The remember walking through the streets of New York when I was eight years old. I stumbled over my own feet as I stared up at the massive buildings. My dad grabbed my elbow as I nearly stumbled into an oncoming taxi cab. I stopped and watched the throngs of people passing rushing to who knows where. Even my young mind knew this was a special place. The day soon turned into night. The lights felt like magic. NYC is a magical place for me. The city enthralled me from the moment I stepped foot into its streets.
My NYC training and travel guide will show you why NYC is so fascinating. I grew up on the doorstep of New York in New Jersey. I spent 20 years exploring it’s in and outs before heading to college. Frequently, I head to NYC to capture the wonder I felt as a kid. NYC is often labeled as dirty, busy, and rude. There is so much more to it than this. Living near the city my whole life has given me an insider perspective to its real value. NYC offers amazing experiences especially outside of the touristy areas. I am here to give you the insider view of these experiences.
This first part of my NYC training and travel guide will concentrate on how to plan your trip to the city and how to train while there. Part two explores the off the beaten path sites and food.
When to Go
You can go to NYC anytime of year, it can get pretty cold in the winter (it can also dump snow). There are also fewer things going on. NYC in the late spring and early fall is a mecca of outdoor events. New Yorkers come out of hibernation and enjoy all the outdoor activities while they can. This makes summer a great time to be in NY. There are street festivals, people everywhere, and something happening on every corner. NYC is best explored on foot, so warm temperatures inspire more walking.
There are some fun events in New York in the other seasons! If you don’t mind the cold, NYC is a great time to visit during the holidays. You can see the tree at Rockefeller Center, skate in Bryant Park, walk by the beautiful displays on 5th avenue, and grab all the amazing hot beverages. It is still a great time to explore the city. Be sure to bundle up!
Planning Your Trip to NYC
A trip to NY can seem prohibitively expensive. Yet, it can be done on the cheap especially if you drive. Even if you have to or want to fly there are scores of cheap flights. Jet Blue and Southwest frequently run cheap flights out of all 3 major NY airports. You can fly into any of the three airports and take public transport to the city. Check Google Flights for the best deals. Getting from the airport to your lodging can be a bit intimidating. Take Uber Pool for the easiest experience or reserve a super shuttle. The NYC subway is also an efficient way to get from JFK to Manhattan. I recommend using Google Maps Transit to find a route. This works very well. You can do the same with LGA or EWR, but they will need bus and/or train transfers.
If you decide to drive your life will be easier. I drive every time I go to NYC. You can pretty easily find parking on the lower or upper east sides in Manhattan. Brooklyn and Queens are even easier. Be very careful with the parking signs. No standing means no parking (don’t be like my brother and park there not understanding this. He got towed). Check when street cleaning is, and check for no parking signs. Don’t park near fire hydrants. It may take a bit, but you can usually find parking.
Finding Where to Stay on the Cheap
It is worth a discussion on the neighborhoods of NYC especially if you are unfamiliar. NYC has 5 boroughs (Manhattan, The Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens, and Staten Island). Most people will want to stay in Manhattan since this where everything is happening. However, it can be expensive to stay in Manhattan. Staying in Brooklyn or Queens can give you a more local feel. It is only a short subway ride into Manhattan. If you do stay in Manhattan, look into staying in the neighborhoods outside of midtown. Not only will this give you a more authentic, local experience, it will also be cheaper. Hopping over the river to Jersey is also an option (even cheaper). The PATH runs 24/7 if you stay in Hoboken or Jersey City. Secaucus also has frequent buses and trains.
Lodging can be very expensive in NY especially if you don’t plan ahead. Air BNB is a great option especially since you can get some local advice. They will be cheaper in Queens and Brooklyn. Still, expect to pay $100-200 per night. There are some cheaper hotels as well. Hotwire has a great hot rate feature where you can search for a random hotel in the location you want.
Hotels tonight is a great app for last minute bookings. You can get a great hotel the day of or up to two days prior. I have gotten some swanky accommodation through this. Use my code JFERRARA20 to get $25 off your first booking (I get a $25 credit as well). There are a few hostels in NYC and they are a good option if you are solo. They will be a bit more expensive than typical hostels. The better ones in Manhattan will cost at least $55 per night.
Connecting With Local Groups
NY is the perfect place to connect with local training groups. Being a HUGE city it has groups for everything. The Empire Tri Club is one of the best in the northeast. It would be a great group to meet up with while you’re in town. Don’t be afraid to contact them and see if you can train with them. Tri clubs are usually very friendly and will let you train with them while you are visiting a city.
There are so countless groups and fitness activities in NYC. It can be a bear to choose one. You can even take an underwater spin class or a broadsword class. Fit Tours NYC gives a better way to explore the city while getting some fitness in. Check out their various tours. If you want some free outdoor exercise, The Rise, NYC has free outdoor classes most days! Get up early and get the day going. There are also PLENTY of running groups to check out. A lot of them are free. NYC also has a great park’s website. Here, you can find all sorts of fitness paths, courts, and fields (everything you need for some intense fitness). Lastly, check out the plethora of NYC meetups in sports and fitness.
