Living in a big city has plenty of benefits, like public transportation, cultural activities, and a large selection of places to eat and things to do. But there's a downside to cramming all that good stuff into a rather small geographical area: It produces a severe lack of green space, and limited access to the sun, open sky, and stillness that makes getting outdoors so therapeutic. With summer on the way, city dwellers might be tempted to throw up their hands and head to the movie theaters--but wait! There's plenty of wholesome outdoor goodness to be had within the confines of a big metropolis; you just have to know where to look.
Park it at the Park
Parks were designed to be an oasis from the concrete jungle, and every major city has a public park system. We all know the big ones like Central Park or San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park, but there are hundreds of others, tucked into neighborhoods and boroughs that enjoy far less traffic. This summer, why not look up a map of your city’s park system, and make a plan to spend some time at a handful that you’ve never visited before? Bring your sunscreen, a good book, a picnic or a friend, and bask in the breeze and fresh grass. (Pictured above: Manhattan’s High Line Park).
Explore Your Amphibian Side
Does your city have a river or lake within its borders? If so, there are probably more than a couple of ways to get out on the water. In NYC, Downtown Boathouse offers free kayaking in the Hudson every weekend, from sunup to sundown. In Chicago, it’s possible to try everything from stand-up paddle boarding to water skiing. And if you enjoy fishing, or want to give your kids a chance to try this classic summertime activity, there are plenty of cities that have primo spots within eye-shot of the skyscrapers.
Go On A Walking Tour
You may live there, but when’s the last time you really explored your city? I know lots of city slickers who have never even visited their town’s most famous or historical spots. This summer, grab your camera and fanny pack and get ready to play tourist. Sign up for a walking tour, take a ferry ride, or browse peer-to-peer experience sites like Vayable and Get Your Guide to have a local guide you on a tour of street art, food truck gatherings, or local caving spots!
Get Psyched About Your Bike
Although summer may signal lazy vacation time for the kiddos, there no break in store for adults. We’ve still got work, the gym, and social activities to contend with. If your time for getting outdoors is limited, why not work it into your commute? Dust of that two-wheeled speed demon and purpose to bike anywhere and everywhere you can. To work, to school, to happy hour, or to a dinner party. Don’t have a bike? Look for a city bike sharing program with stations in your area.
Escape To The Roof
When you’re tired of being part of the rat race down on the ground, the best thing to do is go up. Way up. Throughout the world, big cities hide amazing oases up on the rooftops of skyscrapers and high rise apartments. If you have (legal and safe) access to a rooftop, it could be the perfect place to create your own staycation spot far from the hustle and bustle below. Think about bringing up a shade canopy, a portable grill, some lawn chairs or even a hammock. Invite friends and neighbors to help you build out the spot, with colored lights or a table for playing board games. At night, find a telescope to do some stargazing or roast marshmallows.
How do you enjoy the outdoors in the big city? Share your ideas in the comments!