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Bask in the spirit of Harry Potter at these Upper Manhattan spots

Updated: Nov 7, 2021

The Unicorn in Captivity tapestry at the Met Cloisters

You've got less than a week left to go see "Harry Potter: A History of Magic" at the New-York Historical Society, which closes this Sunday, January 27.

If time is not on your side, don't despair: Upper Manhattan is filled with remarkable spots where you can bask in the spirit of Harry Potter any time of the year. Here are five of the best:

A dragon at the Met Cloisters

1. On the hunt for magical beasts? You'll find plenty at the Met Cloisters, where dragons and more lurk in the museum's medieval murals, stained glass windows and manuscripts. Don't miss the special room dedicated to a series of tapestries depicting the hunt for a unicorn. The last one—The Unicorn in Captivity—makes a brief appearance in "Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince."

The tower of St. James Presbyterian Church looks straight out of Hogwarts

2. Between its historic colleges, museums and churches, Upper Manhattan can feel straight out of Hogwarts. For an atmospheric afternoon, start at the Met Cloisters, a series of medieval buildings connected by shadowy stone arcades and mysterious steps. Next, pop on down to City College's main campus, where grimacing gargoyles peer down from grand, neo-Gothic facades. A walk around the neighborhood reveals castle-like churches, including possibly the most Hogwartian of all, St. James Presbyterian Church at 409 W 141st St and St. Nicholas Ave. For extra credit, finish your tour at one of Columbia University's massive, wood-paneled dining halls—they're for students only, so you'll need to find yourself a friend on campus.

Hogshead Tavern shares its name with the famous pub in the Harry Potter book series

Photo: Hogshead via Instagram

3. Yup, uptown also has its own Hogshead. Although the surrounding neighborhood is more Harlem than Hogsmeade, this uptown tavern is a great spot to grab a craft beer during a break from touring the gothic architecture at nearby City College. And, yes, the pub has been known to throw Harry Potter-themed parties.

Owls real and imagined can be found throughout Upper Manhattan

​4. Owls are everywhere in the wizarding world, not just delivering mail, but serving as great companions (Harry Potter's Hedwig being the most famous). Happily, they're almost as common in uptown's largest parks, including Central Park's North Woods, Inwood Hill Park and Pelham Bay Park in the Bronx. To spot one yourself, sign up for one of the Parks Department's many owl prowls. Those less inclined to go on a hike can search for a number of owl murals that have been painted on gates as part of Harlem's Audubon Mural Project.

Take a real-life lesson in herbology at the Bonnefont Cloister Garden

5. For a real-life lesson in herbology, head to the Bonnefont Cloister garden at the Met Cloisters, filled with more than 300 species of plants used in medieval medicine and magic. The garden is at its peak in the late spring, but there's still plenty to admire in the winter. Poison Plant, anyone?​

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