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A view of the Manhattan skyline and Central Park.
Photograph: Courtesy of Shutterstock by contributor Ingus Kruklitis

Here’s how to do a DIY walking tour of Manhattan, from top to bottom

Up for a challenge? Here’s a guide and a map to try this DIY walking tour yourself.

Rossilynne Skena Culgan
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Rossilynne Skena Culgan
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“Today, we are walking from the tippity top of Manhattan to the tippity bottom of Manhattan,” one of the characters declares on the beloved New York City-set show Broad City. So we wanted to know what it would be like to indeed walk from the tippity top to the tippity bottom of Manhattan.

Turns out, it’s about a 14-mile (almost 15-mile) journey through multiple neighborhoods, all of Central Park, and through layers of Manhattan history. We created a guide on exactly how to embark on this epic adventure yourself and a map with key points on the walk.

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A map showing points along the walking tour.
Photograph: Map from Google MyMaps | From way Uptown to way Downtown.

This trek has been dubbed The Broad City Challenge, but the journey has been popular for a while, even finding its way into a film. On Broad City, Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer’s journey holds wisdom for all of us: Bring water, embrace an athleisure look, and wear comfortable sneakers—no platform shoes! 

We’ve got more tips at the bottom just below our step-by-step guide, so let’s go:

A sign reading Dyckman Street at the subway station.
Photograph: By Rossilynne Culgan | The journey begins.

1. Dyckman Street station 

Save your energy by taking the subway to your first stop at Dyckman Street Station. Technically, Manhattan extends a bit further north than Dyckman, but that’s where the Broad City gals started, so that’s where we started, too.

Get ready for about an hour’s walk after you get off the train. You’ll head down Broadway past Fort Tryon Park, a bunch of low-rise brick apartment buildings, many buzzing businesses with signs in Spanish, and some stunning street art. The terrain is hilly up here, so be prepared for your calves to feel it. 

About halfway to your next stop, you’ll see the GWB Market, part of the George Washington Bridge Bus Station, just past the George Washington Bridge. This behemoth mid-century showpiece was designed in 1963 by Italian architect and engineer Pier Luigi Nervi, The Curious Uptowner explained, calling it “a visual jolt of soaring lines and bold geometric patterns made from reinforced concrete.” In addition to its architectural splendor, it’s also a good stop for a bathroom break if you need one. 

Though we’ll be using Broadway for much of the journey, after 169th, bear east off of Broadway onto Saint Nicholas Avenue then turn onto 160th to get to Morris-Jumel Mansion. 

The exterior the Morris-Jumel Mansion.
Photograph: By Rossilynne Culgan | Dating back to 1765.

2. Morris-Jumel Mansion

As Abbi says in the show, “this has just been here the whole time?!” It’s a fitting reaction to this fascinating relic. 

The white clapboard house is one of the nation’s foremost historic house museums and Manhattan’s oldest surviving residence dating back to 1765. The home served as the headquarters for General George Washington as well as the British military and Hessian troops during the American Revolution. Tours are offered Friday-Sunday if you’re visiting on a weekend.

For even more history, take a peek at the row of houses next to the museum on Sylvan Terrace. These 20 wooden townhouses date back to 1882, and walking along the street feels like being transported to another time and another place. The homes were designed by architect Gilbert Robinson Jr. as part of one of the first residential projects in the area, which was at that time mostly farmland, Untapped Cities reported.

The exterior of the Apollo Theater.
Photograph: By Rossilynne Culgan | A beacon for the arts.

3. Apollo Theater

Continue walking south along Saint Nicholas Avenue where you might be able to catch a glimpse of the supertalls at Columbus Circle if you glance up at just the right time. If you’re feeling daunted at this point, that’s OK. You’ve already covered a lot of ground, and a lunch break is coming up soon. 

