Greetings Internet Stranger and welcome to this Bronx Walking tour. As a native Manhattanite, I made my fair share of jokes about the Bronx in my younger days. “Is the Bronx just one giant zoo?” I would ask. Then I would answer, “Clearly. And the name of that zoo is Yankee Stadium.”
Clearly I could not have been more wrong. The Bronx is just like Manhattan’s top hat. And like a top hat, it is classy and useful when you want to go dining out. Join me for 24 hours with a Bronx walking tour and we will feast on Italian food on Arthur Avenue, see the most striking plant constructions in the world, and…feast on some more Italian food!
Also we might see this:
You’ve been warned!
24 Hours: Bronx Walking Tour
Where Do I Stay?
If you’re a tourist in New York City, you’ll probably be staying in a hotel while you head out on the Bronx walking tour.
I recommend staying in the Artezen Hotel in Lower Manhattan. It’s very easy to get to the Bronx Walking tour from here. Just take the A/C train up to 59th Street, transfer to the D and take that to Fordham Road, and you’ll be at the start of this itinerary in a jiffy.
Plus, the rooms are affordable and cozy, and there’s free snacks, coffee, and fancy bath products in your room.
If you’d like a convenient and affordable hotel in NYC, click here. And if low prices and a great location scare you, just click here. This search engine will help you find the best deals and most appropriate location during your time on this Bronx walking tour.
24 Hours: Bronx Walking Tour
What to Pack?
- A cell charger so you can take photos all during your Bronx walking tour
- If you’re looking for a guidebook to NYC, this is my favorite choice for your Bronx walking tour.
- My book Get Lost, that I wrote myself with all my best travel tips. This book will show you exactly how solo travel can take your life from BLAH to amazing!
- Want to learn how I saved enough money to travel 16 weeks a year? Check out my top secret How to Afford Travel digital system that will help you save money
- I always travel with travel insurance from World Nomads. You never know when something might go wrong, especially in this day and age, and you don’t want to get stranded during your trip without help. But with travel insurance, you’re protected even if you’re attacked by a man-eating plant on your Bronx walking tour.
24 Hours: Bronx Walking Tour
Morning: Arthur Avenue Food Tour
Arthur Avenue is often known as “the real Little Italy”. That’s because the Little Italy in Manhattan has become so small and gentrified that it’s hard to recognize any remnant of its formerly thriving Italian-American community.
But Arthur Avenue in the Bronx has still stayed authentically Italian. It’s full of the mom and pop shops selling food like Grandma used to make. Any 24 hours in the Bronx has to include a stop here.
There’s almost too much great food in Arthur Avenue, but we can get our 24 hours in the Bronx started with…
Approximately top 5: Bronx Walking Tour
1) Belmont Library
Before you start the food portion of the Bronx Walking Tour, peek into the Belmont Library and Enrico Fermi Cultural Center. This branch of the New York Public Library always has displays honoring the contributions Italians have made to American and world cultures.
You can see tributes to famous Italians from the poet Dante Aligheri to New York’s famous former mayor Fiorello LaGuardia. Plus you’ll learn that Italians have invented everything from the battery to the pretzel. (More on that later.)
2) Arthur Avenue Retail Market
Arthur Avenue has a million different food stores, so this Bronx Walking Tour is all about the shopping! That’s why we start in the Arthur Avenue Retail Market. This Market was opened so that the pushcarts who used to roam the streets pushing their wares would have a safe and clean place to work instead of always needing to be outside, shouting in the cold Bronx air.
Sadly none of the original pushcarts are still in business. But you can still buy anything in the market from hand-rolled cigars to small, fresh, skinned rabbits for a stew.
My favorite place to eat in the Market is the Enzo’s pizza stall. They specialize in these hearty “granny” pizza slices topped with all kinds of veggie combinations. I recommend the eggplant cheese pizza because it tastes as if a pizza and an eggplant parm had a beautiful, delicious love child.
3) Bronx Shopping!
Now it’s time to leave the Market and continue our Bronx walking tour by visiting some of the mom and pop shops that line Arthur Avenue. You’ll actually hear Italian spoken here.
