Visitors to New York or New York residents who are up for some fun exercise may want to consider a day walk that takes in a great swath of Manhattan. I've designed a walk here that begins in the morning hours in Morningside Park and ends in the late afternoon or early evening in Battery Park. As a flâneuse (she who strolls), I'm accustomed to walking at a comfortable pace, with time scheduled for stopping and observing interesting sights along the way.
During the course of my walking routines, I often walk farther than I initially plan. For example, if I'm walking from Washington Square Park to Union Square, I often realize that Madison Square Park is just a few blocks north. And once I'm near Madison Square I know it's just another short distance to Bryant Park. And once I'm near Bryant Park, then I think seeing an exhibition at MoMA on 53rd. You see now how this works. I could very well end up at Columbia University just by hopping from one major New York landmark to the next.
A day walk in Manhattan affords plentiful resting places such as restaurants and cafés. People often ask my advice about where to stop "to powder one's nose," and I mention coffee shops (if you purchase a coffee or other beverage), and the really nice public bathrooms in Bryant Park. At any rate, I've designed this day walk to include a long lunch somewhere south of Central Park. In addition, I recommend a mid-morning break for coffee and another afternoon break for tea. Enlarging the map brings up a list of recommended places. I've designed the walk to proceed from north to south, because, in my experience, walking from uptown to downtown seems psychologically easier than the other way around.
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The walk takes in a phenomenal amount of city attractions. From north to south, the stroll encompasses the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, the wild northern areas of Central Park, the Upper West Side, the American Museum of Natural History, Lincoln Center, MAD (Museum of Arts and Design), Radio City Music Hall, Rockefeller Center, New York Public Library, Macy's, the Empire State Building, the Flatiron Building, Union Square, Washington Square Park, Soho, City Hall, the Woolworth Building, Bowling Green, and Battery Park, among others. Part of the thrill on this walk is to observe how the architecture and streetscapes change along the way.
By the end of the walk in Battery Park, depending on the season, you may be able to time a beautiful sunset over New York Harbor.
Distance: Total: Approximately 8.8 miles (14.17K)
Health considerations: This day-long 9-mile walk would be best suited for those who have recently completed a long day walk, such as 7 to 8 miles. Walking around the perimeter of Central Park, for example, is about 6.1 miles. Every 20 blocks north-south in Manhattan equals about 1 mile. Be sure to carry a bottle of water for hydration. For even my routine walks of 2.5 - 3 miles, I always carry a bottle of water.
The walk is segmented into the following longer and shorter stretches. For a modified walk, consider using a MTA bus for one or more of the segments.
Morningside Park (at 116th Street) to AMNH (81st and Columbus Ave.): 2.2 miles (3.54K)
AMNH (81st and Columbus) to 59th and Columbus Circle: 1.1 miles (1.77K)
59th & Columbus Circle (at 59th, Central Park) to Bryant Park: 1 mile (1.61K)
Bryant Park (at 42nd St.) to Madison Sq. Park: 1.2 miles (1.93K)
Madison Sq. Park to Union Square : .5 miles (.81K)
Union Square to Washington Square Park .5 miles (.81K)
Washington Sq. to Battery Park: 2.5. miles (4.03K)
Try for a reasonable strolling pace of 2.5 miles (4.03K) per hour.
So, according to my calculations for this day walk, I've reached the time allotted as follows - 270 minutes or 4.5 hours (30 minutes per mile x 9) + two 15-20 minute breaks (30 min.) + 1.5 hour lunch + a total of 1.5 hours of stopping time to looking at stuff along the way = 8 hours. Piece of cake.
Cocktails at the Ritz-Carlton on 2 West Street may be suitable for an end-of-day celebration. By all means, if you've been walking all day, you deserve a cab ride home.
Images by Walking Off the Big Apple