A friend of mine, I met in Chicago, who is visiting New York, just reiterated that very statement to me today. She said she had fallen in love with New York, and that she saw it as an impossibility of ever getting bored here. “There is SO much to do. Chicago is fun, but compact.” New York’s city spreads before a person for miles and within each of the miles there is more than enough to do in one week, even without visiting all of the iconic places known to tourists and New Yorkers alike.
Think about all the different places and things that can be done just to exercise, outside. Getting ready, for a half or full marathon–go to Central Park or Riverside Park or even walk the length of Manhattan. Walking the length of Manhattan might sound daunting, but when training for a marathon, my walking coach had me walk at least half the marathon within a week of the walk. Pick an avenue, favorite or one of the famous avenues to walk or mix it up and walk a little more than the 13 miles of Manhattan’s length. My favorites to walk are Broadway and Avenue of the Americas (commonly known as Sixth Avenue) and Fifth Avenue. If you’re a morning person and it is the spring time, start at the bottom of the island on Broadway, before the rush of all the people going into their various Wall St. jobs. Passing on your left will be the famous Bull, for the bull market. Keep going north through Wall St. and its various shopping conveniences, City Hall, along with its beautiful park, will come up on your right, how many times have you told your guests to visit City Hall. Looking just east is the Brooklyn Bridge, which could be a side track walking experience in itself. Imagine getting out onto the middle on a beautiful day to see three of the five boroughs close at hand. It’s amazing, plus all the other bridges. It’s beautiful.
Continue up Broadway through Greenwich Village, the perfect spot for a mid-morning snack, although more prevalence on 6th Avenue, intriguing food spots along the way on Broadway will keep you salivating. At 14th Street there is a fork in the road and your choice of travelling up Park Avenue, but for me, I’d stick to Broadway. It depends on whether you want to see shops or grand houses. Continuing up Broadway you’ll encounter the sometimes wild Union Square. There are always vendors, sometimes protestors or dancers or musicians. You name it you can sometimes see it in Union Square. Depending on the day you’re walking, there may be the famous Union Square’s greenmarket and then you’ve got easy lunch. Fresh foods from within the state abound to entice you to buy and eat or both. Don’t buy anything you can’t eat while you’re walking though, tempting as it is, because it will weigh you down. You can always go back; the vendors are there until almost dusk. Continuing up Broadway will take you into the eastern edges of the Garment District, mostly the accessories part, luggage, purses, some scarves and necklaces, as well as hair accessories and wigs. If it is a hot day, you might be able to find a sun hat along this route, as well. Keep walking and you’re in Herald Square, near Macy’s and the super discount store with the pink bags. You know the one. If you’re walking around Easter, you can enjoy Macy’s Flower Show in their windows, if not then their windows anyway.
Keep walking on Broadway and you’re into the Times Square in no time, where all the tourists or folks who do not live here fulltime, hang out traversing from west to east visiting the iconic spots and the ones you will not go into today. Between Times Square and Columbus Circle are more sight-seeing or window shopping adventures on your trip. At Columbus Circle there is the 3rd fork in the road of your travels. If you want a quiet repose as you walk north without too much foot traffic and the refreshing sight of Central Park to your right, then break off at 59th Street and go along Central Park West (CPW) for 51 blocks or continue on Broadway north. If you continue on CPW, you’ll be greeted by the various doormen as you traverse on the west side of the street. At 96th Street, you’ll be able to peak over to Columbus and see the new buildings that have and are going up as new residences, which abut or are across the street from the shopping center that includes WholeFoods, a great spot to stop for lunch and the bathroom, if you need one. Plus, in this same complex is Michaels, the craft store. We knew (crafters) what we were missing at Michaels before and finally it’s here.
If you’ve walked up Broadway to this point, you’ve passed Time-Warner building with various shops including Borders & WholeFoods, Lincoln Center, various magazines stores, Starbucks, Dunkin’ Donuts, mom/pot coffee shops (They do still exist.), the American Folk Art Museum, various bookstores, boutiques, Fairway, Zabar’s and Westside Market along with other museums on interior streets, other music halls, including Symphony Space. Passed 96th on Broadway, you’re into the various eateries from all over the world, along with six secondary schools. (Columbia University, Barnard College, Teachers’ College, Union Theological Seminary, Jewish Theological Seminary, & Manhattan School of Music) When my husband and I first started dating I lived in this neighborhood and he’d drive in from Queens, where there was easy parking, but when school was in session, he’d sometimes be an hour late driving around trying to find a parking spot, but I digress. At 125th Street you are officially in Harlem, albeit the western part. Before arriving to this spot other iconic places are both to the west and east. To your right (west) are Grant’s Tomb and Riverside Church on Riverside Drive. To your left (east) are Cathedral of St. John the Divine on Amsterdam and 110th St., the top of Central Park and Morning Side Park begins, along with the split of the Harlem’s Heights and the valley of Harlem all at 110th Street.
Between 125th & 190th are various smaller parks, eateries, shops and even to the east on Amsterdam, City College, and (Part of CUNY) which host various musical events and award shows throughout the year. At 190th Street, on Fort Washington, which spreads to Broadway is Fort Tryon Park, which includes the Cloisters. This is a great spot for a picnic, since it is one of the highest points on Manhattan and it overlooks the Hudson River and of course New Jersey. The Cloisters’ Museum is closest to Dyckman (or 200th St.) Keep walking 20 more blocks and you’ve done the island. To your west is yet another green space, actually several, Isham Park, Inwood Hill Park, Inwood Hill Nature Center, an apartment grove and Columbia’s Baker’s Field.
If you are old school, you could cross the Broadway Bridge and go into Spuyten Dyvel, which used to be part of Manhattan, until the Harlem River cut a swath through it and as recently as 5 – 6 years ago, the Bronx legislature won and has claimed it as part of the Bronx. Plus, it would give you a chance to stand on a bridge.
She is right, my friend, about not having enough time to see New York or ever getting bored here. It may take you as long as all day or as little as 3.5 hours to walk Manhattan end to end without stopping, but how can you resist not stopping to visit one of the many spots mentioned above” I completely agree with her and a walking tour from end to end is one of the best ways to see it and living here affords you the time to do it.