The NYC – Central Park & Upper East Side trek, a 4 miles self-guided tour to explore some of Central Park and get an idea of the Upper East Side, will take you about 2.5 hours of strolling and taking photos, much more if you visit the museums along the way.

You’ll be in nature for half of the time, see some of the most famous museums in the city, discover residential streets and end your trek along the East River (details and photos under the map).

Highlights: Dakota Building, Strawberry Fields, Bethesda Terrace, Loeb Boathouse, the Ramble, the Great Lawn, Cleopatra’s Needle, Glade Arch, the New York Society Library, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Neue Gallery, the National Academy Museum, the Guggenheim Museum, the Church of the Heavenly Rest, the Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum, Carnegie Hill Historic District, Gracie Mansion, Carl Schurz Park.

A: Your trek starts at the 72 St Metro Station on the Upper West Side.You’ll see the Gothic style Dakota building in front of you. It’s a very private and stylish residence for the rich and famous, even though not all are accepted when they apply. Ghosts are said to share the rooms with its inhabitants.

B: In any case, John Lennon used to live there and was assassinated in front of its entrance. That’s why, when you enter Central Park, you’ll soon find Strawberry Fields, a small area dedicated to his memory. You won’t miss it, many people have their picture taken in front of the “Imagine” mosaic.

C: Follow the path going down to find a kiosk and get a map of the park. You want to go to Bethesda Terrace with its magnificent interior walkway and its fountain facing the Lake. It’s the heart of Central Park and a very lively place to sit and look at all sort of people coming and going, or boating on the lake.

D: When you are tired of the crowd, find your way to the Loeb Boathouse. You can rent there a boat in season or have a drink in a charming place.

E: Next, go toward the Ramble. It’s an area of the park where you could easily get lost on the many paths there are, tucked in a dense forest. It’s where Central Park makes you believe you are in the countryside!

When the Belvedere Castle is open again, go and have a look. For now, find your way to Cleopatra’ s needle. It’s an obelisk coming directly from Egypt and erected behind the Metropolitan Museum of Art. You’ll also see there the Great Lawn, another feature of Central Park.

Your last foray in this area will allow you to either see from a distance a lovely stone bridge called Glade Arch, or go on it if you take the longer path.

In any case, you’ll soon end up on the 5th Avenue, in front of the E 79th St.

The mansion at the corner is a bookstore. Go inside, as well as at the New York Society Library a little bit further on E 79th St. This one is the oldest library in NYC. All the upper floors are reserved to members, but the 1st one is open to everyone.

F: Next, go back to the 5th Ave by any way you like, and turn left. You’ll soon see the Neue Gallery, a splendid building used as a museum for German and Austrian art. If you like the Expressionists, the Bauhaus and the art of the early 20th century, that’s the place to go.

A little further and for a more contemporary style, you’ll find the Guggenheim Museum. It’s easily recognizable with its daring architecture.  The exhibitions it hosts will also be daring, and always challenging. However, it will surely mean the end of your trek if you decide to see them now!

If not, next to it, the National Academy Museum is known for its 19th and 20th century American Art collection.

The large catholic church you’ll see after will give you a chance to sit and relax. It’s aptly called “the church of the Heavenly Rest”!

Finally, on the other side of E 90th St, you’ll see the Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum. It offers what’s best in historical or contemporary design. It’s also one of the three Smithsonian museum located out of Washington, DC. The Georgian Style mansion it occupies is in itself a splendid work of design.

G: Now, you’re in for a 30 minutes ‘walk in residential Upper East Side. You want to reach your next and final destination, the Gracie Mansion.

Nothing particular to see along the way; porters in front of private buildings, local shops in the main avenues, secluded courtyards here and there; the unmistakable New York fire escapes.

You’ll go through Carnegie Hill historical district, some rows of brownstone houses. You could  find a walking map of the area on the web, but you now must be a little tired by all the walking you did before! Keep its exploration for another time, coupled with the visit of a museum you hadn’t time to discover yet, for exemple.

At the end of E 87th St, you’ll find the Gracie Mansion. It’s the official residence of the Mayor of NYC. With a little planning, you’ll even be able to join a guided tour. If not, you’ll anyway have a splendid view of the East River from the Carl Schulz Park. It’s also a chance to see the Roosevelt Island lighthouse in front of you, and the Astoria neighborhood behind it.

It will be the end of this NYC Central Park & Upper East Side trek. You’ll have to take a bus (and possibly a metro) to go back to your starting point, there are no Metro station in the vicinity. Use an app like Citymappper to find your best options; make sure you take the bus on the right side of the road otherwise you’ll end up much further than you planned!

Good to know: you’ll easily find places to sit in the parks, and restrooms in Central Park and in the museums. Eating options will be plentiful too, and will vary depending on where you are.

Metro: 72 St on the A, C, B, or D lines (start) and  bus + metro (return)

Tips for the scout: they are welcome, see suggestions at the bottom of the page. Thanks in advance for your contribution!

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