What are outdoor socially distant activities to do in NYC?
May 13, 2020 10:37 AM   Subscribe

What are some outdoor activities that can be done in NYC during the weekend while respecting social distancing? Something like, a NYC audio walking tour or riding the NYC Ferry on the East River. Anything that is outdoors, can be done while wearing a mask, and where I can hopefully stay six feet away from others.
posted by andoatnp to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (10 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
FYI, the East River ferries are running at a reduced schedule and have asked people who aren't essential workers to not board.
posted by BungaDunga at 11:33 AM on May 13, 2020 [7 favorites]

I have been doing photo walks in the industrial/low-population areas near my neighborhood in Queens.
posted by Pineapplicious at 12:05 PM on May 13, 2020

Depending on your risk profile, a citibike excursion might be something to do, if there are docks in your neighborhood.

I've also been doing the photo walks, fortunately Queens has plenty of such areas. It only took me several weeks to find my camera batteries and memory card!
posted by BungaDunga at 12:09 PM on May 13, 2020

Where specifically in NYC? I have done a lot of walking around avoiding crowds in NYC and may be able to speak to your specific location.

Staten Island is a good bet for scenery and social distance, with the ferry as the choke point (though the ferries to SI are larger than the NYC ferries.) There are lots of parks, interesting old graveyards, shoreline, and cute neighborhoods.

Walking from Court Square to the Williamsburg Bridge is a nice time. You go through populated neighborhoods, but you can walk around people or take a side street easily.

The sculpture garden near the Costco in LIC is a nice place, and you can take the ferry from there to anywhere. You can also walk from there and keep the river on your right for quite a ways.

Flushing-Corona Park is a good time and a nice central hub for Queens. Houdini's grave is in Ridgewood and that's a cool visit plus an interesting walk. Greenwood Cemetery is outside and interesting...Dead Horse Bay might be closed but check and go anyway (bring bug spray.) The Bronx Zoo is located in a big park, and while the zoo might be closed, it's a nice place anyway. I'm told Jamaica Bay is great for kayaking and birding. Might also be a good time to walk all the bridges if you haven't.

I just like looking at houses and plants and reading plaques, so I advise just picking a direction and walking.
posted by blnkfrnk at 1:48 PM on May 13, 2020 [1 favorite]

Oh! Window shopping in the garment district. The side streets are pretty deserted or you can cross the street. There are lots of cool displays of sewing notions, elaborate rhinestones, etc. that are really interesting to look at even if you don't sew. Also a preponderence of dry cleaners with little dogs in the window and people moving mysterious deliveries around.
posted by blnkfrnk at 1:53 PM on May 13, 2020

Staten Island is a good bet for scenery and social distance, with the ferry as the choke point (though the ferries to SI are larger than the NYC ferries.) There are lots of parks, interesting old graveyards, shoreline, and cute neighborhoods.

Seconding this - what you want to do is get to Staten Island's Greenbelt, which is a huge swath of wooded green space in the middle of Staten Island. The trail map is here - I have walked the white trail, which runs for 7 miles and where I've sometimes seen almost as many deer as I have people, as it is largely through woods except for four or so places where you emerge from the woods at one point, cross a street, and go back into the woods on the other side. I've also hiked part of the blue trail, which skirts alongside a golf course at one point but is still pretty darn empty.

The southern end of the white trail is also accessible via a bus that runs from Staten Island to Brooklyn, so if you don't want to get on the ferry that's also an option.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:57 PM on May 13, 2020

Yes to Staten Island! Tottenville at the southern end has beaches and a sleepy, mainly old-house community that feels like time stood still, and Richmondtown has a colonial village tucked away not far from all the suburban dreck. (There's also a Tibetan art museum near Richmondtown, for visiting in the "after times.") Accessible by buses or the Staten Island Railroad, which you can get on at the ferry terminal. One of my favorite spots on the North Shore when I lived there was a patch of preserved land called the Serpentine Commons which has a fabulous view of the Verrazano Bridge (full disclosure, access to the path is in a slightly dodgy-looking neighborhood, so maybe don't go alone, but the view and the quiet are worth it).

I am also a big fan of just walking the Brooklyn Bridge and seeing where it takes me. Some times of day this might even be possible to do and still socially distance, if a sunrise walk is your thing.
posted by Otter_Handler at 3:51 AM on May 14, 2020

Oh, Tottenville! There's also a park with a historic house in it, the "Conference House", and a lovely view of the harbor. The Conference House is a fun visit in the After Times.

Or the Mt. Loretto Unique Area. You'd have to get there by Staten Island bus, but it's a pretty empty natural area; it's the site of an old orphanage that now is kept as a nature and green space preserve. It's got hiking, a beach area, and some gorgeous views. It's kinda close by Tottenville, and not that many people know about it, plus it's kind of sparse in terms of visitor services so it's pretty quiet.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:21 AM on May 14, 2020

One more Staten Island plug and I'm out, I swear! On the North side, Sailors' Snug Harbor appears to be open for walking the grounds. You won't get to see the museum but the gardens are absolutely lovely and it's got an interesting history (a retirement home for "worn-out sailors" built in the Gilded Age).
posted by Otter_Handler at 4:48 AM on May 14, 2020

If anyone is planning on visiting the Tibetan Museum in Staten Island, be sure to stop by the “Crimson Beech” nearby. It’s the only house Frank Lloyd Wright has ever designed in New York City.
posted by cazoo at 8:39 AM on May 14, 2020

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