Miss Traveling? This New York City
Walking Tour Will Help You See 3 Boroughs with Fresh Eyes
Travel may be complicated right now, but whether you’re a lifelong New Yorker or fresh to the five boroughs, right now is actually a wonderful moment to explore all of the great neighborhoods that make this place the spirited city that it is. We partnered with NYCgo to bring this story to life.
The very best part of the five boroughs experience
is the ceaseless pursuit of trying to see, do, and eat every exceptional thing New York City offers. Despite the challenges of this past year, that fact remains the same. Resilient businesses with revamped health and safety guidelines are open across the city, ready to welcome you.
NYC isn’t going anywhere.
No matter if you’re a visitor or have lived in NYC for years, one of the best ways to embrace the city is to chart a walking tour that allows you to take everything in at your own pace. See for yourself—here are just three of the many ways to plan a great day in Brooklyn, Queens, and Manhattan.
Explore the waterfront from Brooklyn Heights through DUMBO, all the way up to the Navy Yard.
Morning: Riverside walk
Fuel your first steps of the day with your favorite drink and a delicious pastry to-go from Kaigo Coffee Room at Brooklyn Bridge Park. Pier 6—a former industrial site that has been transformed into a beautifully designed park featuring playgrounds, walking paths, and expansive lawns and greenery—is just around the corner. Check it out before strolling along the Brooklyn Heights Promenade, snapping photos of the sweeping views of lower Manhattan and the harbor.
Walk inland to enjoy the “Fruit Streets,” where gaslit Federalist-era architecture defines the first neighborhood in the city to be protected by the Landmark Preservation Act of 1965. The area exudes charm, warmth, and an air of museum-quality preservation that has drawn New Yorkers to it for centuries. They included Truman Capote, who wrote some of his most famous works in his home at 70 Willow Street.
Midday: Pizza, shopping, and photo ops
Continue down the hill toward the waterfront for a classic NYC mid-tour meal: pizza. Juliana’s on Old Fulton represents a return to the neighborhood by legendary pizzaiolo Patsy Grimaldi, who sold his namesake pizzeria next door decades ago. Years later, he returned to the block that made him famous with his take on thin-crust pies from a wood-fired oven. Eat comfortably on site (outdoor seating and reduced-capacity indoor dining is available), or, if you’re caught up in the spirit of the walking tour, order your pie to-go and head to the water for a picnic on the East River.
For a post-pizza treat, Ample Hills Creamery is located in the old fire-boat house right on the pier. The locally founded ice cream company is famous for its customer-named flavors like “It Came From Gowanus” and “Ooey Gooey Butter Cake.”
With your cone in hand, pass under the bridge via Water Street and make your way toward DUMBO. The former industrial hub now is considered one of the city’s most sought-after neighborhoods, home to cozy local cafes, top-tier restaurants, and superb shopping.
If you need an afternoon boost, local coffee shop Butler is the move. Then walk with your coffee toward the corner of Washington and Water streets, a block that has unofficially been dubbed the most social-media-worthy in the Five Boroughs. The view is so beloved because the struts of the Manhattan Bridge frame the Empire State Building.
Safely snap some shots before walking on to Gleason’s Gym, one of the most famous boxing training facilities in America. Watch through the window as local amateurs and world-famous professionals train in the ring alongside each other.
Continuing down Water Street will bring you to the base of the Manhattan Bridge, where the Archway awaits. The cathedral-like thruway, 45 feet high, is a year-round home to art exhibitions, pop-up cafes, and—if you’re touring on a weekend—one of the city’s best flea markets. But don’t worry if your schedule doesn’t line up: Front General Store, a refined vintage clothing and home goods store, is one block away. Also nearby is Powerhouse Arena, one of the most celebrated independent bookstores and exhibit spaces in Brooklyn.
Resist the urge to spring on a new set of dining room chairs, because you won’t be able to carry them as you walk to the historic Vinegar Hill neighborhood, a quaint and relatively untouched residential area that doesn’t get name-checked as often as its famous neighbor. If you’re spent, Vinegar Hill House, a critically adored new American restaurant with a world-class wine list, is a great place to end your Brooklyn tour. But if you still have some pep in your step, continue on east to Brooklyn Navy Yard.
