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New York City is known as the Concrete Jungle. If you’re coming for a visit, there are endless things to do. Museums, theaters, and restaurants top many experts’ lists of things you must do when visiting.
But what if you’re more of an outdoor enthusiast traveling to NYC? Even if you’re not the outdoorsy type, everyone could use a little break outside from time to time. So is there anything interesting to do that will keep you out of tall buildings and out in the open?
Believe it or not, if you’re looking for a way to get out and enjoy the fresh air, New York City has no shortage of outdoor activities to offer. From hiking and biking trails to kayaking and paddle boarding, there’s something for everyone who wants to get some exercise and take in the city’s natural beauty.
And for the more laid-back outdoors people, we have you covered too. Here are fifteen of the best outdoor activities to check out in New York City.
Hike the Trails in Central Park
Central Park is one of the best places to hike in NYC. There’s something for everyone with over 800 acres of parkland and more than 60 miles of trails. None of these hikes are strenuous as hiking trails go. But they are a great way to stroll through nature.
Explore the Ravine, the North Woods, and the Loch on the park’s north end. If you’re looking for a leisurely hike, try the Ramble Loop. Or, if you’re looking for a more leisurely hike, try the Cedar Hill Trail.
No matter what trail you choose, you’re guaranteed to see some beautiful sights in Central Park. So lace up your hiking boots and get ready to explore!
You can even mountain bike in the city. Highbridge Park has biking trails, so you can ride around and explore the outdoors. Located in Inwood/Washington Heights, Manhattan, this 3-mile loop track is good for a quick lap or to continue to loop to make a long training route.
Staten Island boasts Wolfe’s Pond Park with about 4 miles of biking trails. You can rent a bike nearby and spend an afternoon riding the single tracks.
Not to be missed is Cunningham Park in Queens. With 358 acres carved with biking trails, it’s a great way to get outdoor in New York City.
Hike Marine Park Salt Marsh Nature Trail
Brooklyn’s largest park, The Hike Marine Park Salt Marsh Nature Trail, is a perfect way to explore the outdoors and visit some great outdoor spots. The trail takes you on a journey through salt marshes and glacial ponds and will allow you to see wildlife and beautiful views.
Check out the salt marsh teams with life. You’ll see fish and turtles that thrive in this environment. There is an osprey viewing area. And the travel agents for migratory waterfowl plan a stop here every year on their winter journey.
There are tons of kayaking opportunities in New York City! From the Hudson River to the East River, you can kayak around New York and enjoy a beautiful day outside.
Don’t worry if you have never tried kayaking. The Manhatten Kayak Co. offers guided trips and beginner lessons. For the seasoned kayaker, you can rent a kayak and paddle around Manhatten on your own. It’s a unique way to view the city.
New York City has seven botanical gardens where you can spend a few hours getting lost in nature. The largest one is New York Botanical Gardens in the Bronx. With more than 250 acres of plants spanning several local ecosystems, you can stroll through a forest, a wetland, a cherry collection, and a rock garden.
Queens also has a botanical garden initially planned for the World’s Fair in 1939. Not only are the gardens on display, but they offer classes and education to help you someday start your botanical garden. Or at least keep a house plant alive.
5k Trail Run at Van Courtlandt Park
If you are into trail running, consider running through the woods of Van Courtlandt Park. It’s not often that you can jump off a subway and hit the trail, except in New York City.
A 5.6K loop runs through the park. It’s perfect for an early morning run where you can feel like you have gotten away from the city for a little while. Then, you can punch in Van Cortlandt Park on your Strava app and let your friends know you got to get your run in a while in the city.
Then, turn off your app when you follow up that run with a stop into Joosed for an apres run smooth or a carrot cake. After all, you crushed that run.
Visit the Zoo
While you’re in Central Park, you can visit the Central Park Wildlife Center and Tisch’s Children’s Zoo. It isn’t a zoo with many kids in cages despite the name. Instead, it’s a zoo for children—a big difference.
The Bronx Zoo is a great place to spend a day outdoors. With 265 acres of land to explore, there’s something for everyone at the zoo. You can see animals from all over the world, go on hikes, and more.
From April-October, it’s America’s first zoo and is home to over 6,000 animals, and offers a wide range of exhibits.
