots, including Rockefeller Center, the Statue of Liberty, Fifth Avenue, Wall Street and more.   

It even wraps up at Lincoln Center and Central Park, depositing you right back on the Upper West Side. Transportation on a luxury bus is included with the tour, as is the ferry to Staten Island. Discover the entire itinerary and read reviews of the tour here. Tickets are $99 per adult, and it is sure to be worth it.  

Guided Historical Tour of Columbia University

(6 min. drive / 36 min. walk) 

If you’re looking for a historical perspective of Columbia University, one of New York City’s premier higher education institutions, you’re in luck. Located in Morningside Heights, a neighborhood on the border of Harlem and the Upper West Side, Columbia is historically and architecturally significant.  

Founded in 1754, Columbia is the fifth-oldest university in the country; early students included Alexander Hamilton, John Jay, and many other prominent Revolutionary figures. These tours, open to the public, will teach you about these figures and the school that shaped them. 

Central Park Walking or Pedicab Tour

(3 min. drive / 9 min. walk)  

An Upper West Side exploration isn’t complete without a visit to Central Park. Knowledgeable park guides offer daily walking tours through the major attractions of the park, including Belvedere Castle, Bethesda Fountain, the Strawberry Fields, and more; they will also show you the sites where famous movie scenes were shot. (Fun fact: Central Park is the world’s most-filmed destination). These fun, 2-hour excursions are $35 per adult and $19 per child, and are organized in small groups for a more personalized experience.  

If you’re not in the mood to walk, though, you can try a pedicab tour. Though more expensive, this equally eco-friendly tour will drive you across Central Park, to see many of the same attractions. Book a pedicab tour here.  


Stay in the heart of the Upper West Side. Book your stay at The Lucerne now