Midtown Manhattan Basics

Photo by Jeffrey Tanenhaus

An orientation tour of the highlights

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The bustling heart of New York City is Midtown Manhattan. Home to skyscrapers, Times Square, Broadway theaters and many hotels, Midtown hosts iconic attractions within walking distance. Let’s begin at Rockefeller Center, an attraction that bundles several impressive attractions into one complex that’s an easy walk far from Times Square.

The plaza at “Rock Center” teems with people in every season, and is especially beautiful and busy during the December holidays. The gilded statue Prometheus – the Greek God who stole fire from Zeus and gave it to humankind – keeps watch over ice skaters in winter.

Walk around the plaza towards Fifth Avenue and Saks Fifth Avenue department store. One block north is the sparkling white facade of St. Patrick’s Cathedral.

Head south down 5 Av to 42 St. New York Public Library is straight ahead and Bryant Park, a manicured green oasis, is behind it.

Walk east along 42 St towards Grand Central Terminal. The lower level of this magnificent train station is a good place for a casual lunch. Choices include the longstanding favorite Oyster Bar or local burger chain Shake Shack. For something sweet, stop by a branch of Junior’s Cheesecake or Magnolia Bakery.

Exit Grand Central through the delectable market on the east side. Across the street is the Chrysler Building where you can admire the Art Deco lobby during business hours.

Walk north on Lexington Av until 46 St. Turn west on 46th towards Park Av. Follow Park Av north along this tree-lined boulevard past the Waldorf-Astoria to 50 St and turn west to reach 5 Av. You’ll pass St. Patrick’s Cathedral and turn north onto Fifth Avenue.

If your feet need a rest, try Paley Park on 53 St just off 5 Av where a waterfall drowns out city sounds. Five sections of the Berlin Wall covered in West German graffiti add a vibrant touch to this mellow pocket park.

Back on 5 Av, shopping high points include Cartier, Tiffany’s and the Apple Store. The Plaza Hotel towers over the southeast corner of Central Park. To refuel, try The Plaza Food Hall in the basement of this storied hotel.

If you feel like exploring the park, follow East Drive around the Pond and Zoo and exit the park onto 59 St and go south down 7 Av. Otherwise, walk west along 59 St (Central Park South) to 7 Av and head south.

Pause outside Carnegie Hall, the House That Music Built at 57 St. Before the Carnegie Deli, famous for gigantic sandwiches, turn west across 55 St towards 6 Av for a photo stop with the Love Sculpture. If modern art inspires you, MoMA is around the corner on 53 St.

Further south down 6 Av, the lights of Radio City Music Hall invite visitors to Rockefeller Center. Get a bird’s eye view of the route you’ve just completed at Top of the Rock before ending the tour with something sweet from Magnolia Bakery.


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