Photograph by David Brabyn
GPS: 40°38'N 73°57'W
The best park, the truest “urban wilderness” that Frederick Law Olmsted designed is not Central Park (he was horrified when they added boulevards to the south end), but Prospect Park—in Brooklyn. Call us biased, since more than half the Adventure staff lives here, but Brooklyn is NYC’s best urban wilderness, just as Olmstead planned it.
Brooklyn is full of surprises, sometimes in the most obvious places. In the park, there’s real, intact woodland, with honest-to-goodness mountain biking and XC-skiing trails—all in the middle of a vast urban landscape. Go to Rockaway. It’s got arguably the best surf break on Long Island, and it’s possible to get there by subway (no argument: the most hardcore surfers paddle out at Rockaway, usually during hurricane season). Sometimes the surprises are unexpected, like the largest climbing gym in all five boroughs that just sprang up in an old parking garage near family-friendly Park Slope (www.brooklynboulders.com). Brooklyn's also endlessly bikeable, especially on the greenway.
Um, the options are as manifold and great as Manhattan—just less pretentious and a bit easier on the pocketbook. Di Fara is the classic slow pizza (www.difara.com), Peter Luger’s is the steakhouse (www.peterluger.com), and, hey, stroll through the waterfront DUMBO (it’s Directly Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass) to the Vinegar Hill House, in Vinegar Hill, for that quaint BK neighborhood feel (www.vinegarhillhouse.com).
Bed and Breakfast on the Park—yes, it’s a B&B, but it's in Brooklyn. It’s hip(ish). And across the street from Prospect Park (doubles from $250; www.bbnyc.com).