Favorite NYC walks?
February 28, 2010 3:40 PM   Subscribe

Trying to walk more for fitness and adventure in NYC. Have exhausted my immediate neighborhood (East Village/LES), where else can I go?

My boyfriend and I are getting fat and boring from loafing around all weekend. As part of a general healthier-living plan, I'm trying to get us out on long walks (3+ hours, often) whenever possible. I live roughly at Houston & Allen/1st Ave, so we're stuck in the rut of either going E Village -> U Square -> Madison Square Park or East River Park -> Battery Park -> Chinatown. Some criteria/information:

- Weird/interesting sights are best. We recently wandered Chinatown and ended up at the Elizabeth Center mall, a sort of underground oasis of ridiculous/adorable Asian toys. A walk in SoHo led us to the Earth Room. Little stops like that give us something to talk about and break up the walk.
- It's fine if we have to take the subway to get there.
- We have done the Brooklyn/Manhattan/Williamsburg bridges (though any suggestions for where to go once over any of those would be great).
- Interesting food locations are fine, but sort of negate the whole purpose of this endeavor. That said, interesting, cheap, and/or wholesome little snacks are fine, and Chinatown has been excellent in this category (interesting and cheap more than wholesome, certainly).
- We don't mind taking incredibly circuitous routes around one area.
- Touristy things and pricey things are not interesting to us. No Times Square, no expensive museums.

So I guess the questions here are these: What are your favorite areas to wander in NYC? Where are the best little stores full of random ephemera, the most scenic views or interesting architecture? Has Google failed me and there's some great website for walks like this that I'm totally missing? Answers in the form of neighborhoods, streets, sights to see, or websites are all great.

Things that I've found helpful so far: These TONY walks (we did this one, not listed there, and it was great), this comment about Brooklyn neighborhoods, and of course Forgotten NY (which has so much information that it is almost too overwhelming as a resource). My absolute favorite is riding up to the Bronx Zoo on their pay-what-you-wish day, but we have jobs and can't do that often; another favorite is Governor's Island in the summer.
posted by alphasunhat to Travel & Transportation around New York, NY (14 answers total) 24 users marked this as a favorite
Take the subway or a bus to a completely different area, and then walk home (or as far as you get before you feel compelled to take transportation). I really don't know of any places in NYC where you won't see something of marginal interest with this approach. I understand that you're looking for more guidance here, but if you keep your eyes open you will happen on something no matter where you go.
posted by telegraph at 3:53 PM on February 28, 2010 [1 favorite]

Elizabeth Center mall is great. I used to live right there. But the whole time living over there, I never walked down St. Jame's Pl. There is an intersection (near the Elizabeth Center) of St. James, Mott and Bowery. If you walk down St. James Pl. you get behind Chinatown, you get to see all the police barricades protecting the downtown detention center and right past the Verizon building. It's like a whole different world. You can keep walking down St. Jame's Pl. under the bridge where it turns into Pearl St. Near there is Front St. which has a lot of nice restaurants and bars. Some of the oldest restaurants and bars in the city. It does get touristy on Fulton/Seaport area, but before that it is very unique. Also walking down Cherry St. on the way back (or on another walk) under the Manhattan bridge is very nice. People live their whole lives in Manhattan and never venture down into that area between the two bridges. It's pretty neat.
posted by milarepa at 3:54 PM on February 28, 2010

The Brooklyn botantical Gardens are good for a walk, as in Inwood Park (and the hood itself. Stop off at the Piper's Kilt for a beer and fried chicken after)
posted by The Whelk at 4:37 PM on February 28, 2010

Well you could walk up the east side as far as you can (you have to go around some places). You'll pass a nice little area called Stuyvesant Cove (right next to Stuyvesant Town) and then the UN. Just keep walking uptown.

you could also go to Red Hook. First you go to the South St. Seaport area, then grab the free IKEA ferry, and you're in Red Hook. Very industrial-charming.

Sheepshead Bay -- Brighton Beach - Coney Island

The Asia-Indian areas of Flushing, Queens

Have you walked all around Brooklyn Heights? (Cobble Hill, Boerum Hill, Carroll Gardens?)

All along the west side highway, from way downtown and up, as far as you can go?
posted by DMelanogaster at 4:37 PM on February 28, 2010 [1 favorite]

Waterfront from Williamsburg to LIC. It is kinda a big walk, but it awesome. Here's how you do it: walk over the Williamsburg Bridge and make your way to Bedford. Walk north on Bedford make a left on N 5th and walk to Kent. Make a right (North) on Kent. You'll be walking along the Williamsburg waterfront. Take Kent to Franklin (they sort of join) and check out Word Bookstore and continue on Franklin in Greenpoint (lots of little shops, eating places, etc) until you reach Eagle. Make a right on Eagle to the Polaski (sp?) Bridge. Over the bridge you'll be in LIC. Turn left on Jackson and walk to Vernon. Lots of shops/coffee places on Vernon and PS 1 is nearby. From Vernon walk west on 48th Ave to the East River and Gantry State Park. Take the 7 train back to Manhattan.
posted by Pineapplicious at 4:37 PM on February 28, 2010

Oh! And the Gardens and The Brooklyn Museum and Prospect Park are all TOUCHING EACH OTHER so you can fill a day with that. TBM has an excellent Egyptian collection and a good eye for contemporary art.
posted by The Whelk at 4:38 PM on February 28, 2010

Best answer: Walk down from Fort Tyron (the Cloisters) into the park and then into that hilly, secluded neighborhood I can't remember the name of. You'll forget you're in Manhattan, it looks more like San Diego or something.

