/ The New York City Traveler
New York — By Steve Mirsky on March 9, 2010 at 10:48 pm
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Top 5 Best Kept Outdoor Adventure Secrets in NYC

The first thing NYC visitors flock to are the legendary cultural attractions.  While Broadway and Museum Mile certainly can’t be missed, you may be surprised to learn that this city has plenty of outdoor adventures just waiting to be discovered.  And with spring in the air, now is the perfect time to plan your excursions.  Here are some ideas to get you started:

Kayaking NYC


It’s hard to imagine that you can actually canoe or kayak in the waters surrounding NYC isn’t it?  Just hanging over the railings lining the Hudson or East Rivers quickly gives you the impression that the swiftly moving currents are laced with toxins, sewage effulgence, or are at the very least extremely brackish.  What you might not know is this condition is slowly turning around thanks to groups like Going Coastal, Gowanus Dredgers Canoe Club as well as New York’s Department of Parks and Recreation.

For years, urban paddlers clandestinely and sometimes illegally plied Queens marshlands, the Hudson River waterfront all the way from Clinton down to Tribeca, as well as the notoriously fetid Gowanus Canal.  Now paddlers have it all mapped out with the New York City Water Trail.  Launch from any 28 newly restored small boat ramps along the shorelines of all five boroughs.  $15 gets you an annual launch permit good for all ramps open from April 1 to Dec. 1, dawn to dusk.


Autumn’s Hurricane season brings the best wave action to the shores of Long Beach and Rockaway.  Ever since Duke Kahanamoku popularized surfing in 1912, well established surfing communities continue to thrive mainly on the southwest facing beach breaks some right on the city’s fringe.  But by far the most powerful and consistent waves reside out on Long Island’s Montauk.

Sport Fishing

Within a 20 minute subway ride or short drive outside Manhattan, you have plenty of options for a prime saltwater fishing excursion.  Schools of striped bass and bluefish course through New York Harbor in huge numbers each autumn.

Methods for hitting the best fishing spots include standing hip-deep on the flats near Manhattan Beach at dawn, riding the bow of a charter drifting along on the tide a mile south of the Breezy Point jetty, or casting into Buttermilk Channel from the fishing pier in Red Hook, Brooklyn.

Better yet, head down to Sheepshead Bay and catch one of the party boats docked at Emmons Avenue.  The trade off for fishing fish shoulder-to-shoulder along the rail is having the benefit of a fish finder.

Rock Climbing

Inside Brooklyn Boulders

Who says there aren’t challenging precipices to explore anywhere inside NYC’s borders?  Brooklyn Boulders is the metro area’s largest indoor rock climbing destination.  With a whopping 18,000-square feet of scaling surface, climbing and bouldering here isn’t just an after thought like at other gyms that have a climbing wall in the corner.

From the outside, Brooklyn Boulders looks like the nondescript parking garage it used to be in an industrial section of Boerum Hill.  But the inside has been transformed into an urban climber’s paradise with separate areas for expert top-roping to beginner bouldering.  Seasoned climbers can hit the inverse walls, cave, or the stalactite which requires high jumping plus a difficult hook-of-the-foot maneuver.  The rest of us non-experts can scale a replica of the Brooklyn Bridge’s famous arches.


Hopping on a bike doesn’t mean dodging relentless traffic on the City’s vast street grid.  Almost making a complete circle of the island, The Manhattan Waterfront Greenway strings together Hudson River, East River, and Harlem River greenways for a 32-mile route waterfront tour.  My favorites are Hudson River Park and the stretch that passes Gracie Mansion overlooking the East River.  One of the latest improvements is turning the neglected and inaccessible Harlem River Speedway into a scenic promenade.

photos courtesy of nj.gov and brooklynboulders.com


  • Megan Pasche says:

    ohh, that kayaking looks very cool! i’m definitely going to have to check that out next time I’m in new york! I would love to do that.

  • Steve Mirsky says:

    Thanks Megan! You definitely won’t be disappointed. I recommend going with a guided tour at first…some spots can be quite turbulent…like Hells Gate

  • Matthew says:

    great that your getting the word out about brooklyn boulders, but that picture is not even close to one of brooklyn boulders. that is the extra vertical climbing center on 62nd and broadway, which closed probably 4-5 years ago.

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