The Ultimate Self Guided Walking Tour in New York

There are so many attractive and globally known places to visit and see once you are in New York City. This ranges from well-known museums and attractive architecture to fascinating foods and best shopping zones. Lucky are you as walking is one of the best ways to have an intriguing experience in NYC.

Walking allows you to have close contact with various attractions and feel them on your feet apart from just enjoying their mesmerizing views. Therefore organize everything you will need and let’s take the first step to a self-guided tour. 

This guide is specifically created to ensure you experience the most iconic places as well as other significant attractions along the way. It also covers various spots you can stop by for a quick snack and even shop for souvenirs, among other things. 

What’s more, the guide covers the interest of every traveler. Therefore, whether you are a historian, artist, fashion lover, or even an engineer, you will get something to quench your interest. Lastly, the walking tours cover between 0.5 miles to over 2 miles.

See Also: 15 Best Places to visit in New York

Below are the various sections where you will be visiting:

Cultural Tour in Chinatown

Chinatown in Manhattan is one of the major landmarks in NYC. Being the oldest and the largest US Chinese communities, you will get to experience authentic Chinese culture from food to dressing, souvenirs and even magical body treatments like acupuncture.

To access this spot, you can use subway 6, M, J, N, R, Z and Q that will get you to Canal Street for a whole one-mile exciting street meanders. The streets in Chinatown are quite crowded and congested with vehicles, vendors, cyclists, and even pedestrians. Therefore, it’s very easy to explore while on foot.

To begin with, hydrate your body with a traditional and authentic Kung Fu Tea at 234 Canal Street. Afterward, take a walk down southeast in Canal Street where you will encounter a market area with souvenirs, veggies, fruits, sunglasses, purses, and even wallets.

Cultural Tour in Chinatown
Credit pixabay

After a closer look and exploration of the above street, continue with your walk down the street. To get to Mott Street, take a right down the street. This section is famous for various forms of traditional remedies for body ailments. Therefore, you will encounter herbal treatments, acupuncture, including tea shops.

Also, if you feel body tension or hurting feet, you can stop by one of the massage parlors on this street. After that, get to Bayard Street by taking a right. Then walk a one-block distance to Columbus Park. A stroll through the third park will reward you with Chinese opera performances.

After a fantastic park stroll, exit and walk to your right on Bayard Street, then cover a distance of two blocks to Elizabeth Street after taking a left. At this point, you will tour Chinatown, Jing Fong. You can have Chinese delicacy to replenish the lost energy through walking. They serve the best soups, desserts, steamed buns and dumplings.

Finish the walk in this area by exiting Jing Fong and walk northeast crossing the Canal Street to get to Hester Street. From this street take a left and cover a 4 block distance to “Center Street” where you will learn the Chinese migration story to the US.

Little Italy

Little Italy is a great place to continue with your cultural adventure after Manhattan Chinatown tour. This place is popular for Italian immigrants. Over two centuries ago, they began migrating into the US and settled in this part of the city. Over time the neighborhood has been transformed and wrapped around Italian cultural heritage. 

Even though it’s smaller than the initial size, the current three-block stretch (Mulberry Street) is more than enough to explore and experience authentic Italian culture. You can start by taking a subway (6, N, M, J, R, Z or W) to canal street and then walk southeast to get to Mulberry street where little Italy is.

Little Italy
Credit flickr

While exploring this place, you can visit the “Shrine Church of the Most Precious Blood” this is a significant historical site which is a church that dates back in the 1800s. Also, it is home to the famous statue of San Gennaro which attracts thousands of people in September as they parade around this place while celebrating the San Gennaro Festival.

As you continue with your excursion along Mulberry Street, there are amazing tenement buildings with diverse colors to admire. Some are red, green and others white. Some of these buildings are home to the best Italian restaurants in this street, such as “Angelo’s of Mulberry Street.” Since 1902, this restaurant has been serving Neapolitan fare.

