Exploring Manhattan: Why the High Line Is Awesome Despite Tourism

The High Line in Manhattan is a beautiful path straight down the west side of the island. But so many locals and tourists trying to do locals’ stuff skip it because of how touristy it gets. And I get it, I don’t like people either. Yet, I love the High Line! Let me tell you why.

But first: what is the High Line?

The High Line is essentially a park. The city, in collaboration with landscape artists and others, turned an old rail line into a walking path. It opened in 2009, but really became worth traversing when the last phase opened in 2014. The path runs all the way from the Meatpacking District (Gansevoort St) to 34th St/Hudson Yards. Now, on to why taking the time to walk it instead of taking the subway/a cab/walking the streets is worth it.

The High Line is beautiful.

Art along the High Line
Art along the High Line

The city has invested a lot of money into making the High Line beautiful. From seasonal landscaping to art galore to aesthetically pleasing walkways, they thought of everything. Even the buildings popping up around the High Line have interesting architecture and design. It really is a very pleasant walk even when you’re shoulder to shoulder with strangers!

And it’s not just the High Line itself, either. From the walking path, you can see down streets stretching out to views of Queens. You can also see street art, and if you look to the west, the sunset. It’s just all around a nice experience immersed in the city, yet just above it.

There’s industrial history here, too. At one end of the High Line you can spot the trains out of service, long abandoned buildings, and old brick buildings still in use. It really runs the city gamut on the High Line.

It’s surprisingly convenient.

It may not seem intuitive that a tourist attraction could be convenient, but it is. I mean, it runs along a train track, so maybe it shouldn’t be surprising! In any case, it starts right off the 7 train-easy peasy-and concludes down the island in Chelsea. You don’t have to stop for lights, you can maneuver around folks pretty easily (in most spots), and it’s a straight shot, so you’re not zigzagging across traffic.

Chelsea Market is one of my fav places in the city, but I am never on that end of town. When I go, I really like to walk the High Line off the 7 to get there (yes, it’s a long walk). It’s quieter, it’s beautiful, it’s less stressful. At bottom, it adds a lot to my experience heading to the market. Plus, when you get off the 7 train at Hudson Yards, you go past NYC’s latest evergreen art installation, the vessel:

Admittedly, the vessel has mixed reviews given the crowds it brings in, the suicides that have unfortunately taken place there, and people’s general aversion to its style. But I think it’s alright and they added more art around the base of the vessel and you have a beautiful view of the Hudson from here. I like the city being broken up by interesting stuff like this. The crowds can be atrocious though.

Let me reassure you, certain times of the year and day, the High Line is not busier than the street. We have walked it many times when we have been able to beeline down its paths due to no one being around. It’s particularly easy in the winter, the morning and at night. Skip the crowds on the street and take the High Line instead!

There are several cool spots to stop off from the High Line.

One nice thing about this particular tourist attraction is that there really is a lot to see along the way (hello, you’re in the middle of Manhattan!). My favorite is, naturally, the street art. There’s plenty of Kobra’s work in and around the High Line to stop off and check out. There’s a Banksy, too.

The neighborhoods are also just very nice in around the High Line if you’re looking for that quintessential NYC brownstone feel. Plenty of great brunch spots are just off the high line, and, as mentioned above, so is Chelsea Market. Plus, it’s easy to switch paths to walk along the Hudson further down the island, or head to Times Sq once you get off at Hudson Yards.

There’s also an offshoot of the High Line called the Spur. It takes you inland! The Spur also adds additional art and greenspace as you walk over the traffic to 10th Ave.

I don’t know who needs convincing to check out the High Line, but I hope this does the trick. We love it as locals and as tourists in our city. If you want more ideas of what to do in NYC, check out our other posts discussing local and tourist spots to check out!

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