Times Square to Central Park, New York

Times Square to Central Park (Self Guided), New York

A leisurely self-guided stroll from Times Square to Central Park will take you to some of NYC’s prominent locations, each worth visiting in their own right.

At 49th Street, Fifth Avenue lives up to its lofty reputation with the Rockefeller Center, one of the world’s biggest business and entertainment complexes, and a triumph of Art Deco architecture. Like the neighboring Times Square, the adjoining plaza is one of the must-visit spots on the journey, but slightly less crowded and particularly awesome during the winter (Nov–Jan), when the skating rink and Christmas tree are set up for the holidays. A great place for photo ops in other seasons, too!

Next on the way are two Gothic masterpieces which stand almost opposite each other – St. Patrick's Cathedral and St. Thomas' Episcopal Church, followed by the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), which houses almost 200,000 artworks ranging from Post-Impressionist classics to an unrivaled collection of modern & contemporary art. A large expansion and comprehensive renovation has made the famous museum a gigantic affair where you can explore each floor as a coherent loop before heading on to other floors via central staircases or elevators.

After a while inside the MoMA, proceed to the Gapstow Bridge toward the Central Park’s main promenade – the Mall, where artists and vendors gather. When you reach the end of it, walk around the Bethesda Terrace whose grand fountain dates as far back as 1859. Whether you’re visiting Central Park for the first time or the umpteenth-time, this classy place with superb views should always be a must-stop!

Take this self-guided walk to soak in Midtown Manhattan’s architecture, ending with the many hidden gems of Central Park at your fingertips!
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Times Square to Central Park Map

Guide Name: Times Square to Central Park
Guide Location: USA » New York (See other walking tours in New York)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 7
Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.2 Km or 2 Miles
Author: gabriela
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • Times Square
  • Rockefeller Center
  • St. Patrick's Cathedral
  • Saint Thomas Church
  • Museum of Modern Art (MoMA)
  • Gapstow Bridge and The Pond
  • Bethesda Terrace
Times Square

1) Times Square (must see)

Times Square is a major commercial intersection at the junction of Broadway and 7th Avenue in Manhattan, stretching from West 42nd to West 47th Streets. Broadway theaters and a huge number of animated neon and LED signs have long made this spot one of New York's iconic images, and a symbol of the intensely urban aspects of Manhattan. Times Square is the only neighborhood with zoning ordinances requiring building owners to display illuminated signs. The density of illuminated signs in Times Square now rivals that of Las Vegas. Officially, signs in Times Square are called "spectaculars", and the largest of them are called "jumbotrons." Times Square is also the site of the annual New Year's Eve ball drop. On December 31, 1907, a ball signifying New Year's Day was dropped in Times Square for the first time, and has become part of the main New Year's celebration in New York City ever since.

Times Square's shopping scene is quite enticing and won't leave you penniless thanks to the abundance of low- to medium-priced stores specialized in clothing, shoes, beauty and fragrances. For women, the best place to start their Times Square shopping trip is the stretch on Broadway Avenue between 42nd and 48th Streets with places like Loft, H&M, The Gap, Old Navy, and Levi's. The latter four also carry men's attire, plus there are some designated menswear stores, like Champs, U.S. Polo Association, and Men's Warehouse.

Nothing livens up an outfit like the right makeup, so if you are looking for makeup or beauty buys, here are some of the options – Sephora, Mac Cosmetics, Sabon. If jewelry is a girl's best friend, then accessories are her constant companion; accessories and jewelry stores in Times Square include Sunglass Hut, Swatch, Swarovski, and Pandora. If you seek to buy watches in Times Square, check out Fossil and Invicta. Shopping with kids in Time Square can be fun if done at Disney Store, Forever 21, Hershey's or M&M. For yummy treats, check out Carlos Bakery, Junior's, Magnolia Bakery or Ben & Jerry's. Plus there are a few specialty outlets like The W Store and Yankees Clubhouse.

Why You Should Visit:
If you like the buzz of the city that never sleeps, then this is your place. Lots of people, neon signs, video screens; open 24/7.
Broadway shows in the theater district and Restaurant Row on 47th Street make Times Square a great hub to go for adventures.
Times Square is a mid-price shopping mecca with plenty of budget-friendly stores for women, men and kids!