Soon, you’ll turn onto 125th Street (aka Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard), home to Harlem’s famed Apollo Theater. Dating back to its opening in 1913, the Apollo has played a major role in the emergence of jazz, swing, bebop, R&B, gospel, blues, and soul. The Apollo continues today with its mission as a beacon for the arts in America. Stop by for a photo with the legendary marquee and plan a day to come back when you have time for a tour

The exterior of Red Rooster in Harlem.
Photograph: Paul Wagtouicz | Red Rooster in Harlem.

4. Red Rooster

Continue along 125th to take a lunch break at Red Rooster, Marcus Samuelsson’s Harlem bistro with entrees like the Lenox smash burger, crispy bird sandwich, and pan-fried catfish. As our Time Out reviewer put it, “All of this food is as relaxed as the setting itself: breezy and cheerful. The sprawling space is inviting and buzzy, the definitive place to be north of 110th Street.” 

Ilana and Abbi eat here during their tour, too, and of course, take copious photos. Shortly after this point in their journey, our friends from Broad City fall into a manhole (true NYC nightmare) and end up in Midtown, so we’ll fill in the gaps on our own.  

The interior of the Hungarian Pastry Shop with its menu visible and a sign reading "expect a miracle today."
Photograph: By Rossilynne Culgan | Take a break for a sweet treat.

5. Hungarian Pastry Shop 

It’s time for dessert, and the Hungarian Pastry Shop is worth the teeny tiny detour. Head west on 125th to Amsterdam Avenue, and then walk down to 111th where you’ll find this haven for baked goods. 

Order the eclair, and be sure to savor this creamy, chocolatey piece of divinity. Also take a moment to look around and know that the next great American novel just might be underway on someone’s notebook or laptop in the cafe, as it’s a beacon for the city’s literari. Here are 10 books written at The Hungarian Pastry Shop to add to your list.

Finally, order a to-go hot or cold drink (depending on the weather) and head east on 110th to Central Park, admiring The Cathedral of St. John the Divine—one of the largest churches in the world—on your way.

A path in Central Park with leafy green trees.
Photograph: By Rossilynne Culgan | A leafy respite.

6. Central Park 

We’ll get back to Broadway soon enough, but for now, head through Central Park from the North Woods down to Columbus Circle. It’s easiest to stay on West Drive the whole time, which will wind past the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir, the Delacorte Theater, Strawberry Fields, and Sheep Meadow. 

Whenever you need to, grab a park bench to take a break and soak up the splendor of this respite in the heart of the city. Just a note that there are plenty of bathrooms in the park (the ones by Tavern on the Green are typically the tidiest in my experience). 

Columbus Monument
Photograph: Gregory J. Peterson | Pass through Columbus Circle to Broadway

7. Columbus Circle

Exit the park through Columbus Circle and get back onto Broadway, which we’ll take all the way to the end. If you’re starting to get jealous of everyone on a bike or electric scooter, same.

A view of Times Square.
Photograph: By Rossilynne Culgan | You'll only be in Times Square for a short time.

8. Times Square 

I know, I know, I’m sorry this route takes you through Times Square, but it really is the most direct path. Try to make the best of it (I saw a guy dancing on a scooter much to the delight of tourists in one of those The Ride buses with the giant windows). I’m going to warn you: The temptation to stop at the Times Square Krispy Kreme at this point will be strong.

The storefront of the Macy's at Herald Square with a sign reading The World's Largest Store.
Photograph: By Rossilynne Culgan | There's no time for shopping 'til you drop on this journey.

9. Herald Square

Breeze through this cute parklet and wave hello to this massive Macy’s. 

A view of the Flatiron Building.
Photograph: By Rossilynne Culgan | Still pretty even under scaffolding.

10. The Flatiron Building

Continue on Broadway to the Flatiron District, home to the triangular stunner called the Flatiron Building. Even though it’s still under scaffolding, this architectural wonder is a sight to behold.

