The streets of New York are more crowded than ever. The subways are constantly delayed. The rents are more and more expensive. Living and working in New York City is not exactly the fairy tale you thought it was originally going to be. But how do you escape it? Here are five ways to get away from NYC without actually leaving.
Visit a park
While green space in New York is at a premium and pretty hard to find, if you look, you can certainly discover some of the quietest, prettiest spots in the city. Check out parks like Conservatory Garden in Central Park, Robert F Wagner Park and Esplanade at Battery Park, Bryant Park, and Riverside Park. All are places of calm in a city of constant hustle and bustle.
The botanic gardens and zoos are also a fun way to get away – the New York Botanic Gardens has a collection of orchids that will leave you in quiet awe of nature, and the Central Park Zoo, although small, is full of animals that will entertain you no matter what your age.
Visit a church
Even if you’re not the religious sort, churches can be the quietest spots in the entire city. Enter one of the many cathedrals from the chaotic streets outside and the thick walls of the church building will automatically drown out any unwanted noise, giving you a sense of calm and peace that you would never have thought possible. Some churches also offer concerts, meals, and other programs that you can participate in if you’re looking for a way to forget about the city for a while. Head to Saint Peter’s Church in midtown and visit the Chapel of the Good Shepherd, a small space lined with white sculptures created by artist Louise Nevelson – whether you contemplate on your own life or on the artwork that fills the chapel, you’ll feel instantly happier once you’ve visited. The Cathedral Church of Saint John the Divine, the largest church in the Big Apple, is a sight to behold from both outside and in, and standing in the center of the old church staring up at the simple majesty of the building is certainly one way to put you in your place in the world.
Head to the museum
They say a picture is worth a thousand words then the museums in the city must have millions. Art can take you to anywhere in the world, both real and fictional. The most well-known artists make their home at the museums here, and you can too. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Rubin Museum, the Guggenheim, and the Museum of Modern Art have some of the best collections of art in the entire world. But even if paintings aren’t your thing, there are plenty of other museums to escape to – including historic homes like the Mount Vernon Hotel Museum or the Morris Jumel Mansion, or science and math museums like the American Museum of Natural History or the Museum of Math.
Book a night in a hotel
Of course, there’s nothing like a stay in a hotel to feel like you’re getting away for a while. Even if you’re booking a hotel in the same city you live in, the thrill of it is what makes it worthwhile. Stay in an historic hotel that will get you to love New York the way you did when you first arrived. The iconic Plaza Hotel just completed an exterior cleaning and is as spectacular as ever. The Surrey, located on the Upper East Side and named best hotel by Conde Nast this year, considers itself an escape for anyone who stays in their cosmopolitan suites. And the Standard High Line hotel, which sprawls over the new High Line park on the West Side, is yet another chic inviting spot to stay the night, with each room offering sweeping views of the city or of the river (everything looks better from up high).
Plant some seeds
Although they can be hard to find, community gardens are a great way to take your mind off of the world around you. The NYC Parks Green Thumb program is known as the largest community gardening program in the United States, and features workshops and celebrations throughout the five boroughs. Start a garden or find one on the website, and visit in person to begin your own plot of vegetables and flowers all your own.
If you happen to be one of the lucky few that has a patio or your apartment is filled with light, start your own vegetable and flower garden in breathable terra cotta pots. Head to Staten Island’s Greenbelt Native Plant Center for all your gardening needs, including native seeds and plants, tools and pots, as well as guidance on gardening.