On the same street, you can appreciate the Italian history in America at “Italian American Museum.” This museum documents all the struggles and achievements of Italians as they migrated to the US. It also includes their contribution to the country throughout this time they have been living there.

You can stop by the Grand Street for a snack. The best place is at Ferrara where they serve the best cannoli and coffee. This place has been a favorite spot for locals since 1892. On the same Grand Street, there is “Alleva Dairy Shop,” which has over a century of experience in making the best cheese.

And that’s not all; there is also Di Palo’s family-run shop that has been operating since 1910 by selling balsamic vinegar, Italian cheese, pasta, and olive oil. Once you are satisfied with Grand street, retrace your path and head back to Mulberry Street. Then walk towards Broome Street one block away.

On your way to Brome street stop at M’O il Gelato for authentic Gelato and then take a left turn from the shop to Mulberry St. and Broome street intersection. From here take a right turn and head to Center for Italian Modern Art in the west 3.5 blocks away. This center is a museum that is dedicated to promoting Italian modern art.

Shopping at SoHo

A tour is never complete without a good shopping experience. And this is where shopping at SoHo comes in. Situated to the south of Houston Street, these blocks are full of Bohemian Boutiques that are nestled in buildings with the cast-iron front. This place was once an industrial zone for manufacturing and warehouses. 

It’s an amazing place to do shopping as you get to enjoy the building architectures that are mostly Victorian gothic, Neo-Grecian and Italianates. Currently, it houses artists’ lofts, restaurants, and shops where you can spend your hours admiring and sampling what to buy. It’s a great place to visit whether you had there as a day trip or have it as a cultural tour by fusing it with little Italy and Chinatown.

Shopping at SoHo
Credit Unsplash

To get to this place, use subway 6 that will drop you at Spring Street. On this street, don’t forget to stop by “Lombardi’s.” They serve the best Pizza and also claim to be the first in the US (since 1905). Satisfied, turn left to Mott street and walk northwards to visit St. Patrick’s Old Cathedral. 

This is the first and the oldest cathedral in New York City. Afterward, go back to Mott Street and this time turn right and head to Prince Street. This street is stunningly beautiful with cobblestone and filled with boutique shops and chic cafes. It’s an ideal spot for window shopping or refreshing you with a cup of coffee or a snack. 

Also, don’t forget to load your pocket with enough cash. Spring field is also home to high-end fashion shopping shops. Some of the most amazing stops not to miss at spring streets include Boqueria Soho: Spanish Tapas, Dominique Ansel Bakery: Cronut and the best wine and music at City Winery.

Korean town to Times Square

This tour will cover three amazing sections of the city at the same time. They include Korean Town, Times Square, and the Garment District. Start your tour from Korean Town where you can access it via the following subways: W, R, Q, N, M, F, D and B. these subways will get you to 34th street (Herald Square). From here you can trace Korean town easily. Korean town stretch covers four streets. They include 32nd Street, Sixth Avenue, Broadway to 5th Avenue.

The place is characterized by high rise buildings with bakeries, restaurants, bars Karaoke bars, spas, and grocery shops. Also, there are numerous shop fronts where you can engage yourself with window shopping or even get into one of the Karaoke bars and enjoy a session of singing and dancing.

Korean town to Times Square
Credit pixabay

And if you get hungry, don’t worry, stop by “Kunjip” and enjoy a Korean barbecue, just ensure you leave some space for a dessert later in Grace Street. For those who love books, Koryo Books is the place to be. Stop by and burn some calories going through various journals and editions. 

Complete your Korean town tour by visiting Juvenex Spa. It’s a great spot to release muscle tension from long walks. At this place, you get services such as steam sauna, thermal sauna, soaking tub and sauna in baked clay. The best part of relaxation is facial scrubs, massage among other services of the spa

And just before, you move to Garment District, stop by 5th Avenue and have a view of the iconic “Empire State Building” which is a major landmark of NYC. The building 86th floor and 120th floor are the best viewpoint location. They offer 360 degrees elegant view of the city. 

