35 Best Outdoor Activities in NYC
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A bucket-list destination for almost every traveler is New York City. This world-famous location offers something for everyone and boasts historical landmarks, cultural attractions, outstanding shops and eateries, and so much more.
When visiting New York, you'll also find a multitude of things to do outside. Some of the best outdoor activities in NYC include strolling through public parks, sunbathing on Coney Island Beach, and shopping for treasures at the Brooklyn Flea Market.
If you love the outdoors, keep reading for 35 exciting things to do outside in the Big Apple.
Heading to New York City and planning last-minute?
When visiting New York City, book your accommodations and experiences before you go. Here are some top choices to make your trip enjoyable.
Top accommodations in New York City
- Omni Berkshire Place (rated highly)
- InterContinental New York Barclay Hotel, an IHG Hotel (5-star rating)
- CitizenM New York Times Square (4-star rating)
Top tours and experiences in New York City
- New York Helicopter Tour - Manhattan Highlights (likely to sell out)
- New York in One Day Guided Sightseeing Tour (very popular)
- Statue of Liberty & Ellis Island Tour - All Options (very popular)
- New York City Statue of Liberty Super Express Cruise (very popular)
- Circle Line - New York City Harbor Lights Cruise
- 35 New York City activities
35 Best NYC Outdoor Activities
- Walk through the New York Botanical Garden
- Look around the South Street Seaport
- Hang out at Brooklyn Bridge Park
- Admire the flowers at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden
- Appreciate the views from Hudson River Park
- Unwind at the New York Chinese Scholar's Garden
- Ride the Staten Island Ferry
- Get great views of Manhattan from Gantry Plaza State Park
- Visit Washington Square Park
- Stroll around Van Cortlandt Park
- Venture to Jacob Riis Park
- Follow the Hudson River Greenway
- Spend a day at Coney Island Beach
- Have a fun day out at Luna Park in Coney Island
- View art installation at the Socrates Sculpture Park
- Bike in Central Park
- Go on a Central Park walking tour
- Enjoy outdoor concerts and movies at Hudson Yards
- Experience Times Square
- Attend an outdoor workout class
- Skate at the Rockefeller Center Ice Rink
- Try a range of activities at Bryant Park
- Spot bald eagles at Inwood Hill Park
- Take the Roosevelt Island tram
- Let your dog play at the 72nd Street Dog Run
- Sail to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island
- Check out Flushing Meadows Corona Park
- Catch a New York Yankees game
- Find unique items at the Brooklyn Flea Market
- Read at the New York Public Library Outdoor Reading Room
- Watch a New York Jets or New York Giants game
- Sip cocktails at 230 Fifth rooftop bar
- Escape to Governors Island
- Wander along the High Line
- Bird watch at Prospect Park
New York City Activities Map
A map of New York City. Use the map to explore all the activities.
Walk through the New York Botanical Garden
One of the most beautiful outdoor attractions in NYC is the New York Botanical Garden. Founded in 1891, the 250-acre site features a variety of gardens with a range of flowers, plants, and water features.
You can also discover vegetable gardens, a children's garden, and more. Booking a New York Botanical Garden all-garden pass in advance is a great idea to ensure you get access to these stunning gardens.
Look around the South Street Seaport
A fun place to check out in NYC is the South Street Seaport, located between the financial district and the East River. As you explore, you'll discover shops and restaurants, plus lots of outdoor seating areas where you can sit and admire the river and city skyline views.
Places to stay near the South Street Seaport
- Residence Inn by Marriott New York Downtown Manhattan World Trade Center Area (rated very highly)
- One Hotel Brooklyn Bridge (5-star rating)
Hang out at Brooklyn Bridge Park
The Brooklyn Bridge Park is an 85-acre riverside park located near the entrance to the Brooklyn Bridge. If you're staying in Manhattan, you can walk along the Brooklyn Bridge to reach the park. Alternatively, you could rent a bike to cross the iconic bridge.
At the park, you can hang out on the grass or wander along the boardwalk. In addition, going to the park is one of the best things to do in NYC at night, and allows you to admire the illuminated skyline.
