While it might be tempting to flag down that iconic yellow cab, the best way to explore New York is really on two feet. The Big Apple might be a city full of steely skyscrapers and densely populated neighbourhoods, but it’s surprisingly green too. From iconic river crossings to sprawling parks, there are hundreds of scenic walks in NYC that will do your FitBit proud – the real difficulty is choosing one. We’ve cherry-picked seven of the best walks in NYC.
Scenic walks in New York
1. Brooklyn Bridge – Brooklyn
Scaling this iconic river crossing is the best way to see Manhattan. Stretching almost 6,000 ft (1.8 m) between Brooklyn and Lower Manhatten, the pedestrian walkway is free, flat and – most importantly – scenic as hell, offering unobstructed views of the downtown skyline. First opened in 1883, the Brooklyn Bridge was the world’s first steel-wire suspension bridge.
It takes between 30 minutes and an hour to cross the National Historic Landmark, depending on how many pictures you decide to take along the way. There are two entrances to the bridge in Brooklyn – Tillary Street and Washington Street. For the most charming walk, hop off the metro at Clark Street Station, head onto Henry Street and cross Cadman Plaza West to the Washington Street underpass.
2. Van Cortlandt Park – Bronx
The Bronx isn’t short of scenic, as anyone who has covered the city’s greenest borough knows, but Van Cortlandt Park is perhaps the neighbourhood’s most perfect park. Set in more than 1,100-acres of oak, red maple and tulip trees, the park is named after the Dutch plantation owners that once lived here. It’s brimming with wildlife, from tree frogs to cattails to wildflowers. There are over 20 miles of hiking trails, a variety of terrains to explore (including wetlands) and five playgrounds. The Van Cortlandt House Museum is worth a peek too.
You’ll need to hop on the train to 242nd Street Station to get there.
3. Coney Island Boardwalk – Coney Island
Once America’s most popular pleasure ground, Coney Island Boardwalk (also known as the Riegelmann Boardwalk) is a 2.7 mile (4.3 km) boardwalk connecting West 37th Street in Sea Gate to 15th Street in Brighton Beach. It opened in 1923 and quickly became one of the city’s most iconic monuments. Take your pick from crashing ocean views on the eastside to hundreds of old-school amusement rides on the west. Refuel at Natan’s Famous for their famous hot dogs for the full New Yorker experience.
4. Hudson River Greenway – Manhattan
For some real mileage in the heart of the city, hotfoot to Hudson River Greenway. The full 13 mile (21 km) trail takes around 4.5 hours to complete – the perfect antidote to all that pizza and cocktails. The trail also cuts through some of the city’s most famous parks along the way, including Battery Park and Riverside Park. For the most part, the path is flat and separate from traffic so you’ll only need to keep an eye out for speedy cyclists (and enthusiastic joggers). The best looking patches connect Inwood Hill to West 59th Street.
5. Central Park – Manhattan
It’s an oldie, but it’s also a goldie. There are 58 miles of hiking trails throughout Central Park and they’re not all sedate strolls. For more hardcore hikes, the steep, rugged and bumpy pathways along the Ravine, Ramble and North Woods routes are ideal. If you’re in the market for something a little more leisurely, there’s the Great Lawn. It might be smack bang in the heart of the city, but this 846 acre park feels worlds apart from the hustle and bustle of NYC.
6. Fort Washington Park – Manhattan
This picturesque park is located between Manhattan and Washington Heights. It’s a popular spot with history buffs; the park is named after a Revolutionary war structure built for rebels and seized by the British. It’s also home to Manhattan’s only lighthouse – the Little Red Lighthouse. Built in New Jersey in 1880, authorities transported the 40-ft structure to New York in 1921 to serve as a navigational aid on the Hudson River.
It’s easy enough to work up a sweat by following your nose, but for a more structured walk talk the 3.5-mile loop around the park’s circumference. It takes around three hours to complete it, including time to stop at the park’s many historical sights.
7. The High Line – Manhattan
In a city full of skyscrapers, it isn’t hard to get a view in NYC, but for a more unusual elevated perspective, you’ll want to head to the High Line. Once a disused, rather unsightly railway track, the 1.45-mile strip is now one of the city’s best places to walk (and be seen walking). The 30-ft (10 m) high pathway stretches from Gansevoort Street in the Meatpacking District to Hudson Yards. As well as sparkling views, the urban park features dozens of outdoor art installations interspersed with greenery and wildflowers. Stop to soak in the views at the Diller–von Furstenberg Sundeck.