From the building viewpoint, you will be able to sport the central park, East River, Hudson Bridge, Brooklyn Bridge, the Statue of Liberty, and Times Square. Back to the street; take west 34th street which will lead you to 6th Avenue where Garment District is.

Garment District

Garment district stretches from 34th to 42nd street as well as from 5th avenue to 9th avenue. You can start with a tour along the 6th avenue. This place is great for fashion shopping and marked by sidewalk bronze plaques that honor the great American designers. 

On 39th street, find your way to 7th avenue which is just a block away. At this point, you will get to admire and have elegant pictures of the iconic garment worker bronze statue. For more information about the statue, there is an information desk below a giant button close by. 

Through this walk, you will encounter Times Square on the way. Times Square covers from 39th street to 47th street. This spot was named after the newspaper: the New York Times. It was once the address of the New York Times paper headquarters between 1904 and 1913.

If you still have enough fuel for more tours, locate the 7th avenue a couple of meters away. At the place, you can visit the popular Drama Book Shop if you love books or a visit to Sardi’s for those who appreciate acting. For final touches on your tour, walk to 47th avenue which is filled with plenty of shops with souvenirs. At this place, you will view the majestic LED billboards that stretch for 115,000 square feet.

Midtown Classic NYC tour

With a 2.2 mile stretch to cover, you need to fuel your body well. You can begin the tour at Grand Central Terminal, one of the busiest subway train station. To access the terminal, use the following trains: 7, 6, 5 and 4. You can explore the beautiful and colorful Grand Central Market before locating Lexington Avenue.

To spot the famous places in the city, find the 5th avenue to walk along. After covering several blocks, you will encounter the famous Rockefeller Center. I am sure you’ve heard many stories about this building. It’s a great place to have a view of the city at its 30th top floor. But for a better view of the city skyline, take a lift to the 360 degrees viewpoints in the 67th, 69th or 70th floor.

Jane’s Carousel
Credit pixabay

Afterward, you can have a detour to the popular Radio City Music Hall found on 6th Avenue. This radio hall dates back to 1932 and from then till currently, it has been hosting various shows and concerts. You can spare 75 minutes of your time for a guided tour around this story theaters, get to learn the place history and even have a chance to meet a member of Rockette.

From the radio hall, you can take a right turn east on 51st street. A block away, you will encounter the famous St. Patrick’s Cathedral on 5th Avenue. To the north of 5th avenue, there is Central Park.

Along the way, various luxurious shops are selling different items for window shopping. After stopping at the iconic plaza hotel for a pause, get ready for the 800 acres of central park to explore.

Calvert Vaux and Frederick Law Olmsted founded the park in the middle of the 19th century but the opening was until 1858. Some of the amazing features to explore include the walking trails, rolling fields, Central Park Zoo, strawberry and carousel fields, and water ponds (seven ponds at various locations in the park) among other attractive features of the park. You can finalize the park tour at Belvedere Castle which is at the highest point of the park.

Museum Mile Crawl

Museum Mile is a nickname given to an area that stretches from 82nd to 105th Manhattan’s east streets. And this is because the area houses many museums along the streets. You can start the tour from either downtown or uptown.

To begin your tour, use the 6 subway to 86th street and walk southwards or to 77th street to walk northwards. For rest and refueling, you can get into a museum café or coffee shop where they offer all sorts of snacks.

Along the Museum Mile, there are various famous museums you will encounter. Some of them include “The Metropolitan Museum of Art on 82nd street. This museum was founded in 1870 and over the years, it has collected some of the famous artwork which is celebrated globally. The arts include the recent as well as pre-historic ones.

4-blocks north, you will find Neue Galerie on Fifth Avenue. This gallery houses art collections from the early 20th century. The arts include both from German and also those from Austrian. 

