Friday, August 5, 2011

Green Five for Friday: Staycation ideas for NYC

 This summer we are trying to save some green by spending our weekends doing and seeing great new places in and around our own town, NYC.  It's no wonder that New York is one of the top tourist destinations - there is just so MUCH to do and see here!  And you don't even have to spend a lot of money if you don't want to... there are many FREE things to do! Even in a city as dense and built up as NYC, Here are my top Five for Friday destinations that are greener places to go to get some fresh air:

1. Central Park: if you visit NYC or live in the area, Central Park is a must! Central Park has 843 acres of diverse landscapes, attractions and retreat from the bustling city life!  It has 20 different playgrounds including several "adventure" playgrounds with modern play experiences, unique designs and themes - all set amongst the natural scenery of one of the nation's greatest parks.  For the kids the Central Park Conservancy hosts their free Sandbox Programs, the Conservancy's longest-running series of programming - now in its 22nd consecutive summer! Featuring dance, music and stories, these Sandbox Programs happen in different playgrounds all over Central Park Monday-Thursdays at 11am and 2pm and Fridays at 11am. For the full schedule and to find out which playground the events take place, go to:
Central Park's 250 acres of lawns and 136 acres of woodland offer a multitude of landscapes, trails and pathways for everyone from the serious hiker to the recreational stroller.  You can go hiking and rock climbing on the many outcroppings of native Manhattan Schist rock (mostly on the western and northern areas of the park), go for a nature walk along the loch in the North Woods or Ramble, bike ride along 7 miles of interior roads (closed to vehicular traffic) or spread a picnic blanket on the Sheep Meadow, Great Lawn or North Meadow for a relaxing afternoon.  for more on what to see and do in Central Park, go to:

2. Governor's Island: This little island off the southern tip of Manhattan really packs in a full day's worth of activities and events on summer weekends!  It's a perfect escape from city life and has something for everyone.  It starts with the refreshing (and free!) ferry ride to the island - there are no cars so the only transportation is either on foot or by bike, which is hugely popular on the island.  You can bring your own bike (recommended) or rent bikes on the island - getting there early helps because as I said, biking is popular and even though there are many bikes to rent, they can go fast on nice weekends. Once there, you can choose from many arts, cultural and recreational activities for all age groups - there's an interactive, sustainable sculpture garden, Children's Museum of the Arts Free Art Island Outpost Program, Added Value’s three acre organic fruit and vegetable farm, Big Apple Circus Family Fun Fest events (learn to juggle, spin plates on a stick...), Trapeze School of New York lessons, art exhibits, concerts, food, historical tours and reenactments, picnic grounds, and so much more!  This summer there is a participatory, free minigolf course, with an inspired twist to the unknown and fascinating world of bugs... Sponsored by FIGMENT, the Minigolf Course is "bug" themed this year   and free for the public to play. For more information, visit  

We took a trip down to Governor's Island last summer, spent the entire day there and had a blast!  There is just so much more happening on the island this summer - for more info on events and to plan your trip go to:

3. Beczak Environmental Education Center, Yonkers, NY:  On weekends from May through September, families with children ages three and up can head to Beczak Environmental Education Center (35 Alexander St; 914-377-1900, Free), and discover what’s hiding in the Hudson River. Get the lowdown on the art of seining (net fishing), and then troop down to the rocky beach, don a pair of waders, scoop up creatures with the net and sort the catch. The prize of the day could be an American eel, known for outsmarting captors. Cap off the outing at the Science Barge (99 Dock St; 914-375-2151, $3 suggested donation, children under 11 free), where kids can feed fish, pick basil and touch worms aboard a solar-and-wind-powered floating museum and sustainable farm.  August 13 is Summerfest - a full day packed with activities, exploration and music for the whole family!  You can paddle a kayak or take a canoe ride, enjoy Catch of the Day Seining, hot dogs, hamburgers, roast marshmallows around a campfire and more - all FREE! (2-8pm)
For more info go to:

4. Queens County Farm Museum:  The Queens County Farm Museum's history dates back to 1697; it occupies New York City's largest remaining tract of undisturbed farmland and is the only working historical farm in the City. The farm encompasses a 47-acre parcel that is the longest continuously farmed site in New York State. The site includes historic farm buildings, a greenhouse complex, livestock, farm vehicles and implements, planting fields, an orchard and herb garden. The farm animals and the tranquil agrarian environment provide the opportunity to leave the hectic daily pace behind for an enjoyable visit to a farm without leaving the City.

The Queens County Farm Museum is owned by the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation, operated by the Colonial Farmhouse Restoration Society of Bellerose, and is a member of the Historic House Trust of New York City. The Farm Museum is open year-round 7-days a week from 10:00 a.m.—5:00 p.m. On Saturdays and Sundays tours of the historic farmhouse and hayrides are available from 11:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m. (weather permitting). Animal Feed may be purchased daily in our gift shop to feed our sheep and goats. General Admission is free (except on special event days and for all group visits at all times).  for more info and to see their list of special events (not always free but usually very inexpensive), go to:

5.  Coney Island:  For a fun day at the beach with lots of waterfront activities, head to Coney Island!  This southern Brooklyn waterfront park has over 2.5 miles of beach and oceanfront complete with just about everything to please the whole family.  Although many things at Coney Island do cost money, the beach is free and so is the scenery!  There are 2 marine-themed playgrounds with water play, sandy beaches, and lots of boardwalk games and food.  If you are looking for carnival rides - Deno's Wonder Wheel Amusement Park and the new Luna Park offer numberous different rides for kids along with daring rides for older kids and adults like Lynn's Trapeze - the flying carousel! Check out the new rides, events calendar and buy your ride tickets in advance for less online (they also have group savings!):

No trip to Coney Island would be complete without a ride on the famous Cyclone (for the older kids/adults), a Nathan's Famous hot dog and other traditional boardwalk food - it might not be the healthiest food by a long shot, but on this special trip, it's just worth it!  You can also catch a cheap ballgame at MCU Park where the Brooklyn Cyclones minor league plays.  The stadium is small but very open so it is perfect for the whole family and is great to watch the sunset on a warm summer evening!  For more info on the Brooklyn Cyclones, go to:

This Saturday, Aug. 6, at Coney Island is the great Sand Sculpting Contest from 12-5pm
 near West 10th Street on the beach.  It is so amazing to see how detailed the sand creations can be!  Check out this video from last year's contest:

Enjoy the last weeks of summer!
*~ Sprout


  1. Gosh I miss the city. I lived there almost seven years and it seems like it all went by too fast! Grab every moment you have there!

    I've grabbed your button, it's at the bottom of my blog. Just wanted you to know! All the best.

  2. Stopping by from mom blog monday :)
    I love your green giveaways ... look forward to seeing some more!
    es1237 at gmail dot com


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