As New York City moves along the road to recovery, more shops, restaurants, attractions and hotels—at limited capacity, with new health and safety protocols in place—are opening up. Locals and visitors can help support them, and in doing so remind themselves what makes NYC the most exciting destination in the world. In honor of Climate Week NYC, which runs September 21 to 27, we’ve got a few itinerary suggestions to help you start exploring the City again while keeping sustainability in mind. Wherever in the borough you may decide to go, make sure to follow the guidelines from the Stay Well NYC Pledge and check each individual business’ own rules. [Update, 10/7/20: Governor Cuomo’s cluster action initiative of October 6 has placed new restrictions on business activities in areas of Brooklyn and Queens, which may affect the status of select venues in this itinerary.]
Arts and Culture
The New York Botanical Garden in the Bronx has gardens in fall bloom across its 250 acres. Also on hand is the restored and recently reopened Enid A. Haupt Conservatory and its palm dome, full of aquatic plants and vines as well as tropical rainforests and cactus-filled deserts.
Another green gem is Staten Island’s Snug Harbor Cultural Center & Botanical Garden, whose extensive grounds are home to numerous botanical gardens, museums and a farm.
Speaking of agricultural sites, Staten Island’s Historic Richmond Town holds New York City’s oldest working family farm, Decker Farm. The historic complex is open for appointment-only weekend walking tours, while the farm will be open on October weekends for pumpkin picking and other family-oriented activities.
Queens County Farm Museum, which occupies the City’s largest remaining tract of undisturbed farmland, feels like it’s miles from the City. Take a hayride, check out the farmers’ market, drink a pint at the beer garden and stroll around the farm to see the livestock.
Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge in Queens is one of the City’s best-kept secrets: thousands of acres of open bay, fields and woods that are ideal for birders. More than 300 bird species have been spotted here over the past 25 years.
Bike or walk through one of NYC’s 1,700 parks, in which you can enjoy art exhibits, outdoor fitness events and plenty of family-friendly activities. Check for upcoming events at nycgovparks.org.
The Empire State Building Observatory recently underwent a renovation that included retrofitting the building to greatly increase its energy efficiency. Its 86th- and 102nd-floor observatories are open.
Hudson Yards is Manhattan’s first neighborhood development to receive LEED Gold certification. There is plenty to do here, including shopping, eating and viewing outdoor art exhibits.
Looking for some green space with a view? Head to a rooftop garden such as Brooklyn Grange’s Sunset Park Farm, which hosts open houses and a farmers’ market on Sundays from 10am to 4pm. You can also enjoy a tasting and tour at Rooftop Reds in Brooklyn, home to a rooftop vineyard and winery.
Eating and Drinking
Eating farm-fresh food in the City is easy. Restaurants like ABCV, a plant-based restaurant by Jean-Georges Vongerichten, get their ingredients from local farms. You can enjoy similarly sourced meals at nearby Union Square Café, Rosemary’s in Greenwich Village and Lighthouse in Williamsburg, all of which offer outdoor dining.
Additional restaurants open for takeout include plant-based soul-food spot Seasoned Vegan in Harlem; Spicy Moon, for vegetarian Szechuan in the East and West Villages; Williamsburg’s Modern Love; and By Chloe, which has locations in Brooklyn and Manhattan.
A more active option is to take the Sustainable Brooklyn Food and Fashion Tour offered by Like a Local, a tour company that connects visitors to independent businesses. You’ll eat, shop and perhaps sample delicious natural and organic wines along the way.
Those trying to decrease their waste while shopping should check out Package Free Shop, located at Chelsea Market in Manhattan and in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. You’ll find eco-friendly everyday items including coffee cups and cosmetics.
New York City offers plenty of greenmarkets and farm stands were you can get locally sourced products. In 2012, GrowNYC launched Greenmarket Co., which is dedicated to connecting consumers with local food producers. Such destinations across the boroughs include Union Square in Manhattan, Borough Park in Brooklyn, Elmhurst in Queens, Eastchester in the Bronx and St. George in Staten Island.
You can luxuriate and adhere to green values while staying in 1 Hotels, which are built with reclaimed materials and designed by local artists. They have a location in Brooklyn, with waterfront views of the East River and the Manhattan skyline, and one in Manhattan that’s steps from Central Park.
Andaz 5th Avenue, located across from Bryant Park, has 184 upscale, loftlike rooms and suites. The hotel recently introduced biodegradable, single-use paper room keys. They also source local food and beverage purveyors for their on-site dining.
You can also feel good about staying at The Pierre, a Taj Hotel, on the Upper East Side, which engages in sustainable initiatives related to water and energy utilization, waste management and paper usage, as well as corporate social responsibility activities.
For additional sustainability initiatives and more ways to explore New York City’s five boroughs responsibly, visit nycgo.com/green.