Riverside park on the west side.
posted by The Whelk at 4:39 PM on February 28, 2010

What a fine question. I'll be following up some of these suggestions myself.

The High Line would definitely fit the 'interesting sights' requirement: seeing a whole swathe of Manhattan from a couple of storeys up instead of from street level is great. You're not that much higher but it makes a big difference. At the moment it doesn't take very long to walk down it, so you'd want to do it as part of a longer route. (It'll be ten or fifteen blocks longer before too long.)
posted by lapsangsouchong at 5:00 PM on February 28, 2010

Best answer: Great idea.

Here's a nice (unexpected) Brooklyn walk: start at Atlantic and Vanderbilt, and walk south down Vanderbilt through Prospect Heights. Great restaurants, shops, bookstores, etc. This walk will take you to Grand Army Plaza, where you can browse the Brooklyn Library, or continue into Park Slope and stroll down 7th Ave for continued fun.

Good luck!
posted by airguitar2 at 6:48 PM on February 28, 2010

Go to the Bronx Zoo. It's full of animals. There's a tree kangaroo, who doesn't seem to really like life in the trees, and a binturong who lives next door. A proboscis monkeys (you'll come for the nose but stay for the genitals).

And giraffes. There is nothing better to see on a walk than a giraffe.

And gorillas and tigers behind glass. The zoo is on your side of the glass. Appreciate it.

And...but it really doesn't stop.

Note--the subway is above-ground in the mysterious Bronx. If you are in the first car, you can look out the front of the train, if you are taller than the 8-year-old who is there already.
posted by hexatron at 7:20 PM on February 28, 2010 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Walk down from Fort Tyron (the Cloisters) into the park and then into that hilly, secluded neighborhood I can't remember the name of.

Actually Broadway from Washington square to The Cloisters (Ft Tyron Park) is about 10 miles, a nice 3 hour walk. (I actually did the reverse walk a few weeks ago). Its perfectly safe all the way up, if you wonder about that at all.

You should explore Riverdale in the Bronx with your goal being Wave Hill
posted by shothotbot at 9:00 PM on February 28, 2010

You could also take the train out to Brighton and walk on the Boardwalk. Or walk across the Brooklyn Bridge and up to Prospect Park!
posted by Mngo at 6:11 AM on March 1, 2010

Best answer: There are some great "neighborhoods of..." books out there. Get a few & just read them.

Here's a super long walk through my old stomping grounds. Coney Island -> Brigton Beach -> Sheepshead Bay -> (optional: Marine Park) -> Rock, Rock, Rockaway Beach.

Google says it's 4 hours, but I think that's super optimistic, it's probably more like 6-7 hours, especially with meals and stopping to take pictures or whatever. I give you lots of options to turn back, though.

Start out in Coney Island, walk along the boardwalk. On Ocean Parkway head north to Brighton Beach Avenue & take that to Coney Island Avenue. Continue along through the winding streets to Sheepshead Bay Road & Emmons Avenue. (bring a map) Find a place to eat in Brighton Beach or Sheepshead Bay.

Option A: Walk along the water on the Manhattan Beach side and cross over the footbridge to Emmons Avenue, find a restaurant & eat there. (I recommend the turkish cafe in Lundy Hall or Siam Orchid, the thai place by Bedford Avenue & Emmons).

Option B: Walk along Emmons Avenue to Knapp Street where it turns into the highway.

Option C: If you're feeling tired, turn left & cross over the highway (The Belt Parkway). To your right will be a deli & a beauty salon - walk down that street & find some eateries & a movie theater. Catch a movie & reverse the walk on Emmons and to Sheepshead Bay Road where you can find take the train home.

Option D: Or continue along the bike path next to the highway to Flatbush Avenue.

(Option D1: Go up Knapp Street to Marine Park, take a right as soon as you can & follow it to the mall & then go down Flatbush Avenue until you meet the bike path again - sort of the reverse of option E).

Option E: If you're feeling tired or peckish or are running out of time, turn left & go to Marine Park, the laughable mall, rest there & then take a bus to the train. I recommend Kings Plaza Diner as a good diner in the area.

Marine Park will be cold, wet & windy this time of year, but the marsh area across from it is worth exploring - it's what passes for beautiful in Brooklyn, and if you're lucky (and go at night) you'll see a Coney - one of the rabbits that used to inhabit Brookyn & which gave Coney Island its name.

Option F: If you've got lots of stamina & time to kill (and I mean lots of both), go right over the Marine Parkway bridge into Rockaway (neither of you is afraid of heights right?). Make your way left through Riis Park & through the quaint mini mansions or along the beach itself to Beach 116 Street where you can eat & take the (long) train ride home. It's a bit tricky to navigate this part - I can google map the route for you.

This beach (unlike Brigton Beach) directly faces the ocean, so the waves are stronger & ever year someone drowns, or there's a hurricane & the neighborhood evacuates. I don't know if you remember that plane crash in October of 2001, just after 9/11 - the one where Guiliani was on the air saying that it's a shame that this happened in a place where so many fire department workers live - that's this area, Belle Harbor.

You'd probably have to start early in the morning to do that whole thing & really have your walking feet on, but that brings you through some colorful neighborhoods & some nature, and gives you lots of chances to turn back.
posted by MesoFilter at 11:07 AM on March 1, 2010 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: So many good answers!! Thanks all, looks like we have some good weekend walks coming up.
posted by alphasunhat at 6:52 AM on March 2, 2010

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