The weather is starting to scare even the hardiest New Yorkers into hibernation. But before we exchange the booze-heavy fall social calendar for weekends and evenings on the couch, hot cocoa, DVR’d television, and being woefully boyfriended/girlfriended, it’s high time to have an adventurous day in the city — whether it’s solely for the purposes of getting action (in which case, you will undoubtedly succeed) or to throw a curve ball to your “friends who brunch.” With the right attitude (and full pocket flasks for the ride), recruiting an adventure partner/team should be easy. Some of the destinations are ambitious, some easily manageable; all require a bit of a trip from downtown Manhattan, or wherever you happen to wake up after weekend benders. Take your pick, get outside, and Twitter away for your followers who’d rather nurse hangovers from the comfort of their homes.
Plenty of dark hiding places in the shadows for…
Ambitious Riverbank State Park (Harlem): Okay, fine: it’s built on top of a residential wastewater treatment facility. But ice skating (from November to January, $5 admission) with views of the Hudson is absolutely date-friendly (for that hottie you’ve been trying to casually bed since Labor Day, or the ‘new friend’ you happened to shack with after your last drink). Riverside’s an outdoor sports complex and park on a 28-acre, multi-level landscaped recreational facility, so before you start fattening up for the Holidays, try out the tennis courts, basketball courts, softball field and hand/paddleball courts all overlooking the river. Not bad for forcing yourself to exercise.
● Head downtown a few blocks to Nectar Wine Bar for an after-exertion libation.
Manageable Fort Tryon Park (Washington Heights): Visit for: The Heather Gardens, trails, hills, trails on hills, greenery, changing foliage, and an intimate secret garden atmosphere. Given to the city by John D. Rockefeller, Jr. in 1935, this was, unlike other “presents” we’ve been given (Rudy Giuliani, the BQE, Atlantic Yards, etc), taken with open arms. Also offers panoramic views of the Hudson in Washington Heights, perfect locale for sipping a to-go Irish coffee.
● Nosh on some Italian trattoria cuisine before or after hitting the park at Bleu Evolution, even considering moving your brunch way uptown. Mimosas necessary.
Rotund, orange, hard to lift…’pumpkin’ is not a term of endearment.
Ambitious Historic Richmondtown (Staten Island): Times Square cheesy away from Times Square. It’s authentic! Employees dress in colonial garb. Enough backcountry for most New Yorkers. The trek here’s just that: a trek. Staten Island Ferry to a 30 minute ride on the S74 bus. But: Shaolin’s most revered, plump pumpkins ripe for the pickin’ and making it home with one of these babies will really feel deserved and brag-worthy. If you’re into that sort of thing.
● After stepping off the ferry, stumble into Ulysses for cheep booze and rubbing shoulders with plenty of white guys in finance (who will undoubtedly try to one-up your adventuresome spirit).
Manageable Queens Farm (Queens): Accessible via the E or F Train (to Kew Gardens/Union Turnpike Station), and activities galore to accompany pumpkin picking: The Farm Museum, hayrides, farm animals and…a corn maze! If you’re a born leader, you’ll get a group together to bask in the innocence of family-friendly fun. Trivia: It’s the only working historical farm in the city on 47 acres of land owned by the NYC Department of Parks.
● After a uncharacteristically wholesome day, roll into Eddie’s Sweet Shop for nostalgia-flavored scoops of old-school, creamy, thick ice cream, and keeping up with that good girl/good guy vibe for just a little longer.
Straddling a large animal was never so fun!
Ambitious Bronx Equestrian Center (Bronx): Trail riding through picturesque Pelham Bay Park in the Bronx runs $35 an hour. The park’s Bridle Path gives urban-weary city slickers decent respite: a micro-rural experience through lush woods just a short train ride away from Yankee Stadium.
● Venture into nearby City Island for kitschy seafood at the Black Whale and a more-than-necessary beer or two (or four) after a day of riding. Cozy setting is crucial for sealing the deal (if you opt for the impressive date option).
Manageable Kensington Stables in Prospect Park (Brooklyn): Located in Brooklyn’s Prospect Park, designed by the same architects responsible for Manhattan’s famed Central Park, the open, expansive tract of green space provides a friendly trail-riding background for novices and true equestrians alike. Royal treatment for the Borough of Kings.
● Reward yourself for kickin’ it on a horse all day, and puff a cigar, drink a bourbon, reminisce of the good ol’ days with the old school regulars at Brooklyn Social Club.
Beware roaming tweens searching for potential vampire lovers.
Ambitious Woodlawn Cemetery (Bronx): Perfect for creepy fall cemetery strolls, scattered with mausoleums and lined over rolling hills for broad, vista views. Rural take on urban burials.
● Pour one out for your lost homies at Rambling House, an Irish pub for Irish-Catholic drinkers. Live music is common and they pour a perfect pint of Guinness.
Manageable Green-Wood Cemetery (Brooklyn): Spanning 478 acres, Green-Wood is one of the largest cemeteries in the city. Resting place for many of the city’s noteables, with tombstones to match prestige. Also, must see: collection of outdoor 19th- and 20th-century statuary and mausoleums, one of the greatest in the US of A.
● Continue the creepyness into the evening and visit the Hideout, a fort-like, dark speakeasy vibe joint.
[Main image via Flickr/Creative Commons] [Third image via Flickr/Creative Commons] [Last image via Flickr/Creative Commons]