Cheese please? If you’re a fan of dairy mold, you’ll love Calandra Cheese Shop, which offers approximately 1,000,000 cheese samples per day. They’re all delicious, especially the aged grana padano and the piquant pecorino calabrese. But I purchased the Prima Donna, which is Gouda blended with Parmesan. It’s just as delicious as Parm, but much less expensive.
Cerini Coffee and Gifts probably has the best and most affordable Italian coffeemakers in the city. But you can also get small condiments here at great prices, like a bottle of award-winning balsamic vinegar for only 14 dollars. Remember balsamic can cost over a hundred dollars, so 14 is basically nothing.
I can’t see myself spending a hundred dollars on balsamic unless I were serving that salad to the King of England and he was planning to knight me.
If you’ve ever wondered what a chandelier made of meat would look like, step into the Calabria Pork Store. You can get sweet or spicy sausages here from right off the walls. (Sweet sausages aren’t actually sugary; they’re just not spicy.)
Also, I’m joking about them taking these sausages off the walls to serve you. I’m pretty sure that would damage the structural integrity of the building.
24 hour treasure: borgatti’s pasta
The last shopping stop on the Bronx Walking Tour is at Borgatti’s for fresh pasta. Even if you don’t order anything here, it’s a blast to watch them press and cut the fresh pasta dough by hand using the giant machines in the back. I was lucky because they had fresh squid ink pasta in that day. Squid ink pasta is the black noodles pictured above.
I never get fresh squid ink noodles because it’s too hard for me to make on my own. Now I’m going to eat squid ink pasta every day for lunch for a week! And they said dreams don’t come true!
The greatest eating experience on Arthur Avenue is sucking on some raw oysters from Cosenza’s fish market. The small oyster here was a Beausoleil and the larger a Bluepoint. The Beausoleil was sweeter and the Bluepoint a little more salty. But I don’t care! Eating an oyster makes me feel like I’m living out my childhood fantasies of being Ariel from The Little Mermaid.
Some people have issues with the oyster’s texture. I say, just remember you’re eating a sea creature’s corpse! What texture do you expect it to have?
4) Madonia Brothers Bakery
Madonia Brothers is one of the many 100 year old bakeries on Arthur Avenue. They are famous for their made-to-order cannoli, but there are so many Italian treats here that you can’t find in most bakeries. One example is this taralli pictured above.
Taralli are a kind of Italian pretzel/bagel that is made by boiling dough before baking it. I wonder if this is what the Belmont Library meant when they said Italians invented pretzels. I remain…unconvinced!
Taralli come in both sweet and savory disguises. This one was more on the savory side, made with fennel and black pepper. The pepper was cracking fresh, which gave the treat a nice kick. Apparently you would often dip the taralli into wine. I would feel a bit naughty dunking anything into wine! It’s not an Oreo! But that’s all the more reason to try it.
But if you’d rather try something sweet, I love their chocolate swirl cookies. They’re rich and nutty with a wonderful chocolate glaze. You won’t find a cookie exactly like this anywhere else.
5) Pastry Shops
This self-guided tour has not one, but three sweet pastry stops. If you have a sweet tooth to rival Count Chocula, you’re going to love it.
Our first pastry stop is for nut cookies at Egidio’s Pastry Shop. The pine nut cookie and the rainbow cookie made with almond cake were both moist and fresh. Also, Egidio’s was recently featured on the cover of the Extremely Fancy New Yorker magazine. Look!
The lady who is pictured on the cover was actually the lady who served me my cookies. I am famous by extension!
I know I’m supposed to be humble and begin my thoughts with “in my opinion”. But I’m not a humble person, so forget that. Cannoli are the greatest Italian dessert of all time. The combination of the crunchy pastry shell with the sweet, but not too sweet ricotta filling is truly one of the greatest experiences a human can have.
I bought this chocolate chip topped stick of perfection at Gino’s Pastry shop. The lady behind the counter kindly threw some sambuca, which is an Italian anise liqueur, in my serving of espresso, which I muchly appreciated. More people should go around just randomly giving people alcohol. The world would be a friendlier place.
Finally, we’re going to head to Artuso’s for yet another cannoli. You know, just to make a comparison. (You don’t have to get a cannoli at Artuso’s; they have a grillion different other yummy pastries. Since we’re eating so much today, you might just want to get a mini cannoli. They’re made fresh right before your lovely eyes; and you can really taste the ricotta. (Taste the ricotta with your mouth though, not your eyes.)