Hit the Streets Running Hard
NYC is an amazing place to run. Despite popular belief, there are some pretty incredible running spots. Central Park is the go-to for locals and should be for you too. The Park is HUGE. I go in there and still get lost. Head into the park and get lost in a nice run. You will forget you’re in the city. Being surrounded by countless other runners is also super inspiring.
The less known running path is the East Coast Greenway on the West Side of Manhattan. It is a running/bike path that starts far into the Bronx and heads all the way to the battery (southern tip of Manhattan). It is RIGHT on the Hudson and beautiful. Remember you’re looking at the Jersey Skyline, not the NY one (I know people who have made this mistake). It can get windy but is a beautiful run with unparalleled views.
Hot NYC running and biking spots
The East side of NY also has a similar greenway if you find yourself over there. Just like any city, running near water is always the best. NYC is no exception. It is also very possible to run through the city and experience the city at its fullest. Avoid the touristy areas like Midtown since you will not be able to move.
Swim in NYC BUT Not in the Hudson
NYC has some great swimming spots especially when it’s hot out. Avoid the Hudson which is super nasty and has some ridiculous currents (not that you were thinking about it anyway). When it’s warm, NYC has some really nice public pools. You can get in for free and swim the day away. There are all over the city, so check out one that fits well into your plan for the day.
During the cold winters in NYC, finding a cheap pool is a little more difficult. Some places can charge upwards of $100 a day to use the pool (you do get access to some swanky spas and gyms though). Here are some private pool options. I am intrigued by the swanky Manhattan Plaza Health Club which charges $35-$40 per day to access its rooftop pool. If you’re in the mood for a high-class experience, check it out. NYC may be the only chance you have to do something like this! If you’re in town for a while it’s worth it to pay for a membership to the NYC Recreation Centers. It costs $150, but you can easily spend this in a few days at the private pools. Unfortunately, they don’t have day passes.
NYC also has a few beaches for summer swimming. These can be some great spots to check out and get a swim in. Kill two birds with one stone, and visit Coney Island. You can check out the famous boardwalk and swim. I won’t say that the water is clean, but hey you only live once! As you’re starting to see NYC has a lot of options for A LOT of different activities. Swimming is no different. Hopefully, you can enjoy NYC in the warmer months and access some free swimming.
Don’t be Afraid to Bike in NYC
Biking in NYC can be very intimidating. Cars, bike, people, pedicabs, and sometimes horses populate its streets. Navigating this mess of traffic can be difficult for the most experienced bikers. Fortunately, NYC has an overabundance of bike paths. The best approach is to stick these bike paths especially when you are more of an inexperienced biker. You can also avoid traffic entirely by renting a bike and biking through central park or down the greenway on the east or west side.
My recent ride through NYC
My favorite rides are down the greenways. This is where you can actually get some speed and train harder. Biking around the park also offers a great opportunity to get some training in. I also love biking across the bridges in NY. The George Washington Bridge is a popular bike route. The same goes for The Brooklyn Bridge. Check out this page for bike maps, finding more routes, and finding bike clubs. Don’t be afraid to meet up with a group who knows what they’re doing. This can calm the nerves and help you get around. Take your time when biking through NYC. Cars and people are everywhere so be safe! If you feel unsafe, walk your bike for a bit.
Explore the Big Apple the Right Way
NYC is known as a heavily populated mess of cars and pollution. Training in the city can help you avoid some of this congestion and find some cool sites. The city is huge; training can offer you the opportunity to catch some less known sites. Heading to NYC in summer is more conducive to training, but it can still be done in winter. NY has a multitude of indoor exercise options.
The best part of NYC is the diversity of options. You can find ANY activity or adventure that fits your fancy. Take your visit to NYC as a chance to explore some alternative training. Take a crazy class or go on a running or biking tour. Experience the diversity NYC has to offer! Explore the bountiful parks, bike paths, and public exercise hubs. I love training in NYC. There is always something new and interesting around the corner.
To train right in NYC follow these easy steps:
- Pick where you want to stay based on preference (budget, location, time)
- Connect with any of the multitude of local groups
- Grab a Metro Card to get around the city on the subway
- Run the greenways and through central park
- Swim in the free outdoor public pools or grab a one-day private indoor pool pass
- Bike on the greenways, bike paths, or through central park
- Explore a new and different activity!
Training in NYC is a lot of fun. Don’t let the congestion intimidate you. Get out there and explore the city! I hope this NYC Training and Travel Guide will inspire you to explore NY!
Have you trained in NYC? What are your favorite routes or spots? What are some fun or different fitness activities you have found? Let me know in the comments. As always email me with any questions.
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