Skip to main content

10 Short Walks from Grand Central Terminal

(updated March 2017) Famously crowded Grand Central Terminal functions as a major crossroads for the city, hosting busy commuters as they come and go from the suburbs via the Metro-North Railroad or within the city via a few subway lines, but the terminal also happens to be a good place to launch short walks. With its south side fronting E. 42nd Street and its massive structure interrupting Park Avenue, Grand Central provides quick access to many of the city's most well-known attractions.


The New York Public Library and Bryant Park are only a couple of blocks away from the terminal, a quick jaunt on 42nd Street. And from there, Times Square is just another block or two farther west of the library, its neon shimmering in the distance. One wonders, standing near the intersection of 5th Avenue and 42nd Street, how many souls have been lured away from their well-meaning library studies by the beckoning lights of the Theater District.

Grand Central Terminal: Before setting out on walks, the terminal itself is worthy of exploration. This heavenly Beaux-Arts style palace of transit, constructed from 1903 to 1913 and successfully restored in 1998, features grand staircases, chandeliers, a soaring ceiling vault painted in cerulean blue and decorated with a zodiac. The terminal encompasses many shops, fine restaurants such as the Oyster Bar, a downstairs dining concourse (essentially a food mall), and Grand Central Market, a gourmet food emporium that is a popular destination for commuters. Be sure to sample Great Northern, a food hall specializing in Danish fare.

10 Short Walks from Grand Central Terminal

The following walks from the terminal conclude at another destination worth exploring. If visitors are in town, tell them to go to Grand Central and pass along this list of nearby things to do. The walks includes suggested routes, many of them straightforward.


View Short Walks from Grand Central Terminal in a larger map


1. New York Public Library and Bryant Park, between 40th and 42nd Streets, 5th Avenue to 6th Avenue. The renovated main branch of the NYPL at 5th Avenue and 42nd Street features special exhibitions and an excellent library shop. Multifaceted Bryant Park is one of the most versatile public spaces in the city, adapting its programming to the changing seasons. Take a look at the restored Main Reading Room at the library.

Bryant Park in late spring

2. Lever House and Seagram Building, Park Avenue and E. 53rd St. Visit two monuments of modern architecture. The 1952 Lever House is famous for introducing the world to the glass curtain wall, and the building has aged well. The Lever House Art Collection displays works of art in the building's courtyard and adjacent spaces. The tall, dark, and handsome Seagram Building (1958), a monument of modern architecture by Mies van der Rohe, also features a popular plaza for people-watching.

3. The News Building, 220 E. 42nd St. The Art Deco building designed by Raymond Hood is most famous for the comic book-like world globe in its lobby.

4. United Nations Headquarters. 1st Avenue near E. 44th St. Take a tour of the General Assembly while taking in uncommon views of the East River.

5. Morgan Library & Museum. 225 Madison Avenue. Drawings and manuscripts are the strengths of the museum's collection, but be sure to visit the restored McKim Building to bask in the treasures of J.P.'s sumptuous Citizen Kane-like library and study.

6. MoMA at 11 W. 53rd St. serves as its own busy hub, with exhibitions, a renowned gift shop, places to eat, a packed film schedule, and an inspiring sculpture garden. See 25 Things To Do Near MoMA for extended adventures.

MoMA Sculpture Garden
MoMA's sculpture garden in autumn colors

7. Rockefeller Center, Saks Fifth Avenue, St. Patrick's Cathedral. 5th Avenue between 49th and 51st Streets. The trifecta - a landmark destination for its architecture and NBC studio tours, a famous 5th Avenue department store, and the city's most prominent Catholic church, all neighbors. Visit Top of the Rock while at Rockefeller Center.

8. Visit St. Bartholomew's Church and Community House, Park Avenue between 50th and 51st. A church in the Episcopal tradition, St. Bart's is known for its Byzantine architecture and music program. Next door to the now-shuttered Waldorf Astoria.

9. Greenacre Park. E. 51st Street between 2nd and 3rd Avenues. Hideo Sasaki's masterpiece of a pocket park features a 25-foot waterfall that washes away city stress.

The pedestrian friendly Times Square

10. Times Square. intersection of Broadway and Seventh Avenue (hard to miss). A walk west from Grand Central eventually leads to this other important crossroad of the city. If people watching is a favorite activity, this one's for you. Now pedestrian friendly.

