As the economic recession continues, so has Harlemites desire for the relaxation and luxuries of a traditional vacation. Why not go for the tranquility and exploration found in a getaway? Today’s economic climate may cause some hesitancy, but the answer lies in the latest R &R trend known as “staycationing.” It involves enjoying all the sights and wonders one’s own community has to offer. Harlem’s rich culture makes the neighborhood a prime “staycationing” hot spot.
Neal Shoemaker, president of Harlem Heritage Tourism and Cultural Center, recognizes the history found in Harlem and offers a wide-variety of tours from walking and day trips to musical genre and multimedia tours. “People want the real deal,” says Shoemaker, and since he began nearly ten years ago he’s delivered just that. This Harlemite notes the “Harlem Civil Rights Walking Tour” as one of the more popular tours. It’s reasonably priced at $25 per person and $20 per person for groups of 15 or more. Pick a tour and the rest is history.
Next stop down history lane is the local museums and galleries. Admission into The Museum of the City of New York is free if you live or work in East Harlem. Just stroll in and say, “I’m a neighbor,” and the suggested admission charge will be waived. The National Jazz Museum, which currently houses a single room filled with jazz books, CDs, DVDs, and photos, provides free admission as well. Other great to-dos include visiting the Studio (which is free on Sundays), El Museo Del Barrio (re-opening in the Fall with $6 admission), or checking out exhibitions at the Schomberg Center for Research in Black Culture.
However, don’t stay in too long. Summer is a great time to enjoy the outdoors and with outdoor concerts you can do just that while enjoying great music. This summer the City Parks Foundation has announced that Jon B (8/6), Joe (8/13), and Hezekiah Walker (8/20) will all be performing at Marcus Garvey Park, located at 124 St. & Mt. Morris Park. Other free concerts include Raekwon (8/12) and Naughty by Nature (8/19) performing at Mahoney Playground in Staten Island. For the full list of CPF concerts visit cityparksfoundation.org.
Although you live right in the neighborhood you can still escape and find down home comfort at one of Harlem’s many bed and breakfasts. If you’re looking for a spanking new B&B, try Allie’s Inn, which opened at the end of last month. It’s located at 313 W 136 St. Marilyn Moulton, proprietor and third generation entrepreneur, offers customers a “zen like sense of comfort.” The newly renovated space runs for $195 to $225 per night, but includes continental breakfast, a fully equipped kitchen with granite counter, a private bathroom with skylight, a luxury queen size bed and daybed with trundle, a flat screen TV, Internet access, and much more. This B&B, which name derives from her father’s nickname, is centrally located and just a walk away from great eateries, lounges, and historical sites.
If you want a less expensive stay with a Victorian feel, opt to stay at Tony’s Place, located at 133 W. 119th St. Breakfast is currently not offered, but it’s only a block away from the café Il Cafe Latte. The actor turned owner offers guests one of eight color coordinated rooms, a shared bathroom, WiFi, TV, and great prices. He’s offering a single for $60, a double for $85, a triple for $145, a quad for $160, and a five-person for $170.
So now that the summer’s coming to an end, stick around and enjoy a getaway (without the actually getting away).
By: Janel Martinez
Photos of Allie’s Inn Bed and Breakfast taken by Jamaal Nelson.