Much of what New York City is famous for sits along its skyline or lives behind its buildings’ doors. That’s why it’s mesmerizing to see it from a distance, whether from a car, a subway train or a plane, especially for the first time. Travelers taking flights to New York should know there are plenty of museums, theaters and other cultural offerings to experience. A person could spend months inside New York City without seeing the sun – literally.
With so much to see and do indoors, many people forget how fun NYC can be outside – both during the summer and even the winter. While visiting the Museum of Modern Art and seeing a Broadway show are must-dos, exploring the greener – or whiter – side of the Big Apple can lead to a more refreshing stay in the city that never sleeps.
With that said, here’s how to enjoy the great outdoors in the concrete jungle.
Take Pictures of Manhattan From a Sailboat
On the topic of mesmerizing views, there aren’t any better than the one of Manhattan from a sailboat. Other notable views from Manhattan’s harbor include the Statue of Liberty and One World Trade Center. Daytime cruises along the island’s banks are available daily, but the nighttime ones are the most picturesque. The blanket of city lights with a full moon peeking over it makes for a must-have shot of NYC.
Enjoy a Towering Viewpoint at Fort Tryon Park
One of the highest natural viewpoints in Manhattan, Fort Tryon Park offers unobstructed views of the George Washington Bridge, the Hudson River and the New Jersey Palisades. The park, which was once a dense forest, was made into a retreat filled with walking paths, shaded promenades and wooded groves. It’s also home to the Cloisters Museum and Gardens, which includes five reconstructed medieval cloisters.
Get Active at Brooklyn Bridge Park
Unlike many other parks in New York City, which were built to preserve pristine woodlands, the Brooklyn Bridge Park was designed with “active recreation” in mind. The 85-acre section of Brooklyn’s waterfront is now popular for its restored 1920s merry-go-round, sports fields with playgrounds and skating rink. During the summer, there’s nightly cookouts, literacy readings and movies playing with the best backdrop in NYC.
Hike the Trails at the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge
Popular among birdwatchers and turtle lovers, this park in Queens sits on more than 14 square miles of marshland and is periodically home to more than 300 bird species. The refuge is especially known for its hiking trails and the wildlife along them. There is also horseback riding, boat trips and sunset tours available at Jamaica Bay.
Play a Round of Golf at Pelham Bay Park
Filled with marshy inlets, rocky outcroppings and dense forests, this 2,766-acre park looks more like it belongs in Maine than it does in the Bronx. The city’s largest park – three times bigger than Central Park. There’s plenty to explore on these green pastures. The park’s main attractions include the Bartow-Pell Mansion Museum, Orchard Beach and the Pelham Bay Golf Course, which was recently renovated.
Watch the Ball Drop and Welcome a New Year in Times Square
Just because winters in New York City can be cold and snowy doesn’t mean the fun outside stops. In fact, the holiday season is one of the best times of the year to be outside in NYC. While standing outside in Times Square waiting for the all-important 10-second countdown to commence on New Years Eve might not be as relaxing as taking a hike through a refuge, it’s a memory worth creating when catching flights to New York to visit the bustling city.
How else can one enjoy the great outdoors in NYC’s concrete jungle? Leave a comment below.