See Grand Central Terminal's website for food, shops, events, history, and more.

Images by Walking Off the Big Apple.

Popular posts from this blog

Museums in New York Open on Mondays

Please see this post for current announcements of reopenings . Please consult the museum websites for changes in days and hours. UPDATED September 23, 2020 Advance tickets required for many museum reopenings. Please check museum websites for details. • The  Museum of Modern Art (MoMA)  reopened to the public on  August 27 , with new hours for the first month, through September 27: from 10:30 a.m. until 5:30 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday to the public; and from 10:30 a.m. until 5:30 p.m.  on Mondays for MoMA members on ly. Admission will be free to all visitors Tuesday through Sunday, through September 27, made possible by UNIQLO. See this  new post on WOTBA for a sense of the experience attending the museum . •  New-York Historical Society  reopened on  August 14  with an outdoor exhibition, "Hope Wanted: New York City Under Quarantine,” in the rear courtyard. The exhibit by activist Kevin Powell and photographer Kay Hickman will highlight how New Yorkers weathered the quarantine

Taking a Constitutional Walk

A long time ago individuals going out for a walk, especially to get fresh air and exercise, often referred to the activity as "taking a constitutional walk." The word "constitutional" refers to one's constitution or physical makeup, so a constitutional walk was considered beneficial to one's overall wellbeing. (Or, as some would prefer to call it, "wellness.") The phrase is more common in British literature than in American letters. As early as the mid-nineteenth century, many American commentators expressed concern that their countrymen were falling into lazy and unhealthy habits. Newspaper columnists and editorial writers urged their readers to take up the practice of the "constitutional" walk. One such essay, " Walking as an Exercise," originally printed in the Philadelphia Gazette and reprinted in New England Farmer , Volume 11, 1859, urges the people of farm areas to take up walking. City dwellers seemed to have the

25 Things to Do Near the Metropolitan Museum of Art

(updated) Sitting on the steps in front of the Metropolitan Museum of Art is one of those iconic things to do in New York City. On a sunny day, the wide steps can become crowded with the young and old, the tourist and the resident. It's tempting to stay awhile and soak in the sun and the sights. Everyone has reasons for lingering there, with one being the shared pleasure of people watching along this expansive stretch of Fifth Avenue, a painting come to life. Certainly, just getting off one's feet for a moment is welcome, especially if the previous hours involved walking through the entirety of art history from prehistoric to the contemporary. The entrance to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Fifth Avenue The Metropolitan Museum of Art should be a singular pilgrimage, uninterrupted by feeble attempts to take in more exhibitions along Museum Mile. Pity the poor visitor who tries "to do" multiple museum exhibitions in one day, albeit ambitious, noble, and uplift

25 Things To Do Near the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA)

(updated 2016) The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) at 11 W. 53rd Street is near many other New York City attractions, so before or after a trip to the museum, a short walk in any direction could easily take in additional experiences. Drawing a square on a map with the museum at the center, a shape bounded by 58th Street to the north and 48th Street to the south, with 7th Avenue to the west and Park Avenue to the east, proves the point of the area's cultural richness. (A map follows the list below.) While well-known sightseeing stops fall with these boundaries, most notably Rockefeller Center, St. Patrick's Cathedral, and the great swath of famous Fifth Avenue stores, cultural visitors may also want to check out places such as the Austrian Cultural Forum, the 57th Street galleries, the Onassis Cultural Center, and the Municipal Art Society. The image above shows an intriguing glimpse of the tops of two Beaux-Arts buildings through an opening of the wall inside MoMA's scu

25 Things to Do Near the American Museum of Natural History

After visiting the American Museum of Natural History, explore attractions on the Upper West Side or in Central Park. Visitors to New York often run around from one major tourist site to the next, sometimes from one side of the city to the other, and in the process, exhaust themselves thoroughly. Ambitious itineraries often include something like coffee in the Village in the morning, lunch near MoMA, a couple of hours in the museum, a ride on the Staten Island Ferry in the afternoon, cocktails at the midtown hotel, a quick dinner, and then a Broadway show. It's a wonder people don't pass out at the theater. While sitting on the steps of the American Museum of History, consider exploring the Upper West Side and nearby sites of interest in Central Park. There's a better way to plan a New York trip. Consider grouping attractions together geographically. Several posts on this site address this recommended approach. The Wild West of the Tecumseh Playground Groupin