Stay in close proximity to Brooklyn Bridge Park - Pier 1
- Ace Hotel Brooklyn (very highly rated)
- The Lodge Red Hook
Admire the flowers at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden
Another of the best outdoor NYC activities is going to the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. Wandering through these scenic gardens is also a romantic thing for couples to do in New York City!
As you explore the 52-acre attraction, you'll get to admire a variety of floral and plant displays. Flowers to see include roses, peonies, and lilacs. In the spring, you can see the stunning cherry blossom trees in bloom too.
Accommodations close to the Brooklyn Botanic Garden
- Comfort Inn Prospect Park-Brooklyn (well-rated)
- Sheraton Brooklyn New York Hotel (chill out by the pool)
Appreciate the views from Hudson River Park
Opened in 1998, Hudson River Park is one of multiple riverside parks in NYC. As the name suggests, this 550-acre park runs along the Hudson River. At the park, you can stroll along the path next to the river admiring the vistas.
You can also hang out on the grass or attend free events, like outdoor concerts. Hudson River Park is also the ideal place to go for a run or walk your dog.
Visit the Hudson River Park with a tour
- Two-Hour Private Luxury Boat Tour in New York City During Daytime (widely acclaimed)
- Two-Hour Bike Tour of Brooklyn Bridge & Waterfront in New York City
Accommodations close to the Hudson River Park
- Riu Plaza Manhattan Times Square (loved by guests)
- Gansevoort Meatpacking (5-star rating)
Unwind at the New York Chinese Scholar's Garden
The New York Chinese Scholar's Garden is another of the stunning garden attractions in NYC. Located on Staten Island, the venue houses Asian-inspired gardens that feature Koi ponds, bamboo forests, waterfalls, and more.
The gardens are based on Ming Dynasty Gardens and were originally created in 1998 by 40 Chinese artists and craftsmen.
Ride the Staten Island Ferry
One of the best ways to see Manhattan skyline is by taking the Staten Island Ferry. You can board the ferry at the Whitehall Ferry Terminal in Manhattan. You'll then sail through the New York Harbor, taking in the views of the city and the Statue of Liberty.
Once on Staten Island, you can explore the area and simply take the ferry back whenever you like. Best of all, riding the ferry is free!
Visit the Staten Island Ferry Terminal Bar with a tour
- Half-Day Small Group Tour of Must-See New York (rated highly)
- Small Group Tour of New York With One World Observatory Visit (a top tour)
Nearest accommodations to the Staten Island Ferry Terminal Bar
- Hilton Garden Inn NYC Financial Center Manhattan Downtown (rated very highly)
- The Wagner at the Battery (5-star rating)
Get great views of Manhattan from Gantry Plaza State Park
A slightly lesser-known park in NYC that's well worth visiting is Gantry Plaza State in Long Island City, Queens. The 12-acre park sits on the East River and features manicured gardens and scenic riverside paths.
From the park, you can also get amazing vistas of NYC landmarks like the Empire State Building and the Chrysler Building.
Places to stay near Gantry Plaza State Park
- The Box House Hotel (well-regarded)
- New York Marriott Marquis (5-star luxury)
Visit Washington Square Park
One of the well-known public parks in Manhattan is Washington Square Park. Located in Greenwich Village, the park notably features the Washington Square Arch, constructed in 1891 to mark the centennial of George Washington's inauguration.
Along with seeing the arch, you can admire the park's fountain and pretty flower beds. If you're interested in exploring more of the area surrounding the park, consider taking a Greenwich Village history walking tour.
Accommodations nearby Washington Square Park
- Crosby Street Hotel (rated highly)
- The Dominick Hotel (rated 5-stars)
Stroll around Van Cortlandt Park
Another beautiful park in NYC is Van Cortlandt Park, located in the Bronx. At 1,146 acres, it's larger than the more well-known Central Park and Flushing Meadows/Corona Park.
When visiting, you can walk or bike along scenic tree-lined trails. You'll also discover meadows, wetlands, and a wildlife preserve. In addition, there are five playgrounds for little ones, plus three dog runs for your pup to enjoy.