Some people say Parmesan is the greatest Italian cheese. But for me, you can’t go wrong with mozzarella. It’s just so fresh and voluptuous, as if Marilyn Monroe were a cheese. And I was in luck once more because Joe’s Italian Deli makes their own fresh mozzarella.
Each one of these little glomps of heaven exploded in my mouth like a milk cloud. I have to admit that I prefer buffalo mozzarella to the cheese made from cow milk, but we don’t keep buffalo in the Bronx. And anyway, no use crying over spilt buffalo milk!
Of course any New Yorker’s favorite use of cheese is on a nice slice cheese pizza. The Full Moon Pizzeria triumphs in old school slices of giant, floppy pizza with a slightly sweet tomato sauce, globs of sticky cheese, and a fine coating of cornmeal on the crust.
As a New Yorker, I have to say that this is the food I crave the most when I’m traveling away from home. Just one bite and I’m transported back to my childhood. A weird childhood that sometimes consisted of folding a piece of pizza in half and eating it while standing up. But a childhood nonetheless.
24 Hours: Bronx Walking Tour
Afternoon: New York Botanical Garden
With all apologies to the Bronx Zoo, I think the New York Botanical Garden is the most wonderful place to spend a Bronx Walking Tour. Most of the area surrounding Arthur Avenue and the Botanical Garden used to be part of the estate belonging to the Lorillard Family.
Apparently they made their money in tobacco, which surprised me because I didn’t learn about any tobacco magnets growing up in New York City. That’s the sort of thing they don’t teach you in second grade.
Now the reason I always go to the New York Botanical Garden in the winter is because of the Holiday Train Show. This is a giant, plant-based model train set. The models depict all of New York’s most famous buildings in the past and present.
But the catch is that all of the models are made out of plants! That’s right…plant New York Public Library. Plant Yankee Stadium. Plant Statue of Liberty.
But even if you’re not in New York around Christmas, you can still experience the NYBG. Just go and see the rest of their verdant collection. I can help you out with…
Approximately top 5: New York Botanical Garden
At Christmas time, there are several scheduled carol performances throughout the day. If you follow this 24 hours in the Bronx itinerary exactly, you can attend the 2PM carol show.
I don’t know what exactly caroling has to do with trees, but it made this gaggle of New Yorkers happy and cozy listening to everything from “Let it Snow” to “Silent Night”. And I’m pretty sure making New Yorkers slightly less miserable is what Christmas is all about.
Also spellcheck doesn’t recognize the word New Yorker, so it is officially dead to me.
2) Clock and tree
Any Botanical Garden worth its salt will show the plant kingdom at its most majestic with a giant Christmas tree display around December. But what if you’re visiting at another time of year? There obviously won’t be a Christmas tree. Will any tall, green symbol satisfy our need?
Behold! Your wish is granted with this stately emerald timepiece. You know it’s classy because it’s a Rolex. The design is like a time machine taking the visitor back to 1891, when the garden was founded. Basically this clock is the Botanical Garden’s flux capacitor.
3) Haupt conservatory
This conservatory is arguably the most beautiful object in the Botanical Garden. It was designed to resemble the conservatory in the Royal Botanic Gardens in London, so you know it’s got style and flair. It’s made almost entirely out of steel and glass, like the Terminator. Apparently the building fell into serious disrepair in the 1970s and almost had to be demolished.
Fortunately it was restored into the beauty we see today. I feel like a lot of things went into disrepair in the 70s. What were people doing back then? Just feathering their hair and snorting blow at Studio 54? How dare they? Didn’t they know there were greenhouses to save?
If you’re more interested in a small version of the Haupt Conservatory made entirely of plants, step inside the Holiday Train Show! Yes, that building is made completely out of plant materials, even the windows. It’s nice to know plants can be good for something.
24 hour tip
Don’t forget that you’ll need to buy a timed ticket online to be able to visit the Holiday Train Show. Do it as far in advance as possible! Also keep in mind that the train show gets crowded, so be prepared to use this trick. Step on a kid’s toe and pretend it was an accident. They’ll start crying and their parents will take them away. Then you get their spot!
4) demolished plant buildings
One of the greatest things about the Holiday Train Show is the opportunity to see miniature versions of buildings that have been destroyed to make way for progress. For example, this model is the legendary Old Penn Station that was destroyed to make Hideous New Penn Station, or Madison Square Garden.
