Whenever we visit New York City with kids, we try to avoid packing in too many activities. The city can get overwhelming. So planning one activity per day is essential for keeping your sanity. And one of the places that we love visiting in New York City is The High Line railroad park.
The High Line railroad park is a public park located in the Meatpacking District. It first opened in 2009. the park now covers 1.45 miles of reclaimed former elevated railroad, now populated by trees, greenery, and a walkway.
This post was recently updated on November 29, 2019.
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A visit to The High Line railraod park
We first heard about The High Line in 2010, when it was just being built, and loved the idea of old structures being used for the public good. Back then, The High Line railroad park was relatively barren. But now it’s a lush oasis, providing a nice break from the craziness of the streets below.
The High Line railroad park is much different now than when we first visited it four years prior. Back then, there was only about half a mile of railroad that had been converted into a park.
Now the park stretches across from the Meatpacking District up into the edge of Hell’s Kitchen. By the time we got to The High Line, it was midday. The park was filled with visitors walking along the path and enjoying the views of the city buildings.
Seeing the New York City from a different angle
A concrete walkway, along with trees and shrubbery, cover the tracks of the old railroad. But there are some spots where you can still see bits of the railroad tracks. Scattered along the length of the park are spots for resting and relaxing.
There’s one spot along the park that has a covered area with benches for resting and an art installation. In another spot at the park, there is a small area of concrete walkway that is covered by a stream of water. My daughter especially enjoys this part of the park. On a hot New York City summer day, it’s nice to splash around in the cool water in this part of The High Line.
Also scattered throughout the park are small amphitheater-style seating areas facing a large glass overlooking the city streets. New York City has one of the most beautiful skylines of all the cities I’ve visited in my life. I am, of course, a bit biased towards the Seattle skyline, but even I have to admit that New York City’s skyline can’t be beat. It’s always fun to catch the view of New York City from above, to see the city from a different angle.
A relaxing day of walking and playing
The area around The High Line railroad park is filled with shops and restaurants. Nearby to The High Line is the famous Chelsea Market. It’s a great place to walk around, checking out the restaurants and shops. The Not for Tourist New York City guide book has plenty of recommendations for restaurants around The High Line.
With so much ground that it covers, a visit to The High Line can be a full day activity! There are multiple access points throughout the length of the park, so you can go down to the street level, grab a snack, and then head back up to The High Line railroad park to spend the rest of the afternoon relaxing. We found plenty of nice grassy areas where we let the kids run around while my husband and I took a short break.
With so much development in many of the major cities around the world, city parks are becoming somewhat of an endangered species. I love the philosophy behind The High Line railroad park, the idea that old industrial structures can be re-purposed to provide green spaces for the city.
What makes The High Line special is that the execution of this philosophy was perfectly thought out. And now what the public has is a beautiful city park where we can enjoy a relaxing day of walking and playing. It’s definitely one of my favorite non touristy things to do in NYC.
Coming to terms with my relationship with New York
I have somewhat of a love-hate relationship with New York. The culture of the city is so rich. I admire the trendiness of the people. And I love the prominent role the city plays in America’s history.
But I don’t particularly like the noise, or the grittiness that comes with millions of people living within the city’s boundaries. And the constant state of being “on” when you’re walking through the streets is tiresome.
Fortunately, The High Line railroad park is one of the things I love about New York City. And it’s this park that makes me want to come back.
Have you visited The High Line railroad park? Share your experiences in the comments!
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