Ladies and gentlemen, I have great news ! Starting today, I will publish from time to time the articles of a special guest star straight from New York with the latest information and the best things she discovers as a New Yorker. Her name is Monica Suma, she is Romanian as myself, but New Yorker by adoption. Her number 1 hobby is travel, but you can discover lots of other interesting subjects covering lifestyle, design, fashion and events from the New York area… And as autumn is such a lovely season to visit New York, here you have Monica’s tips on what to do in New York outdoors, including a checklist of upcoming events. And don’t forget to check out her blog for what’s up in the Big Apple !
Like most people, you’ve surely envisioned the Big Apple as the place of endless skyscrapers, bustling streets and overwhelming landmarks, the undeniable embodiment of what a concrete jungle is. That’s all true; however, it is also true that New York City boasts an impressive number of parks, waterfronts, jogging trails, outdoor markets and summer concerts. You could literally spend each weekend in a different part of the city, enjoying a range of fun activities and an astonishing generosity of open space. After almost seven years of living New York, the city still manages to surprise me with sights I had no idea of. Best of all, most of these outdoor attractions are free!
1. Central Park
Central Park is unquestionably no stranger to anyone visiting NYC. With 843 acres of scenic landscapes and 58 miles of pedestrian paths (open to both pedestrian and vehicular traffic from several different entries around the city), there are countless opportunities for exercise and relaxation.
Considering the sweltering heat is behind us, early fall is the best time for a picnic. Unlike other cities around the world where you are not allowed to step on the grass (sigh, I speak from experience), Central Park is notorious as a welcoming oasis to slip off those sandals, get on your back and simply unwind. Who hasn’t seen countless movies with people laid out on the grass? Bring along a couple of friends, a large blanket and a basket full of snacks, and you should have a swell picnic day (fyi, no alcohol, grilling or barbecuing allowed!).
If keeping fit is your way of unwinding, then join the hundreds of joggers and cyclers along the designated trails. The Jackie Kennedy Onassis Reservoir – named in honor of the former first lady who used to run there – is the perfect jogging spot given its 1.58 track that encircles the 106-acre body of water; the ducks are pretty cute, too! For more avid runners, you can register for the ING NYC Marathon, to be held November 4th of this year.
After jogging, treat yourself to a drink at the Central Park Boathouse, by the bar, or come back for a romantic dinner by the lake. You might even witness a couple getting engaged over the stunning setting. Weather permitting, classic Venetian gondola tours are available on the lake. The Gondola holds up to 6 people and can be reserved at $30 per half hour.
For kids’ entertainment, there are 21 playgrounds scattered throughout the park, as well as the fun Central Park Zoo. Don’t be surprised if you run in a celebrity or two, entertaining their kids.
Apart from the above mentioned, there are also a multitude of entertainment options. Although the highly celebrated Shakespeare in the Park has recently come to an end, be sure to frequently check for future plays and concerts held in the park. For more general information, visit the FAQ page.
2. Battery Park
My favorite location in the entire New York City is Battery Park. Located close to Ground Zero and the World Trade Center, its vast boardwalk with amazing Hudson River views, overlooking the Statue of Liberty, is one of the most pleasant walks the city has to offer.
The Manhattan Waterfront Greenway (also called the Hudson Trail or the West Side Highway Bike Path) starts from the tip of Manhattan at Battery Park, with a dedicated cycle route surrounding the circumference of the island. The West Side Highway is not only a bikers’ paradise, but also a significant artery of NYC summer active life on the West Side.
Starting from downtown, all the way to Upper West Side, you can undergo numerous leisure activities to fill one full day. Going past Battery Park City and the North Cove Marina, stop by the Winter Gardens Atrium to admire its futuristic modern design and its indoor park theme.
