Visiting New York City this weekend? Looking for some fun things to do? Not a football fan? Whether you’re a tourist or a tried and true Big Apple resident, our weekly visitors’ guide is here to help — filling you in on the right way to see Manhattan when you’re on a tight schedule. Check out our guide on what to see and do — and what to skip. This weekend, we explore Manhttan’s Upper West Side. By Alyson Schwartz.

New York can be brutal in the winter, especially this one, so minimize your time outdoors by sticking to one part of town. Start with breakfast at Popover Café on the Upper West Side. A cozy restaurant known of course for their popovers, though the rest of the fare is delicious as well. No matter how cold it is outside, you will certainly warm-up once inside because of the combination of wonderful food, the homey décor and the very friendly staff.

From the Popover Cafe (Flickr Photo)

Walk just six blocks south to one of the largest and most loved museums in the world, the American Museum of Natural History. Boasting the tallest dinosaur display right in the front lobby, this is only the first of the endless exhibits which will excite children of ages. With exhibits of a 94 foot model of a blue whale that flies over you in the Milstein Hall of Ocean Life, the Habitat dioramas that depict animals in their natural habitats, including many that are extinct, and full scale models of dinosaurs large and small, you will be entertained for hours. Take a free tour which offers an overview of the museum. Given daily it meets at the Akeley Hall of African Mammals at 10:15 and 11:15am, and 12:15, 1:15, 2:15, and 3:15pm. If the huge museum is to overwhelming and you want to learn more about a specific exhibit, download one or all apps available here.

Take a break for lunch and head to Shake Shack for what has become such a New York hamburger institution they have opened multiple locations throughout the city. Located across the street from the museum, you will probably have to wait inline for a bit before you can get a taste of one of their excellent burgers. The wait is worth it though. Make sure not to order too many burgers, because their shakes and frozen custard are even better. The flavor of the day is always an adventure if you care to branch out from chocolate and vanilla.

Head back to the museum to explore even more at the Hayden Planetarium located in the Rose Center for Earth and Space. This section of the museum is included in your cost of admission, but some of the shows in the planetarium are extra. Viewing the stars and planets has never been more fun or realistic thanks to the state of the art Zeiss Start Projector. A view of space this detailed is rarely visible, especially when stargazing on a New York City street-corner, so you will certainly see stars and constellations you have never viewed before. Don’t miss the photographic exhibit located under the planetarium entitled Full Moon: Apollo Mission Photographs of the Lunar Landscape. Made from photographs from the Apollo missions from 1967-1972, these beautiful images are of the journey to the moon and the moon itself.

From Calle Ocho (From

Continue the fun of the day at Calle Ocho, a Latin restaurant located just steps from the museum. The food and drinks are all fabulous at and so is the atmosphere. Even the bread basket is different offering multiple varieties in all sorts of unique flavors. All of their meat dishes are delicious, but my favorite is the salmon entrée. The extensive drink list makes it hard to choose, especially since they offer a variety of mojitos and a variety of both red and white sangrias. Finish the night with live music at Prohibition. Check their website for the full line-up, but they have live music almost every night. I have never seen a bad act, so sit back and enjoy the music.

Popover Café
551 Amsterdam Avenue at 86th Street
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American Museum of Natural History
Entrance on Central Park West at 79th Street
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Shake Shack
366 Columbus Avenue at 77th Street
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Rose Center for Space
Entrance on 81st Street between Central Park West and Columbus Avenue
Or through the American Museum of Natural History
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Calle Ocho
446 Columbus Avenue between 81st and 82nd Street

503 Columbus Avenue between 84th and 85th Street
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Alyson Schwartz is the author of the blog Ribbons of Thought, which features musings on topics from fashion to NYC living including fun activities, food and unique finds.