2020 made us more familiar with the outdoors than any of us started out thinking at the beginning of 2020. And in the summers we’re usually everywhere, from Prosper Park to the Hudson River Greenway. It doesn’t matter you’re looking to find a new hobby, revive an old one, or just one of those things to do in New York that serve as a good break from your apartment. Here are some outdoor things you can do in New York before they become too cool for the mainstream.
Traverse an Urban Old-Growth Forest
Laid out along the Bronx River, to the east of the Tulip Tree Alee in the New York Botanical Garden is the Thain Family Forest. This is the largest section of old-growth forest. We repeat, it is woodland that has remained untouched for centuries — in the city!
The exact age of the woodland remains unknown, but this 50-acre offers visitors walk paths that follow the original hunting trails of the Lenape Native Americans and see marks carved by glaciers thousands of years ago! Of all the things to do in New York, this is by far one of our favorites!
Forage for Black Cherries in Forest Park
Garlic mustard, wild parsnips, and other plants safe for consumption are all commonly found in the five boroughs, but it may be challenging to find them if you don’t know where to find them.
At Forest Park near Kew Gardens during late summer, for instance, Brill will guide you to lawns fully packed with bushed loaded with elderberries and black cherries. Here’s a roster of his tours for more options!
Bike in the Bronx!
If you haven’t found the time to cycle in a while but are aching to get back, this spring is a perfect time! The High Bridge Park serves as one of the most ambitious things to do in New York, for anyone that’s into biking. The mountain-bike trail will take you on a path filled with dense woodland in Washington Heights that won’t feel like anything in the five boroughs.
On the ten-mile park trail loop in Van Cortlandt Park in North Bronx, you’ll get to cruise past two lakes as well as visual treats in the lengths of lush greenery.
If you’re looking for something easy, we suggest a ride to Randall’s Island, which has miles of car-free paths, and it is also easy to access via the Randall Island connector to the South Bronx.
Cross the City’s Oldest Standing Bridge
The High Bridge we just mentioned is also the city’s oldest standing bridge! It was built in 1848 and connects Washington Heights in Manhattan and High Bridge in the Bronx. It serves views of the Harlem River and the High Bridge Water Tower – the design of which is an artistic blend of Romanesque-Revival and new Grec architectural styles. This is a great escape for any architecture nerd that’s looking for some fun in NYC, outdoors!
Yet another fun fact, you can find this bridge located over an original Croton Aqueduct pipe, which used to carry water from the Croton River in Westchester County to Manhattan.
Find more on the High Bridge’s history here!
Spot a Hooded Merganser in Green-Wood Cemetery
New York City has always been a major stop for birds migrating on the Atlantic Flyway. If you’re a lover of birds, or if you’re craving something just a little more than a walk around your closest park, there are a bunch of spots across the city that allow for perfect viewing of this procession! These include the bigger parks like Central and Prospect but also the lesser-known spots such as alley Pond Park, North Mount Loretto State forest, and Green-Wood Cemetery! Their ponds are known to attract birds like the pied-billed grebes, green-winged teals, hooded mergansers, and American coots.
For more information on bird watching in New York, check this out!
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