The sun is finally shining and all of us are feeling the itch to re-commune with nature now that it’s finally opening it’s warm arms to us. Sunbathers cover the lawns in Central Park and bike lanes seem to be overflowing with riders both young and old. While it’s easy to get out of the city to hike or kayak upstate, the first week of June offers a jam packed schedule of outdoor recreation options within the five boroughs. Now in its sixth year, OutdoorFest has created a schedule of events that shows off just how rich in opportunity our seemingly concrete city is. From nature walks to surfing, there’s something on the schedule for everyone. The best part? All of the events are accessible by subway, ferry, bike or shuttle – car optional.
Here are a few of our favorite adventures and directions on how to get there.
The Camping Adventure
The OutdoorFest Campout is a start of summer ritual for many now and is the largest campout for adults in NYC every summer. We recommend the campout for adventurers of all levels and interests as the schedule offers dozens of activities from a beginner friendly “Backpacking 101” to a more advanced “How to Start a Fire Without Flint”. Endurance athletes can enjoy an ultra run or 5K trail run while the overworked can relax in a hammock or play frisbee. Everyone joins together at night for beer and a live concert in the woods. Perhaps one of the easiest weekend getaways out there.
Cost: Starts at $69.
How to get there: Head to Battery Park where you’ll find the free Staten Island Ferry. After enjoying a 25 minute boat ride through the New York Harbor, hop on an OutdoorFest shuttle bus to the campgrounds.
This event is all about mitigating plastic usage in New York City and supporting the health of the Hudson River. The night, hosted by the Hudson River Park Estuary Lab, starts with a shoreline cleanup (outdoors). The night continues with the documentary film “The Hudson Project” and a discussion by a panel of experts on combating plastic pollution.
Cost: $0 – $5
How to Get There: Take the train to Times Square and walk west. The activities start at Pier 76.
Paddle through Brooklyn
For the truly adventurous, try canoeing down the famous Gowanus Canal. Part paddling adventure and part eco-tour, this trip offers an up-close-and personal understanding of the history of the Gowanus and the current and future efforts being made to restore the waterway to health. Alternatively, head to the open water of the NYC Harbor with the Red Hook Boaters and circumnavigate Governors Island by kayak. This event is ideal for the foodie adventurer as the trip stops on Governors Island for oysters before heading back to the beach in Red Hook for wine and cheese. Proceeds from both trips support non-profit work in the area. Pro tip: the Governors Island paddle fills up every year so snag your spot while you can.
How to Get there: Take the B57 from Downtown Brooklyn to Red Hook Terminal.
Throughout the week OutdoorFest offers various skills training after work. The “Outdoor Academy” is taught by the guides from Destination Backcountry and include everything from how to use a map & compass ($15) to a talk on survival skills (free). The trainings are designed to provide the skills and know-how for a safe and adventurous summer outside.
How to get there: These trainings take place at Columbia Sportswear’s Meatpacking location (A, L to 14th Street) and Prospect Park (F, G to 15th Street)
For the full schedule of over 20 events in the five boroughs head to outdoorfest.com/schedule. offMetro is owned by OutdoorFest LLC and shares an editorial staff.
Photos by Ben Tischler, Natasha Shapiro, Dave Knapp and Gotham Bike Tours