10 New York City Walks for the Holidays

The holidays in New York have arrived, and you may need to walk them off. A walk does the mind and body great good, especially during this time of year. As noted in the section on Walking for Fitness, "this modest and inexpensive form of exercise can lower anxiety, improve the mood, make for better sleep, and reduce the risk of dementia."

We live in anxious times. We may want to walk away from something, or everything. Staying home feels secure. On the other hand, taking in the sights and sounds of the city by foot can broaden personal horizons or lead to the discovery of new paths. As the timeless American musical Avenue Q suggests, "There is life outside your apartment."

Thousands of New Yorkers have worked tirelessly to put on the holiday show for you. Go see it.

From the archives of Walking Off the Big Apple, consult this selection of old and new walks suitable for the season. 🎄🎄🎄

1. Herald Square to Fifth Avenue: Holiday Windows and the Pleasures of the Side Street

From Herald Square, be sure to explore the side streets of the Garment District.

"A walk from Macy's to Lord & Taylor touches on parts of the Garment District and an area of Fifth Avenue that was more fashionable in times past than in the present. For example, the building that now houses the CUNY Graduate Center on Fifth Avenue was the longtime home of B. Altman's, a legendary department store." Read more.

2. A Walk on Central Park West: Making Peace with the Early Dark

A doorman stands inside the foyer of an apartment building on Central Park West.

"In addition to the health benefits of a walk, a healthy dose of architectural eye candy, like on a clear New York night, can help put some distance on the demands of a challenging day." Read more.

3. Near Fifth Avenue's Holiday Frenzy, a Repertoire of Worthy Escapes

A great Midtown diversion is walking through 6 1/2 Avenue, a series of arcades.

"This area of Midtown features several walking arcades, though a decidedly corporate New York version of the Parisian ones of the late 19th century. These thoroughfares, now officially known as 6 1/2 Avenue, break up the long east-west blocks for the benefit of pedestrians, even inviting a sweet short-cut from City Center to Radio City Music Hall. They provide handy cover when it rains." Read more.

4. Luminaries and Illuminations: A Holiday Stroll in Lower Manhattan

A walk in Lower Manhattan is extra cozy.

"The intersection of Nassau Street and Fulton Street provides an opportunity to dwell on the city past and future. Looking west, One World Trade Center is perfectly framed at the end of the street, still catching the light of day." Read more.

5. Flagships of New York: A Self-Guided Holiday Walk to New York's Department Stores

At Tiffany's on Fifth Avenue. Note for 2016: Be prepared for traffic jams and police in riot gear. Tiffany's is adjacent to a certain tower.

"The successful stores have exported the idea of the city itself, an alluring beacon or a chimera of opulence and wealth. Truman Capote's Holly Golightly, a poor Texas child of the Great Depression, feels better at Tiffany's." Read more.

6. A Visit to Top of the Rock

Need a break from the streets? Go vertical.

"These observation decks high above Rockefeller Plaza offer 360° views of the city and the greater metropolis. While mere mortals snap pictures of friends and family at street level, you could be soaring 70 stories above the plaza for superhero visions of Gotham." Read more.

7. Scenes from The New York Botanical Garden's Holiday Train Show (Slideshow)


The New York Public Library, as rendered in twigs and leaves.

"Many of the replicas on display in the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory, itself a NYC landmark, represent beloved buildings that have dearly departed the city, including the old Penn Station." Read more.

8. The Classic New York of Mame Dennis

Learn from Mame Dennis how to write up sales slips at Macy's.

"Finally, Mame takes a Christmas retail position in the toy department at Macy's, selling roller skates. Not easily trainable, she remembers only how to write up sales slips as C.O.D.'s."
Read more.

9. Imagining Christmas: Washington Irving's Solitary Walk, and a Stroll from Clement Clarke Moore's Chelsea to O. Henry's Irving Place

Pete's Tavern on Irving Place and E. 18th

"Sometime in 1905, in Pete's Tavern on the corner of Irving Place and E. 18th, O. Henry sat in his favorite booth, allegedly the second from the front, and quickly wrote "The Gift of the Magi," a story we can assume, in contrast to Clement Clarke Moore's "A Visit from St. Nicholas," to be his own intellectual property." 
Read more.

10. The Thin Man Walk: A New York Holiday Adventure with Nick and Nora Charles

Nora Charles will show you how to celebrate the holidays in New York.


"Set during late December 1932 before the repeal of Prohibition in 1933, The Thin Man is filled with allusions to New York department stores, speakeasies, and supper clubs popular during the city's formative Depression years."
Read more.

Have a great walk. Cheers!

See the 2016 New York Holiday Calendar for dates to remember.

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