Living in New York City, it can be easy to take for granted everything that’s right here in our backyard. People in other places would surely kill for the opportunities we have to see and experience so many things without even needing a car, and yet; how often have you found yourself lying around the house, feeling bored and restless? Worse, how many times have you heard your kids whine, “There’s nothing to do”? When this happens, pack up the kids and head outside: There’s a world of adventures to be had right in your backyard when you live in New York City, and here are some ideas to get you started.
Get a Taste of Something New
All across the five boroughs are plenty of places to eat, but I’ll bet that you’ve been sticking to the same few takeout joints most of the time. Your dull dinner routine could use a cleaning! The dining services New York City residents have at their fingertips offer a wide range of food options. Try out a new restaurant, food truck, or street-corner cart. Better yet, venture out of your comfort zone by trying a cuisine you haven’t had before, like Korean or Peruvian.
Learn a Little History
All around the city, there are signs that point out the history behind the names of local parks, playgrounds, and other recreational facilities. Have you ever stopped to read them? You could learn a lot by slowing down and finding out how these places got their names. And with more than 1,700 such places all across the city, there’s sure to be one not too far from where you live.
Get Some Culture at a Cafe
Your neighborhood coffeehouse isn’t just the best place to stop for a latte on the way to work every morning; it’s also likely to be an arts venue. Next time you’re in there, check out the bulletin board or the sidewalk sign out front, and you’re likely to see an interesting event being advertised. You might be able to take in an art exhibit or a poetry reading along with your favorite source of caffeine!
Listen to the Sounds of the City
The city is filled with musicians, from big-name artists to local bands, to enthusiastic amateurs. Check out the event listings for your nearest arts venue: You’re sure to find live music not far from home, no matter what neighborhood you live in. From Madison Square Garden to a local cafe or library, you’re sure to find acts big and small taking the mic. Best of all, while some of these acts charge a pretty penny, many local shows cost nothing at all – but, please, do tip them and support local arts.
See Live Theater
New York City has so many great opportunities to see live theater, and I feel like a lot of times, we take them for granted. Sure, there are the Broadway shows that lure locals along with crowds of tourists, but there are also plenty of other places where you can see actors practice their craft. For instance, in the summertime, keep an eye out for events at your local park. Many parks become theaters during the summer, with Shakespeare’s works being especially popular options for outdoor performances.
Plan an Island Getaway
If you’re looking to escape your neighborhood, but don’t want to go too far, head off to Governors Island. This easy-to-reach island in New York Harbor is a scenic place to relax and enjoy a leisurely day, and it also hosts plenty of interesting events, especially during the summer. The island is also a historical site, hosting an active military base for centuries, until it closed down in 1996. Make sure to check out Castle Williams, the nation’s first circular fortification.
[https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Ny-botanical-haupt-conservatory.JPG Photo by Dmadeo (Wikimedia Commons) ]
Visit a Landmark
Where else but New York City can you find a national historic landmark practically around every corner? No matter what borough you’re in, there’s bound to be an interesting historic spot near you. Sure, there are plenty in Manhattan, but if you’re in Queens, you could check out the longtime home of jazz great Louis Armstrong. In the Bronx? Go explore the New York Botanical Garden. Jackie Robinson’s home can be found in Brooklyn. And Voorlezer’s House, the oldest surviving schoolhouse in America, is on Staten Island.
Step onto a Former Movie Set
One of the fun things about New York City is that many locations here have been used as backdrops for scenes from movies and television. It might seem like a touristy thing to do, but it can be fun to go find the places where some of your favorite big-screen and small-screen scenes were shot. For instance, you could take a whole tour of the city based around locations from Seinfeld. And for a great lunch coupled with some movie history, get a pastrami sandwich at Katz’s and sit at the same table where Meg Ryan and Billy Crystal sat in When Harry Met Sally.
Take a Two-Wheeled Tour
You miss seeing a lot of the sights when you always ride the subway. For a better view of your neighborhood and some exercise, too, try checking out your neighborhood by bike. Just make sure to be careful and obey all traffic laws, and of course, wear a helmet. Don’t have a bike? Start your trip at the nearest Citi Bike station.
Get a New Perspective
To make even familiar sights seem new and interesting, try carrying a camera around your block and snapping photos as you go. Challenge yourself to pay close attention to your surroundings and take pictures of details you hadn’t noticed before. Or try looking at things from a different angle, like up close or from below. Even boring, everyday things can look like fascinating works of art when photographed in a new way.
When I’m not hard at work for one of the best cleaning services New York City has to offer, I like to take advantage of everything that this great city has to offer. Perhaps it’s because I’m not a city native, but even born-and-bred New Yorkers shouldn’t take the sights and sounds of the city for granted. Next time you find yourself bored with the same old routine, get out and explore your neighborhood. You never know what fascinating thing you might discover!