It's been two years since I moved to New York City and although at times I still feel lost, I've found ways to make the city work for me. I created this travel guide to share my favorite sustainable destinations and activities with those who are visiting The Big Apple.
NYC is large and intimidating, but you've got to get out of Midtown and visit different neighborhoods to experience the diversity and culture of the city. Luckily, it's easy to get around NYC on a budget.
If you're adventurous and want to act like a true New Yorker I suggest taking the subway - it's extensive and only costs $2.75 a trip. If you get confused just ask someone for help - they'll be happy to show off their local knowledge and give you directions.
For an above-ground experience, rent a Citi Bike for the day and explore on two wheels. For just $12 you can pick up and drop off a bike at ones of the hundreds of docks all over the city (there's usually one every few blocks). Keep in mind that some areas are nearly impossible to bike through so I suggest staying on streets with protected, marked bike lanes.
UberPool and Lyft Line
If you're less inclined to walk or bike, ride services like Uber and Lyft are always available here. Try UberPool or Lyft Line - carpool services that are cheaper and greener than getting a private car.
NYC is famous for both it's five star restaurants and delicious street food, but I've listed recommendations for travelers looking for a quick snack or latte on-the-go.
If you're in the mood for yummy, reasonably priced plant-based food try by CHLOE. They have salads, burgers, bowls, smoothies, juices, desserts - you name it, they have a vegan version of it.
Bluestone Lane is an Australian coffee chain with several locations throughout New York. It may not be local but I love it because 1) their drinks are amazing (try the flat white or chai latte) 2) they have a wide variety of vegan pastries and non-dairy milks and 3) they're happy to put your drink into your own to-go mug or mason jar!
This little gem is located right near Penn Station so it's the perfect place to go at the start or end of your trip. Juicology is a health food cafe with a small-town feel serving acai bowls, matcha lattes, superfood shots, quinoa bowls and more.
Most stores in New York are not environmentally-conscious but there are a few spots to check out if you're looking for low-impact shopping.
This super cute clothing boutique in Park Slope is an ethical fashion powerhouse! Bhoomki features brands who source organic, recycled and/or artisan fabrics and their in-house line is manufactured in NYC, uses low-impact dyes and offsets shipping costs with carbon credits toward renewable energy initiative.
Package Free Shop
Find all the essentials for eco-conscious, waste-free living at Package Free Shop in Williamsburg. Package Free sources products from individuals and brands with missions to create positive environmental impact. They sell things like reusable straws, stainless steel takeout containers, bulk deodorant, bamboo toothbrushes, and more.
Fast-fashion is abundant in NYC and at times hard to resist, but the plus side to being in the fashion capital of the country is that thrift stores are bursting with good finds. My favorite secondhand shops are Buffalo Exchange and Beacon's Closet. Both of these stores have multiple locations throughout the city.
If you want to connect to nature or spend some quality time outdoors you should not come to New York, but there are a still some options for outdoor city fun.
For an active experience in one of Brooklyn's most beautiful neighborhoods, check out DUMBO Boulders. This 7,800 square foot outdoor climbing gym under the Manhattan Bridge is open seasonally and only costs $10 for a day pass.
Both Prospect Park in Brooklyn and Central Park in Manhattan have extensive walking trails, lakes and streams, and enough trees to make you temporarily forget you're in a city. There's also the High Line in Chelsea - a 1.45 mile elevated park and greenway that was constructed on the former rails of the New York Central Railroad. Governor's Island is a short ferry ride away from Manhattan and has bike trails, gardens, kayaking, a compost facility, picnic spots, and more. Pro tip - don't visit any of these spots on a weekends or days with nice weather unless you love crowds.
NYC Green Markets
Greenmarkets are NYC's farmers markets. They promote regional agriculture and ensure that New Yorkers have access to the freshest, most nutritious locally grown food the region has to offer. At the market you can pick up fresh produce or baked goods, listen to street performers, browse art from local vendors, and people watch. Greenmarkets are abundant throughout the city but only occur on certain days of the week so make sure to check each individual market's schedule before visiting.
New York City is definitely not my dream city but I'm making the best of it while I'm here. Feel free to reach out for more recommendations and suggestions!
You can find all the locations mentioned above on this interactive map.
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