Exploring New York City on foot
In a city so electric, sometimes it's best to slow down and take it all in. Travel writer Alexandra Carroll describes the perfect day wandering around the neighbourhoods of New York.
New York is a city like no other. Making countless cameos in literature and film, art and drama, it’s captured the hearts and minds of many – but for some, it can seem a daunting destination.
Breaking it down by the borough, author and travel lover Alexandra Carroll’s beautiful new book is the ultimate wanderers' guide to this captivating city. In New York: An inspired wander through the Manhattan and Brooklyn Boroughs, Alexandra takes us along for the ride, from the dazzling lights of Broadway to the timeless brownstones of Brooklyn.
What is it about New York City that resonates so strongly with you?
Its creative energy and elegance. New York is the pinnacle city for the pursuit of excellence – you can see it in the architecture, the design, the restaurants, the museums and the retail scene. New York offers up unpredictability and almost limitless possibilities. One minute you might be at an opening at MoMA, the next a secret bar in NoHo. It’s endlessly exciting and seductive!
For this book, I wanted to give the aesthetically-minded wanderer crib sheets to neighbourhoods which would open up the city, beyond the Big Apple clichés and well known tourist attractions. A great boutique such as Dear: Rivington+ in NoHo (a favourite with fashion insiders) or the bookstore Three Lives and Company in the West Village (a mainstay of the community) pulls the city into close up, which is a good counterpoint to the colossal splendour of the Met and the view from the Empire State.
"New York offers up unpredictability and almost limitless possibilities. One minute you might be at an opening at MoMA, the next a secret bar in NoHo."
Why do you love exploring the city by foot?
New York can become a sensory overload quite quickly if you don’t find a way to vary the tempo. As I’ve said in the book, it’s less about what time of year to go (though perhaps avoid August when it’s stinking hot and February when it’s freezing), than how to vary your day to day experience.
The neighbourhoods really are distinct, with their own sensibilities and spirits. And I’m a flaneur by nature. I prefer to travel on foot with lots of stops for coffee, a pastry, a glass of wine.
Describe your perfect day in NYC…
Breakfast at Balthazar, a wander around the Cast Iron Historic District in SoHo, before heading to Lafayette Street and Elizabeth Street in NoLita. Here you’ll find some of the best boutiques and vintage clothing in the city.
I’d then wander past University Place and Washington Square Park over to Bleecker Street. The streets of the West Village such as Charles, Barrow and Bedford are charming, graceful and in the middle of a weekday, pretty quiet (wandering around here always triggers houselust – those brownstones are classic NYC).
Then I’d wander west to the Meatpacking District, visit the new Whitney at the end of the High Line. I’d then walk the High Line up to about West 26th Street and descend. Below is the art gallery district. On a Thursday night in autumn and spring they have openings. Otherwise I might try to visit the Rubin Museum of Art nearby (excellent Himalayan art).
For dinner I’d try and get a table at Babbo in Greenwich Village and order their pasta tasting menu with matching wines. After rolling out of there, I’d have a night cap at the Marlton Hotel where I’d be staying!
New York: An inspired wander through the Manhattan and Brooklyn Boroughs by Alexandra Carroll is available now from Pan Macmillan Australia.
Ready to jump on a plane? Take a wander through hip neighbourhoods NoLita and NoHo in our extract from Alexandra's book.