The Best Spring Walks in NYC

By Alison Durkee

In like a lamb and out like a lion? The March forecasts notwithstanding, spring has arrived in NYC: time to shed your winter layers and explore the city’s history, architecture, and more on one of these great spring walking tours.

James Welling, Morgan Great Hall, 2014. Inkjet print. Artwork © James Welling, courtesy of Regen Projects, Los Angeles. Jewish Museum, The Arcades: Contemporary Art and Walter Benjamin.

Get off the beaten path this spring to explore some NYC haunts that might not be on your radar yet. Queenscapes and the Greater Astoria Historical Society will offer a photo tour around the Socrates Sculpture Park and Hell Gate Bridge at #HiketoHellGate17 on March 25, while an abandoned railway track in Forest Hills that could soon be revitalized as a public park will be the focus of a tour on April 8. Over in upper Manhattan, explorers can get a new look at the city on an after-hours tour of the Cathedral of St. John the Divinethe world’s largest cathedraland its stunning rooftop view (March 25), or join the 92nd Street Y for a new look at Van Cortlandt Park on March 31. For a broader take on the city and its fabled landmarks, channel Walter Benjamin and tap into your inner flâneur by joining the Jewish Museum’s New York Flânerie walking tour on April 30.

Those willing to make the trip across the East River will find plenty to explore this spring. Bask in the atmosphere of Green-Wood Cemetery at dusk at their twilight tour on April 15, or join the Municipal Art Society for upcoming tours around Bushwick (April 1), Clinton Hill (April 8), Brooklyn Heights (April 9), and Brighton Beach (April 15). New Yorkers wanting to learn more about the borough’s biggest landmark, the Brooklyn Bridge, can do so at a tour offered by Prospect Heights Brainery on March 26. You can also see more of the neighborhood that lies on the bridge’s Brooklyn side by joining Big Onion Tours’ DUMBO and Vinegar Hill tour on March 25 and April 15. And when all that exploring leaves you hankering for a drink, imbibe some of Brooklyn’s best on tours of Kings County Distillery (April 23) and Rooftop Reds, the world’s first rooftop vineyard (April 16).

Image: Forsaken Fotos/Flickr

While some NYC spots are simply off the beaten path, others go unnoticed because the public couldn’t get inuntil now. Thanks to Untapped Cities, New Yorkers will be able to go behind-the-scenes at restricted spots, including an abandoned hospital on Ellis Island (April 15 and 22) and the Modern Art Foundry (April 28), which is the birthplace of such iconic NYC statues as Central Park’s Alice in Wonderland sculpture and the Fiorello H. LaGuardia statue on LaGuardia Place. Architecture lovers looking for a behind-the-scenes view, meanwhile, can get a rare look at NYC landmarks on tours of the Woolworth Building and the New Yorker Hotel (various dates).

RMS Titanic Walking Tour NYC

Of course, New York City’s storied history can be discovered in even the city’s most public places. Delve into the city’s history with tours focusing on NYC’s labor history (March 25), the evolution of the Lower East Side (March 26 and April 16), and the artists who helped to shape the country’s culture while calling NYC home (April 21). Mark the 105th anniversary of the Titanic’s tragic voyage by exploring the city’s ties to the fabled vessel on a Ghosts of the Titanic Walking Tour on April 8 and 15. Can’t narrow down one era of history to explore? Don’t worry. At a tour on April 30, Untapped Cities will cover 400 years of historyall within the same one-mile radius.

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For something a bit wilder, head out to Brooklyn for the Brooklyn Parrots Safari, an urban trek to spot Monk Parakeets, a type of Argentinean parrot that flocked to New York as a result of a malfunction at JFK Airport in the late 1960’s (Saturday, April 1).


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