Day Trip: Manhattan's Lower West

As you may or may not have noticed, I was in NYC last week enjoying some brief R&R with my wife (am I the only person who considers NYC rest and relaxation??). We spent the weekend stumbling our way around Manhattan and Brooklyn, enjoying some of the obvious tourist destinations and avoiding others. While it may seem impossible, or even ridiculous, to plan a day trip to a place where there's easily a year's worth of things to do, I've created this simple walking tour that combines a few of my favorite things about a city with everything.

In order to get away from the hordes of tourists and experience a bit of the quintessential New York, complete with brownstones and little neighborhood shops and restaurants, I've assembled a walking tour of bits of several neighborhoods, including Chelsea, the Meatpacking District, the West Village and Greenwich Village.

Beginning at the Chelsea Market, you might as well skip meals for a few days before you start this trip. Filling the entire city block between 9th and 10th Avenues and 15th and 16th streets, the market is packed with amazing food vendors and restaurants. We started our day with sticky buns from Amy's Bakery and cappuccinos from 9th Street Espresso, working off the sugar/caffeine buzz on the walk that follows.

Leaving the Chelsea Market on the 10th Avenue side of the building, you can now enter the Highline on the corner of 10th and 16th. A former elevated train railway, the Highline has been repurposed as an urban park that currently stretches from Gansevoort Street to 20th Street, with plans to extend it all the way to 30th. Enjoy the views for yourself by walking south among the natural plantings and urban landscapes until exiting at Gansevoort St.

After leaving the Highline, continue to follow the map below by heading east along Gansevoort until it's end at 13th Street. Make a right on 13th, and another right on 8th Avenue, which you'll follow until you reach Bleecker Street. Along Bleecker, you'll get a sense of what the West Village has to offer, with a plethora of shops ranging from antiques to clothing to music, you can get your fill of shopping in a quaint neighborhood setting. Next you'll make a right on Grove, a left on Hudson, and a right on Barrow, which you'll take to the Hudson River, following the water south for one block to Morton, where you'll make a left to return to the tree-lined streets
of the Village. Among the brownstones and cobblestone streets, you can almost picture walking along with the Cosbys or Carrie Bradshaw, depending on your television preferences.

Continuing our tour on Morton, you will head east to Hudson, where you'll make a right, followed by a left on Leroy St. and another left on Bedford. Making a right on Morton again, you'll reach a row of restaurants and shops that line Bleecker Street, where between 6th and 7th, you'll find a gem among the many restaurants in John's Pizzeria. A New York institution, John's has been in business since 1929, and since 1935 in the same location. With graffiti-inscribed booths and a tile-covered coal-fired brick oven, you know the pizza will be amazing. Fill a bowl with their sauce and eat it with a spoon amazing. Trust me, don't skip this stop unless you somehow dislike amazing NY-style pizza. Or lack a soul.

Walking south on Bleecker to Cornelia, take a left and then head right on West 4th Street into Washington Square Park. Filled with NYU students on their way to class, old men arguing over chess, nannies walking their collective children and hipsters on fixies, take a seat at an open bench and enjoy the people watching in all its New York glory.

And thus concludes the TBP walking tour of Manhattan's Lower West, feel free to download and print the map below (red denotes the Highline route, and green marks the street-level walking route). All in all, the tour takes up a few hours, depending on your pace and shopping tendencies. If you're feeling adventurous, or have a full day to kill, continue to head east from Washington Square Park and make a right on Broadway. Head south into SoHo from there, where you'll find about ten straight blocks of all the shopping you can handle (including a couple of my favorites, MUJI and Dean & Deluca). So the next time you have half a day to kill between connecting flights at LaGuardia, or want to skip out on a mind-numbing convention, consider a stroll through the winding, quiet (for NY) streets of the West Village.

1 comment:

Natalie Schaefer said...

nice walk! i'll have to keep it my my back pocket for my next visit.