New York City might be famous for its Broadway shows, Michelin-starred restaurants, posh brands, and street food. But did you know the city hides plenty of exciting outdoor group activities? If you are a free spirit and love exploring the wilderness, here is a list of the best outdoor group activities NYC to keep you busy.
25 Exciting Outdoor Activities in NYC
From stunning parks and exciting escape rooms to gorgeous beaches and nature trails, these are our top picks.
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Tee-off at The Golf Club
If you are a die-hard golf fan, The Golf Club at Chelsea Piers is the perfect place to hang out with your group. Challenge your friends to a tee-off as you channel your inner Tiger Woods. You can also sign up for private lessons to brush up on your skills. The place has 52 semi-covered stalls spread across four floors overlooking the Hudson River, which is perfect for practicing your swing at the driving range.
Grab a Drink at the Frying Pan
One of New York City’s trendiest bars, The Frying Pan is a floating watering hole near Chelsea Piers made out of an old Coast Guard vessel. Housed within Pier 66, The Frying Pan was THE place to hang out with friends back in the day. And while its appeal might have worn off with the youth today, it’s still one of the best outdoor group activities NYC. We recommend dropping in during weekdays to avoid the crowd since the place remains packed during weekends.
Pay Your Respects at the 9/11 Memorial
The 9/11 memorial commemorates the lives lost on September 11, 2001. The place sits at the former site of the Twin Towers and is free for visitors. Stroll around the perimeter until you reach the Reflecting Absence, two enormous pools where the water flows into a seemingly bottomless void. And don’t forget to check out the September 11 Memorial Museum.
Explore Governors Island
If you want to escape the humdrum of city life, hop aboard the Governors Island ferry and explore the small piece of land located off The Battery. Once you reach, rent a bike and explore the island with your group. And if you are tired from all that traveling, grab a quick bite at the local food vendors. The island hosts several annual events like the NYC Poetry Festival, the Pinknic Rose Festival, Governors Ball, and The Jazz Age Lawn Party. So, check out the calendar and plan your visit accordingly.
Spend a Day at the Rockefeller Center
Rockefeller Center is the hub of outdoor activities in New York City. Located in the heart of Midtown Manhattan, the place offers an endless list of entertainment options. From the ice-skating rink to a slew of posh restaurants and shopping destinations, Rockefeller Center is spread over 22 acres of prime real estate. And since you are in the neighborhood, you must visit the Empire State Building and catch the amazing panoramic views of the NYC skyline during sunset.
Take a Stroll in Central Park
One of the prime outdoor activities in New York City, Central Park is an NYC lifeline. Located in the heart of the bustling city, there are several popular group activities to try in Central Park. You can take a guided tour to uncover the park’s hidden nooks and crannies, enjoy a quiet picnic with your group, or independently explore the entire 843 acres of parkland. If you’re pressed for time, we recommend visiting the park’s three major highlights, the Bethesda Fountain, Great Lawn, and North Woods.
Walk The Highline
The Highline is another NYC icon and perfect for outdoor activities. This 1.5-mile-long elevated green corridor is built on old railway tracks running along the west side of Manhattan. The pathway was built in 2009 and offers locals and tourists some much-needed respite from the busy city life. Enjoy breathtaking views of the New York skyline and catch a glimpse of local attractions like the Vessel, Chelsea Market, Artichoke Basille’s Pizza, and the Whitney.
Check Out the Lights at Bryant Park
Bryant Park is a small patch of greenery near Times Square that comes alive after dark. It’s the perfect place to hang around with your group and enjoy the warmth of New York City. Grab a bite at the European-style food kiosks, challenge your friends to a quick ping-pong duel, check out the historic French carousel, or admire the stunning fountain. Better yet! The place is a stone’s throw from Times Square, Grand Central Terminal, and the Morgan Library if you are in the mood to explore.
Go Kayaking at Pier 26
If you’re visiting NYC during the summer, we highly recommend kayaking at Pier 26. It’s easily one of the best outdoor activities, especially when traveling with friends. You can rent a kayak from the Pier for a minimum fee and each session lasts for about 20 minutes. The boats are rented on a first come first serve basis, and there is a rush on weekends and public holidays. You can grab a quick bite at the nearby cafes and explore Tribeca, which is right next door. This isn’t the only place in NYC where you can try kayaking. Several volunteer-operated boathouses on the Hudson River offer similar services, including Pier 96.
