Originally established in 1754 as King’s College by a British royal charter, Columbia University, one of our country’s oldest and most prestigious schools, is a private Ivy League University located in Upper Manhattan. The Morningside Heights campus begins at Broadway and 116th Street and is home to three undergraduate schools—Columbia College, The School of General Studies and The Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science. Enrollment at Columbia is just over 8, 000 for undergrads and just under 19, 000 for grad school.
Stay: A short walk from Columbia, check in to Aloft Harlem, the neighborhoods first boutique hotel. Manhattan has endless hotel choices all just a short cab or subway ride away, but to us the Upper West Side is most convenient. Good options include the Hotel Beacon, Hudson New York, Courtyard by Marriott Central Park, 1 Hotel Central Park or the boutique Nylo. If you feel like splurging, the Mandarin Oriental located at the top of the Time Warner Center offers incredible views of Central Park.
Breakfast: Savor some of the best chocolate croissants, cherry strudel, and other old world pastries at The Hungarian Pastry Shop, an old world bakery, and café that’s been a Columbia hang out for decades. Students channel beat writers Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsburg (who were regulars) sipping endless coffees while typing away on their laptops. Nussbaum and Wu is popular all day for its pressed juices and smoothies, bagels, custom salads, and sandwiches. Looking for more of a sit-down meal, order the peach pancakes at retro, homey diner Kitchenette. Photo Op: Skip eating here, but take a picture in front of Tom’s Restaurant, whose exterior became famous thanks to “Seinfeld” as the diner where Jerry, Elaine, Kramer, and George shared many a meal.
Lunch: Community Food and Juice, is an excellent choice for any meal of the day (and packed at weekend brunches), but we prefer lunchtime with plenty of options for both meat lovers and vegetarians ranging from Thai salads to veggie burgers to rice bowls. (One student told us this is his dinner time spot raving they have the best brick chicken in the city) Weather permitting choose from one of the killer sandwiches or gilled Paninis at Milano Market and picnic on the quad. There’s always a long line at uber popular take out Sweetgreen, a healthy salad chain that has been expanding across NYC. Choose one of their excellent signature salads or design your own. Dig Inn, another expanding mini chain serves American comfort food sourced from local farms. More than one student said we must try the burritos and tacos at tiny, no frills Taqueria y Fonda la Mexicana where everything is prepared fresh daily. If you are looking for an afternoon snack, look no further than Levain Bakery. We can confidently say that you will never have a better chocolate chip cookie!
Casual: In the mood for Asian try trendy Thai Market. On a cold night, brave the line at Jin Ramen, one of the better ramen joints in Harlem. Gastro pub the Fat Monk serves hearty, meat centric fare and a roster of small plates (Don't miss the craft cocktails.) Try Lolo’s Seafood Shack’s flavorful Caribbean food, brick oven pizza at under the radar Sottocasa or head to Harlem Shake for their classic burger and an addictive red velvet milkshake. (Trust us, it’s that good!)
A Step Up: They don’t take reservations at Pisticci’s, a longtime Columbia favorite offering solid Italian fare, so expect to wait or go early. Marlow Bistro is a newcomer to the neighborhood serving a modern Mediterranean menu on Amsterdam. Clay, located in the heart of Harlem, serves deceptively simple farm to table fare showcasing ingredients in inventive pairings. They have an excellent selection of cocktails – we highly recommend the Lazy Bird.
Late Night Snack: Toast, a popular Columbia hangout is open until 11 PM weeknights (midnight on the weekends) serving elevated diner food in a lofty, bare bones setting. City Diner, at Broadway and 90th, is open 24 hours for those embracing the lifestyle of the city that never sleeps.
Local Attractions: Columbia’s campus, designed as an urban academic village by renowned architecture firm McKim, Mead and White is a NY attraction in itself. Self-guided architectural walking tours are available to download here. The Miriam and Ira Wallach Art Gallery on campus is open Wed-Sat from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Close to campus visit Grant’s Tomb, the resting place for President Ulysses Grant and his wife, Julia. For detailed itineraries of great things to do in NYC, click here for our Daytripper 365 Homegrown NY guides.
Even More: For more great places to eat on the Upper West Side including the iconic Barney Greengrass dive into this curated guide on Daytripper 365 here.
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COLUMBIA FAST FACTS
White & Columbia Blue
Average - 1540
Average - 33
Medium - 8,712 Undergraduates
1130 Amsterdam Avenue
212 Hamilton Hall, MC 2807
New York, NY 10027
(p) (212) 854-2522
(f) (212) 854-1209
NCAA Division I
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