NYC Walks for When You Haven’t Started Studying for Finals

A comprehensive guide of the best places to walk, not run, away from your problems



Take a walk down any of these paths to successfully avoid your finals studying.


If you’re anything like me, you know that the best way to handle the stress and frustration of finals week is to completely avoid it and go for a walk instead. As the end of the semester creeps closer and closer, I find myself making more and more excuses to distract myself by exploring the city we all know and love. 

Although the science is still out on unplanned stress walks through unfamiliar areas you’ve never been to, I’ve found that this activity gives me a great excuse to relax, explore New York and, of course, avoid my responsibilities. Really, who needs a 4.0 when you can walk through the city that never sleeps? Without further ado, here are my top suggestions for the best places to blow off steam and, more importantly, waste time during finals season. 

Times Square

Even though most New Yorkers wouldn’t be caught dead in Times Square, you can still have fun by pretending you’re a tourist for a day. Just 15 blocks from Fordham Lincoln Center, Times Square gives students the perfect opportunity to experience what people who have never been to New York think living in New York is like. With peddlers selling everything from fake Louis Vuitton bags to Pfizer vaccines, you’re sure to get a great workout in as you pick up speed and avoid eye contact with them. You’ll even have the opportunity to meet and take photos with your heroes like Elmo and the 8-foot tall Statue of Liberty (just don’t forget to tip them). 

Assuming you don’t experience sensory overload, Times Square offers a great distraction from the stresses of finals week. If by the end of your walk you’re not thinking to yourself “God have we learned NOTHING from this pandemic???” and are looking to get shoved by more tourists, head a few blocks over and see the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree. Bonus: Once you get into Rockefeller Center at Christmas, you may be stuck standing shoulder to shoulder with strangers for days on end, giving you the perfect excuse when asking for an extension on your final essay. 

The reservoir offers stunning views of Central Park South and an endless circle that will have you questioning the passage of time.

Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir

A Central Park landmark turned running track for moms of the Upper West Side, the reservoir offers stunning views of Central Park South and an endless circle that will have you questioning the passage of time. It’s easy to forget where you started your walk or just how long you’ve been walking, making the reservoir the best spot to waste time and get a breath of fresh air at the same time. 

At least half of the reservoir’s regular visitors are runners, but if taking a leisurely stroll is more your style, you can still have a great time ignoring the eye-rolls and annoyed sighs of athletic visitors trying to pass you. But don’t worry, you can get even with them by walking clockwise on a clearly defined counterclockwise path. You didn’t come here to read signs! The experience is not complete without taking dozens of photos of the New York City skyline, getting frustrated that none of them came out nice, and promptly deleting all of them to erase the experience from your mind for good. 

Union Square to SoHo

Take a slow saunter through your favorite downtown neighborhoods. Distract yourself by stopping in a cute café or treat yourself to a thrift-shopping spree. If you’re visiting the downtown area, make sure to take part in the Fordham Lincoln Center tradition of telling everyone you know that you almost went to NYU. 

With dozens of trendy restaurants and a bustling nightlife, a casual stroll through this area will remind you why you decided to go to college in New York City in the first place and will inspire you not to withdraw from all of your classes at the last minute. The biggest pro of this location is that no one will look twice if you break down crying over your latest essay grade. Make sure to stop in Washington Square Park to view its daily impromptu protest, concert, stand-up comedy show, YouTube video shoot or whatever other hobby is trendy among NYU’s student body now.

W. 60th St. to W. 116th St. via Riverside Dr.

Although this isn’t a famous or particularly beautiful walk, it is an unplanned one that I actually took after slamming my laptop shut in frustration while writing one of my final essays. If all else fails, the best way to release tension during finals and distract yourself is to just walk. Don’t bother planning your route, setting a return time or even knowing where you are. Just walk and see how long it takes for you to give up and take the subway back. 

One of the benefits of this particular route is that it takes you up Riverside Drive and will give you an outsider’s view of how New York’s elite children live. Just be careful not to get hit by any speeding 10-year-olds on Razor scooters, especially since odds are at least one of them will be an executive at Goldman Sachs in 20 years. 

The Brooklyn Bridge

Last but not least is the infamous Brooklyn Bridge. Assuming you can walk around the herds of tourists stopping in the middle of the walkway for photos and angry bikers who won’t blink twice if they run you over, you can see breathtaking views of lower Manhattan and all the fun neighborhoods you wished you lived in from this iconic attraction. 

Every time I walk the structurally deficient Brooklyn Bridge, I can feel the hands of God wrap around me as the 150-year-old boardwalk shakes beneath me in the presence of the smallest gust of wind. The adrenaline rush from walking this iconic death trap will have you running back to the library to get in some good study time. And on the off chance the bridge does collapse, at least you won’t have to take your final.