The Best of Midtown
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- Technical DifficultyThis is the average user-submitted rating on the technical difficulty of this route. In general, green is beginner, blue is intermediate, black is advanced/most difficult and double-black is expert-only. It is recommended that users build up to black and double-black routes.
A walk in Midtown Manhattan is a wonderful way to explore some highlights of NYC. Midtown is the area between 34th street and 59th street in Manhattan and home to many of NYC’s most iconic buildings. This walk takes you through all the New York City biggies – from the theaters of Broadway to the bright lights of Times Square, up to the iconic Grand Central Terminal and over to the world-famous Rockefeller Center, Radio City Music Hall and beyond. Pack some water and prepare for sensory overload!
View The Best of Midtown on Map
- Map Data: ©OpenStreetMap
- Tiles: ©CyclOSM
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Route Description for The Best of Midtown
Begin this walking route at Columbus Circle (subway station 59th Street - Columbus Circle Station serving lines A, C, B and D). Head into Central Park, passing the USS Maine National Monument on your right-hand side. Continue on the path straight ahead for about 100 meters, crossing over West Drive and following the direction towards the Heckscher Playground.
When you reach the playground, spend some time relaxing on the grass here, or take the path to the right, Central Park Driveway to exit the park. We just wanted to give a little taste of Central Park. For a more complete tour check out our Central Park Walk.
Exit the park on West 59th Street at the intersection of 7th Avenue. Head straight down 7th Avenue. Make sure to look up and around at the eclectic mix of historic and modern architecture. After about 150 m, the world-famous Carnegie Hall will be on your left-hand side. Designed and built in 1891, this is one of the most prestigious music venues anywhere on the globe, featuring a variety of classic and popular live concerts on one of its three stages throughout the year. You’re allowed to enter the main entrance building even without a concert ticket – something we definitely recommend (that is, if you’re not planning to check out a show!)
Take a left when exiting Carnegie Hall to continue on 7th Avenue. After about 75 m, take a right onto West 55th Street. After about 50 m, take your first left onto Broadway. You’ve now entered the heart of the theater district. If you can, we definitely recommend checking out a Broadway show at one of the many venues that flank the sides of the street.
This is also where many famous shows are filmed, such as the Ed Sullivan Theatre on your right-hand side, and you may even spot some celebrities! Continue following Broadway for about 600 m. Make sure to take your time here, you’re in the epicenter of many things New York City is famous for.
Between 50th and 51st Street you’ll find the iconic Stardust Diner, famous for its singing wait staff. It’s pricey but expected for a restaurant in this neighborhood. On the corner of 49th Street you’ll find Hersey’s Chocolate World. Pop in here for something sweet or continue on as you’re about to approach Times Square.
When you arrive at Times Square, take a few moments to soak it all in (and try not to be blinded by the millions of bright lights accosting your senses in every direction). This is one of the world’s most visited tourist sites, with roughly 50 million people passing on the great white way each year. This section of Broadway was originally given this nickname because it was one of the first streets in NYC to be lit with electric light, and it sticks around today as it continues to be one of the brightest! There’s a lot to do here, whether it be ogling “celebrities” at Madame Tussaud’s, grabbing a bite to eat at the more than 100 restaurants, including 30 on Restaurant Row (46th Street between 8th and 9th Avenues), popping into Midtown Comics, the largest comic book store in the US, or catching a Broadway Show.
One of our favorite activities is simply just to people watch. You’ll definitely find some characters – from the Naked Cowboy (a man wearing a cowboy hat and underpants who plays the guitar) to the various other superheroes, sesame street characters or other entertainers that wander the area. Father Duffy Square is probably the best place to do this. This oddly shaped island between 45th and 47th Streets is also home to the TKTS discount ticket booth, where you can find same day theater tickets for up to 50% off.
When you’ve overloaded your senses to the max, continue along Broadway towards West 44th Street away from Times Square. After about 250 meters, take a left onto West 42nd Street. Continue on West 42nd for about 150 m until Bryant Park is on your left. Enter the park here, enjoying the welcome peace and tranquility after the vibrating energy of Times Square.