With so many people in a small space, watch your valuables!
Sight description based on Wikipedia.
Rockefeller Center

2) Rockefeller Center (must see)

This large complex of commercial buildings between 5th and 7th Avenues in New York is often described as a city within a city because of its unique design. All the buildings of Rockefeller Center have a common plan and are linked by an underground concourse, called The Catacombs.

This network of underground passageways houses numerous retailers and stores, and as such, is an attraction in its own right – both convenient and entertaining. With more than a 100 unique stores, quick bites and fine dining options (the popular spots include Blue Bottle Coffee Co., Blue Ribbon Sushi, Jacques Torres Chocolate, Eddie's Shoe Repair, USPS and more), Rockefeller Center is a premier shopping destination in the heart of Midtown Manhattan with countless ways to wander and explore, whether you crave a pick-me-up, need an ATM, or simply want to hide from the rain. From designer apparel to NYC souvenirs, everything can be found here, just steps from Rockefeller Plaza.

The venue emerged in the 1920s when D. Rockefeller Jr. leased this site to build a new structure for the New York Metropolitan Opera. After the Great Depression, however, the Metropolitan Opera abandoned plans for relocation and Rockefeller changed the design to make it suitable for housing radio and television corporations. The first building to be completed was the headquarters of the Radio Corporation of America, RCA. It has an observation deck with spectacular views of Central Park and Empire State Building. The style was similar to that of a ship with deck chairs and ventilation pipes shaped like chimneys. It was completely remodeled in 2005 and reopened as a new art deco style deck, called the Top of the Rock. The Christmas tree lighting ceremony held here every year since 1933 marks the beginning of the festival season in New York.

Guided tours take visitors around the complex and through the many art deco interiors, frescoes and sculpture that adorn its interiors and exterior.

Why You Should Visit:
This place is full of energy with laser lights and has the biggest Xmas tree in NYC during the holidays. There's also a wonderful food court inside with a great selection of various cuisines.
The view from Top of the Rock is great with 360-degree vistas. Nice views of Central Park and many famous buildings, too.

If you're going up to the Top of the Rock, book your ticket online to avoid the lines.
Alternately, you can save the price of the observation deck and grab a cocktail at the Top of the Rock (it's on the 65th floor and has spectacular city views).

Opening Hours:
Daily: 8am-12am
Sight description based on Wikipedia.
St. Patrick's Cathedral

3) St. Patrick's Cathedral (must see)

St. Patrick’s Cathedral is the seat of the Roman Catholic Archbishop of New York. Built of brick and clad in white marble, this is the largest Gothic style temple in the country. Centrally located – directly opposite the Rockefeller Center, it receives annually over 3 million visitors.

The current structure replaces an old St. Patrick’s Cathedral and is now used as a parish church. The Archdiocese of New York was created by Pope Pius IX in 1850. American architect James Renwick designed the building, as the seat of the Archbishop, in decorated geometric ecclesiastic Gothic style, popular in Europe between 1275 and 1400. Construction began in 1858 but stopped during the Civil War. Works resumed in 1865, seeing the cathedral completed in 1878 and dedicated in 1879. It has stained glass windows from France and England, as well as the Great Rose Window – the finest work of American stained glass artist Charles Connick, and three magnificent organs.

The cathedral holds daily masses so you can take the opportunity to go inside and admire the interior or just enjoy the peacefulness – either way you won't be disappointed. There is a gift shop selling books and religious items and visitors can check the schedule to attend one of the organ concerts frequently performed at the Cathedral.

Why You Should Visit:
Step into another world and revel in the atmosphere inside this historic building. Now that all of the renovations are complete you can get to enjoy the full beauty of the architecture.

If possible, try to attend a daily Mass with impressive organ music and solo vocalist. Also, on a Sunday afternoon, if lucky, you may happen upon a chorale concert which is nothing short of heavenly.
The armed NYPD officers outside ensure security, so you should be prepared for bag searches prior to entry.

Opening Hours:
Daily: 7am-8:30pm
Saint Thomas Church

4) Saint Thomas Church

The Saint Thomas Church is an Episcopal parish church located in the heart of New York City. It is one of the few churches where the old Anglican choral tradition is still preserved.

