There’s no bad time to visit New York, whether it be in the chill of winter, the crisp air and colour of autumn, or during the city’s glorious warmer months. One thing is certain, move too fast and you’ll miss too much, so pop your walking shoes on.
Walking is the greatest way to bite into the 'Big Apple' and get a taste of all its charms, especially with NYC’s navigator-friendly numbering and grid system.
So, with a backpack and camera I set off each day from TRYP by Wyndham at Times Square South, the perfect launch pad from which to explore in all directions.
Here are some route recommendations for when you walk the walk in New York.
1. Central Park Via Sylvia's In Harlem
Clearly a no-brainer on two fronts: breakfast at the original soul food kitchen and a few hours soaking up one of Mother Nature’s finest creations in Central Park on the way back.
It’s important to veer off the yellow brick road occasionally and Harlem provides a breakfast experience like no other at Sylvia’s on the corner of Malcolm X Boulevard.
Southern comfort food for more than 50 years, this is all about authentic soul food and “down home” cookin’ with such hits as chicken and waffles, or grits and collard greens.
Walk along 7th, 8th or 9th avenues and allow at least a couple of hours either way so you can detour into a few of the boutiques.
2. Bird's-Eye View From The High Line
Taking a walk along the High Line is a must to appreciate this public park built on an old freight rail line elevated above the streets on Manhattan’s West Side.
Stretching from Gansevoort Street in the Meatpacking District to West 34th Street between 10th and 12th avenues, the High Line is a masterstroke of history, culture and natural serenity.
Public art programs, gorgeously-maintained landscaping, dance parties to the beat of Latin rhythms, and poetry and spoken word festivals on a platform beautifully showcase New York’s arts and culture in a lovely setting.
More New York inspiration
3. Pay Your Respects At Ground Zero
A visit to New York's 9/11 Memorial is a confronting, but also inspiring experience. A 30-minute walk from Times Square South down 8th Avenue, try to arrive early before the crowds.
The memorial includes a field of trees with two, enormous recessed waterfall pools representing the footprints of the Twin Towers. The names of the fallen are inscribed on the parapets around the waterfalls.
Next, you could take a trip up to the newly-opened observation deck, One World Observatory. It's also well worth taking a detour to St Paul's Chapel on Broadway.
The Chapel survived the tragic attacks of 9/11 and was a place of refuge for the rescue workers in the dark days soon after. The exhibit inside is a stark, powerful reminder of the resilience and courage of New Yorkers.
4. Greenwich Village, Chelsea Market & Little Italy
This walk is only about 20 minutes – excluding any stops in the stores along 9th Avenue – but Chelsea Market (between 15th and 16th streets on 9th Avenue) is a bustling area of activity with a distinct European vibe that can occupy at least half a day.
Think craft beers, funky cafes, cupcake shop and bakeries, quirky stationery shops, and bargains galore at places like Anthropologie, Artists & Fleas and Posmon’s Books.
After that, head south along Bleecker Street and check out Greenwich Village, before dining a la carte in gorgeous Little Italy.
Things to remember while walking
New York is a different city these days and you can feel safe walking both day and night in most areas. Common sense applies, but you are more likely to get bumped and bruised by the unforgiving crowds than get mugged.
So walk with purpose. Do your best to walk to the right and ready yourself for the thumps and bumps, none of which come with an apology.
In the tourist areas you'll find yourself bombarded with people doing the hard sell on experiences and don't be fooled by the offer of free CDs and monks bearing gifts, for these are all designed to get you to stop and walk you into the next part of their pitch. Avoid eye contact and keep walking.
You'll also quickly discover New Yorkers wait for cars, but not traffic lights. It's common to cross against the lights, and in reality only a tourist waits if there are no cars coming.