BY ANNE CRUZ The Big Apple doesn’t advertise itself as a naturalist’s playground. But as spring beckons the city offers a many outdoor spots for those who want to enjoy the fresh air and the sights. An added bonus, no car required.
Rock Climb in Central Park
New York City may be home to some of the best known indoor rock climbing gyms in the country, but nothing compares to climbing real rock. Climbers can boulder at several locations near Columbus Circle. Rat rock is one of the most popular hangouts, and it’s also where climbing superstar Ashima Shiraishi got her start. Bouldering is a style of climbing that does not require a rope or harness, just shoes and a crash pad to soften your landing. If you go on a weekend afternoon, odds are there will be other climbers to give you ‘beta’ (advice in climber parlance) for a certain boulder problem.
Accessible via subway lines A, B, C, D, and 1 off of Columbus Circle.
Bike Along Governor’s Island
For this adventure, no experience necessary; not even a bike. Situated just off lower Manhattan, the 172-acre Governor’s Island will be open to the public May 1, the perfect time for a bike excursion. You can enjoy views of the Statue of Liberty and Freedom Tower and finish off the day with a picnic on the south side of the island overlooking the water at sunset — prime for your Insta or Snap Story. Visitors can bring their own bike, rent from a vendor or take out a CitiBike from one of Governors Island’s two CitiBike docks.
Accessible via ferries which run to and from Manhattan and Brooklyn.
Hike along the Staten Island Greenbelt
Say what you like about Staten Island, it’s home to some of the most beautiful nature preserves in New York City. Whether you’re just looking for a quiet meander in the woods or a vigorous 15-mile hike up Moses Mountain, there’s something here for everyone.
Make the visitors center your first stop, off of Rockland and Brielle Avenues, where you can pick up trail maps and helpful tips from park rangers.
Accessible from from the X17 and X10 bus lines. The Greenbelt demands the longest travel time from Manhattan, (about 1.5 hours from Union Square) but provides the greatest immersion into the outdoors.
Go Kayaking in the Hudson
If you’re looking for an outdoor adventure on a budget, head to the Downtown Boathouse at Pier 26 for free kayaking. They offer sessions and lessons from May to October. If you’re a beginner, you’ll learn all the basics during their lessons; the sessions are for more experienced kayakers who don’t need instruction. You can’t go past the bay and the sessions are only 20 minutes each, but it’s a great way to get reacquainted with the water without breaking the bank.
Accessible via A, C, E and 1 lines off of Canal Street.
Take a Walk in the Cloister Gardens
Communing with nature isn’t what first comes to mind when thinking of the Met Cloisters, an art museum located near the northern tip of Manhattan. But its intricate, medieval gardens and expansive paths of Fort Tyron Park make the Cloisters a worthwhile trip. It’s a twofer, as you get to enjoy a dose of culture and architecture with your outdoors experience. If medieval artwork isn’t your scene, you’ll still be able to appreciate the architecture of the museum from the waterfront where Fort Tyron Park meets the Hudson.
Accessible via A line off of Dyckman Street.