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How to Spend One Perfect Day Walking in New York City

From the Freedom Tower to Central Park, this walking tour brings you to must-see NYC sights and must-eat NYC restaurants.


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There are, of course, a million ways to go about walking New York City in one day. You could spend an entire day tackling just SoHo or focusing entirely on Williamsburg and still not see everything in a full day. However, to put together one quintessentially New York City walking tour, we opted to focus on the west side of the city, starting at the bottom of the Manhattan—in this case, the Freedom Tower—and moving north up to Central Park. The best walking tours don’t just check landmarks off a list, they take in the culture of a city, hitting local coffee shops and stopping in for a sandwich at the must-try lunch spot.

Here, your perfect walking tour of New York City in one day.

Stop 1: The Freedom Tower

You’ll start at the bottom of the city at One World Trade, also known as the Freedom Tower. If you’re taking the subway to the very beginning of this walking tour, you’ll want to metro to Cortlandt Street—though you could also get off at Rector Street or Fulton Street. The Freedom Tower is the tallest building in the United States, standing at 1,776 feet as a nod to the year the Declaration of Independence was signed.

From the Freedom Tower, you’ll walk the 25 minutes (just over a mile) to SoHo. You’ll walk through Tribeca on West Broadway Street before crossing Canal Street to end up in SoHo.

Stop 2: Breakfast in SoHo

Again, this tour isn’t about sprinting through all the best neighborhoods and checking sights off a list. It’s about reveling in the buzz of New York City and appreciating each neighborhood and sight for its distinctive energy. In SoHo, you can opt for healthy, California fare at west~bourne, where you’ll find light, nutritious breakfast bowls like their coconut chia pudding with rose halva. For more of a classic NYC breakfast, pop into Sadelle’s for a bagel with sliced-to-order lox. After breakfast, walk through the West Village on your way to Chelsea, grabbing a coffee along the way at Bluestone Lane.

Stop 3: The High Line

You’ll primarily take Bleeker Street up from SoHo to the High Line, though you can always take an easy detour to Washington Square Park if that calls to you. The High Line actually has 11 entry points, and possibilities abound in terms of what you want to see, do, or eat while strolling the High Line. You’ll pass several gorgeous Chelsea art galleries that are worth stopping into, and Chelsea Market, where you can pick up a snack or another coffee. The Standard’s Biergarten is also a popular High Line stomping ground if you care to refuel with a German pretzel and lager.

Stop 4: Hudson Yards

Once you’ve reached the end of the High Line, you’ve essentially crossed into Hudson Yards territory. Hudson Yards, to explain it in one sentence, has absolutely everything and then some; restaurants by chefs like José Andrés and David Chang, high-end shopping from Tumi to Tory Burch, art installations, and cutting-edge architecture. And you’ll find one of the most impressive Hudson Yards’ design feats, the Shed, where the High Line meets Hudson Yards.

Stop 5: Central Park and Columbus Circle

Between the High Line and Hudson Yards, there’s plenty of opportunity for sustenance. Stop by for drinks at Wild Ink—within Hudson Yards—or enjoy a full lunch off the High Line at Cookshop. From Hudson Yards, head up to Columbus Circle and the south entrance to Central Park. It’s a two-mile haul and should take about 40 minutes, but makes for a nice, relatively direct walk up Eighth Avenue. Spend a couple hours exploring the 36 acres that make up Central Park, basking in sunshine (hopefully), and people watching at the Conservatory Garden or Sheep Meadow. If you’re exhausted from all the walking, you can even head to the Central Park Boathouse Restaurant for a glass of wine and take a Venetian gondola ride around the lake from Loeb Boathouse.

Stop 6: Enjoy Dinner by Chef Alain Ducasse

Four blocks down from the southern end of Central Park is Benoit NY, known as one of the best French restaurants in the city after 12 years in business. Executive Chef Laetitia Rouabah collaborates with famed Chef Alain Ducasse on seasonal menus to bring authentic-but-modernized French bistro classics. Reserve in their recently renovated wine bar—the wine list features some coveted French vin producers—or one of their four private dining rooms. The main dining room, of course, is also a treat, featuring luxurious red velvet banquettes that give off a NYC-meets-Paris vibe.

Where to Stay

You’ll want to stay somewhere central, walkable, and luxurious, which makes The James New York - NoMad a perfect choice. Just the facade of The James Hotel lets you feel as if you’re living the chicest of New York lives. Reserve a James Suite, which comes with a spacious separate living room decorated with luxe-minimal style. At 29th and Madison, you’re right by great restaurants, bars, and coffee shops (Bourke Street Bakery NYC is a block down, and the delectable Italian restaurant Scarpetta is located within the hotel), and close to Madison Square Park.

Another terrific lodging choice is Equinox Hotel New York, an American Express Fine Hotels & Resorts property. Not only is it centrally located, the hotel allows for a wellness-infused respite in an otherwise bustling city. Their outdoor terrace—complete with a heated pool—offers stunning views of the Hudson River, and during your stay, you can indulge in massages, cryo-therapy, or even a SoulCycle workout on the ground floor of the hotel.


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