Another two blocks northwards, you will find the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum on 5th avenue. In this museum, you will get to appreciate one of the most popular collections of contemporary and modern artwork. Another three blocks northwards, there is Cooper Hewitt on the 91st street. This museum has a Smithsonian design that is based in Carnegie Mansion.

Museum Mile Crawl
Credit pixabay

One street away from Cooper Hewitt is The Jewish Museum on Fifth Avenue. This museum was a dedication to the culture and art of the Jewish people. A bit further away, two museums are standing close by each other. These are the Museum of the City of New York.

This museum covers all the history of New York as well as its neighbors. And the other is El Museo Del Barrio which is a museum of art collections. This museum is a dedication to Latina American, Caribbean, and Puerto Rican art.

Enjoy the Stunning Brooklyn

Brooklyn in downtown is increasingly becoming popular with both the locals and the visitors. To get there, take the following subways: R, Q, and B, which will get you to DeKalb Avenue. You can begin your tour at this point or at the intersection of Fulton St. and Flat Bush Avenue.

You can begin with window shopping while walking along the Fulton street and also the recently opened City point. This place comprises of shopping centers’, movie theatre among other exciting things. Another point is the alfresco pedestrian mall, which provides a fancy place to do the shopping and admire various items being sold by the numerous shops’ outlets.

Other amazing features that Brooklyn has to offer include the Montague Street tour. This location is filled with stunningly beautiful brownstones, chic café, and boutique shops to explore. But that’s not all; there is also Brooklyn Heights Promenade, which is also known as Picture perfect mesmerizing view of the Manhattan skyline.

Jane’s Carousel
Credit unsplash

Once you are through admiring band fantasizing over the Manhattan skyline, it’s time to head to the Brooklyn Bridge. In the north, the Promenade leads to Columbia Heights follow those routes to Old Fulton street via Everit Street, which is in the middle.

From here, you can get under the Brooklyn Bridge after crossing the old futon road. Keep walking until you get to Water Street. From this point, enjoy Jane’s Carousel ride as you move along the East River.

Brooklyn Bridge Tour

Crossing the iconic Brooklyn Bridge is a must for any visitor in NYC for the first time. It’s a fantastic walk as you pass through the long and gigantic bridge, which is suspended via cables. During its launch in 1883, it was the longest suspension bridge in the world. The bridge is characterized by towers with gothic architectural design. It was billed as a roadway to connect Brooklyn and Manhattan.

Brooklyn Bridge Tour
Credit pixabay

Once through with Brooklyn bridge exploration, you can refuel with a delicious pizza at Grimaldi’s in Front street just below the Brooklyn Bridge. Afterward, you can spare 45 minutes of your time for crossing the Brooklyn Bridge via the pedestrian walkway. Once you are through crossing the bridge to Manhattan, head to Ground Zero with two reflecting pools, the 9/11 Memorial and Museum, and take a pause. At this place, you will get the story about what took place during 9/11, which is accompanied by visuals and audio recordings.

Bronx Zoo

Finalize your self guided tour with a visit to the iconic Bronx Zoo. At this point, you can get close to nature. To get here, board the BxM11 express bus right from Madison Avenue in uptown directly to Bronx Zoo. The bus can be board from 32nd street as well as the 99th street. From Bronx Zoo, Little Italy is just a mile away. Therefore, you can combine these two visits on a single day.

Bronx Zoo
Credit flickr

Back to You

Which tour will you begin with once in New York City?


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4 Responses

  1. I like to visit different, big cities and take my time with them. I usually try to spend at least 10 days or even 2 weeks in a city so I can have a chance to see most of its attractions. And yes, I love to walk, to “feel” the city, its people, its atmosphere. Last time I was in New York, I took all the walking tours you mentioned. Can’t recommend them highly enough. Our guides shared a lot of information about each place and I found it a very rewarding experience. There are still a lot of things I haven’t yet seen in NY but I’ll get there on my next trips.

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