The new building was so much fuglier than the old that it actually inspired New Yorkers to begin granting buildings landmark status.
In more recently demolished building news, here’s Old Plant Yankee Stadium. I think I can hear some tiny plant boos of the Red Sox from up here. (You won’t find a model of any Mets stadium here. This is the Bronx. We’re in Yankees territory. You have to go to Queens to see Old Plant Shea Stadium.)
5) nyc landmarks
Of course most of the buildings in the exhibit are planty models of current New York City landmarks. How would you like to see the Guggenheim museum made from a mushroom?
Would you prefer to take a ride on the Wonder Wheel at Plant Coney Island? (Pine Coney Island?)
Perhaps you dream of stardom? Then check out Plant Amateur Night at the Apollo Theater. I hear most of the acts are kind of wooden.
I might be more interested in Plant New York Public Library with his two plant lion statues out front. At this library, you have to weed every book from cover to cover.
Have you ever thought to yourself that you’d like to see all of New York’s most famous skyscrapers, only with more plant action? Enjoy Plant Chrysler Building and Plant Empire State Building. If you look very closely, I think you can see Plant King Kong scaling the Empire State.
The featured display this year was Plant Lower Manhattan. The sight of Plant Statue of Liberty and Plant One World Trade Center together was enough to bring plant-based tears to this jaded New Yorker’s eye. I Heart Plant New York!
6) Special Exhibits
Even if you don’t go to the Bronx at Christmas time, you can still see special exhibits. This might be an orchid show, or it might be a display of sculptures from famed polka-dot loving artist Yayoi Kusama. You can stand underneath this giant dotted spider and have your picture taken…
Walk through a flock of dotted trees…
Or find the world’s dottiest greenhouse. Anything can happen at the New York Botanical Garden!
Bronx Walking Tour
Evening: Dinner at Tra Di Noi
Once you’re done exploring the wilds of the New York Botanical Garden, it’s time to head back to Arthur Avenue for some dinner. After all, they don’t let you eat the plants at the Botanical Garden.
Even the famous Michelin Guide recommends that you stop for dinner at Tra di Noi, a classic trattoria with red and white checked tablecloths and a real Italian chef. They have a regular menu, but I recommend checking out the many daily specials on the chalkboard every evening. They are always based on whatever was fresh at the markets that day.
Start with something classic, like a flavor-packed prosciutto and melon. Don’t you just love how the prosciutto is delicately draped over the melon here, like a fabulous scarf?
Then we have a beautiful daily special: handmade veal tortellini served in a cream sauce with peas. You can really taste the love that goes into shaping each one of these delicate beauties. It almost broke my heart to eat them. (Spoiler alert! I totally ate all of them.
Finally, we have a sumptuous tartufo, which is a ball of vanilla ice cream covered in a rich chocolate shell. It’s almost as much fun to crack through the shell to get to the ice cream…almost. Dean Martin was playing in the restaurant all evening, and my food was definitely making me think “That’s Amore!” A perfect end to our Bronx walking tour!
24 Hours: Bronx Walking Tour
How To Get There
Now, I wish I knew where you lived, Internet Stranger, because I could send you a box of New York’s finest cannoli. But sadly, I do not, and so I can’t tell you exactly how to get from your home to New York City so you can find this Bronx walking tour for yourself.
However, if you need to take a plane or car to get to New York City, I recommend Expedia for the best way to find the cheapest flight or car rental, depending on how you want to get around. Just click here to start looking for the best possible deals on your flight or car rental, so you can head out to find this Bronx walking tour right away!
That’s 24 Hours: Bronx Walking Tour
What would you do with 24 hours on a Bronx Walking Tour? Are you ready to start booking your hotel in New York City right now? Why are there no more buffalo in the Bronx so we can make mozzarella with their milk? And what non-New York monument would you like to see made out of plants? (I vote for the Plant Grand Canyon.) Please leave your thoughts below!
Note: If you want to know how I put my travel itineraries together, just click here. Keep in mind that while each article is about how to spend 24 hours in a place, that doesn’t mean you should ONLY spend 24 hours with a Bronx Walking Tour. And there’s a million other things to do in New York City.