Even though we live in a mega-metropolis, the “city that never sleeps,” the cultural and financial hub of the world, it doesn’t mean that we can’t get outside for some good old-fashioned summer camping activities. In fact, it’s precisely because of this hustle and bustle that we should— especially in the summer. The good news is that we don’t have to drive upstate or out to Long Island to experience nature-y, outdoorsy days of summer. New York City has plenty of places and opportunities to get in tune with Mother Nature before summer draws to a close.
867 Broadway at 18th Street, New York, NY 10003
First things first, get supplies. Head to one of the country’s 50 best family-run sporting goods stores, Paragon Sports. Located in Flatiron, Paragon has been in business for over a hundred years. The store is massive and sells just about everything you’d need for just about any sport you want, but prides itself in feeling like a “specialty shop” rather than a superstore. Need a lantern for nighttime hiking? How about a backpack, a multi-tool, some binoculars, new boots, cool new camping clothes, and a campfire percolator for your tent-side morning coffee? Paragon has you covered.
Whether hiking, biking, water sporting, or just lounging around a lake or a campfire, stay energized and keep hydrated—especially in the summer. Experts recommend that adults drink at least three liters of water a day during the summer. That fact alone is cause for a sip right now. In addition to water, you’ll want good quality snacks to keep you going. Trail mix is a great combination of high-quality fats, from nuts and seeds, and sugar, from dried fruits—both of which your body needs in order to function. Creating your own healthy and tasty trail mix is simple. You really only need four basic ingredients: nuts, seeds, dried fruit, and fun stuff. One of our favorite recipes:
¾ cup raw cashews
¾ cup raw peanuts
1 cup raw sunflower seeds
1 cup unsweetened, unsulfured cherries
½ cup chocolate peanut butter pieces
Get out on the Water
Kayaking is not only a great way to spend a summer day, it’s also a quintessential camping activity. Plus, it’s fun. Luckily, there are plenty of opportunities to kayak right here in NYC. Head over to Manhattan Kayak at the Pier 84 Boathouse, where you can take private or group lessons from beginner to advanced, and then kayak down the Hudson and around NYC. If you prefer a lake to a river and a park is more your thing, then the Loeb Boathouse in Central Park is where you want to be. Rent a kayak or a rowboat and glide out onto The Lake off East Drive at 74th Street for a great summer day on the water in Central Park.
1 – 349 Dyckman Street, New York, NY 10034
Many people may not know this, but the island of Manhattan has both natural forest and a natural salt marsh. Both of these geological gems are located in Manhattan’s northern-most point, Inwood Hill Park. This is great news for hikers, as there are several hiking trails of varying degrees of difficulty within the forest, all leading up to some of the best views of New York. Along these trails, you can also find some of the oldest trees in New York: tulip trees, oaks, and maples. As for birds and wildlife, in the words of park ranger, Teddy, “If you want to see a bald eagle, a great blue heron, a red-tailed hawk, and all this great wildlife, you don’t have to rent a car, drive upstate, or get in a plane and go all the way to Glacier National Park. You can take the A train to 207th and come to Inwood Hill Park.” It’s also a great place to try out your new hiking gear from Paragon Sports.
If you happen to find yourself around a campfire one of these summer nights, relive your childhood and break out the s’mores. The ingredients are simple and few: marshmallows, chocolate squares, and graham crackers. As for supplies, there’s just one: a skewer long enough to hold over a fire. When your marshmallow is nice and melty, use a second graham cracker to help slide it off the skewer onto the chocolate, finally placing that second graham cracker atop the entire concoction and voila— enjoy your s’mores.