At the southwest corner of the park (the opposite side from where you entered) will be the New York Public Library Stephen A. Schwarzman Building. This is the main branch of the New York Public Library system. The building was opened in 1911 and features an immense collection of material. A highlight is the Rose Main Reading Room – complete with massive windows, stunning chandeliers and thousands upon thousands of reference material lining its shelves. If you have time, try to walk around here for a few minutes.
Exit the park and remain on West 42nd in the same direction you were going before heading towards 5th Avenue. Continue on West 42nd for another 200 m. Soon, Grand Central Terminal will be on your left. If you haven’t already visited here on the Grand Central, Empire State and Greenwich Village Walk make sure to go inside.
Simply referred to as Grand Central, this train station has 44 platforms – more than any other rail station in the world – serving millions of passengers each year. Begin in the Main Concourse. This is the center of the station, boasting of an impressive area of 84 m long, 37 m wide and 38 m high. In the center of the concourse is the four-faced brass clock at the central information booth (worth an estimated $10 million). Find a spot out of the way to stand and spend a moment just looking. At eye level, you’ll immediately be greeted with a buzz – the hustle and bustle of daily commuters, tourists snapping photos, chattering amongst themselves in languages from all over the globe.
Straight up you’ll see the famous astronomical ceiling. First designed in 1912, it was so dirty from tar and nicotine by the 1980s all you could see was black. The original design was finally revealed again in 1996 after a 12-year restoration. They left a small dark patch untouched as a reminder of what the ceiling once looked like, which you can still see in the northwest corner today.
From here, head to the famous New York Public Library Stephen A. Schwarzman Building. Just outside you’ll find a vaulted hallway covered in Guastavino tile. If you stand in one corner and whisper something, the person in the opposite corner can hear you perfectly. This is just one of Grand Central’s many secrets!
Exit Grand Central where you entered, and head back up East 42nd Street the same way you came from. Take your first right on Vanderbilt Avenue. Follow Vanderbilt for about 300 meters, taking a right onto East 46th Street and then a left onto Park Avenue. Stay on Park for about 200 m, and take a left onto East 50th Street. This area has some of the most impressive skyscrapers, and is home to big-wig companies such as J.P. Morgan.
Continue on East 50th Street for about 100 m. On your right-hand side will be the St. Patrick’s Cathedral. This historic Neo-Gothic-style cathedral was completed over a period of nearly 70 years, beginning in 1858. It underwent a heavy restoration in 2015. The interior features stunning stained-glass windows, two pipe organs, an ornate façade and impressive artworks. Definitely pay a quick visit inside.
Exit the cathedral and continue on East 50th Street until you run into Rockefeller Center. The famous ice-skating rink will be on your left-hand side. Stop here for a few minutes or head up to the Top of the Rock – a six story observation deck first opened to the public in 1933 at the top of the Art Deco skyscraper at 30 Rockefeller Plaza located next to NBC Studios.
Exit left onto 50th Street, continuing down it until you run into 6th Avenue. After about 50 m you’ll see Radio City Music Hall on your left-hand side. Nicknamed the Showcase of the Nation, this is also the home of the famous Rockettes.
Take a right onto 6th Avenue, and follow this street for about 250 m. Take a right onto West 53rd Street. After about 50 m, the Museum of Modern Art will be on your left-hand side. This museum holds one of the largest and most influential collections of modern art throughout the world including architecture and design, drawing, painting, sculpture, photography, prints, film and more. Check out the museum if you wish. We definitely recommend visiting the Design Store inside the museum (it’s free to enter here). This isn’t your average gift shop. There are tons of unique housewares, books and gadgets designed with a unique element that is distinctively MoMa.
Continue on East 53rd Street for another block until you run into 5th Avenue. Here we end our walk.
Insider Hints for The Best of Midtown
- This route takes you through all the big tourist spots – keep an eye out for pickpockets.
- We didn’t list many specific places to eat here, but you’ll find hundreds (if not thousands) of restaurants and eateries along the route.
- You can get discounted same day Broadway Theater tickets at the TKTS discount ticket booth, but try to get there early.
Getting to the The Best of Midtown Trailhead
Begin this route at Columbus Circle (subway station 59th Street - Columbus Circle Station serving lines A, C, B and D).
The Best of Midtown Elevation Graph
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The Best of Midtown Reviews
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