Further up, you can stop by the Hudson River Park, by the free tennis courts (the wait might be significant) and by the handball or the basketball courts, followed by the Chelsea Piers. If in need of a break, stop by The Frying Pan, a ship by the water offering light snacks and drinks. Having charged, you can visit The Intrepid Air & Space Museum, a former spaceship carrying aircrafts during World War II. I wouldn’t recommend going on a Saturday, for the line can be quite long. You can finish the day with refreshments at Boat Basin on the Upper West Side.
3. High Line
Also located on the West Side is the newly developed High Line, steps away from the affluent Meatpacking District, a cobblestone epicenter of cutting-edge fashion, food and design. With its posh designer stores, trendy restaurants, top-tier hotels, and exclusive nightclubs, going up on to the High Line is like stepping away from the Meatpacking eclectic madness. Raised above street level, on top of a former freight track, is a long paved path adorned with wild vegetation and flowers, complimented by generous lounge chairs for soaking up some sun.
The High Line serpents between buildings, running north to south in a snaky line between West 12th and West 30th Streets. Along its narrow concrete path, tourists promenade. The most interesting side, is perhaps, walking under the stylish Standard Hotel, best known for its exclusive clientele and see-through rooms. If you want to stop for refreshments, there are plenty of food trucks (affordable prices, mind you, unlike the much-pricier ones downstairs), offering quick bites and drinks. There is plenty of seating, as well as a terrace overlooking Hudson River.
If only to glance your eyes, Chelsea Market, an Italian inspired market is a must-see, five minutes away from the High Line.
4. Cycling over Williamsburg Bridge to Brooklyn
Back to where we left off a few paragraphs ago: Upper West Side. Whoever loves to bike must learn an alternative route, which is cycling to Brooklyn from the UWS. Depending on how skilled or novice you are, it can take up to two hours.
Start off the Hudson Greenway again, but this time, once arrived at East River Park, go onto Williamsburg Bridge. This suspension bridge is just over a mile long, with one level dedicated to walkers and cyclists. It’s not the easiest ride, but it’s certainly worth the effort. Remember to stop along the way, to admire the Manhattan skyline. It is one of the best places to admire an overall view from south to north.
Once arrived into Brooklyn’s hip and artsy Williamsburg, hit Brooklyn’s waterfront by East River State Park. On Saturdays, rain or shine, up to November 17th, you can have a bite at the vibrant Smorgasburg food market. Judging by the queue, Mighty Quinn’s brisket is the most popular item there.
5. Brooklyn Bridge Park
Another wildly popular Brooklyn outdoor area is the Brooklyn Bridge Park. Close to Dumbo’s startup “Silicon Beach”, the park is a haven of green space, sports activities, music festivals and movie screenings. You can also undergo some people watching, or better said hipster watching.
There is something for everyone to do. There is free kayaking by the Pier 1 beach, free sand volleyball, and free workouts by the spectacular waterfront, a fun carousel, as well as regular late-night entertainment. The same Smorgasburg food market is expanding to the Tobacco Warehouse beginning with September 9th, up to November 18th, every Sunday.
I simply went for a picnic with friends, after with we stopped at the legendary Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory. Not far from this, a few streets up is the incredibly popular pizza place Grimaldi’s, whose long lines never seem to go away. In recent years, Zagat Survey has rated Grimaldi’s No. 1 Pizzeria in New York. Grimaldi’s Pizzeria was also chosen as one of the five best pizzerias in United States by the Food Network. As Grimaldi’s does not take reservations, lines for tables are often long in summertime and extend far up Old Fulton Street.
So, don’t delay and book a flight for a fall trip, especially when you can find cheap flights to New York !
In a further episode, we will look at the most popular day trips and weekend escapades, one or two hours away from the Big Apple.
Sights of New York
Wow ! A rainbow in Central Park !
The Reservoir ducks
The famous tunnel
A relaxation haven in the Boathouse
A favorite activity in Central Park – going for a picnic
Inside the Winter Gardens Atrium
And the famous New York landmark (Can anyone guess what this is ?)
High Line from above
High Line – a place to walk
Manhattan view while cycling
Brooklyn Bridge Park sunset