With a million and one things to do around the city that never sleeps, it can be hard to prioritize simply strolling, but this post is to remind you why you should. There’s great scenery, diverse people watching and undeniable energy that can only be picked up from a leisurely Manhattan walk.
Last month was my best trip yet to NYC yet simply because I had nothing to do, and it was intentionally planned that way. I went to visit friends, camera shop at B&H, rooftop hop, snap the city and enjoy. I spent an entire day strolling around and it was splendid.
Here’s the low-down on Manhattan’s most iconic routes:
Central Park runs more than 50% the length and width of the city, so it’s a nearby walk from most neighborhoods. The Duck Pond and Paddleboats area are the most popularly photographed and therefore populated, but my local friend Madi and I conclude that the Upper West Side has more to offer geographically. UWS is the most diverse part of the park, with hills, ponds, waterfalls, arches, running trails, picnic fields and playgrounds, condensed (but not cluttered) moreso than anywhere else. It’s noticeably more lush and the Upper half is also home to the Six-Mile Loop, which gives stunning reflective skyline views over the lake from every angle.
^That iPhone pic is completely raw. Not even an “Enhance” wand. Just a natural impeccable gradient skyline.
The lower half of the park around 64th offers street performers, flat picnic lands contrasted by tall rocks to climb on and pouring high-rise skyline views. This area is closer and easier to get to from most hotels if you’re short on time.
UWS: Take the A, B or C train to 86 Street station, then walk north through the middle of the park to 104th or so and you’ll get a great range of sights.
Lower half: Take the BC to 72nd Station to enter near the popular Boathouse and Strawberry fields, or from the bottom SE corner around 59th and walk north past the pond towards the zoo. There’s also a temporary ice skating rink around here November-January.
The High Line
New Yorkers recognized that Central Park was a hop skip and jump too far away from the Chelsea/Meatpacking burroughs, so in came The High Line in 2010. An elevated garden sidewalk above the busy streets, the High Line is a cool escape from the urban sprawl. It has it’s own cafes and pop-up shops along the walk, and ends (or begins) at the heart of restaurant row in the Meatpacking. It’s plenty wide for jogging and strolling, has places to rest along the way and on a sunny Monday it was full of camera crews, languages and laughs of all ages.
Closest subway to each end is the ACE at 34th St on the north side and the CE at 23rd St on the south side — walk west a bit past 10th Avenue from the train and you’ll find the entrances. Bubby’s High Line is exactly at the south entrance if you need to pop it into Google maps.
To finish out the day, I finally walked the Brooklyn Bridge!!! If you only have time for one walk in NYC during your visit, make it this one. I took the AC train at 14th St from the High Line (grab a single-source cup at Think for the ride if you’re a coffee-drinker) to High Station, ate famous thin-crust mozzarella pizza at Grimaldi’s (cash only no slices) and tied my leftovers to my ONA bag to walk the gorgeous 1.1 mi stretch from Brooklyn towards the capital of the world for the most magical sunset that a sunset ever was. I excitedly took pictures with my new child from B&H most of the way, then put it away, turned around and walked the stretch again. I wasn’t the only one. There’s a reason 4,000 people cross this bridge by foot every day. It’s a major bucket list check. Be mindful of the bicyclists getting to/from work and stay on the walking side!
That’s it! Central Park, The High Line and the Brooklyn Bridge make the list as Manhattan’s most iconic strolls.
Will you be in NYC anytime in the next year? Don’t forget to enter my giveaway for a rooftop-hopping experience for 2, winner announced Friday!
View my full NYC gallery here.