A walking guide to New York City

New York is a city that we particularly wanted to see during the Winter time. Home Alone 2 may have had something to do with this, but generally, we just love Winter vacations: getting rugged up in scarves, hats, and jackets; sipping hot coffee next to a crackling fireplace; and escaping the heat of Melbourne in Summertime.

So naturally, we found ourselves in New York City for three whole days during the lead up to Christmas, and it was just as magical as we had hoped.

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At home we don’t get out much; but when we travel, we walk everywhere, and New York was no exception.

We based ourselves in Manhattan, which made this endeavour all the more easier, and pretty much spent our entire time walking, walking, walking.

What a great way to see this bustling and resilient city!

I have to say, Manhattan is much larger, and more spread out than I expected. The attractions you think of when it comes to New York such as Central Park, the Empire State Building, and the Statue of Liberty are all a great distance away from each other; and many people opt to take a cab to reach their destination.

But not us.

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A walking guide to New York City

On our first day we explored Times Square, Bryant Park, and Madison Square Park on foot, where I delighted in meeting a bunch of frantic squirrels. Yes, I was totally that person who stood there like a goon taking a million photos of them.

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We spent our evening enjoying a Knicks v Bulls game at Madison Square Garden (the Knicks won).

One thing that New York does not shy away from is their strict airport-style screening. Security is tight, and as unnerving as it was to have our bags and bodies checked nearly everywhere we went, it also made me feel much safer in such a large crowd of people.

Our second day was reserved for Central Park. I’ve gone into detail about this in a separate post, but basically it was our favourite thing about New York City, and we barely scratched the surface.

After a bit of research we decided to hit up Top of the Rock for a sunset view of Manhattan. The great thing about Top of the Rock is that you not only get a 360 view of the city, but the view includes the Empire State Building and Central Park. I think it’s the only observation deck in the city that can offer this view, so it’s well worth a visit.

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Day three we walked all the way to the 9/11 Memorial and Museum. It was such a surreal, humbling and sad experience, standing next to the memorials where the World Trade Centre used to stand.

We hadn’t planned on visiting the museum, but since we were already there, we decided to go in. There were two lines: one to buy tickets, where you are allocated a timeslot to enter the museum; and one to enter the museum. The line for the tickets was just as long as the line to enter the museum, so we used our phones to order our tickets online instead. I think we had to wait about an hour until we could go inside, but it was a beautiful day, so we didn’t mind.

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I highly recommend the museum. It’s all underground, and there is so much to see, to read, and to understand once inside. The artefacts, video footage, and photographs taken from that fateful day are just heart-breaking to witness, and it truly makes you take stock of your own life a little.

Finally, we wanted to see the Statue of Liberty, but weren’t interested in taking a tour, or visiting Liberty Island itself. So instead, we jumped on the free Staten Island ferry, which takes you right past the Statue. Sure, it’s not a particularly close view, but at least we got to see her in all her glory!

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On the long walk home we also stopped in to Grand Central Station, just because.

Our three days walking New York City gave us just a taste of what New York has to offer. It was busy, it was bustling, the Christmas windows were glorious, and as a first stop on our 5-week trip around the USA and Canada, it was the perfect start.

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Have you been to New York before?

How did you get around?
What did you see and do?

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Walking guide to New York City



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Author: Michelle

Michelle Harvey is a kiwi traveller, writer, photographer, list-maker, coffee drinker, and wanderer. Winter holidays are her favourite kind.

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