I’m a baby boomer who likes to walk. Are you? When I visit New York City, I could walk all day soaking up the Big Apple’s energetic vibe. Last year when I attended TBEX, walking through Greenwich Village on the way to my lodging in Chelsea was a delight, although mighty hot. In today’s guest post, travel writer Terry Trucco shares her favorite New York City walking suggestions.
In 1990, I moved to New York, and I wish I’d strapped on a pedometer so I’d know how many miles I’ve logged. In New York, arguably the country’s most expensive city, one of the easiest, most enjoyable ways of getting around is free. Boomers can walk almost anywhere in Manhattan, including around the perimeter of the island, a thrilling if daunting 31-mile jaunt that’s the closest Manhattan has to Everest (“it’s there”).
In a city that often goes out of its way to make things difficult, life can be sweet on foot. Much of Manhattan — including the parts most people want to visit – is organized on a grid, its sweeping avenues and narrow streets clearly numbered. It’s almost impossible to get lost. And walking often saves time, I get a little thrill every time my traveling feet pass a bus or taxi stalled in traffic.
Walking Manhattan isn’t rocket science. Any excursion from point A to point B can turn into a Walk, even if it’s just a few blocks, especially if your journey is livened by a side trip to a food truck, a theater or an unusual shop. But some walks are special. Here are two of my favorites.
The River Walk
There’s nothing wrong with the East River, but the Hudson, hugging Manhattan’s western edge, offers history. Riverside Park, which runs like a four-mile ribbon between158th and 72nd streets, was designed in 1875 by Frederick Law Olmsted – he also laid out Central Park – and it’s remarkable how prescient he was. Though narrow, Riverside Park is densely wooded, awash in nature. Hawks circle overhead; squirrels scurry on the ground.
You can enter the park almost anywhere, but I particularly like the stretch from 95th to 72nd streets. The flower garden near 93rd Street starred in the movie You’ve Got Mail. The promenade, high above the water, is lovely for running or bike riding as well as walking. Turn right where the path leads down, walk through the tunnel and you’ll find yourself at the river’s edge. The Boat Basin Café, a lively alfresco restaurant, is open in warm weather months and serves terrific burgers and lemonade.
Though the park stops at 72nd Street, the path by the river does not. In fact, you can keep walking south and wind up at Battery Park, at the southern tip of Manhattan. Though less poetic than the park – for parts of it feel closer to the West Side Highway then the river — it’s fun. You pass the cruise ship docks, the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum, the heliport, the NYPD stables housing the horses for the mounted police, Chelsea Piers (one-stop shopping for jocks with gyms, an ice skating rink and a golf pitch) and several lovely seating areas when you crave a rest. When you’ve had enough, walk over to 10th or 11th Avenue and grab a cab.
Yes, Broadway encompasses “Broadway,” as in “Give My Regards to,” but this expansive avenue is also the longest street in town, slicing across the entire length of Manhattan and then some, from Inwood at the top to Bowling Green at the southern tip. If you’re an active baby boomer, make a day of it, walk the entire length and revel in New York’s unbridled diversity. Or choose a concise 20-block helping (the equivalent of a mile) for an urban snapshot.
Bowling Green to City Hall, dubbed the “Canyon of Heroes,” is the route taken by ticker-tape parades when the Yankees, Giants or Knicks win big. A bit farther north, Broadway slices between the East Village and Greenwich Village, not far from New York University and Washington Square Park.
Among the other bold-face landmarks you pass as you move north are the Flatiron Building (at 23rd Street), Macy’s (at 34th Street), Times Square and the Theater District (42nd Street), Columbus Circle and Time Warner Center (59th Street), Lincoln Center (63rd Street), Straus Park and the Titanic Memorial (106th Street) and Columbia University (116th Street).
Farther north, Audubon Terrace (155th Street), a square of gorgeous but run-down Beaux Arts museums, houses the Hispanic Society ; but Broadway becomes a mish-mash of neighborhood businesses as you proceed north. Manhattan ends when you cross the Broadway Bridge to Marble Hill at the top of the island and enter the Bronx. But Broadway, ever intrepid, continues all the way to Westchester County. Whew!
Photos courtesy Terry Trucco.
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