20 Short Walks between New York Landmarks

Favorable weather may encourage long walks through the New York cityscape, but sometimes a short walk of a mile or less may be just the ticket for some serious New York sightseeing. These suggested walks pair two nearby landmarks with a pleasant stroll. The images suggest autumn to be the best time, but the strolls should be nice year round, weather permitting. The cool air on a sunny day invites excursions, a little window shopping, and a stop in cafes or a cozy tavern.

Exploring New York without an agenda or a destination is fun, too, but appreciating museums, public sculpture, parks, and major buildings characterizes the informed and intelligent traveler as well as the savvy resident. Eventually, the well-traveled explorer develops a sophisticated internal map of the city, building up a repertory of options for navigating the city. While the map here should come in handy for visitors looking for sightseeing ideas, residents may want to mentally test themselves by imagining the route they would choose to walk between these pairs of destinations.

Of course, any of these walks would work just as well in the other direction. A map is included here.

1. Lincoln Center to the Boathouse in Central Park. Upper West Side to Central Park. A lovely walk that begins at the Lincoln Center Fountain and then ambles northeast through the park. Why not take a tour of the center and then walk to the boathouse for a cocktail?

2. Metropolitan Museum to Hayden Planetarium. Central Park East to Central Park West. After seeing an exhibition or two at the Met, walk across the park near Turtle Pond and then do some stargazing at the Planetarium.

3. Cathedral of St. John the Divine to the Apollo Theatre. Harlem. The soaring Gothic cathedral is remarkable for the extraordinary craftsmanship that went into its making. Follow with a visit to the famous Apollo Theatre for a walk through Harlem history.

4. Intrepid Sea-Air-Space Museum to Times Square. Hell's Kitchen to the Theatre District. Someone should enjoy touring both aircraft carriers and the neon sights of the Theatre District. Like a million sailors, right? They would know the way off the boat to Times Square.

5. Macy's to Rockefeller Center. Herald Square to Midtown. A classic holiday duo. Shopping in the vast Macy's followed by a trip to see the glories of NYC's most famous Depression-era complex.

6. Empire State Building to Gramercy Park. Midtown. A lovely quiet walk. From the heights overlooking the city, stroll to the city's most secluded gated park. Explore side streets near the park for beautiful townhouses and some of the city's best restaurants.

7. Seagram Building to the United Nations. Midtown West to Turtle Bay. Architecture fans will appreciate Mies van der Rohe's great modernist achievement, and then visiting the utopian ideals of the United Nations complex.

8. Gracie Mansion to Sotheby's. Upper East Side. Don't expect to see the Mayor in the Mansion (he resides at 17 East 79th St.) but the surrounding park is a pleasant stop. End at the famous auction house to see what's up for sale.

9. New York Historical Society to Riverside Park. Upper West Side. New York-themed exhibitions at the historical society are worth seeing, so start here and then walk west to enjoy the elegant landscapes in Riverside Park.

10. Abyssinian Baptist Church to Studio Museum in Harlem. Central Harlem. The church is important in the history of the civil rights movement, and during the 1930s, when Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. took over the pulpit from his father, the church was the largest Protestant congregation in the country. Walk south to the Studio Museum to check out new directions in contemporary art.

View 20 Short Walks between New York Landmarks in a larger map

11. The Cloisters to Fort Washington. Upper Manhattan. Residents know that autumn is the best time to visit the Cloisters, because the medieval branch of the Met sits high above a hill of bright fall foliage. Walk south along Margaret Corbin Drive, named for the first female soldier to fight in the American Army, to Fort Washington, the highest point in Manhattan.

12. Washington Square Park to Chelsea Market. Greenwich Village to Chelsea. Begin in the heart of bohemian New York (even if the ongoing park renovation seems to tear at its very soul) and walk west and then up Greenwich Avenue to the Chelsea Market. Food awaits.

13. Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) to Central Park Carousel. Midtown to Central Park. The museum and park combination is always a winner. After seeing the special exhibitions at MoMA, wander north through the park to look at the changing colors of the season.

14. McSorley's Ale House to Essex Street Market. East Village to Lower East Side. Drink and eat. Start at McSorley's, one of the oldest drinking establishments in the city and a favorite for artists in the Ashcan School, and stroll through the East Village to the Lower East Side's food specialists in the Essex Market. Or, start at the market (eat at Shopsin's) and then walk to the ale house for one of their special brews.

15. Lower East Side Tenement Museum to Henry Street Settlement. Lower East Side. The Lower East Side's living history is precarious, although the museum does its best to preserve something of the experience of the historic neighborhood during the previous great waves of immigration. Stop in the gift shop or sign up for a tour. Take a walk to Henry Street to imagine this neighborhood when it was the most densely populated part of the world.

16. Museum of Chinese in America to City Hall Park. Chinatown to Downtown. Explore Chinatown's history by looking at the exhibits in this newly opened museum on Mulberry Street. Wind your way down past the U.S. Courthouse and then south on Broadway to City Hall Park. The Woolworth Building is just across the way.

17. Staten Island Ferry to World Financial Center. Lower Manhattan to Financial District. Look at the harbor from the vantage point of the pathway along Battery Park and Battery Park City on the southwestern tip of Manhattan and check out the several artist installations all the way up to the World Financial Center.

18. South Street Seaport to Eldridge Street Synagogue. Lower Manhattan to Lower East Side. While the seaport comes off too commercial for some visitors, explore the lesser known streets near the old Fulton Fish Market. Follow Pearl Street north to St. James Place and then to the historic Eldridge Street Synagogue.

19. Queens Museum of Art to Queens Botanical Gardens. Flushing Meadows. Explore the site of the 1964 World's Fair at Flushing Meadows Corona Park by starting at the museum in the New York City Building, especially the famous Panorama. Walk to the gardens, which began as an exhibit at the fair.

20. Empire-Fulton Ferry Park to Brooklyn Heights Promenade. DUMBO to Brooklyn Heights. Stop to see the views of Manhattan and the bridges from this riverfront park and then walk south on Cadman Plaza to the Brooklyn War Memorial. From Cadman Plaza walk south to Henry Street to Montague. Follow Montague through Brooklyn Heights to the famous promenade for cinematic views of Manhattan.

See a related post:
From Penn Station to New York Landmarks: Measuring Walking Distance and Time in Manhattan


Tom B said...

This blog makes me want to get on an airplane right now to NYC and start walking.

Teri Tynes said...

Thanks so much, Tom B. That's the kind of enthusiasm that keeps me motivated.

Flaneurbanite said...

Excellent post! I wish I had seen your blog last year when I visited NYC - would have loved to go walking down all these trails that you write about, but I was stuck in a less than exciting suburb...really pleased to discover your blog, nevertheless :)

Teri Tynes said...

Thanks so much Flaneurbanite. With a name like that, you're sure to find a lot here.

Flaneurbanite said...

Haha - the name announces what I do on my blog - which is not very different from what you do. I walk, shoot and write London! The "urbanite" comes from my profession (urban planner). :)