Venture to Jacob Riis Park
Located about an hour and a half from Manhattan on the Rockaway Peninsula in Queens, you'll discover Jacob Riis Park. This attraction is a beach park that is a great place to head to on a sunny day.
Things to do at Jacob Riis Park include sunbathing, playing a game of mini-golf, and seeing the park's Art Deco bathhouse.
Follow the Hudson River Greenway
If you like to go on bike rides, one of the fun outdoor activities in NYC to enjoy is biking along the Hudson River Greenway. The 13-mile trail runs alongside the Hudson River, offering amazing views of NYC at every point. The path is also ideal for walking and jogging.
Discover the Hudson River Greenway on a tour
- The Ultimate Manhattan Sightseeing Helicopter Tour in New York (highly sought-after)
- Helicopter Tour of Manhattan, Brooklyn, & Staten Island in New York
Stay in close proximity to the Hudson River Greenway
- Hotel Lucerne (scored highly by guests)
- The Wallace Hotel (5-star rating)
Spend a day at Coney Island Beach
If you're looking for an all-day outdoor activity, going to Coney Island Beach on a sunny day is a great idea. The beach is found about an hour from Manhattan and sits next to another beach, Brighton Beach.
At the beach, you can hang out on the sand and swim in the water. You could also book a Coney Island Beach food tour, which will take you to some of the best beach-side eateries.
Stay nearby Coney Island Beach
Have a fun day out at Luna Park in Coney Island
Another fun attraction in Coney Island is Luna Park. The amusement park features a variety of rides, from those for small children like carousels to roller coasters made for thrill-seekers.
There are also carnival-style games to play, and you can pick up fun-fair snacks, like funnel cake and cotton candy. Adults and kids alike are sure to have an exciting day out at Luna Park!
View art installation at the Socrates Sculpture Park
One of the best outdoor activities in New York City for art lovers is going to Socrates Sculpture Park. This park was created to transform a former landfill site and is located in Long Island City, Queens.
As you explore the Socrates Sculpture Park, you'll discover a variety of unique sculptures and other art installations. New art exhibits are added to the park frequently, so there's always something new to see.
Accommodations near the Socrates Sculpture Park
- The Vue Hotel, Ascend Hotel Collection (rated highly)
- Hotel Nirvana (4-star rating)
Bike in Central Park
New York's Central Park is one of the most well-known public parks in the United States. As such an iconic location, a list of the best NYC outdoor activities wouldn't be complete without mentioning it!
If you want to see as much of the 843-acre park as possible, renting a bike to ride in Central Park is recommended. As you bike around, you'll discover beautiful tree-lined paths, ponds and fountains, and NY landmarks, like Belvedere Castle.
Stay in close proximity to Central Park
- Loews Regency New York Hotel (highly acclaimed)
- The Whitby Hotel (rated 5-stars)
Go on a Central Park walking tour
Another great way to explore Central Park is on a walking tour. You'll be accompanied by a guide who will teach you some fun NYC facts relating to Central Park. Along with learning more about this outdoor landmark, you'll get to spot wildlife and visit iconic parts of the park, like Strawberry Fields.
Accommodations near Central Park
- Carnegie Hotel (very highly rated)
- One Hotel Central Park
Enjoy outdoor concerts and movies at Hudson Yards
During warmer months, you can catch outdoor movies, concerts, and even exercise classes at Hudson Yards. These events generally run from the end of April through August or October, depending on the type of event. You can also watch a range of popular sporting events on a 30-foot outdoor screen.
Explore Hudson Yards with a tour
- Premier Dinner Cruise on Bateaux New York (very popular)
- Full Manhattan Island Cruise on Circle Line
Places to stay close to Hudson Yards
- Pendry Manhattan West (rated highly)
- Equinox Hotel Hudson Yards New York City (5-star rating)
Experience Times Square
Another world-famous landmark found in New York City is Times Square. The bustling entertainment venue features shops, restaurants, theaters, and street entertainers. It's also known for its many illuminated and colorful billboards.
Wandering around Times Square is an outdoor activity that you can't leave off your NYC itinerary!
