Walk in NYC # 1, the essential of Upper Midtown, is a 4 miles self guided tour to discover the main sights of Upper Midtown. It is also the first of my three best tours to introduce the city to newcomers.
When I lead the walk, I often plan it to end at Times Square in the evening to enjoy the lights. I begin it at Grand Central, but Times Square is also an interesting starting point.
In any case, it will take you about 3 to 4 hours of strolling and taking pictures to complete it, much more if you visit all the attractions.
Highlights: Grand Central, Chrysler Building, Fifth Avenue, Rockefeller Center, Trump Tower, Central Park, Columbus Circle, Broadway, Times Square, New York Public Library.
Subway: Grand Central Station, lines 4, 5, 6, and 7(start and end).
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. You Metrocard will work and will be valid for transfers to the Metro and other buses, up to two hours. Express buses are more expensive, but you can buy your ticket at the stop. The drivers are generally very helpful!
Good to know: you will find everywhere places to eat and sit. As for restrooms, it will be more difficult. Grand Central and the library, as well as Central Park if you are ready to walk a bit more, have some. Otherwise try department stores!
A: Take the subway to Grand Central station; go up to see the huge hall and the corridors where busy travelers and nonchalant tourists meet. You’ve seen it in many movies, but this time, you are here! You’ll probably be hypnotized by the ever-changing spectacle of the humans flowing through it.
Don’t forget to look at the stars above you, then find the exit to 42th Street; turn left once on the sidewalk.
B: The Chrysler building is in front of you, on your right. You cannot visit it, but you can enter the ground floor to get an idea of the art-deco style that characterizes it; the wealth of materials that were used to build it and the paintings on the ceiling will offer you another idea of the place.
Exit on Lexington Ave; follow it against traffic until you reach 45th St; take a left toward 5th Ave.
Once on the avenue, take it to the right. You’ll be lost in the sea of pedestrians along it: it’s New York as you imagined it!
C: Your destination is the Rockefeller Center. You’ll find it on your left after 49th St; yet the street animation, yellow taxis, buildings and shops, will probably slow your pace.
At the Rockefeller Center, a collection of 19 mostly art deco buildings, find Atlas; watch the people skate; go and see the giant Lego; go to the top of the tower for a breathtaking view of the city; or to the 65th floor bar for a drink; have a look at the entrances of the buildings to admire the sculptures or murals.
D: Then, right across 5th Ave, you’ll find St. Patrick’s Cathedral. It’s the largest catholic cathedral in the USA, another must-see landmark in the city. You can visit it with or without the help of an application that you can download for free. On it, you’ll find a description of the different highlights of the place: the rosette, the altar and the organ, between other things.
E: Once out, keep going North. The closer you get to Central Park, the more luxurious the shops become. You won’t miss the Trump Tower, if only because of the police forces that protect the surrounding area. It’s not sure you’ll still be able to enter it, though.
Continue your way to the Plaza Hotel on your right: its luxury is of another century, but its location just at the entrance of Central Park is still exceptional.
F: The smell of horse dung is ubiquitous here: it is here that you can take a carriage to go around the city. Otherwise, enter the park to understand how important it is for the city: noises diminish suddenly and the more you go inside the park, the more you feel like you’re in nature. As far as this walk in Upper Midtown is concerned, though, you’ll stay near the 59th St because it’s on this street that you will come out.
For now, go along a pond, then turn left not far from another rink to cross Central Drive. The view of the city is an opportunity for unique photos; if the tour begins to tire your legs, you’ll find benches to sit and watch the New Yorkers jogging or cycling.
G: Next, go to Columbus Circle.
To have a bird’s eye view of it, go up to the first floor of the shopping mall in front of the park; it’s on the other side of the statue of Christopher Columbus. If you’re looking for a better view and some luxury, have a drink at the Mandarin Oriental’s bar; it’s located on the 20th floor of the hotel. The entrance is a little further on 60th St.
H: Next, Times Square: you will reach it by following Broadway toward Downtown. You may even see the neon lights in the distance from Columbus Circle.
If you want to stop and eat before reaching your destination, you’ll find restaurants of all kinds in the streets adjacent to Broadway. The further you go toward Times Square, the quicker they will serve you: their clientele is often made up of Broadway shows attendees who have little time to eat. Consult a specialized restaurants application or a guide of the city to find a place that suits you.
Times Square, “the crossing of the world”, will not leave you indifferent. Huge billboards illuminate the walls and compete fiercely with vibrant images. The crowd is larger than elsewhere, if it is possible. However, you’ll surely find places to sit in the square proper; the city has arranged it for this purpose a few years ago.
I: Then continue your way through the lights toward 42nd St.; take it on your left. Look to your right to see the Empire State’s signature spire if you have not spotted it yet.
Once past 6th Ave, the New York Public Library will be on your right. Its park at the back is very pleasant for a break; its exterior and interior architecture is impressive. It houses many rotating exhibitions around its corridors; its atmosphere is muffled and studious, far from the noise of the city. It’s especially true in the Rose Reading Room.
J: Once out, keep walking on 42nd St until Grand Central Station to end this trek.
You just had your first introduction to Upper Midtown and its essentials . On the road, they were many other things to see, but how many monuments or tourist attractions can you visit in a day without saturating?
That said, if you feel like it, Grand Central is also the starting point of Walk in NYC # 5, still named The East River Trek, parts 1 & 2 and still on the previous Walk in NYC site. It will take you to the United Nations, Roosevelt Island, and along the East River.
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!