Over the past decade, more than $400 million have been poured into converting industrial land and abandoned piers along the Hudson River into the Hudson River Park (www.hudsonriverpark.org) a 5½-mile stretch of parks, bike and pedestrian paths, tennis and basketball courts, and places to fish or launch a kayak. It’s quickly become a favorite escape for nature-starved, stressed-out New Yorkers and tourists. The paths run from Battery Park up to 59th Street, passing more than half a dozen converted piers with green space, outdoor theaters, and benches. But most New Yorkers agree the best stretch lies below 23rd Street.
Pier 45 is perfect for lying out on the grass and taking in a rare sense of open space. Enjoy the views of the Statue of Liberty and the New Jersey shoreline, a sunset, or watch the river traffic ballet of police and tourist helicopters, tugboats, cruise-ships, and kayaks. The last can be rented for free for 20-minute trips further south at the Downtown Boathouse, Pier 40 (www.downtownboathouse.org, Sat–Sun 9am–6pm, life jackets and brief instruction provided.
For intrepid individuals looking for an upside-down view of the Hudson River, the New York Trapeze School offers 2-hour lessons for about $50–60, also at Pier 40 (tel: 212-242-TSNY; www.newyork.trapezeschool.com).
But one of the best ways to enjoy the new park is on two wheels. Bike rentals are available in Midtown from Pier 84 at 44th Street (www.bikeandroll.com) or at Battery Park.