From Penn Station to New York Landmarks: Measuring Walking Distance and Time in Manhattan

(revised 2017) How long does it take to walk from Penn Station/Madison Square Garden to well-known destinations in Manhattan? What are the best walking routes ? What if I don't want to see anything in particular but just want to walk around? In addition to the thousands of working commuters from the surrounding area, especially from New Jersey and Long Island who arrive at Penn Station via New Jersey Transit or the Long Island Rail Road, many people arrive at the station just to spend time in The City. Some have questions. Furthermore, a sporting event may have brought you to Madison Square Garden (above Penn Station), and you want to check out what the city offers near the event. This post if for you.  The map below should help you measure walking distances and times from the station to well-known destinations in Manhattan - Bryant Park , the Metropolitan Museum of Art , the Empire State Building , Times Square , Rockefeller Center , Washington Square Park , the High Line

An Architectural Guide to the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade Route

The 85th Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade on Thursday, November 24, 2011 beginning at 9 a.m. will follow a path from Central Park West at 77th Street down to Columbus Circle , then take a quick jog east on Central Park South before heading down 7th Avenue to 42nd Street. Here the parade takes another little jog east to 6th Avenue and then continues south to 34th Street. The finale moves one block west on 34th to Herald Square, the location of Macy's . Balloons from an earlier year try to pump themselves up the night before the big parade.

The High Line and Chelsea Market: A Good Pairing for a Walk

(revised 2017) The advent of spring, with its signs of growth and rebirth, is apparent both on the High Line , where volunteers are cutting away the old growth to reveal fresh blooms, and inside the Chelsea Market, where new tenants are revitalizing the space. A walk to take in both can become an exploration of bounty and surprise, a sensual walk of adventure and sustenance. A good pairing for a walk: The High Line and Chelsea Market Walking the High Line for a round trip from Gansevoort to W. 30th and then back again adds up to a healthy 2-mile walk. Regular walkers of the elevated park look for an excuse to go there. Especially delightful is showing off the park, a model of its kind, to visitors from out of town. A stroll through Chelsea Market. Time check. If you haven't stopped into Chelsea Market lately, you may want to take a detour from the High Line at the stairs on W. 16th St. and walk through the market for a quick assessment or a sampling. Among the sampli

Walking in Woodstock

For anyone looking for an escape from New York, or a place to drop out for a few days, Woodstock, New York would be a good choice. While the musical festival associated with the town’s name took place decades ago and some sixty miles away, the small mountain town, located in Catskill Park about 100 miles north of the city, is blessed with tall trees and a gentle spirit. Rolling streams, many of them suitable for swimming, cascade through the area.    View of the Village Green. Woodstock, NY. Of course, you will still find peace, love, music, and all matter of tie-dye in Woodstock. Many of the shops along the town’s main road, Tinker Street, sell merchandise associated with the famous 1969 festival. Merchants this year are celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Summer of Love, as Woodstock once played its part as an East Coast version of Height-Ashbury. Woodstock is also commemorating the centennial of the New York State passage of the Suffrage Amendment in 1917. The town was

Visiting New York on a Monday

Mondays are OK. Let's have a look at some of the museums open Mondays - • American Museum of Natural History • Jewish Museum • Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) • National Museum of the American Indian • Neue Galerie • Guggenheim Museum • South Street Seaport Museum Any of these museums could be paired with a nearby restaurant or bar, making a complete full afternoon or day in New York. Monday is especially good for a museum visit, because the crowds tend to be thinner, and restaurants, too, tend to be less busy than on a weekend. A fun museum and bistro walk on the Upper West Side would be a combination of the American Museum of Natural History and the nearby Cafe Lalo on W. 83rd St. I also would suggest a pairing of the Neue Galerie with a nearby cafe, but the two cafes inside the musuem are so good, why go anywhere else? Image above: The Guggenheim on left and Beaux-Arts townhouse on right. View from E. 88th St. by Walking Off the Big Apple.