They say you never forget your first love. And when it’s New York City, that holds even more true. A city for all ages, I was fortunate to once call it home, so for all those who are lucky enough to be experiencing it for the first time ever, SAVOUR it! There’s no city in the world quite like it – clichéd though it may be, it really is the ‘city of dreams.’
My favourite way to experience New York is on foot, so here’s my ultimate walking tour of this unforgettable city – wear comfortable shoes, you’ve got a lot of walking ahead!
For those of you who know nothing about Manhattan, imagine a grid of latitudinal streets and longitudinal avenues. Southern Manhattan leads into Brooklyn, while the North ends up in the Bronx.
Start south and work your way around the city in a loop. Wake up early and catch the sunrise at Battery Park City in the Financial District (or watch a sunset here, they’re both spectacular). Walk the length of the promenade and visit the bull of Wall Street, the NY stock exchange and the original J.P. Morgan building – a walk through American financial history, if you will.
Loop around to the Freedom Tower, an icon in a post 2001 New York, which is a must-visit. Book your ticket in advance to go to the top for the best views of the city skyline and follow that up with a trip to the 9/11 memorial and museum.
Move up further west and take a stroll through TriBeCa- a star-studded residential neighborhood, and home to some of New York’s best sushi joints. As you walk further north you get to Greenwich Village, so grab a light brunch at Café Clover, a local favourite.
Continue north through Lower Manhattan, and visit Washington Square Park, exploring parts of the NYU campus on your way. Moving further up the west side you walk through Chelsea, with a stop at Chelsea Market on 9th Avenue for some healthy snacks for the road –Indie Fresh is a mecca for the health-focused located in the market.
Next up is Bryant Park, the epicenter of New York’s Christmas markets, followed by Hell’s Kitchen, a foodie haven. When you’re at about 50th street, start moving slightly east towards 5th/6th Avenue before continuing north. You’ll pass the infamous Saks 5th Avenue, and Rockefeller Center (spectacular at Christmas) before reaching Columbus Circle, and Central Park. Explore the park at your leisure and get lost! – Some of my favourite spots include Sheep’s Meadow, Bethesda Terrace and Fountain (roughly around 70th street), the boathouse, and Strawberry Fields.
Hop out of the park at 74th Street towards Amsterdam Avenue for a cookie and coffee at Levain Bakery (life will never be the same) and a quick walk through the Natural History Museum, before looping back in.
Move east out of the park around 82nd street and you’ve landed at The Met, easily the city’s grandest museum and a history-lovers wonderland – budget your time carefully here, because you can easily spend a full day without realizing it! You’re now on 5th Avenue and have two choices – continue north deeper into the Upper East Side and some of the city’s most beautiful brownstones, or walk south on Madison Avenue towards Bloomingdales for some retail therapy, passing numerous boutiques and brands on your way.
Walking back downtown, take the subway from Bloomingdales or walk the distance to the Flatiron district, circuiting through Gramercy Park on your way. Admire the Flatiron Building, and, if you’re feeling a bit peckish, stop in at Eataly for some light charcuterie and a glass of prosecco.
Continue west towards 10th Avenue and get onto the High Line – the city’s signature westside walk- taking it all the way down to the Meatpacking District, which is a great place for a fun night out. Some favourites include The Standard, Le Bain, Gansevoort Hotel, Beaumarchais (for your ultimate drunch). If you have some time, The Whitney Museum of Art is worth a visit in Meatpacking.
Head east, and slightly north through the West Village (dinner options galore), NoHo, and SoHo (stop at Rubirosa for some of the best New York pizza – see the NYC pizza guide here), until you get to the East Village. St. Marks Place exudes a lovely, relaxed, and young vibe, filled with bars full of twentysomethings and New York’s best tattoo parlours. There’s great ice cream to be had at Van Leeuwen Artisan and OddFellows.
To eventfully close out a night, walk about 8-10 blocks north to the Lower East Side, or head back to the Meatpacking District.
If you continue south from the East Village, past NoLita back towards FiDi, you’ll hit the Brooklyn Bridge, and if the weather’s nice, take a walk across into Brooklyn Bridge Park on the other side. Continue deeper into Brooklyn and stroll through the lovely neighborhoods of Park Slope, Cobble Hill and Williamsburg – a refreshing break from the city, with each exuding its own charm. Brooklyn Museum, not as commonly known, is a MUST-DO!
You’re feet are killing you, I know, but hey, you’ve significantly scratched the surface of New York City!
There’s always more to do, so if you have some more time, explore the Columbia University campus uptown on the west side and jog through the running spaces at Chelsea Piers!