The very top of Manhattan narrows to a sliver of land that sits in between the Bronx and New Jersey. Welcome to Inwood, a rapidly evolving community that attracts younger generations of Manhattanites in need of quasi affordable housing and accessible travel to work and school. I have decades of exploring New York City and I had never even thought Manhattan went this far until my daughter moved here. Yes, on the map we all see that there’s more to the island, but when you’re in the city and exploring, the trail tends to get cold around Harlem (go another 100 blocks to arrive at Inwood). This tiny island of Manhattan is enormous!
The Met Cloisters
Did you know that one of the branches of the Metropolitan Museum of Art was located in Inwood? This museum includes several cloisters or courtyards from actual European monasteries and contains nearly 5,000 medieval works. It was started in 1938 with George Grey Bernard’s collection of medieval art purchased by Rockefeller. The museum became an Official NYC landmark in 1974. This is a really interesting museum that you can tour through in 1-2 hours. The building’s architecture set in the park overlooking the river really helps set the mood for this adventure. As an added bonus, this museum is part of the “pay what you wish” program for NYS residents and NY, NJ, and Connecticut students.
Visit the Cloisters for more info.
Fort Tryon Park
Fort Tryon Park is abundant in history and plays a large role in the community. This little-known gem became a NYC Landmark in 1983. Fort Tryon Park extends from Riverside Dr To Broadway, W 192 St To Dyckman St. Here are some of the highlights you will find at this park:
- 2 Playgrounds
- Anne Loftus Playground- northeast end of park
- Jacob Javier’s Playground- south end of park
- 8 miles of pathways for running or walking/hiking
- Terrific viewing points of the Palisades- “unspoiled river view”, one of the highest points in Manhattan towering above the Hudson River, magnificent views of the Palisades and the lower Hudson Valley
- Margaret Corbin Circle- she defended northern Manhattan in the battle against British troops when her husband fell during battle. She took control of his cannon and was one of the last to fire during battle. She became the first woman to receive a military pension.
- The city’s largest garden with unrestricted public access, the Heather Garden, which boasts over 500 varieties of plants, trees and shrubs providing year round horticultural interest.
- Home to the Cloisters
- Home to Manhattan’s largest dog run, complete with a gazebo for dog owners to sit and socialize
- Volleyball courts and built in ping pong tables.
For terrific community events and information on this park, visit Fort Tryon Park Trust
Additional Highlights in the Area
- Inwood Hill Park– has the only natural forest left in Manhattan, known for its caves used by the Lenape before the European settlers arrived, and has the last salt marsh in Manhattan (Just North of Fort Tryon Park-walking distance)
- Dyckman House– oldest farmhouse in Manhattan, Broadway at 204th st
- Baker Athletics Complex (aka Baker Field)- Columbia University’s athletic fields. 533 W. 218th Street.
- Lawrence A. Wien Football Stadium– “one of the most beautiful places in the country to watch a football game” (as told by Sports Illustrated) with scenic views of the Henry Hudson Bridge and the New Jersey Palisades from the Home stands (West 218th Street at Park Terrace West)
- Food! Innovative, authentic and locally grown ingredients. The restaurants are changing with the demand of the new Inwood culture. We’ve enjoyed Inwood Bar & Grill and Tubbyhook. Some other popular eateries include Indian Road Cafe, Beans and Vines, and Taqueria Emilio.
Family Adventure Rating ♥♥♥
Cost– The cost to visit this area is mostly transportation. Parking is free, so you just have gas and tolls or mass transportation fees. There is no entry fee for the park. If you want to splurge, then enjoy some food at a neighborhood restaurant. There are plenty of areas for a nice picnic if you want to be super economical and pack for a picnic. A family of five can spend the day here for under $75 if you’re driving or already in the city. This allowance covers gas and tolls or bus/subway fees, pay what you wish admission to the Cloisters, and some extra for ice cream.
Parking & Transportation– Free city parking is available in Fort Tryon Park. There is also free parking on the city streets, but you will most likely have to hunt around for a bit. The M4 bus goes directly to the park. The A train gets you close. Visit the MTA for precise bus and train info. If you drive, the park can be accessed directly off Henry Hudson Pkwy to avoid driving through the city. (Note: the Park/Cloisters exit is only accessible from the northbound lane on the parkway, so you may have to make a U-turn further down the parkway, exits 14/15, if you’re in the southbound lane.)
Location– Aside from traffic, Inwood is relatively easy to reach. Since it is so far north from the hubbub of tourist Manhattan, it has its own charm and appeal. However, since it is still a part of Manhattan it is easily accessible with mass transit. Inwood is nearby the George Washington Bridge if you’re coming from New Jersey or along the Henry Hudson Parkway if you’re coming from upstate New York.
Day Trip or Overnight– This is a day trip. You can find places to stay, but this is more of a residential community so accommodations will be scant.
Experience– This was a real adventure! We didn’t see everything, but accomplished a lot. We played on the Anne Loftus Playground and then hiked up the wooded path to the Cloisters. The views were beautiful and we felt like we had a nice work out. After we toured the Cloisters, we discovered how big the park was. We didn’t cover the entire grounds. There is a good variety of things to do and there is a relaxed community atmosphere. We did return to explore Inwood Hill Park on another visit. We just had to find the caves we read about! The forest is larger than you would think, so make sure to keep this a daytime trip.
Combination– Inwood is already a destination of combining adventures. Considering the travel time to get to another area, I wouldn’t suggest combining this with another adventure. But…if there’s a quick something along the route home you want to enjoy, go for it! Our family has been known to go slightly off course so we could pass through the Bronx for some yummy Italian food.