What I love about New York City is that it has little hidden gems of history scattered throughout the city. The High Line is no different, is often overlooked, and is a must-see destination when visiting the Big Apple! The best part: the High Line is open daily, all year long, and it’s free!
The NY Central Railroad was at one time a very dangerous freight train line that delivered food to lower Manhattan via the city streets. It was dangerous for pedestrians and they were frequently hit and killed by the trains. The railroad hired cowboys on horses to daringly ride in front of the train, waving red flags to warn pedestrians about an approaching train. As the city and population grew, the solution was to raise the train tracks and create an elevated rail line — the High Line. During the 1930s, trains transported millions of tons of meat, produce, and dairy throughout the west side of NYC on the High Line. During the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s, the mode for transporting goods transitioned from the trains to trucking. The call for the total demolition of the structure soon followed from its lack of use.
For nearly 20 years, the High Line’s future was in limbo. It went through stages of decay and was considered an ugly eyesore by the public. Unbeknownst to many, a group of local citizens had started the long process to preserve and save the structure. Meanwhile, a thriving garden grew while the elevated train line was abandoned. The High Line eventually received special zoning and was declared a public park. The Friends of the High Line have cared, cultivated, and created this amazing 1.45-mile greenway that has over 500 species of plants and trees. The beautiful boardwalk is flanked by the Hudson River to the West and Chelsea to the East.
1. How To Get There
The best place to start your journey is at the Hudson Yards entrance off 34th Street. This area is the only street-level transition zone and is a great starting point due to the dramatic buildings and apartments along the path. To get here, hop on the M34 Bus or take the 7 subway train. I like to start here and walk toward the downtown area. I can work up an appetite and decide if I should pop down the stairs and have a bite in the café below that’s calling my name! You can enter the High Line at numerous locations via stairs or elevators. I prefer to start from the north and exit at the south.
Pro Tip: Don’t miss the Vessel Building, a rising spiral staircase that is a soaring landmark.
2. What To Wear
Since it’s only a mile and a half, comfortable walking shoes, a bottle of water, plus your camera are all you need! There are four elevators along the path that reach street level and are ADA-accessible. Dress according to the season, for rain, sunshine, or snow. During the summer, consider working on your sun tan and enjoy views of the Hudson River while basking in the permanent artistic lounge chairs near the sundeck between 14th and 15th Streets.
Pro Tip: See eight photo-worthy architectural famous buildings along the path.
3. Visit The Gardens
The gardens were inspired by the growth that had accumulated naturally for over 25 years while the High Line was abandoned. Plant selections were chosen to work with the existing flora. There are over 500 different varieties of trees, grasses, plants, and flowers. Throughout the garden, the themes of the garden rooms change. Be sure to visit the Diller – von Furstenberg Sundeck and Water Feature, a visitor favorite at 14th Street. Even though the walk is short, plan on about 3 hours to enjoy every turn and corner of the garden.
Pro Tip: During March, the Cherry Blossom trees are in full bloom. Adopt a High Line insect as a gift and help the High Line flourish and continue to grow!
The best way to see the High Line is just to stroll and wander. But if you want to experience more history and explanations of each element of the High Line, you can use an app or go on a tour. Download the Bloomberg connects app and bring headphones for a very detailed tour. If you want a detailed personal tour of this garden in the sky, visit when docents and volunteers offer free tours. Tours are limited to 20 people and are first come, first served.
5. Where To Eat
During spring, summer, and fall, there are many options along the High Line to grab a bite or a drink with a fabulous view at the same time. Demand for more choices has been heard and food vendors have answered the call! At the 15th Street entrance, the Hearth on the High Line is a great open-air café with select beers, wine, and small plates overlooking the Hudson River.
Consider grabbing a gelato, doughnut, or ice cream bar and head over to the 10th Avenue lookout and watch the traffic hum below you. Part of the steel beams were removed and plexi-glass was installed to grant a bird’s eye view of the traffic below on the 10th Street overpass. Continue on your walk and stop at Tiffany and Co. Foundation Overlook. You can look over the balcony and see where the High Line was cut off during the ‘80s. Hop down the stairs and visit the many food trucks parked just under the High Line. Consider getting authentic food truck fare and head back up to dine al fresco on the teak stairs at 22nd Street.
Pro Tip: Be sure to stop at the 10th Avenue Square (17th Street) and take a picture of the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island framed by three maple trees.
6. What Neighborhood To Visit
One of the coolest experiences while walking the High Line is to decide what neighborhood to visit after your tour. There is so much history in the two areas you hover above. The Meatpacking District and Chelsea neighborhoods each have charming streets, restaurants, and shopping areas. If time allows, I recommend passing onward through SOHO and heading over to Chinatown to enjoy scrumptious dim sum, then walking over to Little Italy to grab a delicious dessert. There are so many amazing neighborhoods to visit in NYC. Transportation is a breeze via Uber, train, bus, or my favorite, walking.
How or where you enter the High Line doesn’t really matter. What does matter is that you see this amazing slice of natural beauty, views, trees, and plants flourishing in the concrete jungle of New York City.