Evening: Galleries and rooftop wine
The former waterfront military complex has recently been transformed into a thriving industrial park. You’ll find art galleries, iconic outposts (think Russ & Daughters), coffee shops (hello Parlor Coffee Roasters!), and a thriving booze scene that includes Kings County Distillery, where the whiskeys and ryes made right on site have become coveted items in the spirits world, and Transmitter Brewing, which is best known for its Belgian brews, offers outdoor seating and tastings.
But your day did start with a view, so it might as well end with one, too. Enter Rooftop Reds, a functioning winery with a terrace perfect for social distancing atop the Navy Yard. The one-of-a-kind operation features wines made from grapes grown in its very own commercially viable urban rooftop vineyard, as well as blends made on site with grapes sourced from around New York State. If you’ve timed it just right, you’ll be able to toast to a day well spent as the sun sets against the skyline. Be sure to make reservations in advance—tickets are timed, and they sell out quickly.
A walking & biking tour from Astoria
down to Long Island City
Morning: Art stroll and shopping
Sometimes, getting off on the right foot involves four legs. That’s why Chateau Le Woof, Queens’ premier dog-friendly coffee shop and cafe, is a fantastic jump-off. Order up before taking a seat outside to enjoy the hordes of canine clientele that seem to enjoy this borough favorite as much as their owners do.
Walk directly across the street to the Socrates Sculpture Park, a waterfront space with rotating art exhibitions—sculptors work on pieces right on site. The serene space offers a unique combination of nature and artistry that makes it an oasis in the city. Creative appetite whetted, head down the block to the Noguchi Museum, a space that was designed by and celebrates the art of Japanese-American sculptor Isamu Noguchi. Just be sure to book ahead—entry is limited and tickets are timed.
Midday: Biking and baklava adventure
It’s time for lunch! Psari on 36th Avenue is a 25-minute walk from the Noguchi Museum, so shave some minutes by hopping on a Citibike. No need to delay enjoying some of the best Greek seafood available in Astoria (especially the grilled octopus). Dessert is next—bike over to family-owned bakery and neighborhood favorite Al-Sham Sweets for baklava, which is considered among the best in the city.
Get back on that bike—Al-Sham is northeast of Long Island City, your next destination. Navigate to quaint Rainey Park before making your way down to Queensbridge Park, where you’ll be treated to sweeping views of Roosevelt Island, midtown Manhattan, and the park’s namesake bridge, all of which make for underrated photo ops.
Your reward for biking this long stretch is your arrival in a neighborhood of spoils. Shopping is always an option: Eclectic boutique Matted LIC is great for affordable framed prints and gifts, and Just Things has vintage board games, barware, and everything in between. If you’re looking for some action, book time to climb at The Cliffs at LIC, a locally adored indoor rock-climbing gym that is welcoming back guests at a reduced capacity. You can also tap into your competitive side with a few frames at The Gutter, a retro-style bowling alley that is taking lane reservations for guests and serving food and drink both indoors and out. You should probably get a hot dog even if you don’t stay to bowl. Don’t forget your mask!
Otherwise, you can make use of the remaining daylight to wander Gantry Plaza State Park and Hunter’s Point South Park. Snap photos of the landmark Long Island City and Pepsi-Cola signs, or take a moment to rest and simply revel in the waterfront breeze and Midtown views.
Evening: Mini brewery tour and critically acclaimed dinner
No trip to Long Island City would be complete without visiting a few of the many local breweries helping to make the neighborhood the epicenter of New York’s beer scene. Sample beers and pick up growlers to-go from places on “brewery row” such as Fifth Hammer Brewing, which is known for super sours, barrel-aged beers, and unique takes on traditional styles; Rockaway Brewing, known for takes on traditional English styles, lagers, and Belgian classics; and the adventurous ICONYC Brewing, which produces contemporary and inventive beers brewed with nontraditional ingredients.
End your Queens adventure at the critically acclaimed traditional Mexican spot Casa Enrique, an award-winning cantina that specializes in refined takes on classic dishes. Toast to a day well spent with a dinner of tacos, enchiladas, and ceviche served alongside top-notch cocktails—thanks to available outdoor seating and reduced-capacity indoor dining.