Experience outdoor movies in New York City! Several different parks in NYC show movies during the summer, so you can catch a movie under the stars while spending time outside.
From the Brooklyn Bridge Park in Brooklyn, Riverflicks in Manhatten’s Hudson River Park, and even a film festival at Bryant’s Park, these are great options for an outdoor movie. Visit their events calendar to choose from classic noir films, cartoons, and 80’s blockbusters.
It’s a great way to enjoy some entertainment without being cooped inside on a beautiful summer night.
Theater in the Park
Think Broadway is the only way to watch live plays? Not in this town!
Theater in the park is an event where theaters put on live performances at local parks, allowing people to enjoy live theater while enjoying all of the great outdoors’ activities.
Perhaps Shakespeare in the Park is the most popular. However, it is by no means to only one. Look for children’s theater, modern plays, and more in the many parks that present free plays all summer long.
Governor’s Island is a great place to get away from the city and spend time outside. A short ferry ride can take you to an abandoned Coast Guard barracks converted to a modern city park.
During the day, you can bike around Governor’s Island, go on tours of Fort Jay and Castle Williams, or eat dinner at one of the many restaurants there.
You can also camp overnight! Glamping at Governor’s Island is the perfect way to experience Governor’s Island overnight. You can enjoy spending time outdoors, but you’ll be staying in luxury tents with comfortable beds and indoor plumbing! And since there are also restaurants on the island, you won’t have to worry about packing food or cooking it.
The Highline Trail
The Highline is a 1.45-mile-long park built in the raised-railroad tracks of an old train line in Chelsea. The park has transformed this abandoned space into something beautiful and offers fun activities like walking, running, biking.
It’s the perfect place to get out for a bit of exercise and enjoy a park-like setting right in Manhattan. Or it can be a way to cross town while getting into nature.
New York City has plenty to do in the cold weather too! First, of course, Rockefeller Center is famous for its outdoor ice skating rink. Even though it is right in Manhattan, it’s a great way to get outdoors and get a little exercise in.
But Rockefeller Center isn’t the only outdoor skating rink in the city. There are two in Central Park alone. One of them is the famous Wollman Rink. It’s a great way to get away from the city without the challenges of leaving the city.
You may think of them as a touristy thing to do so that you may have overlooked a boat tour around NYC. But it is another excellent way to get outside, although not in the traditional outdoor sports way.
The Circle Line Tour is more well-known, taking you to famous sites like the Empire State Building, Statue Of Liberty, and the Brooklyn Bridge. You know, the usual suspects. But since you are doing it from a boat, you get a unique view of the city without fighting for a seat or walking for miles on the concrete.
The Classic Harbor Line is a great way to explore New York City’s most significant architecture. In addition, they offer the AIANY Around Manhattan Architecture Tour. You’ll see iconic art deco and Beaux-Arts structures, Frank Gehry designs, as well as some of today’s newest additions from Manhattan to the Bronx.
Paddleboard the Hudson
If you want to tour the city on the water, you can certainly do that from a paddleboard under your power. There are plenty of rentals, lessons, and tours around the city.
Many of the companies listed under canoeing and kayaking also offer paddleboards. Hudson Paddles is one place that we didn’t mention. But worth checking out.
If you haven’t tried it before, we recommend taking a quick lesson. You’ll soon see why paddleboarding has become such a popular sport. Especially in a city surrounded by water, it just makes sense as a way to get outdoors right in the city.
Most people probably don’t associate whale and dolphin watching in and around New York City. But American Princess cruises take 3-½ hour tours to search for these gentle giants feeding just outside the harbor. Departures range from June to December.
Meanwhile, Long Island Whale and Seal Watching run tours all year long. Explore some of Long Islands’ sea life like whales and even seals, which is the perfect way to get a little wind in your hair while you discover some magnificent sea creatures.
New York City is a bustling city with lots of exciting things to do indoors, but there’s no better way to spend time outside than exploring all that this metropolis has to offer! Not only in the summer but all year long.
Getting outdoors doesn’t have to be difficult, even in the city. So whether hiking trails or kayaking on the Hudson River, get out there and explore these top 15 Things You Can Do Outdoors In NYC.