Experience an Outdoor Theater
If you’re visiting New York City during the summer, don’t miss the NYC Parks Department’s Movies Under the Sky Program. You can watch a bunch of movies for free at specific locations like Bryant Park, Brooklyn Bridge Park, Queens Botanical Garden, the Intrepid, Astoria Waterfront, and Pier 17’s Rooftop Seaport Cinema. If the experience isn’t authentic enough, you can always visit the Brooklyn Drive-In, the Skyline Drive-In, the Bel Aire Diner’s Drive-In, and the Queens Drive-In.
Drop by the Lincoln Center
The iconic Lincoln Center is a famous New York landmark. The performing arts theater is renowned for being the home of the Metropolitan Opera, the New York Philharmonic, the Vivian Beaumont Theater, the New York City Ballet, and the Julliard School of Music. The complex has an excellent amphitheater with ample seating and amazing outdoor areas for recreation. You can stroll along the pathway, soak in the sights of the gorgeous central fountain, or make time to see a world-class live performance. Several cafes and restaurants nearby serve hot delicacies. So, grab a bite before heading out.
Explore the Hidden Food Markets of NYC
Unsurprisingly, New York City is home to several amazing food markets, each of which is a hidden gem. If this is your first visit, we’ve compiled a list of popular places to explore with your group. Hester Street Market is famous for its lobster rolls and macarons while the highlights of Queens Night Market are the Guatemalan hot dogs and bulgogi bowls. The Brooklyn Flea market serves fantastic Chinese fare and ice cream while our top picks at Long Island Flea and Food include craft beers from local microbreweries. If you like exploring farmer’s markets, drop by Union Square Greenmarket for fresh fruits, vegetables, and bread. While Time Out Market offers the best regional fares from around the world.
Experience Times Square
A trip to New York City is incomplete without a post-sunset tour of Times Square. If you detest crowds, this is not the best outdoor activity. But we promise it’ll grow on you the longer you stay. The loud noise, vibrant colors, bright lights, and cultural diversity sums up life in New York City. Be sure to take loads of glamorous photographs with the pulsating ambiance in the background. You can also grab a drink at the nearby pubs or watch a local Broadway performance on discounted tickets.
Explore the Beaches Near NYC
Most people don’t realize that New York City is situated on the coastline, meaning there are several fantastic beaches to explore. You can start the excursion from Rockaway Beach, one of the only surfing locations near NYC. The pristine beach is in Queens and is packed with outdoor activities. There is a skate park, a couple of playgrounds, a sports facility, and a boardwalk. Bathrooms and showers are pretty accessible, making it the perfect venue for an outing with friends. Some of the other notable beaches nearby include Orchard Beach and South Beach.
Take a Walking Tour of NYC
There is no better way of exploring NYC than on foot. Walking tours are an ideal way of exploring the city’s diverse culture and vibrant history. And they are perfect for large groups. You can chalk your own path through the city or join a guided tour. Most tours cover all the prominent NYC landmarks like the Survivor’s Tree, the Firefighter’s 9/11 Memorial Wall, One World Observatory, the 9/11 Museum, and St Paul’s Chapel. You can upgrade the package to include Little Italy, SoHo, Chinatown, and Greenwich Village.
Visit Washington Square Park
And since you are visiting Greenwich Village, don’t forget to drop by Washington Square Park. This vibrant green patch is right next to NYU and is teeming with college students on a break in between classes. Stroll around the park and soak up the warm ambiance as you pass street performers and speed chess players going about their usual day. Don’t miss the Stanford White Arch and the Greek Revival townhouses nearby.
Drop by The Battery
Constructed in 1823, this scenic park overlooking the New York Harbor is a hotspot for tourists. The park offers unfiltered views of the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. Nearby attractions include the Staten Island Ferry, the Seaglass Carousel, and Castle Clinton. Stroll along the several walkways here and discover amazing public art displays, gardens, the Koren War Memorial, and a statue of Italian explorer Giovanni da Verrazzano. The National Museum of the American Indian is a stone’s throw if you are a history buff like us!
