The words “slow travel” often bring to mind images of quiet countryside, woodland trails and local villages — basically the opposite of New York City. In reality, slow travel is a mindset and a philosophy you can incorporate into any trip, one that asks you to travel less to get more out of your journey. It helps immerse you in local culture and really feel the beat of the place you’re in. There are many activities for slow travel in New York City, here are a few of the most noteworthy to feel rejuvenated from the city that never sleeps.
Pick Cultural Experiences
As stated above, slow travel is really about understanding the local culture. Instead of spending all your time running from the Empire State Building observatory to a helicopter tour over the Hudson, opt for some authentic New York experiences. A cooking class with Pizza a Casa Pizza School takes you beyond simply eating a slice, while wandering Chelsea and perusing its hundreds of independent galleries puts you face-to-face with local artists.
City Reliquary showcases NYC history in a quirky way through artifacts like rat bones, water samples and a rotting birthday cake, as well as rotating exhibitions on themes like local bakers and NYC pizza experiences and events like bicycle block parties and show-and-tells with unique items. Greenmarket hosts an array of farmers markets around the city, while markets like Smorgasburg, Brooklyn Flea, Artists & Fleas, Brooklyn Bazaar and Renegade deliver artisanal eats and wares.
Photos by Smorgasburg Brooklyn Facebook
Photo by Grow NYC Facebook
Still not sure what to do? Ask your taxi driver or barista for a suggestion, or ask a NYC Localfu local for a cultural recommendation for $5. Free Tours by Foot also offers a variety of complimentary local tours in New York where you pay by tip.
Along with cultural experiences, choosing a random neighborhood and exploring without a guide is another way to slow down. Allow your curiosity to lead you, and spend as much time as you’d like in each place, perusing the shops, chatting with business owners and people watching at a cafe for hours. Some recommended neighborhoods include the Lower East Side, Chelsea, the East and West Villages and SoHo. Make sure to also get to the outer boroughs, as NYC is much more than just Manhattan.
Photo by Iker Alonso CC BY
Tip: In the West Village? We planned the perfect cupcake walk for you sugar lovers out there.
Spend More Time
Instead of having a New York minute, opt for a New York week, month or maybe even a year. Make it your goal to get to know the city as much as you can. From here you can take New York State day trips as needed.
Photo by Jiash Iang CC BY
Tip: Long Island Wine Country is highly recommended for a slower pace without going far.
Explore The Urban Countryside
Yes, New York City is a concrete jungle…most of the time; however, the city is loaded with urban parks which at times make you forget you’re in an urban environment. I personally love Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx for its woodland hiking and cycling, as well as the Brooklyn Botanic Garden for aromatic trails.
Photo by Michael Tapp CC BY
Photo by Craig CC BY
Photo by Urban Sea Star CC BY
Moreover, many NYC hotels offer colorful rooftop gardens paired with aerial views, such as Hotel Giraffe, The Surrey and the Waldorf Astoria New York – there are even plenty of hotels perfect for taking selfies.
Make Use Of The Sharing Economy
The sharing economy is all about locals making use of their resources for others, whether that be their car through programs like Lyft and Uber, their bikes through Spinlister, their kitchen table and cooking skills through EatWith and Feastly, their knowledge with CoarseHourse or their chef abilities through KitchenSurfing, or their NYC tips with Localfu and VoomaGo. Making use of the sharing economy provides a more authentic NYC experience, one of the main benefits of slow travel.
Photo by Feastly Facebook
Photo by Spinlister Facebook
Photo by EatWith Facebook
Find Ways To Relax
Unlike fast paced “getaways” that often leave you stressed and exhausted, slow travel allows you to take your time. New York offers many ways to relax. If you like yoga, Bryant Park and Central Park both offer al fresco classes, while the Kadampa Meditation Center has drop-in classes, meditations and retreats. For just $40 (weekdays) or $50 (weekends), the ornate Spa Castle lets you use their pools, saunas, showers, relaxation rooms and sun deck, with the option to add on body treatments and massages.
Photo by Andrew Dallos CC BY
Sarah Eve Cardell offers an array of curative classes, like yoga brunches, new moon drum circles, tea ceremonies and healing instruction.
Make Up For Spent Carbon
Along with allowing you to immerse yourself in a destination’s culture, slow travel is a more eco-friendly. The less you move, the less carbon you use, meaning less of an impact on the environment. Another way to help solve the issue of carbon spending is to buy carbon credits to offset damage done. You can do this through CarbonFund.org, which has helpful tools for calculating your carbon footprint and offsetting by paying for trees to be planted.
Bonus: you get eGift Cards to Restaurant.com for donating.
Where To Sleep in NYC?
More From The Big Apple