10 of the best New York adventure activities

Jan 04, 2017 BY Luke Rees

Looking for a city break with a difference? Then why not add a dash of something extra with the best New York adventure activities. With plenty of air, water and earth adventures, you can discover another side of the Big Apple.

Photo tour one of the best New York adventure activities Image courtesy of NYC Photo Safari

Here’s our pick of the city’s best active and outdoor pursuits. Most are within the city of New york, but there are a couple that are slightly out of town that were just too good to leave out.

Best New York adventure activities: Within the city

NYC Photo Safari LogoNew York City and the wider metropolitan area is a very big place. So when we say adventure activities within the city we mean located within the five New York City boroughs or Manhattan, Queens, Staten Island, Brooklyn and Bronx.

New York Surfing at Rockaway beach

At under an hour away from Manhattan, the Queens suburb of Rockaway Beach boasts huge stretches of clean beach with some pretty regular swell.

Surfing Rockhampton Beach one of the best New York adventure activities Flickr Image by Dakine Kane

There’s a choice of surf schools if you’re looking for tuition or simply join the line up and catch some waves. It’s hard to imagine as you drop in that you’re just a few miles from one of the biggest cities on the planet. This is the ultimate urban getaway and one of the best New York adventure activities.

New York bouldering and climbing

Central Park is perhaps the most iconic park space in the world, this large open area is found in the middle of Manhattan. Amongst the joggers, strollers and picnickers, you’ll also find a vibrant climbing community. With several top bouldering spots, including Cat Rock, Wave Rock and Rat Rock.

There are more climbing options on indoor climbing walls and gyms all over the city. From Manhattan to Brooklyn and Bronx to Queens there are world class facilities making climbing one of the most accessible New York adventure activities.

Bouldering Central Park one of the best New York adventure activities Flickr Image by jambo ardalan jalayer

Photo tours of the Big Apple

New York may be one of the most photographed cities on the planet but there are always new ways to get the perfect shot. Head out on a photo tour of the city with a professional photographer as your guide. They’ll take you to the best spots, providing tips about lighting and composition to help you get the perfect photo.

NYC Photo Safari LogoNYC Photo Safari runs a wide range of interesting photo tours of the city. You’ll head out in a small group with an professional photographer giving you advice and feedback throughout. It all helps you to improve your technique and you’ll head home with some stunning photos.

Visit all the top locations including Central Park and Times Square after dark. Capture iconic buildings like the magnificent Grand Central Station, and historic Brooklyn Bridge. Join one of the regular tours by NYC Photo Safari, or build your own custom trip.

Photo tours one of the best New York adventure activities Image courtesy of NYC Photo Safari

Trail running NYC’s parks

Love running but bored of pounding the pavement? Then get off road and run the trails in some of New York’s biggest parks. Van Cortlandt Park is a huge 1,000-acre-plus open space with a notoriously tough cross-country course. It’s the ideal place to put your legs to the test.

There are other cross country trails in the Bronx or you could stick in the city centre and join the other runners in Central Park. City runs don’t come with views much better than this, making it one of the best New York adventure activities.

Kayaking New York’s waterways

New York is a city built around the water, with its main focal point of Manhattan located on an island. Paddle the miles of rivers, creeks and inlets, experiencing the city from a completely different angle as explained in more detail in our article about kayaking in New York.

Kayaking one of the best New York adventure activities flickr image by ceonyc

Explore the New York City Water Trail, which covers over 160 square miles of waterways, including the Gowanus canal. Or paddle out on the Bronx River, an environmental success story complete with reintroduced herons and even turtle species.

Water ski and wakeboard the Hudson

Just over half an hour from Grand Central station and within easy reach of a number of metro stops, it’s possible to water ski and wakeboard on the Hudson River.

Both the Charles Point Marina and Macdonalds Marina (on nearby Lake Mahopac) offer tuition and facilities. Waters are clean and bottoms sandy and there are even great views back down the river to the city. You can also have a go at tubing and wake skating for something a little different.

Tribeca skate park one of the best New York adventure activities Image courtesy of NewYorkCitySkateParks.com

Skate on the West Side

Down by the water on Manhattan’s West Side, a new vast park space has been created, including a colossal 8,000 square foot skatepark. Head down with your board or skates and work on your tricks in the Tribeca Skatepark.

Designed by the legendary Andy Kessler, there are all sorts of rails and ledges to grind. There are features suitable for all skill levels, however there is no hire shop so you need your own gear.

NYC Mountain biking in Wolfe’s Pond Park

Cycling is big in NYC, but for the most part it’s moustachioed hipsters on drop bar racers or rushing cycle couriers. However, head out to Staten Island – one of the five boroughs – and you can find some challenging MTB trails in Wolfe’s Pond Park.

There are some flat trails for beginners and tougher paths for more experienced riders. This is just one of many emerging MTB scenes across the city and one of the best New York adventure activities.

Best New York adventure activities: Outside the city

Although there are a lot of adventure activities within New York City, we just had to include these two options that although outside the city they are easy to reach.

Skydiving at South Shore

Ok, so you might have to travel a little way out of the city to get to South Shore, but the 360˚ views are well worth it. How else can you get to see the famous skyline and Atlantic shore all at the same time? It’s the closest DZ to New York City and just an hour or so by car from the centre of town.

Skydive one of the best New York adventure activities Image courtesy of Long Island Skydiving Center

Alternatively if you do not have your own transport the dropzone at Long Island is the easiest to reach on public transport. Just hop on the train which takes about two hours from Grand Central Station. And lets face it, skydiving has to be one of the best New York adventure activities.

White water rafting in New York State

The city has many miles of waterway but they can’t quite offer the thrills and spills of white water. For that, you have to look a little bit outside the city limits in places like Black River Canyon, near Watertown.

At only an hour and a half from the city, the Delaware River runs between the Pocono and Catskill Mountains, with some grades I and II rapids to tackle. Also the Hudson River Gorge is another rafting hot spot in striking distance from the city. Check out our article about New York whitewater rafting for more information.

Rafting one of the best New York adventure activities Image courtesy of Aro Adventures

New York might be best known for its incredible sightseeing, world class shopping, gastronomic invention and the odd party….. But, as you can see, it is possible to enjoy the city in a completely different way by trying the best New York adventure activities above.

NYC Photo Safari LogoWe hope this article about 10 of the best New York adventure activities has you planning an exciting trip to the Big Apple. Whatever you choose to do we recommend you join a NYC Photo Safari to ensure you get the best photos from your visit.


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