Two girls slide through the trees of Central Park, the buildings of midtown behind them, and the green lawns of the Sheep Meadow below. The waiting queue for the zip-line snakes along a park path as pairs of two zoom along the cable above. On June 18 between 11:00 am and 4:00 pm, Central Park was transformed into a free adventure festival with games and activities for all ages. Adventures NYC brought much-loved activities like rock climbing, archery, paddle boarding, and of course zip-lining to the park for all to enjoy.
Adventures NYC first started in 2005 and has successively hosted the annual event fifteen times, each welcoming more than 20,000 parkgoers. After two years away due to the pandemic, thousands of visitors milled around the festival this weekend trying out new activities with friends and family. This year’s event was organized and run by NYC Parks in partnership with outdoor company Outside.
Near the 72nd Street entrance, food trucks send delicious aromas into the air while tents for the festival’s sponsors including Vibram, Eddie Bauer, Onewheel, Cabot, and Aruba Tourism are spaced out along the path. Under the arched dome of the Naumburg Bandshell, a woman leads an energetic dance session while kids compete in obstacle courses, diving through tunnels and scrabbling over netted structures. “We hope that New Yorkers of all ages and skill levels have fun, connect with the great outdoors, and enjoy a day of adventure,” said Megan Moriarty of NYC Parks.
If you’re looking for more free outdoor fun this summer, here are some suggestions:
1. Play ping pong at Bryant Park
Set in the center of Midtown, this park offers an array of free activities such as art projects, games, chess, and ping pong. They host movie nights, live music, and dancing on specific evenings throughout the summer. The Reading Room also presents outdoor reading, writing, and literary events in the park. For more information go to https://bryantpark.org.
2. See the stars on the High Line
The High Line is a popular destination during the day for its city views and lush planet life. When it gets dark, stop by to stargaze through telescopes that are placed along the sides of the park. Spot your favorite constellations or just enjoy the calm beauty of the night sky. For more information go to highline.org.
3. Watch a Shakespeare play in Central Park
Central Park provides a massive playground for outdoor adventures like biking, birding, games on the greens, yoga classes, concerts, or hosting a picnic under the trees. With all these options available, don’t miss out on spending an evening with Shakespeare in the Park, free to the public at The Delacorte Theater.
For more information go to https://publictheater.org/programs/shakespeare-in-the-park/free-shakespeare-in-the-park/
To look for more events in the park go to https://www.centralpark.com/things-to-do.
4. Kayak on the Hudson River
Every weekend throughout the summer, free kayaking is held at the Pier 96 Boathouse on the Hudson River Park. Everything you might need for an adventure out on the water is supplied by the organizers such as lifejackets, paddles, single or two-person kayak, and a locker for items you want to keep dry. For more information go to https://www.manhattancommunityboathouse.org.
5. Find your community garden
New York City has over 600 community gardens and many host free events and volunteer opportunities. New York Parks GreenThumb has a map of community gardens so you can find out which one is in your neighborhood and head over for some outdoor plant fun. For more information to go to https://greenthumb.nycgovparks.org/gardensearch.php#map-canvas