Every August, for four consecutive Saturdays, seven miles of New York City streets are closed to traffic for Summer Streets. Park Avenue (turning into 4th Ave and then Lafayette Street) from West 72nd Street to Foley Square is open from 7am to 1pm for pedestrians and bikers. My first Summer Streets experience was four years ago, only a few months after I moved to New York, and I've been wanting to do it again ever since.
On Saturday, I had brunch plans near Union Square, so I started at 72nd Street and walked all the way to 14th Street. There are rest stops along the way with activities and free samples, but the main attraction is the actual street—the novelty of walking down the middle of a carless street will always be fun to me. The streets are also devoid of parked cars, giving you uninterrupted views of the beautiful buildings along Park Avenue and the storefronts further downtown.
My favorite part of the Summer Streets route is walking through the Helmsley Building and up and around Grand Central. There is no pedestrian access on this stretch of Park Avenue, so it's a view of Grand Central that you can usually only get from inside of car. Seeing the Vanderbilt statue, the Tiffany clock and the eagles so close will always be thrilling to a New York architecture and history nerd like me. I was actually so enthralled with photographing an eagle that I got yelled at for being "out of bounds" from a Summer Streets employee, but it was worth it.