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Arts + Culture

Ballerina Misty Copeland’s Upper West Side

A soloist for the American Ballet Theatre and long-time New Yorker, Misty Copeland shares her favorite spots for shopping, dining, dancing and more around Manhattan's Upper West Side

See recent posts by Ben Solomon

"They call the Upper West Side ‘the dance belt’ for good reason: American Ballet Theatre and the New York City Ballet both perform at Lincoln Center, and there are several dance studios where you can take professional classes, too. It’s been my home since I first moved to New York City, 13 years ago, with ABT. During my time off I go to Steps to stay in shape: They have lots of teachers to choose from, and it’s very cool to have dancers from around the world and from different companies in one class. The Library for the Performing Arts is another favorite of mine. When you’re a professional dancing principal parts you have to make the roles your own. The library is an incredible resource to pull footage and learn about the way other dancers have approached these roles in the past.{"type": "right-quote", "text": "They call the Upper West Side ‘the dance belt’ for good reason: American Ballet Theatre and the New York City Ballet both perform at Lincoln Center"}

When I’m not dancing, I like going to the movies at Lincoln Plaza Cinemas; they have films you can’t always see at bigger theaters, as well as the odd blockbuster. I love walking through Riverside Park in warmer weather; it feels removed from the city and less packed than Central Park. Afterward I’ll pop into Intermix, which is my one-stop shop for clothes. My lunch staple is Café Luxembourg. They have an amazing tuna burger, and mussels and fries, and they’re so friendly. For a quick, easy bite I also like Luke’s Lobster. The branch on the Upper West Side is newer and it has an authentic Martha’s Vineyard vibe about it.

We’ll go to Ed’s Chowder House at the Empire Hotel for dinner and drinks after a performance — our shows don’t end until 11 o’clock, and it’s open late. I’m usually in the mood for something light at that hour, and their raw bar hits the spot. I also love to cook and host dinner parties, and I’ll swing by Gourmet Garage for fresh fish and, for dessert, pick up my favorite — banana bread pudding — from Magnolia Bakery on Columbus."

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Where to Eat

Foodies will find a lot to love on the Upper West Side. There’s formal dining galore, including some of the city’s highest-rated fare at Thomas Keller’s Per Se and Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s Jean-Georges — for a fancy night out, follow an opera or ballet at Lincoln Center with a tasting menu. For the best in baked goods, head to Bouchon Bakery, which offers sweets including cookies and macaroons as well as lunch fare. For more casual eats, make the pilgrimage to Miss Mamie’s Spoonbread Too, near Columbia University; fans including Bill Clinton flock there for such Southern staples as gumbo, Louisiana catfish and arguably the best fried chicken in Manhattan. Other local favorites include French bistro Nice Matin, which offers a bargain $38 three-course dinner, and Zabar’s Café, for NYC deli staples such as bagels and schmear.

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Where to Drink

The Columbus Circle area offers myriad hotel options, many with bars right in the building. Above 6, at the 6 Columbus Hotel, has a retractable roof, so guests can imbibe no matter the weather. Afterward head downstairs for fresh fish at Blue Ribbon Sushi Bar & Grill, which offers an impressive list of sake, too. There’s also MOBar, on the 35th floor of the Mandarin Oriental, where we like to order the Bella Pesca after hours. If you like music with your drinks, head north to the intimate Smoke Jazz & Supper Club and nab a table for dinner. For some of the best cocktails on the West Side, head to gastropub Slightly Oliver on Amsterdam Ave. and start with the signature Negroni cocktail. And in warm weather head for the West 79th Street Boat Basin Café for alfresco cocktails and a straight shot of sunset.

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Where to Shop

Start your spree at the Shops at Columbus Circle, where you’ll find such popular stores as C. Wonder, Coach and J.Crew alongside neighborhood names like Montmartre, which carries a well-edited selection of women’s wear from brands including House of Harlow, Free People and Trina Turk. Head north to Columbus Avenue and pop into Mint Clothing Company for a stylish mix of casual clothes and dressier pieces. Skaters and snowboarders will appreciate the stylish gear from brands like Billabong, Stussy and Brixton at upscale skate shop Blades on 72nd Street. Bookworms should save time for the intimate Westsider Rare and Used Books, while the sweet-toothed can opt for an edible souvenir at the flagship location of Sugar and Plumm, which sells candy in bulk, including gummy bears, caramels and chocolate, and also has a gelato counter.

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