Discover Times Square on a tour
- Experience NYC's Skyline & City Lights on a Helicopter Tour (high demand)
- One-Day Guided Sightseeing Tour of New York City (a sort after tour)
Places to stay close to Times Square
- CitizenM New York Times Square (rated highly)
- Margaritaville Resort Times Square (4-star rating)
Attend an outdoor workout class
If you like to work out, you'll find many great places to go for a run in NYC, and many public parks even have workout equipment. Thanks to Shape Up NYC, you can also attend outdoor workout classes.
These classes mainly take place in the summer, with options in all five boroughs. Activities to try include yoga, boot camps, and dance fitness.
Join a tour to see Manhattan
- Manhattan Highlights Helicopter Tour in New York (often fully booked)
- New York City Harbor Lights Cruise by Circle Line (a sort after tour)
Accommodations near Manhattan
- Omni Berkshire Place (4-star rating)
- Riu Plaza New York Times Square
Skate at the Rockefeller Center Ice Rink
Ice skating at Rockefeller Center with the famous Christmas tree in the background is a much-loved activity of both New Yorkers and tourists. The rink opens during the colder months, usually from November through April.
If in the city at these times, especially during the holidays, making time to ice skate is a must. The rink has also recently been converted to a roller rink for the spring and summer months.
Accommodations nearby Rockefeller Center
Visit Rockefeller Center on a tour
Try a range of activities at Bryant Park
Bryant Park is a charming 9.6-acre park that sits next to the New York Public Library. At the park, you can find lots of fun activities to enjoy.
Things to do include playing golf on a mini putting green, taking a boot camp workout class, and playing giant chess. There's also a cute carousel and ping pong tables, among other games and activities.
Explore Bryant Park on a tour
Stay nearby Bryant Park
- Arlo Midtown (well-regarded)
- Pod Times Square
Spot bald eagles at Inwood Hill Park
Inwood Hill Park sits on the far end of Manhattan and features scenic trails and the largest old-growth forest on Manhattan Island. Wildlife enthusiasts will especially want to visit this park as it's one of the top places to see bald eagles in NYC.
Take the Roosevelt Island tram
Located in the East River, Roosevelt Island is a small island that's part of the borough of Manhattan. One of the fun things to do outside in NYC is heading over to the island on the Roosevelt Island tram.
The aerial tramway runs from 59th Street and Second Avenue approximately every 15 minutes. Once on the island, you can walk along paths, admire the cherry blossoms in the spring, and see the Manhattan skyline.
Places to stay close to Roosevelt Island
- The Local NY (under $100 USD a night)
- Ravel Hotel, A Trademark Collection Hotel (4-star rating)
Let your dog play at the 72nd Street Dog Run
It's not just the humans of New York that enjoy outdoor activities! If traveling with your dog or living in NYC with a dog, you'll discover a variety of great parks for them to play at.
One of the best is the 72nd Street Dog Run at Riverside Park. There are two runs here, one for small dogs only and one for all dogs. As your pets play, you can meet other dog owners and enjoy views of the Hudson River.
Places to stay close to the West 72nd Street Dog Run
Sail to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island
The Statue of Liberty is a world-famous landmark located in NYC. If you want to get an amazing view of the iconic statue, going on a Manhattan waterfront cruise is recommended.
After passing the Statue of Liberty, you'll stop at Ellis Island, where you can learn more about US immigration from 1892 to 1924.
Nearest accommodations to the Statue of Liberty
- Hampton Inn Manhattan Downtown Financial District (rated highly)
- DoubleTree by Hilton New York Downtown (4-star)
Check out Flushing Meadows Corona Park
Another must-visit outdoor spot in Queens is Flushing Meadows-Corona Park. The 897-acre park has previously hosted the 1939 and 1964 World's Fairs.
Today, you can walk or bike in the park, enjoy the gardens, and see wildlife. There's also a lake to kayak on, and you can see the well-known globe sculpture that sits in the park.
Nearest accommodations to Flushing Meadows Corona Park
Catch a New York Yankees game
Going to a New York Yankees baseball game is an outdoor activity that's popular with locals. The Yankees play at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx, with the regular season generally running from April to the beginning of October.
