New York City green spaces might seem far-fetched in a place often referred to as a “concrete jungle.” Tapping through Instagram stories of your friends relaxing on sandy beaches, hiking in the mountains or berry-picking at local farms is bound to give major nature FOMO to those spending the summer in an urban space as sprawling as New York.
While the city’s skyscrapers and bodegas certainly have their charm, green spaces can seem few and far between here. The operative word herebeing seem. It’s natural to want to reconnect with nature during the warmer months. It may come as a surprise, but you can actually do so without making the drive upstate. So, we’ve compiled a few tips on how to make the most of New York City’s green spaces this summer.
Green spaces in NYC offer unique nature experiences
Yes, Central Park is always an option (especially if you’ve never seen the “Alice in Wonderland” statue). However, the city has so many more out-of-the-box experiences to bring you closer to nature. If you’re feeling adventurous (and aren’t allergic), there are actually urban beekeepers right here in New York, some of whom offer tours of their hives.
In fact, Andrew’s Honey, a local and independent beekeeping and honey business, offers “a private tour of honeybee hives perched atop rooftops in Manhattan or other locations in NYC” for couples, groups or even just individuals. Guides provide protective wear and even offer honey for tasting. You can also arrange a tour to meet their “most impressive pollinators,” which comes with a jar of Andrew’s NYC rooftop honey.
If you’re more of an indoor person, but still want to reconnect with the Earth, consider heading downtown to The Earth Room. A bit of a strange find, this indoor sculptural experience is the effort of artist Walter de Maria and has been a part of the city art scene since 1977.
What is it, exactly? Well, it’s a room full of dirt. A whole Manhattan loft full of dirt. The areas where visitors stand are dirt-free, though, and admission is completely free. Take a moment to isolate yourself from NYC congestion by enjoying a moment of serenity in The Earth Room.
And, what is an outing in New York without a trip to a museum? Taking the 5 Train down to the Brooklyn Botanic Garden is always worthwhile, but what about going in the opposite direction, toward the Bronx? Up here, The Met Cloisters is an idyllic experience, It features both a beautiful and diverse garden as well as indoor art from the Middle Ages (of which many pieces detail pastoral scenes). Best of all, the complex overlooks the Hudson River and Tryon Park.
Eating more down to Earth
Apart from experiences, the second best part of the city is, as we all know, the food. And the drinks (but mostly the food). The ways you nourish yourself within New York can also be rooted in nature.
Cooking for yourself or looking for local products? New York City green markets are hot spots for culinary foodies. Head over to one of the many GrowNYC “Greenmarkets.” For those looking to be more in tune with plant-based eating in their efforts to channel a greener presence, the city is also rife with plant-based and vegan eateries. Home to Screamer’s Pizza in Greenpoint and Crown Heights, but also to health-conscious joints like Peacefood and Pure Kitchn in Manhattan, it’s so easy to locate a vegan restaurant in NYC that will satisfy your entire group.
Otherwise, the summer beach vibes are perfectly emulated through the Sandbar Rooftop in Chelsea. Although not quite off the beaten path, Eataly’s Serra by Birreria has a “rooftop greenhouse [that] has followed nature’s own seasonal transformation and has been overrun by large, colorful, wildflowers,” and is the perfect spot for a bite to eat as well as a cocktail or two. Or three. Rooftop bars, regardless of which one you go to, offer a breath of fresh air, for those looking to have a drink slightly elevated from the city proper.
Getting around NYC, feet to the ground
And, while considering how to get to all of these places, these eateries and bars and museums and … beehives, there’s also room to enjoy official New York City green spaces. An absolute must is The High Line. This urban green space runs on the West Side of Manhattan from 34th St down to Gansevoort St – approximately 20 blocks.
A heightened walking path with disabled accessibility, The High Line used to be a train track. While the tracks are still visible, it is now open to the public, and has been beautified with local plants, trees and wildflowers. Additionally, art fixtures and sculptures are on display for visitors.
Once again, we must mention Central Park, which can be walked, biked, driven, roller-bladed, skateboarded, you name it. Whatever mode of transportation you can dream of, you can enjoy here. Similarly, the Manhattan Waterfront Greenway is 32 miles long and goes around the island of Manhattan. It’s a public path for walking, biking and skating, with unobstructed views of the Hudson and East Rivers and plenty of trees around for shade.
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