Take a Walk Around Hudson Yards
Hudson Yards is a quaint gated neighborhood in West Manhattan best known for the Vessel, posh fashion brands, and picturesque views of the cityscape. If you’re looking for the best outdoor activities, there are several attractions in the area. You can watch panoramic views of the New York skyline from the Edge Observation Deck, the highest outdoor platform in the Western Horizon, admire the Vessel’s architecture, catch a live performance at the Shed, or take a stroll along the Highline.
Grab a Bite at the Electric Lemon
Located on the 24th floor of the grand Equinox Hotel, the Electric Lemon offers unparalleled views of the Hudson River. Grab a seat in the 8,000 square feet rooftop garden and admire the intrinsic sculptures and stone fountains as the chef prepares your fare. The menu includes fantastic modern American cuisine. And we recommend you try the fettuccini with black truffles anytime you visit. Make a reservation before you visit and request a rooftop table as they have the best view.
Walk Across the Brooklyn Bridge
The iconic Brooklyn Bridge is an NYC landmark that is best explored on foot. Built in 1869, this iconic 1.1-mile suspension bridge offers magnificent views of the NYC skyline. Drop in early to avoid the peak time Manhattan traffic. Walk across the stretch for the best views of the city but watch out for bikes and stay clear of the bike lane. The charming cobblestone streets near Brooklyn Bridge Park are a sight to behold. Grab a quick coffee or pizza from the many cafes and pizzerias along the way.
Spend a Day Amidst Nature at Brooklyn Botanic Garden
Spread across 52 acres of park land, the Brooklyn Botanic Garden is an excellent place to evade the humdrum of city life. Originally opened in 1911, it’s one of the best outdoor activities in NYC today. Spend a day exploring the diverse flora and fauna, admiring the large Bonsai collection, and visiting the Japanese Shinto Shrine. The other highlights of Brooklyn Botanic Garden include Daffodil Hill, the Rose Garden, the Shakespeare Garden, the Desert Pavilion, and Discovery Garden.
Explore the Marine Park Salt Marsh
Spread across 530 acres, Marine Park Salt Marsh is one of NYC’s largest green patches. Home to over 325 bird species, the place is a bird-watchers paradise. Spend a day exploring the pathways with your group and don’t forget to carry a set of binoculars. Remember to put on a pair of comfortable shoes as you will walk a lot. Take the 1.1-mile scenic hike to White Island and Gerritsen Creek and don’t miss the live musical performances along the way.
Check out the Bronx Zoo
The Bronx Zoo is one of the best places to visit with your group in NYC. The park originally opened in 1899 and is spread over 265 acres. Home to over 6,000 animals across 700 species, it’s one of the oldest zoos in the country. The highlights of Bronx Zoo include the Bug Carousel, the Congo Gorilla Forest, The Wild Asia Monorail, Tiger World, the Children’s Zoo, Treetop Adventure, etc. Be sure to collect a free map before entering to plan your route in advance. We strongly recommend booking tickets for the full experience, especially if this is your first visit.
Visit the Chinese Scholar’s Garden
There are just two Chinese Scholar’s Gardens in the United States, which makes this place one of the most popular outdoor activities in New York City. The garden was built according to traditional Chinese techniques for the Snug Harbor Cultural Center in China. Once complete, the Ming-era-styled garden was transported to Staten Island where it’s currently located. Explore the intricate craftsmanship of the many rock formations, bamboo forests, koi ponds, lilac gardens, and waterfalls. Don’t miss the Chinese mosaics, calligraphies, and paintings on display.
All Set to Explore the Great NYC Outdoors with Your Gang?
And that concludes our list of the top outdoor group activities NYC. If you need help planning an epic NYC travel itinerary for your next trip with friends or family, we have you covered! Get in touch with our expert party planners and let us organize the best NYC vacation. Choose your experience from our vast escape game selection and enjoy an adrenaline-pumping adventure with your group! So, what are you waiting for? Book your escape game escapade today!