Walking the NYC High Line

The first time my husband and I walked the High Line in NYC was right after the third section of this elevated public park opened. That was around 2014.

We’d just dropped our younger daughter off for a college visit appointment and had a few hours to kill. So, we headed west, on foot, on 34th Street until we got to the Jacob Javits Convention Center between 11th and 12th Avenues. There, we entered the High Line.

Since our first visit, the Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) has extended the Number 7 (purple) subway to have a stop at Hudson Yards. It lets you out not only near a High Line access point but also the iconic Vessel building as well as The Edge NYC.

tracks on high line vertical
Photo credit: Leah Ingram.

High Line in Manhattan: An elevated oasis in NYC

Much like the Rails to Trails concept across America, New York City’s High Line is a public park built on an elevated railway line. In fact, the High Line is included in the Rails to Trails Conservancy.

Originally, those rail lines brought goods to warehouses along the West Side of Manhattan. Those warehouses were located in what’s now known as the Meatpacking District and the Chelsea neighborhood.

However, with the advent of trucking and interstate highways, New York City abandoned those warehouses and the rail lines, and eventually they fell into disrepair.

old railroad tracks on NYC high line
Photo credit: Leah Ingram.

Who built the NYC High Line

In 1999, community activists formed Friends of the High Line to save it from demolition. Their efforts paid off when New York City approved a plan to transform the railway into a public park.

In June 2009, the first section of the High Line opened to visitors. Since then, two more areas have been added — Section 2 opened in June 2011 and Section 3 in September 2014.

In 2023, they added a connector from Manhattan West, where the Peloton NYC Studios are located, to the High Line. It’s billed as a way to get from Penn Station’s Moynihan Train Hall directly to the High Line.

moynihan train hall connector high line
Photo credit: Leah Ingram.
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In fact, if you’re looking for hotels near the High Line, these NYC hotels near Penn Station fit the bill.

Map showing connector and Peloton NYC Studios. Image credit: The High Line (though I added the arrow and info about Peloton NYC)

What’s the High Line like

High Line Park is now one of New York City’s most popular tourist attractions. The park offers stunning views of Manhattan’s skyline, unique greenery amidst the city buildings, food vendors and various public art installations.

big pink tree public art high line people taking pictures
A public art installation on the High Line. Photo credit: Leah Ingram.

In fact, I snapped this image below of an Andy Warhol mural on the High Line. This was the most recent time I walked the High Line.

andy warhol portrait as seen from the high line
Photo credit: Leah Ingram.

All told, the High Line is under 1.5 miles. So, it’s an easy walk to do on a nice day.

Also, there are elevators from the street to this elevated park. This allows those with limited mobility to enjoy these unique views of NYC, too.

My mother and I walked the entire length of the High Line in under an hour. This allowed for plenty of time to linger.

mom and i finishing the high line two
Photo credit: Leah Ingram.

We took this selfie together as we near the end. That’s the Long Island Railroad trains in the West Side yard in the background.

Where is the High Line located

You will find this unique urban park on Manhattan’s West Side. It runs from Gansevoort Street in the Meatpacking District to West 34th Street, near the Javits Center. Access points along the route make it easy for visitors to explore different parts of the park.

walkway on high line
Photo credit: Leah Ingram.

Visitors can enter the park at various points along its route. This includes:

  • Gansevoort Street
  • 14th Street
  • 16th Street
  • 17th Street
  • 20th Street
  • 23rd Street
  • 26th Street
  • 28th Street
  • 30th Street (this includes that aforementioned new connector)
railway connector from hudson yards to high line
Photo credit: Leah Ingram.

Note: all of these entrance points are on the West Side of Manhattan. Therefore, you’ll want to navigate to West 30th Street or West 14th Street, for example.

On the other hand, the north-south avenues that the High Line runs parallel to, for the most part, are 10th and 11th Avenues. Again, that’s on the West Side.

Reasons to visit the NYC High Line

Walking the High Line offers a unique perspective of New York City. Along the linear walkway are gardens, art installations and seating areas. Visitors can enjoy beautiful views of Manhattan’s skyline while strolling along the elevated High Line green space.

empire state building in background from high line
Empire State Building in the background, from the High Line. Photo credit: Leah Ingram.