Previously, the congregation of Saint Thomas's worshiped in three other locations before the present one was built. Designed by architects Ralph Adams Cram and Bertram Grosvenor Goodhue in High Gothic style, featuring plain limestone exterior and sandstone interior, the current church was built between 1911 and 1916 looking absolutely fantastic among the towering skyscrapers. The intricate stonework on the reredos – white carved screens behind the altar and interesting carvings on the choir stalls showing “modern” inventions like the radio and telephone – was done be sculptor Lee Laurie, while the fine stained glass windows were created by English artist, James Hunphries Hogan, of Powell and Sons (Whitefriars) Ltd. of London.

Music is an important part of worship and liturgy at St Thomas's, in large part thanks to the design offering excellent acoustics, as well as the three old and one new incredible Dobson pipe organ (worth $11 million) added in 2008. There are free organ recitals most Sundays, the sound of which is profoundly moving. The church's choir performs traditional Anglican Evensong, a 45 minute service of music by young boys aged between 8 and 13. This choir is supported by the St Thomas choir school that was founded by the parish in 1919 and is one of four remaining choir schools in the world.

While everyone goes to check out St Patrick's, and quite rightly so, you still might be cheating yourself if you don’t visit St Thomas's, which is just a few blocks away. Its beautiful altar area, stained glass and ceiling are absolutely worth a look, and will leave you in awe. Highly recommended!
Sight description based on Wikipedia.
Museum of Modern Art (MoMA)

5) Museum of Modern Art (MoMA)

Well known as the most influential museum of modern art in the world, this museum is a storehouse of the finest Western modern masterpieces. It also has an impressive library with over 300,000 books.

In 1929, three wealthy ladies rented a space in the Heckscher Building in 5th Avenue and established the first Museum of Modern Art in New York. Later, the husband of one of them, Abbey Aldrich Rockefeller, donated land and funds to build the present MoMA, and her sons commissioned landscape architect Philip Johnson to redesign the area around the museum, creating the Abbey Aldrich Rockefeller Sculpture Garden in honor of their mother.

Today, the museum collection spans the period from 1880 until the present, featuring pieces of architecture and sculpture (including a much valued Goat sculpture by Picasso in the patio), drawings, paintings, photography, prints, and electronic media depictions. Among the presented artists are the great modernists like Van Gogh, Matisse and Picasso. The Museum also holds temporary exhibits showcasing innovative styles and revolutionary art expressions.

Why You Should Visit:
One of the finest collections of modern art in the world! Outside, in the garden, you can lose yourself and escape the noise and bustle of the big city.

Make sure to visit the MoMA design store across the street which has an amazing array of interesting and innovative industrial design products.

Operation Hours:
Sat-Thu: 10:30am-5:30pm; Fri: 10:30am-8pm
Sight description based on Wikipedia.
Gapstow Bridge and The Pond

6) Gapstow Bridge and The Pond

One of the first landmarks to discover after entering Central Park's southeast corner, the robust Gapstow Bridge just so happens to be among the best spots for photography within the Park as well, along with Bethesda Fountain and the Belvedere Castle. Although not far off from several similar bridges, this one wins for the commanding and breathtaking views it offers, with natural scenery on one side and Manhattan's skyline on the other.

Originally wooden and cast-iron, though for the last hundred-plus years made of stone, the bridge itself may not be an architectural marvel but has a beautiful aesthetic presence to it. It's apparently also quite popular with locals, who come to watch the ducks in the pond and relax after work.
Bethesda Terrace

7) Bethesda Terrace

Featured in many TV shows and Hollywood movies, the Bethesda Terrace is one of the most easily recognizable landmarks of Central Park – a perfect place to unwind, watch street performers, enjoy music, or simply hang out and pass the time.

With its beautiful arcaded structure and carved limestone decorations, it stands as a fine example of 19th-century architecture, treating visitors to a lower and upper terrace surrounded by three staircases. This is all further highlighted by an attractive, large-scale fountain with the famous "Angel of the Water" statue on top (in reference to "Healing the Paralytic", a story from the Gospel of John about an angel blessing the Pool of Bethesda, giving it healing powers) and a beautifully tiled underpass, both of which are worth many pictures.

In the end, it's a neat area to spend half an hour during visits to Central Park, particularly when the fountains are turned on and the trees in the area are in bloom (spring) or heavy with foliage (spring-autumn). More often than not, you'll find people sitting on stone benches in the lower level to watch boats on the lake and get a glimpse of the high-rise buildings beyond.

Opening Hours:
Daily: 6am–1am (late March to early November)

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