Anxiety alleviating escapes for these pandemic days


Sunset at Jacob Riis Beach. Photo: @shecaptured_nyc

Here we are. “Social distancing” is now part of our daily vocabulary and none of us are entirely sure what it means. Can we still go outside? Take a walk? How about a walk in the park? Even in San Francisco, where nearly 7 million people are under a “shelter in place” order, going to parks is still allowed so long as you stay 6 feet apart. 

While the situation is changing by the hour, the great outdoors of our city is still there to offer some much-needed respite. Parks remain open, with the exception of the High Line, so if you can, step away from refreshing the newsfeed and venture beyond the walls of your most likely inhumanely small New York apartment. It can help maintain your mental and physical well-being (this coming from someone who hasn’t left her desk in the last 48 hours!). 

If you’re not at-risk or under quarantine, here’s a reminder of the beautiful places you can walk, bike, or drive to in the coming weeks of expected self isolation, while feeling relatively confident other humans will be more than six feet away. (These are all sentences I never expected to publish beyond my side hustle as a writer of dystopian flash fiction.) And in case you do cross paths too closely with another New Yorker on your way to a wide open space, don’t assume the worst.  As Crystal Watson, a senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security told The New York Times, “If you’re not within about six feet of somebody, in almost every case you’re not taking much risk. So I think people should get out in the sunshine. Taking your dog out for a walk, or going to a park and keeping your distance, is safe and necessary.” 

Prospect Park 

With 585-acres of wooded lanes, meadows, waterfalls, and 19th-century architecture, it’s an urban oasis to escape the claustrophobia of the city right now. The cherry trees are starting to bloom, promising hope of spring soon to come, and a future in which this difficult moment is behind us. For now, the park remains open, but all events have been cancelled and they’re monitoring the situation as it unfolds. Visit the turtles sunbathing lakeside, and for a moment things will feel better.  


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For almost two centuries, Green-Wood has been a peaceful oasis—a calm in the urban storm. As always, and particularly at this difficult time, we welcome one and all to find peace and solace in our historic landscape. We are replacing our regularly-scheduled, ticketed trolley tours with FREE guided walking tours. These 90-minute strolls will introduce you to some of Green-Wood’s most notable residents and extraordinary monuments, and provide an opportunity to take in fresh air and stretch your legs.⁠⠀ ⁠⠀ Explore Green-Wood free walking tours—limited to a maximum of 25 people—will run Wednesdays and Saturdays from 1:00 to 2:30pm. To make a reservation, head to ⁠⠀ ⁠⠀ We are open to the public every day from 8am to 7pm. Stay safe and healthy. 📸 @nycgo #historicgreenwood #communityupdate #freshair #covid19 #coronavirus #brooklyn #nyc

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Green-Wood Cemetery 

In 1847, historian Nehemiah Cleveland wrote, “to the weary and worn citizen, Green-Wood may well seem the very ideal of solitude…” and perhaps this is as applicable as ever. It’s easy to get lost between the green hills of graves and audacious mausoleums. Download their new app or pick up a free map at the entrance to help you navigate your way to the permanent home of Jean-Michel Basquiat or Leonard Bernstein, or take a free daily tour which will continue for now. Other events are canceled, but the cemetery will remain free and open to the public, daily from 8am to 7pm.  

Coney Island Beach 

Cycle down the long bike path of Ocean Parkway and look at the sea. Perhaps listen to something soothing on your headphones like Philip Glass or the Memory Palace podcast, and walk along the beach besides the screeching gulls, who won’t get COVID-19 and don’t care if you do. The rollercoasters of Luna Park will be at a standstill and the boardwalk will be empty apart from a few Russian ladies determined to continue their daily stroll from Brighton Beach. There’s also a wifi hotspot here; work alfresco to get out of the house. 

Jacob Riis Beach and Fort Tilden

Nearby Jacob Riis Beach also offers miles of sand for a sanity saving walk, and parking is free in the off season. Within Fort Tilden’s 300+ acres of grassland, dunes and mostly flat biking paths, you can bird watch or explore the graffitied Battery Harris. Come early for a morning beach walk or in the evening for a breathtaking sunset.

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