The Lower East Side to Chinatown to the Financial District
Morning: Breakfast and a history lesson
Supermoon Bakehouse, which is known for eclectic takes on eclairs and cookies, savory danishes, and croissants, is perfect for a pre-departure treat and coffee, but Sugar Sweet Sunshine, a beloved local bakery that offers colorful cupcakes and puddings to-go, will also readily get the job done, albeit more decadently.
Head down Delancey Street to the Tenement Museum for a one-of-a-kind, socially distanced tour that focuses on different cultural themes and the immigrant experience in this ethnically diverse neighborhood over a century ago. Be sure to book your visit well in advance! Tours of the actual tenement aren’t happening right now, but the museum’s gift shop is open; the store is as thoughtfully curated as the museum itself, filled with the very best of New York-centric memorabilia including books, puzzles, prints, and locally made jewelry.
Midday: Food tour and shopping
After your Tenement Museum tour (most are only an hour), bop around the neighborhood collecting iconic Lower East Side to-go snacks: buns, sesame pancakes, and (of course) steamed and fried pork-and-chive dumplings at the famous Vanessa’s Dumpling House, hand-pulled spicy lamb noodles that will make your tongue tingle from Spicy Village, and a “grandma-style” slice from Scarr’s Pizza, a no-frills neighborhood favorite known for milling their own flour on site.
Once you’re full, browse some of the unique shops in the neighborhood before you continue your trek downtown. Stock up on stationery and bright pencils from around the world at CW Pencil Enterprise, and swing through Perrotin Bookstore, a Japanese transplant that carries obscure and classic art titles as well as prints, films, and gifts. See what’s on the racks at Assembly, a hip vintage shop featuring top designers and rare finds. You’re in one of the trendiest neighborhoods in the world, after all.
With your shopping bags in hand, head south until you hit Canal Street, then follow it west across the island into Chinatown, which even today maintains its position as one of the liveliest and most vibrant places anywhere in the Five Boroughs. Window-shop and peruse products at the local produce and seafood stands, and then tap into your whimsical side and get your aura photographed at Magic Jewelry. The small shop is famous for its feng shui masters, who decode the colorful energies that surround you in your picture, which are believed to show how you are feeling spiritually and physically. It’s one of NYC’s truly unique souvenirs.
Next up is a unique sweet treat at Chinatown Ice Cream Factory, which is known for flavors such as lychee, durian, zen butter, and black sesame. Build a colorful cone, then continue downtown to Doyers Street, which historically served as a “nerve center” for Chinatown. Busy restaurants (Nom Wah Tea Parlor, for one) and businesses keep this curved thruway as bustling as ever.
If you continue downtown on Bowery and veer onto Worth Street, you should pass the city’s courthouses before heading downtown on Centre Street, right past New York City Hall. The building might seem small and understated compared to those around it, but it’s also the oldest building in the country that still houses day-to-day government operations, completed in 1812 and used ever since. Now here’s where things get really historical: Your path will take you past St. Paul’s Chapel, where George Washington’s pew has been preserved, as well as Trinity Church, where Alexander Hamilton is buried. The winding, pre-city-planning streets of the Financial District make the area exciting to navigate by foot.
Evening: Drinks, dinner, and a backdrop
Enjoy a pre-dinner drink at The Dead Rabbit Grocery and Grog; what looks like an unassuming Irish pub housed in a historic Federalist-style building was actually named the best bar in the world in 2016. The bartenders here pride themselves on being able to fix a cocktail to anyone’s liking, but it’s also worth sampling some of the extensive Irish whiskey collection, which is the largest in North America.
Dinner is at Fraunces Tavern, one of the city’s oldest hospitality establishments. The place has so much history behind it that it has its own museum. The impressive menu features classic, exceptional tavern fare: think burgers, steaks, and chicken pot pie. Too much after that Lower East Side lunch? Lighter fare can be found around the corner at its sister bar, the Lovelace. Enjoy specialty cocktails, imported Irish craft beers, and oysters at tables on the cobblestones while live music floats through the air.
Cap off your evening with a post-dinner stroll through Battery Park—sweeping harbor views of the Statue of Liberty, Governors Island, and Ellis Island await. Take a seat on a bench near the water and relax, luxuriating in the serenity that somehow still manages to exist just steps away from what has always been, and is still, one of the busiest districts on the planet.
Make sure to follow up directly with any venue to confirm hours and protocols before you visit.