Even in a city of concrete, the great outdoors aren't too far. In fact, if you're itching to explore nature this summer, you don't have to leave New York City at all. Camping, kayaking or hiking are all within your reach. So pack a lunch, put on your sneakers, apply some sunscreen and get outside.
Instead of studio spinning, cycle in the sunshine. On Saturdays at 9 a.m., NYC Velo leads a 3.5-hour ride. It changes weekly but a typical trail might follow the northbound Hudson River bike path and journey over the George Washington Bridge to River Road in the Palisades State Park before stopping to refuel in Piermont, New York. Taking Route 9W to the bridge, on the return, the peddling pack makes its way back to Gotham West Market. FREE; NYC Velo, 600 11th Ave., 212-582-7949, gothamwestmarket.com (Credit: iStock)
Now through October, kids and adults can kayak the Hudson River for 20 minutes at a time on Saturdays, Sundays and holidays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., and weekdays from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. For a longer ride, three-hour, 5-mile Hudson River trips are offered on weekend mornings. Not a pro? Classes to learn techniques such as turning, forward stroke, self-rescue and assisted rescue, are available. FREE; Manhattan Community Boathouse, Pier 96 at 56th Street, manhattancommunityboathouse.org (Credit: Julie Ransom)
Get moving in this piece of old New York. Oaks, tulip and maple trees set the scene for a trail filled with prehistoric caves and valleys. There's also a bike path and athletic fields for more fun in the sun. When you're ready for a break, fuel up at the barbecue area. FREE; Inwood Hill Park, Dyckman Street and the Hudson River, nycgovparks.org (Credit: NYC Parks Department)
Private pools are few and far between in NYC. But throughout the five boroughs, you have plenty of ways to get some sun and splash around. The ciy's public outdoor Olympic-sized, pop-up and wading pools open June 27, from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. At some locations, there are lap swim hours for early risers and night owls, too. Want to get some salt in your hair and feel the sand under your feet? The city also maintains 14 miles of beaches, from the recently reopened Fort Tilden to the nearby beaches at Jacob Riis Park to the amusement land that is Coney Island to Staten Island's scenic South Beach. During beach season, from now until Labor Day, lifeguards are on duty from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. FREE; various locations, nycgovparks.org (Credit: Getty Images)
Forget NYC's luxurious hotels -- be one with nature during an overnight stay at Gateway National Recreation Area. Campers can sleep under the stars, as well as boat, fish, horseback ride, bike and swim at one of two campgrounds: Floyd Bennett Field in Brooklyn and Fort Wadsworth in Staten Island. Sites are large enough for two or three tents, so round up some friends, make a reservation, pack the bug spray and sleeping bags and put the cell phones away. $20/day. Camp Gateway at Floyd Bennett Field, Brooklyn, 718-338-3799; Staten Island, 210 New York Ave., 718-354-4655, recreation.gov (Credit: Camp Gateway)
For those looking to get their hands dirty, planting, composting and plant maintenance workshops are in session this summer. Never mind your skill set: whether you're a novice or have a green thumb, all are welcome to the space, which supplies 100 varieties of fresh vegetables, herbs, and flowers. Farmer Zach Pickens directs classes during select Saturdays at 9:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. FREE; Riverpark Farm, 450 E. 29th St., riverparkfarm.com (Credit: Riverpark Farm)