Five Places to Enjoy Outdoor Adventure in NYC

Manhattan Community Boathouse kayaking

At first, New York City might not appear to be a mecca for outdoor adventure, but city dwellers may be surprised to find just how many activities are just a quick subway ride away. In the midst of our urban jungle, waves, rides, and trails abound. Seeking the best local intel on where to pedal, paddle, surf and reconnect with nature this summer, we caught up with OutdoorFest’s Sarah Knapp for her five favorite tips in NYC and just beyond.

Escape by Bike to the Old Putnam Trail 

While traffic lights and potholes can plague NYC cyclists, the “Old Put,” a path next to an old rail line, offers smooth riding and gorgeous views. Starting in Van Cortlandt Park, the flat trail meanders north through Westchester up to the Captain Lawrence Brewery. Relax with a beer before catching Metro-North home.

Hikers and Trail Runners Hit the Jackpot at the Staten Island Greenbelt

With over 35 miles of tree-lined trails and zero noise pollution, the Staten Island Greenbelt offers 3,000 acres of forested land to explore. Accessible from the Staten Island Ferry, then the S61 bus or bike, the Greenbelt is one of the city’s best places to spend a peaceful afternoon.

Aquatic Bliss on the Hudson River 

Living on an island means you’re surrounded by plenty of aquatic adventures. Whether by kayak, sailboat, canoe or stand up paddleboard, you can easily explore NYC from a completely different perspective. Try the Manhattan Community Boathouse for a free paddle.

NYC’s Beach Town, Rockaway Beach  
Rockaway Beach Queens

Queens has its very own bustling beach town complete with surf shops, taco stands, sunbathers and the Riis Beach Bazaar. Rockaway Park offers surf camps and lessons for every level.

Car-Free Fun on Governors Island

Though it’s definitely not wilderness, Governors Island’s car-free roads and parks provide an easy escape that doesn’t include horns or sirens, just yoga, jazz festivals, frisbees, fantastic food and now Citi Biking. The Trust for Governors Island works with local organizations to provide summer programming that is mostly free.

Photo credits: Dan Nguyen, Gotham Bicycle Tours, Dorothy Reilly, Allison Berman