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Ashley Jiao / Staff Illustrator

Van Cortlandt Park

Just because you’re staying in the city doesn’t mean you can’t celebrate the return of hiking season. You can find fresh air, green grass, and nature coming back to life on several trails, ranging in difficulty, in the Bronx’s Van Cortlandt Park.

Where: Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx

How far: About 30 minutes

How to get there: Take the 1 train from 116th Street to Van Cortlandt Park-242 St.

Making sure you’re being COVID-19 safe: The New York-New Jersey Trail Conference recommends that—to maintain safe hiking standards—you limit the size of your group, try to go on weekdays rather than weekends, and wear a mask on trails. Find more information here.Prep: Make sure you’re wearing weather and terrain-appropriate clothing.

Price: Free


Queens Botanical Garden

As we approach March, flowers will be blooming as winter turns to spring. Take advantage of the beginning of flower season at the Queens Botanical Garden, a stunning place to visit no matter the season. The Queens Botanical Garden is holding an exhibition until April called “On the Outside Looking Out,” which features artwork by local female artists of color who immigrated to the United States.

Where: Queens Botanical Garden in Flushing, Queens

How far: A little over an hour on the Subway

How to get there: Take the 1 train from 116th Street to Times Square, transfer to the 7 train from Times Square to Flushing-Main Street, then walk south on Main Street for 10 blocks.

Making sure you’re being COVID-19 safe: Masks and social distancing are required at the garden. Limit the number of people you are with.

Price: Free admission from November to March, $4 with student ID April through October


“The House Our Families Built” by Swoon (Caledonia Curry)

Maybe the art of nature isn’t your aesthetic. Luckily, there’s tons of outdoor art in the bustle of the city too. Throughout February, Caledonia Curry, known by the alias Swoon, has a dynamic sculpture called “The House our Families Built,” traveling around the city, providing both visual and performance art to viewers. The exhibition’s final two days are the first Saturday and Sunday of spring break, so you can start your break colorfully by heading to Brooklyn to see it.

Where: Prospect Park in Brooklyn

How far: Roughly an hour on the subway

How to get there: Take the 1 train from 116th Street to Times Square, then transfer to the Q train from Times Square to Prospect Park.

Making sure you’re being COVID-19 safe: Wear a mask, stay six feet away from others, and keep your group small.

Prep: This exhibition closes after the first weekend of break, so if you want to catch it, make sure to head to Brooklyn on Feb. 27 or 28.

Price: Free


Museum of Ice Cream

In search of a fun photo opportunity and unique experience rolled into one? The Museum of Ice Cream is open and features walk-through exhibits celebrating the frozen treat. Expect to see bright pops of color and giant ice cream cone sculptures.

Where: SoHo in Manhattan

How far: About 30 minutes on the subway

How to get there: Take the 1 train from 116th Street to Times Square, then transfer to the R train from Times Square to Prince Street Station.

Making sure you’re being COVID-19 safe: Face masks are required throughout the attraction. If you choose to purchase ice cream, you’ll eat it outdoors. Groups are restricted to fewer than 10 people and the museum has increased its cleaning procedures. The famous sprinkle pool is closed for swimming, but it’s still open for viewing and photos. The museum is also hosting a recurring “Date Night” event, a collaboration with the card game We’re Not Really Strangers that includes a dance class and a game show experience.

Prep: Reserve tickets online, either for a normal tour or for Date Night.

Price: $49 for Date Night, $31 for a normal tour with a student discount (student ID is required upon entry).


Brooklyn Graffiti Tour

Ever wanted to learn more about the murals you walk past on the streets? Check out Grafftours, a company offering walking tours of graffiti throughout the city led by street artists. They’ll show you their favorite works and share background information on the murals and the artists who painted them. On the tour, you’ll see over 50 pieces of artwork.

Where: Bushwick in Brooklyn

How far: About 45 minutes on the subway

How to get there: Take the 1 train from 116th Street to 14th Street and then walk to take the L train from 14th Street to Montrose Avenue Station.

Making sure you’re being COVID-19 safe: The tour is outdoors, and you will need to wear a mask. We advise traveling in a small group and social distancing from other group members; don’t worry, you’ll still be able to hear the guide well. You can also book a virtual tour instead.

Prep: Reserve a 90-minute slot for the tour on the website.

Price: $15 with a student discount


Staff writer Haley Long can be contacted at

Staff writer Aliza Rabinovitz can be contacted at Follow Spectator on Twitter @ColumbiaSpec.

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New York City Hiking Exploring Outdoor activities Early March Spring break
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