Whether you're a big baseball fan or not, catching a Yankees game is a guaranteed way to make you feel like a New Yorker.
Accommodations near Yankee Stadium
- Opera House Hotel (well-regarded)
- Radio Hotel (4-star rating)
Discover Yankee Stadium on a tour
Find unique items at the Brooklyn Flea Market
Shopping for unique and interesting items at the Brooklyn Flea Market is one of the non-touristy things to do in New York City. The open-air market has a variety of stalls selling items like vintage clothing and jewelry, antique decor pieces, and a host of other offerings.
Even if you don't plan to purchase anything, exploring the quirky market is a must when in the city.
Places to stay near Flea market
- Penny Williamsburg (4-star rating)
- Pod Brooklyn
Read at the New York Public Library Outdoor Reading Room
Officially called the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts' Outdoor Reading Room, going to this attraction is one of the more unique NY outdoor activities. At the library, you can pick out a new book and head outside to the tables on the balcony to read in the fresh air.
It's also a quiet and relaxing place to study or get some work done.
Accommodations close to the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts, the Dorothy and Lewis B Cullman Center
- InterContinental New York Barclay Hotel, an IHG Hotel (rated 5-stars)
- MADE Hotel
Watch a New York Jets or New York Giants game
Another fun outdoor sporting event to attend is an NFL game. New York has two football teams, the New York Jets and the New York Giants, and both play at MetLife Stadium. While the stadium is in New Jersey, it's just across the Hudson River from NYC.
You can catch a game from September to the start of January in the regular season. If going to a game during colder months, be sure to wrap up warm!
Accommodations in close proximity to MetLife Stadium
- SpringHill Suites by Marriott East Rutherford Meadowlands Carlstadt (loved by guests)
- Holiday Inn Express Hotel & Suites Meadowlands Area, an IHG Hotel (soak up the sun poolside)
Sip cocktails at 230 Fifth rooftop bar
While a lot of these fun outdoor things to do in NYC are daytime activities, going to a rooftop is the perfect thing to do outside at night. One of the best spots in Manhattan is 230 Fifth.
The chic bar offers breathtaking vistas across the city and even has heated pods on the terrace in the winter, allowing you to enjoy the bar all year. Specialty cocktails, plus beer and wine are available, and you can also order sushi and bottle service.
Accommodations near 230 Fifth
- The Kitano Hotel New York
- Hotel Giraffe (rated very highly)
Escape to Governors Island
Another island that's still within the borough of Manhattan is Governors Island. The 172-acre island has lots of green space and stunning views of Manhattan landmarks, like One World Observatory.
Governors Island also has a kids' playground, and many events are hosted throughout the year, like concerts and markets.
Explore Governors Island on a tour
- New York Lunch Cruise (often fully booked)
- New York's Manhattan Helicopter Tour (very popular)
Accommodations in close proximity to Governors Island
Wander along the High Line
Walking along the raised park, the High Line, is one of the most relaxing things to do outside in New York City. Built on a former railway track, the High Line covers 1.45 miles and features pretty flowers and plants.
As you wander through the park, you'll also be able to take in the views of the high rise buildings around you. Going to the High Line is definitely one of the best ways to unwind and escape the bustle of the city without leaving Manhattan.
See the High Line on a tour
- Secret Food Tours' Greenwich Village Walking & Tasting Tour in New York (very popular)
- Food Tour of Chelsea Market & High Line
Accommodations nearby the High Line
- The Maritime Hotel (well-rated)
- The Hotel Chelsea (4-star rating)
Bird watch at Prospect Park
Prospect Park in Brooklyn features wetlands, forests, and trails. It's also a great place to bird-watch. Birds to see include red-tailed hawks, warblers and other songbirds, and herons.
You may also spot creatures like chipmunks and snapping turtles. Another fun thing to do in the area is taking a Prospect Park tour.
Stay near Prospect Park
No matter what you enjoy doing, this list of the best outdoor things to do in NYC should have provided you with a multitude of fun activity suggestions that get you out in the fresh air.
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- 22 Fun Facts About New York City That Will Surprise You
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