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Incorporating walks in travel plans helps fitness, exploration

The Lykins family: From left, Lorrie, Kristen and Don take a break on a walk across the historic Brooklyn Bridge.

Courtesy of Lorrie Lykins

The Lykins family: From left, Lorrie, Kristen and Don take a break on a walk across the historic Brooklyn Bridge.

By LORRIE LYKINS

Times Correspondent

Purchasing a gym membership doesn't factor into my goals for 2014, but the agenda does call for moving more and making better choices.

Some people find that travel gets their resolutions off track. I've found the opposite. Making walking part of the itinerary not only helps me keep up with my fitness goals, but it also means I'm really seeing the sights — while connecting with my family.

One of my favorite destinations for strolling and urban hiking is New York. Walks through Central Park and along the Battery Park City Esplanade are wonderful in any season, but I recently tried two new walks during a family trip to the Big Apple that are now on my can't-miss list.

• The High Line is a glorious 1-mile elevated, pedestrian-only (no bikes, skates or skateboards) trail constructed on what was once the New York Central Railroad. The repurposed railroad line opened in 2009 and provides stunning perspectives on the architecture of lower west Manhattan as it winds above the Meatpacking District and Chelsea. The High Line is a true green space, alive with a plethora of plant life and creative surprises along the way. One example: the Urban Theater, which is what the name suggests — stadium-seating benches allow walkers to pause and watch crisscrossing traffic at the intersection of 17th Street and 10th Avenue through a huge glass window. After an afternoon of nibbling our way through the epicurean delights of the Chelsea Market, my husband and daughter and I found the High Line to be a memorable way to burn off the carbs.

• Walking across the historic Brooklyn Bridge has long been on my to-do list, and it was great fun to do as a family. The bridge soars over the East River, offering a spectacular view of the city's skyline and harbor. Walkers need to be sure to stay in the designated pedestrian areas — the promenade level is alive with runners, walkers and cyclists, and wandering into the bike lane can be disastrous. The pedestrian walkway is accessible from either the Manhattan or the Brooklyn side. If you want to start in Brooklyn, take the 4, 5, 6, J or Z trains to the Brooklyn Bridge/City Hall stop and follow the signs.

My daughter, Kristen, 20, has lived in New York for six months, so our family walks allow her to show us places she's found, and we also make discoveries as a family.

Walking facilitates a lot of talking, and I believe that we have more relaxed and meaningful conversations as we stroll than we would sitting around a table at a restaurant. Our daughter can talk one-on-one with her dad for a bit while I hang back and take photos, then the three of us can regroup and chat, and then maybe she and I will have some alone time as we walk ahead of her dad for a while.

We've always been walkers; one of our favorite vacation spots is the Great Smoky Mountains. But urban hiking may offer a new view of places you only thought you knew. Plan ahead by looking online for public pedestrian trails. Even if the city is familiar to you, all of the possibilities for wonderful walks may not be.

Lorrie Lykins writes the Ask Dr. Delay column in the Times' Pinellas County regional editions.

.If you go: Read about the High Line at www.thehighline.org.

Incorporating walks in travel plans helps fitness, exploration 01/09/14 [Last modified: Friday, January 10, 2014 11:29am]
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