How does one even begin to describe New York, the concrete jungle where dreams were made of? In October 2014, Martin and I decided to venture east to New York City for a quick trip. While this was my 4th trip to the Big Apple, it was Martin's very first time in the big city. I was quite excited to show him around and ride the subway. But true to form, we ended up conducting our own walking tour of New York City.
New York Trip By the Numbers
- 4 Days
- $410 Basic costs per person (airfare + lodging)
- 2,869 Miles flown one way
- 47.27 Total miles walked
- 115,846 Steps walked
Where to Stay in New York
My first time I visited New York, it was with my high school history class, and thus I remember being put up in a Hilton or Sheraton hotel. But in New Jersey, of course. When I visited in my early twenties, nights were spent sleeping on couches or floors at friends' artist lofts in Brooklyn (basically, the Millennial hipster's dream come true). Visiting New York in my late twenties saw a shift in accommodations.
We were lucky enough to score an Airbnb in New York for our stay this time. However, laws in the city are making it more difficult for New Yorkers to rent their homes out to travelers. So just in case Airbnb doesn't work, here are some affordable New York City hotel options.
New York City Walking Tour Companies
While we opted to conduct our own informal tour, there are many tour companies in New York City that offer guided tours.
Walking Tour 1: Harlem to Chelsea
On our first morning in New York City, we wasted no time setting off on our walking mission. Beginning on the edge of Harlem, our tour took us through most major New York City boroughs including the Upper East Side, Central Park, Midtown, and down to Chelsea.
This part of New York is arguably the city's most famous district. Located just south of Central Park, Midtown includes many iconic New York City venues including those mentioned below. As a result of its fame, lodging in Midtown is pricey. However, stay here and you're definitely in the center of the action.
- Times Square
- Broadway Theater DistrictRadio City Music Hall, St. Patri
- Radio City Music Hall
- St. Patrick's Cathedral
- Rockefeller Center
- Grand Central Terminal
- Fifth Avenue Shopping District
Central Park and the Upper East Side
To the east of Central Park is one of the most prestigious neighborhoods in the world: the Upper East Side. While the area is largely residential with many admirable apartment buildings to swoon over, there is also lots of culture along Museum Mile. And of course, the city's 843-acre Central Park is in the area.
- Metropolitan Museum of Art
- American Museum of Natural History
- Guggenheim Museum
- Carl Schurz Park
- Gracie Mansion
- Madison Avenue Luxury Shops
Greenwich Village and Union Square
In Lower Manhanhattan, you'll find one of the city's most laid-back yet urban neighborhoods in Greenwich Village. Also known simply as The Village, there's a strong bohemian past in the area that lives on today in the many artists and writers who have flocked here. Today, visitors come to The Village to enjoy its charming community feel, view art galleries and relax in Washington Square Park. Not far from Greenwich Village is Union Square where regional growers and artists sell goods at the local market, while major shopping and dining centers also take center stage.
- Washington Square Pak
- New York University
- Jefferson Market Library
- Bleecker Street clothing boutiques
- Nighttime jazz in the park
- Meatpacking District (hip clubs and restaurants)
South of Green Village is the art and designer part of town known as SoHo. The bustling street of Broadway is full of shops, restaurants, galleries, and boutiques, while Little Italy takes over nearby Mulberry and Mott Streets. Canal Street is New York City's massive Chinatown were electronics, produce, and other trinkets can be bought.
Walking Route 2: Brooklyn to Wall Street
We decided to lay low on the second day and went sightseeing in Manhattan mostly via subway without a planned walking tour. On the third day, however, we embarked on another long walking tour, this time from Brooklyn to Wall Street.
Situated across the river from Manhattan, Brooklyn is its own unique part of New York. The main tourism area is in Downtown Brooklyn where the walkable Brooklyn Bridge connects to Manhattan, offering a stunning view of the New York City skyline. Meanwhile, Williamsburg is a community of hipsters and artists with its fair share of ethnic communities as well. Finally, the far side of Brooklyn is home to Coney Island where amusement parks and a boardwalk continue to attract visitors.
Wall Street and the Financial District
Located at the southern tip of Manhattan is the home of the New York Stock Exchange and many other major financial institutions. During weekday business hours, the streets bustle with business men and women in power suits while tourists flock to notable attractions including the brand new One Wold Trade Center complex.
- New York Stock Exchange
- One Wolrd Trade Center
- Museum of American Finance
- New York City Police Museum
- Battery Park
- South Street Seaport - where you can walk across the Brooklyn Bridge
- Ferry to Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island Immigration Museum
We were incredibly excited about the prospect of delicious and inventive dining in New York, but alas, we didn't do much of it. Part of it was because we knew many of the rave-worthy eateries were also very pricey and popular. Katz's Delicatessen sandwiches are now nearly $20 a pop! The other part was simply being overwhelmed with too many choices and not being able to find many gluten-free options for Martin. Thus, we had some delicious ethnic food (mainly Malaysian and Chinese), but other than that found ourselves at Halal Brothers' food truck and even Whole Foods when push came to shove. Perhaps we'll better plan our NYC dining adventure on another trip.
- Taqueria Diana - NYC meets California in this Mexican food joint. Multiple locations in Manhattan.
- illi Box - Lebanese street food to-go. Definitely try to falafel beiruti sandwich. Multiple locations in Manhattan.
- Pye Boat Noodle - Thai street fare at under $11 a dish. Multiple locations in Manhattan.
- Crif Dogs - Juicy hot dogs at $5-6 each. Open late. 113 St. Marks Place.
- Baohaus - Authentic yet afford Chinese bau (steamed buns). 238 East 14th Street
- BZ Grill - a mountain of Greek food at affordable prices. 27-02 Astoria Blvd
- The Meat Hook at Threes Brewing - Brewery with tasty bar food in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. 333 Douglas Street
Final Thoughts on Walking New York City
Our challenge of walking New York City was both difficult and invigorating. Nothing could have prepared my feet for the long hours and miles of walking that we did each day. I quickly learned the importance of a solid, comfortable pair of shoes. Ultimately, exploring New York by foot rather than subway or taxi yielded new perspectives of the city.