There is always a temptation when visiting a big city on holiday to take a tour bus to see the sights. If you are even a little more upscale you may opt for a personal tour by limousine. But for me I tend to prefer walking for many reasons. You don’t have to pay to walk, walking is great exercise and perhaps most of all when you walk through a large city you get a far more intimate sense of the fine folks who live there, so it is more personal and yields richer memories.
Of course not every city provides the best walking opportunities. Los Angeles, for example, basically demands that visitors ride, while up the road about 300 miles San Francisco is a great walking city if you don’t mind a few rather steep hills. But New York City is possibly the best walking city in America with its ever changing environment of almost endless sights, sounds and experiences.
On a visit not long ago my daughter and I enjoyed several self-directed walking tours, but our little hike from the site of the World Trade Center to our hotel near 47th Street and Broadway was a mere 4.4 miles yet it immersed us in the diverse and bustling culture of Manhattan in a unforgettable way. More to the point it was a genuinely awesome experience but even with its relatively short distance it took us well over 3 hours because there just so much to see and experience along the way.
Not long after we stepped off from One World Trade Center we entered into very upscale area known as Tribeca, home to some of the biggest stars in contemporary entertainment. We were not star gazing, but it became clear to us way people of substantial means would choose Tribeca for their residence. I have included a photograph of the area which I think fairly well makes the case for Tribeca and walking through its streets is vastly more enthralling than looking at it through a glass window.
As we continued along intriguing sights and sounds played with us with each step. Eventually we crossed through a portion of Chinatown before arriving in Little Italy. There we serendipitously happened upon Puglia, a classic Italian restaurant serving New Yorkers and visitors alike great Italian food for nearly 200 years. Yes, their food is simply delicious and the cost reasonable. After our lunch we walked a bit further through Little Italy indulging ourselves with a cannoli before hiking on.
We strolled along Mulberry to Blecker Street and then connected to Broadway. Soon we connected with 14th Street and right by Union Square. Not long after we passed the iconic Empire State Building which on the day we were there did not have a giant ape hanging from it. Gradually a diverse group of street vendors emerged along our path. Shortly after we entered what is arguably the epicenter of Manhattan in the minds of most of the world; we arrived in Times Square (Top photo). Very shortly after we hit 47th Street and our hotel for this visit The Edison.
I will say that the Edison Hotel is very nice and certainly by New York City standards quite reasonably priced and couldn’t be in a better location if your visit includes one or more Broadway shows. Our room was cozy but well above adequate and the staff was fantastic in their special New York style. They even had a very nice little gym free for hotel guests.
Other hikes we have taken in New York City brought us to and through Central Park, to and around the United Nations and of course 30 Rockefeller Plaza home of the East Coast headquarters of NBC and the Tonight Show. Also across the street to the very iconic Radio City Music Hall.
I am a firm believer in the many benefits of personally guided walking tours but you must always take full control over the “guided” aspect of your personal tour not only to assure that you get where you want to be with the greatest degree of positive experiences along your path, but your preparation must also assure that you do not place yourself in an area where you could be at significant risk of harm. Sadly such areas do exist in every major city worldwide including New York City. But with just a little bit of solid preparation, which might include your hotel concierge or maybe even a local police officer, your safety can be virtually assured.
So Bon Voyage!
Photos by Ron Irwin
Ron Irwin was born in Chicago, Illinois a long time ago. He served in the Marine Corps in Vietnam, became a trial lawyer, TV and radio host, CEO of a public company and once held an Emmy. He never won an Emmy he just held one. Ron has written and published twelve books. His most important book to date is “Live, Die, Live Again” in which Ron tells of his early life and his unexpected and very temporary death in 2012. That experience dramatically refocused his life and within the pages of that book Ron reveals how he achieved a much healthier life, ridding himself of Diabetes, Cancer and Heart Failure. Now Ron enjoys writing about many things including health topics, travel [he has circled the globe several times], adventure, culinary experiences and the world of performing art. Ron’s motto is “Live better, live longer and live stronger because it feels great and annoys others.” Contact the author.