I’ve had at least one friend from out of town tell me after a NYC visit that she could never live here because we walk too much here in the city. Admittedly I do tend to drag visitors on long walks — I firmly believe you get to know and orient yourself in a city best when you’ve seen it on foot — but she wasn’t wrong that there’s a fair amount of walking as part of normal NYC life. The subway is great, but you have to get there to use it. But if you focus on tourist-centered walking or utilitarian daily travel, you miss out on one of the greatest joys of NYC walking: wandering.

I’ve talked before about wanting to get lost in NYC, to go to totally new neighborhoods and get turned around enough to stumble on something unexpected. That’s still on my to-do list for summer (winter is terrible for wandering), but I have to tell you that so far this spring, even wandering in places I think I know has produced some nice, unexpected moments.

Like this spot on the sidewalk. I’ve walked over it many times, but finally stopped long enough to take a picture and realize, yes, those are tiny colored stones sparkling there, stuck into the cement.


Or, on a visit to the  with friends, looking back toward the buildings and capturing this view, which feels intricate and delicate and vibrant all at the same time.


Or the afternoon I spent in Prospect Park, when I made a turn I’d never made before and ended up on one of the hills overlooking the lake.


I kept having to strike off in new directions because it was the day of the Bernie Sanders rally and there were security guards all over, but after a little while I ended up peering through this fence at a tiny graveyard, apparently the final resting place of Quakers from as early as the 1820s.


Most of my recent wanderings have been in parks — it’s springtime, guys! — but there was also one warm evening wander to Times Square in search of theater tickets, and another in midtown to chat with my mom and enjoy the fact that the sun was still out.

I have three wandering modes.

  1. The Photographer: On the lookout for interesting shots.
  2. The Walker-and-Talker: On the phone with my mom as I commute or run errands
  3. The Actor-in-her-own-Movie: Look, NYC is perfect for this. Put on some headphones and some great music and you, too, could be living in your favorite set-in-NYC film.

What have you stumbled upon in your wanders in NYC or elsewhere?