Even the greatest cities in the world can get claustrophobic at the best of times. Whether you’re homesick, you’ve got a lot going on at work or you’re just having a bad day, you’ll always feel refreshed after escaping the hustle and bustle or at least the illusion of escape. Here’s some suggestions for those days you can’t leave the city but you really wish you could.
There are plenty of spas across the city that offer great packages for every budget. I went to Premier 57 on Lexington Ave, a $75 day pass with hydrotherapy spa pools, multiple saunas, rooftop jacuzzis as well as meditation and sleep rooms. There’s a strict no cell phones policy that forces you to leave your phone behind and really unwind. I went with my best friend but if you were to go on your own, it may not be the best option because there was a couple in ever pool to remind you you’re forever alone.
There are so many locations in Manhattan that hold outdoor screenings but I went to one on Randall’s Island and even just the walk over the bridge and through the park was peaceful. It’s so close to Manhattan so you don’t have to feel like you’re getting on and off trains all evening. It’s also far from the business of the city and so you feel you’re miles away. Because outdoor cinemas usually begin as the sun sets, you can get there with enough time to watch the sun set yourself and it’s beautiful to watch from Randall’s Island sitting on a bench by the water. Bring a picnic, a date and you’re all set!
The North Woods in Central Park
Every inch of Central Park is stunning but you’ll find that the very bottom is always extremely busy with tourists and nearby residents walking their dogs. The same goes for the middle section of the park around the Loeb Boathouse and the Cherry Hill fountain. If you really want some recreational activity, move a little further north and try walking around the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir or further again, to The North Woods. I felt right at home getting lost through the trees and listening to the sounds of the bugs and the birds. The best part is you’ll only pass about 5-10 people as you get your Dora the Explorer on. Speaking of parks, Prospect Park in Brooklyn is also one of the bigger ones you can happily get lost in. I’d definitely recommend taking the Q train out there, just 20 minutes from Midtown.
South St Seaport
I love this area because it’s like a little village you would find by the sea in Europe (probably why I love it so much, it reminds me of home). In the summer, there’s several ice cream and food trucks to chose from and you really get the feeling you’re on vacation sitting under sun umbrellas and walking along the cobblestone pavements. Not to mention, there’s great restaurants and a movie theatre for when the sun goes down and you’re not quite ready to go home yet.
If you’re the outdoorsie type, there are a few camping ground options close by that might interest you. You’ve got Harriman State Park just an hour north by car, Malouf’s Mountain Sunset Campground a little more upstate and a couple of options closer to Montauk but that doesn’t really fit into the ‘escape the city without leaving’ category we’re going for here. Fort Wadsworth in Staten Island is very close and just $30 a night. It’s not very reclusive though if you like to feel completely surrounded by nature but hey it might make you appreciate your noisy city bedroom a little more.
Somewhat-Quiet Beach Days
When the sun shines and it’s a perfect beach day, many of the closest beaches like Jones Beach and Long Beach will get pretty crowded, but if you’re willing to take a trip a little further out from the city on Long Island, you can take your pick of beaches that are sure to be a little less noisy (and tidier) like Robert Moses Beach or Fire Island. Elsewhere, just west of Washington Heights, there’s a mini beach on the Manhattan side of the George Washington Bridge. When I say beach, I mean a little spot of sand where you can sit out and read a book or whatever it is that gives you serenity. But it’s very peaceful and somewhat secluded.
Not Your Average Bars
It’s New York City, endless bars and restaurants to discover but if you want to feel like you’re hundreds of thousands of miles away on vacation or just not in NYC, check out some of these spots.
- By the water on the Upper West Side, Boat Basin Cafe has a vacation feel to it because you can relax and look out onto the water with a cocktail and it never gets too crazy. It’s away from midtown and too far left of the city to pick up the noise and bump into tourists.
- La Caverna is a restaurant and bar in the Lower East Side and you feel like you’re entering a cave which is probably what they’re going for. If you stay down there for a couple of hours, you’ll forget just exactly where you are until you have to leave and enter the real world again.
- Surf Bar in Williamsburg is a pretty cool spot. It has sandy floors, fruity cocktails and an outdoor area like a beach bar, just like stepping into the Caribbean.
- Gallow Green is the rooftop restaurant at the McKittrick Hotel with a garden feel to it. It’s just like sitting in a greenhouse and it’s quiet enough to get some tranquility surrounded by flowers and shrubs. The best thing about it is it doesn’t offer amazing views, so it’s not your average rooftop tourist attraction.
I love love love New York City in case this blog entry has you thinking any different but we all need to unwind every now and then. The strange thing about living here is that you get used to sleeping with the sirens, the honking horns and the sounds of the subway so when you do get away to unwind, you can’t sleep without the noise. Sounds crazy, right?