Mimmi Montgomery Assistant Features Editor
As spring break ends, winter officially turns into spring. What better way to welcome warmer weather, tree buds opening and finally having hung your winter jacket in the closet, than spending the first spring days in New York City? Here are four budget-friendly spring activity suggestions that are great for a weekend excursion.
Rent a Bike in Central Park:
The world-famous Central Park, located between the Upper West and Upper East Sides, is huge. Why not explore the park by bike?
Renting a bike is a great opportunity to enjoy the scenery in the park at your own pace. In addition, it is ideal to visit many famous spots in less time than it would take on foot. Make sure to include the Conservatory Garden, the Belvedere Castle, the Jackie Onassis Reservoir and the Bow Bridge, to name a few.
There is a basket included in Central Park’s official bike rental, so it is convenient to buy food or bring a homemade lunch and then sit down for a picnic at the location of your choice. Why not join many other picnickers on the Great Lawn located in the middle of the park, behind the Metropolitan Museum of Art. If arriving by subway, get off at 86th Street on subway trains 4, 5 or 6.
The official Central Park bike rental is located at 1710 Broadway. You can reserve the bike 24 hours prior by calling (347) 871-4499. One hour costs $15, add an extra $5 for two hours or choose a whole-day rental for $40. The price includes a helmet, a map, a lock and, as mentioned, a basket.
Bring Your Books to Bryant Park:
During spring, Bryant Park transforms from an ice-skating rink to a big, green lawn surrounded by French-style tables and chairs where people can sit down for coffee, conversation and even studying. It is located between Fifth and Sixth Avenue and 40th and 42nd Streets in Midtown. You can get off at Bryant Park/ 42nd Street subway station with B, D, F or M subway lines.
Bryant Park offers free wireless internet, which is a great benefit if looking to combine a spring day in the sun with catching up on your coursework. Multiple coffee shops, including Starbucks and Le Pain Quotidien, surround the park. You can buy something to drink or eat and bring it with you to the table.
One might imagine that the location in the middle of the city might be noisy, crowded and inappropriate for reading, but surrounded by skyscrapers, Bryant Park feels more like a peaceful and colorful oasis.
Whenever you need a break from too much studying, relax with some of the park games that are offered. On 40th Street Plaza, a new games area has lawn and tabletop games for no charge. Scrabble, Chinese Chess and Kubb are just some of the games and activities from which to choose.
Ice Cream in Washington Square:
On Fifth Avenue Waverly Place and West Fourth Street and MacDougal Street lies Washington Square Park, a 9.75-acre large gathering spot for avant-garde artists, tourists, students, dog-owners and anyone who enjoys spending time outdoors. In fact, there is so much to look at here that a short stroll through the park could easily end up lasting hours.
There are many restaurants, coffee shops and venues surrounding the park where you can buy ice cream or frozen yogurt. Try Popbar, located at 5 Carmine Street, which offers “ice cream on a stick” and a wide selection of popsicles in multiple flavors and colors. Why not treat yourself to this season’s first ice cream and then sit down by the large fountain, which faces the grand marble arch donated to the park in 1895 for George Washington’s inauguration.
Make sure to turn your head from left to right and then back again. You will not be surprised if there is a man fearlessly mastering a unicycle, a woman professionally juggling with beer-bottles, a break dance group from Brooklyn performing their latest number to pumping music or a street artist preparing a comical drawing of a couple in love.
Then, of course, there are hundreds of dogs and their owners. Washington Square is a popular spot for dog walking. During weekends, there are also markets where one can buy or look at everything from clothes and books to food.
A Stroll on the Highline:
In 1999, community residents of Manhattan rebuilt what used to be an old freight rail line located 30 feet above street level into a public park known as the Highline. Today, it is a pathway that stretches from Gansevoort Street to West 30th Street on the Lower West Side.
There are multiple access points to the Highline, including West 18th Street, 23rd Street and 28 Street. Visit www.thehighline.org for more information. During the winter, parts of the Highline close due to maintenance, but as spring approaches, visitors return.
Highline is the ultimate place to take a stroll with friends, go for a jog or power walk or simply relax while people watching. The largest benefit is that a day on the Highline is entirely free. It is also not as crowded as many other Manhattan must-see destinations. Do not miss bringing your friends or perhaps a good book to the green lawn on 23rd Street. The lawn area is ideal for picnics or relaxing in the sun. There are also wooden benches and sun chairs located along the pathway where one can sit or lie down to take in the view of the Hudson River and the New Jersey skyline. And of course, remember to look at the old rails and the beautiful plants and trees that now cover large parts of it.
With these four suggestions to choose from, get on the train to Manhattan to enjoy the first days of spring to the fullest!