From Central Park to the Upper East Side

Walk in NYC # 12, from Central Park to the Upper East Side, is a 4 miles self-guided tour that will take you about 2.5 hours of strolling and taking photos, much more if you visit the museums along the way.

You’ll be in nature for half of the time, see some of the most famous museums in the city, discover residential streets and end your trek along the East River.

Highlights: Dakota Building, Strawberry Fields, Bethesda Terrace, Loeb Boathouse, the Ramble, the Great Lawn, Cleopatra’s Needle, Glade Arch, the New York Society Library, Museum Mile, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Neue Gallery, the National Academy Museum, the Guggenheim Museum, the Church of the Heavenly Rest, the Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum, Carnegie Hill Historic District, Gracie Mansion, Carl Schurz Park.

Metro: 72 St on the A, C, B, or D lines (start) and  bus + metro (return).

Bus: use an app like Citymapper to find the best options with bus #, waiting time, list of stops, and where you are in the city once you’ve boarded. Your Metrocard or OMNY account will work and will be valid for transfers to the Metro and other buses. Express buses are more expensive but you can buy your ticket at the stop. The drivers are generally very helpful!

Good to know: you’ll easily find places to sit in the parks, and restrooms in Central Park and in the museums. Eating options will be plentiful too, and will vary depending on where you are.

A: Your trek starts at the 72 St. Metro Station on the Upper West Side.

You’ll see the Gothic style Dakota building in front of you. It’s a very private and stylish residence for the rich and famous, even though not all are accepted when they apply. Ghosts are said to share the rooms with its inhabitants.

In any case, John Lennon used to live there and was assassinated in front of its entrance

B: . That’s why, when you enter Central Park, you’ll soon find Strawberry Fields on your left, a small area dedicated to his memory. You won’t miss it, many people have their picture taken in front of the “Imagine” mosaic.

C: Follow the path going down to find a kiosk and get a map of the park.

You want to go to Bethesda Terrace with its magnificent interior walkway and its fountain facing the lake. It’s the heart of Central Park and a very lively place to sit and look at all sort of people coming and going, or boating on the lake.

D: When you are tired of the crowd, find your way to the Loeb Boathouse. You can rent there a boat in season or have a drink near the water.

E: Next, go toward the Ramble.

It’s an area of the park where you could easily get lost on the many paths there are, tucked in a dense forest. It’s where Central Park makes you believe you are in the countryside!

Cleopatra’ s Needle, an obelisk coming directly from Egypt, will be on your left when you emerge from the Ramble toward Upper East Side, behind the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

On your way, you’ll also see there the Great Lawn, another feature of Central Park.

Your last foray in this area will allow you to either see from a distance a lovely stone bridge called Glade Arch, or go on it if you take the longer path (both are indicated on the map).

In any case, you’ll soon end up on the 5th Avenue, in front of the E 79th St., and in the Upper East Side.

The mansion at the corner is a bookstore. Go inside if it’s open, it’s an impressive building. Next, go and have a look at the New York Society Library a little bit further on E 79th St.

It is the oldest library in NYC. All the upper floors are reserved to members, but the 1st one is open to everyone.

F: Next, go back to the 5th Ave by any way you like, and turn left.

You are now in the Museum Mile even though you won’t walk it to its end. It will even mean the end of your tour if you decide to see any one of them now!

First and nearly in front of you, the entrance of the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art, the jewel of the area.

Then on your right a bit further, the Neue Gallery, a splendid building used as a museum for German and Austrian art. If you like the Expressionists, the Bauhaus and the art of the early 20th century, that’s the place to go.

Still further and for a more contemporary style, the Guggenheim Museum. It’s easily recognizable with its daring architecture.  The exhibitions it hosts are also daring and always challenging.

Next to it, the National Academy Museum, known for its 19th and 20th century American Art collection.

The large catholic church you’ll see after will give you a chance to sit and relax. It’s aptly called “the church of the Heavenly Rest”!

Finally, on the other side of E 90th St., the Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum. It offers what’s best in historical or contemporary design. It’s also one of the three Smithsonian museum located out of Washington, DC. The Georgian Style mansion it occupies is in itself a splendid work of design.

G: If you have not decided to visit a museum, turn left on the 90th St.

You now leave the Museum Mile and you are in for a 30 minutes’walk in residential Upper East Side. You want to reach your next and final destination, the Gracie Mansion.

To do so, you’ll have to turn right at one point, for example at the 2nd Ave as indicated on the map, then left at the 87th St. But let your fantasy guide you there.

Along the way: porters in front of private buildings, local shops in the main avenues, secluded courtyards here and there, the unmistakable New York fire escapes.

You’ll go through Carnegie Hill historical district, rows of brownstone houses. You could  find a walking map of the area on the web, but you now must be a little tired by all the walking you did before! Keep its exploration for another time, coupled with the visit of a museum you hadn’t time to discover yet.

At the end of E 87th St., you’ll find the Gracie Mansion.

It’s the official residence of the Mayor of NYC and with a little planning in advance, you could be able to join a guided tour there.

Next, go along the East River by way of the Carl Schulz Park, and turn right. It will give you a chance to see the Roosevelt Island lighthouse in front of you and the Astoria neighborhood behind it.

It will also be the end of this walk in Central Park & Upper East Side.

Reach York Ave to find a bus or the 2nd Ave further if you want to find a Metro station.

Use an app like Citymappper to find your best options, and make sure you take the bus on the right side of the road. Otherwise you’ll end up much further than you planned as it happened to me there!

On, you’ll find a blog with articles about other places in NYC not to be missed and a page with photos of the city in case you want to travel more without having to walk.

Before you go, don’t forget your guide and see how to thank him at the bottom of the page. Then enjoy the rest of your day!

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