It’s an ideal spot to spend time in the city when traveling alone. You will often find others taking a nap, reading a book or just deep in thought away from the hustle and bustle of the city. Individuals enjoy coming to the elevated park to escape the busy streets below.

However, you cannot escape the noise of the city below. So, while the scenery is calming, your ears will tell you that you are still very much in a city.

One of the cool parts of walking the High Line is seeing some of the original railroad tracks. Also, the park’s design includes paving from reclaimed railroad tracks and seating areas built into the old railroad structure.

Finally, you may be tempted to walk the NYC High Line on a nice day. Well, guess what? So will thousands of other tourists, visitors and locals.

The day my mother and I walked the High Line was an overcast fall day. There were hardly any crowds. However, the last time my husband and I visited the High Line, it was an unseasonably warm day in February. We moved at a snail’s pace the entire time.

Then I went back by myself on a winter weekday. It was at dusk and I got the sense that lots of commuters used the High Line as a way to get to or from their offices. So, though it was cold out, it was crowded.

crowds on NYC highline
Photo credit: Leah Ingram.

Additional questions about the High Line NYC

If you’re planning to visit the High Line on your next trip to NYC, here are some common questions and my answers.

Where should you start a High Line walk?

As I mentioned above, there are multiple access points to the High Line. However, maybe because I have a little bit of OCD, I like to start a High Line walk as close to the beginning or the end, as the case may be.

With my most recent visit, I used the Moynihan Train Hall Connector to walk from Hudson Yards and Peloton Studios to get on the High Line. The very first time I walked the High Line, I had a meeting with a client with offices in Chelsea Market. So, I started my walk there.

How long does it take to walk the High Line?

How long it takes often depends on the crowds. On a cold day in the middle of the week and at a decent clip, you can walk the High Line in under an hour. But, what’s the rush? One of the joys of walking the High Line is taking in the views, the different architectural styles you’ll see and, frankly, sitting on the many benches and just people watching.

bench along high line
Photo credit: Leah Ingram.

Where does the High Line end?

If you’re walking from the south and heading north, then the High Line ends at 34th Street near the Jacob Javits Convention Center. On the other hand, if you’re walking from the north and heading south, the High Line ends at Gansevoort Street in the Meatpacking District.

Are dogs allowed on the High Line?

Technically, you’re not supposed to walk dogs on the High Line. However, on my last trip to walk the High Line, I did see people walking dogs on the High Line. Then again, when I went food shopping at Whole Foods and also ate at one of the restaurants in the Nordstrom flagship store, I saw dogs there, too. I’m sure those latter examples broke all kinds of New York City health codes.

Is the High Line free?

Yes, the High Line is free. While New York City is an expensive place to visit, there are legit free things you can do in NYC. This includes riding the Staten Island ferry and walking the High Line.

Nearby Attractions

Whenever we visit the High Line, we always start from the north. That way we can end up at Chelsea Market on Ninth Avenue and its delicious food vendors. Our favorite is Friedman’s, which has the best grilled cheese I’ve ever had.

Friends have told us they like to end a High Line walk with a visit to a nearby brewery, including Milk and Hops in Chelsea.

In 2015, the Whitney Museum of American Art moved downtown to its new home at 99 Gansevoort Street. When you exit the southern end of the High Line, you’re practically at the Whitney’s front doors.

During our last trip, we hadn’t bought tickets to the Whitney in advance and the line was simply too long. So, instead, we checked out the street artists that set up shop outside the museum.

We ended up buying an original painting from an artist named Lisa Grubb. It’s called Happy Dog, and it’s been hanging in our kitchen ever since.

Happy Dog painting. Photo credit: Leah Ingram.

I would say that walking the NYC High Line is a must-do activity for anyone visiting New York City. Frankly, I prefer the High Line to Central Park.

The only drawback of the High Line? As I mentioned, you can’t bring your dogs with you. Or, at least, you’re not supposed to have dogs on the High Line. So, if, like me, you prefer to vacation with your dogs, they won’t be able to join you while walking the High Line, if you’re a rule-follower like I am.

Finally, if you still have energy after this walk, consider going ice skating at Rockefeller Center. It’s something I think everyone should do at least once in a lifetime.

Portions of this article originally appeared on Daily Life Travels.

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