Across from the Flatiron, you’ll find Eataly, the Italian market that’s always worth a quick stop for a sweet treat or a snack. P.S. This is another convenient bathroom stop if you need one.

Union Square with farmers' market tents.
Photograph: By Rossilynne Culgan | There's nothing quite like Union Square on a Greenmarket day.

11. Union Square

If you can, try to plan your trip on a Greenmarket Day where you can immerse yourself in the sights and smells of this beloved farmers’ market in historic Union Square. 

If you’re not too tired by this point, see if you can find Union Square’s Temperance fountain. During the Temperance movement, these fountains tried to encourage Americans to drink water, rather than booze. Here’s a tip from Ephemeral New York on where to find it.

P.S. It seems like from here, our Broad City counterparts headed further east to go for a boozy (and hilarious) meal at Russ & Daughters, so go for that if you have time! But we stayed on Broadway to continue on the most direct route. 

A sculpture by Mark di Suvero in Zuccotti Park.
Photograph: By Rossilynne Culgan | Stop by to see the public art in Zuccotti Park.

12. Zuccotti Park 

Stay on Broadway all the way to Zuccotti Park, passing through Soho along the way where you’ll notice everyone’s outfits get about 10 times cooler. You’ll also notice that we’re out of numbered streets territory and that means the finish line is approaching. 

Once you make it to the park, don’t miss the 70-foot-tall red sculpture called Joie de Vivre by Mark di Suvero. Also take a moment to glance around at the buildings, noticing how the scenery has changed from the low-rise brick buildings of Upper Manhattan to the glossy glass skyrises of Lower Manhattan.

The Wall Street bull with a line of people.
Photograph: By Rossilynne Culgan | Hi bull, bye bull.

13. The Charging Bull

You’ll walk right past the Wall Street bull, but at this point, you’re probably not going to want to stop for a photo because you’re so close! Maybe just walking past it will provide some luck to finish the course.

A view of the Statue of Liberty from Battery Park.
Photograph: By Rossilynne Culgan | Made it!

14. The Battery and Statue of Liberty Viewpoint

Once you see Lady Liberty, you know you’ve made it. Congratulations! Now, snap a sweaty selfie, treat yourself to a cab back home, get some rest, and revel in the accomplishment and fun of the journey. 

Colorful street art reading "spread love" and "do the right thing."
Photograph: By Rossilynne Culgan | Art along the way.

A few more tips

  • Check the weather before you go to make sure you'll be comfortable on the journey.
  • Pack light. Bring a small bag (ideally something hands-free, like a belt bag) for just the essentials. For me, the essentials included my phone, a portable phone charger, a small wallet, and a water bottle I strapped onto the bag.
  • Start in the morning, so you have time for a lunch break and can wrap up before dinnertime. How long the walk takes will, of course, depend on your speed and how long you take for breaks. My journey ended up at about 5 hours, 30 minutes including a few short stops.
  • Immerse yourself in the sounds of the city. While I’m usually listening to a podcast or music while I walk, on this journey, I left my AirPods in their case and opted for the sounds of people raking leaves in a park, Beyonce’s “Break My Soul” blaring from a passing car, and overheard bits of conversation. 
  • Take plenty of breaks, but don’t take off your shoes on those breaks or you’ll never want to lace them up again. 
  • Plan your walk strategically on a day when you don’t have many other errands to run or other walking to do. I neglected to do this and ended up accidentally walking 25 miles in total on the day of my trek—oops. 
  • Just keep walking: When it gets hard—and it will—I repeated “just keep walking” in my mind, a remix of the Finding Nemo “just keep swimming” advice. 
  • Be open to surprises. I saw some impressive art, ate some delicious food, and helped a few other travelers navigate their journey. I also saw a person gently cradling an actual reptile in line at the bakery and later saw another person skillfully feeding dozens of pigeons in Central Park. Ah, New York. You never know what you’ll find, and that’s exactly what makes this bucket list trek such a gem. 

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