Thinking of the city rarely calls images of fog-ringed mountains and wolf-filled forests to mind, but Discover Outdoors?formerly known as Outdoor Bound?turns these scenes into reality. Owner, avid outdoorsman, and eight-time marathon runner Kirk Reynolds makes sure of it. He and a staff of experts?each a licensed trail guide and Wilderness First Responder or Wilderness EMT?temper the stress of city living with day trips to nearby natural enclaves and weekend camping excursions. The getaways thrill with activities such as hiking, rock climbing, whitewater rafting, kayaking, and horseback riding.
International trips, meanwhile, quench a thirst for life-defining adventures beyond trips to the grocery store during peak Saturday hours. Among them: hikes up famed Mount Kilimanjaro in Africa, treks to Machu Picchu in Peru, and jaunts through the Canadian Rockies. Some of the journeys even grant travelers the opportunity to fundraise for a worthy cause as they explore.
Ray Dente has been part of the fitness industry for 25 years, conducting outdoor workouts on standup paddleboards and bicycles. His proclivities allowed him to spend ample time on New York's waterfront, soaking up some local history while sweating. In an effort to combine his love for fitness and his city, he created Fitness Tours of NY.
Ray and his guides conduct six tours of the city, each one rooted in a fitness activity that will also allow participants awe-inspiring views of famed landmarks. Visitors mount footbikes—a cross between a bicycle and a kick scooter—to take in views of the Statue of Liberty and the Brooklyn Bridge, and gather at the Hudson River Bridge for bouts of exercise-band training. The guides also helm the Fitness Tour Challenge, a rigorous all-outdoor session of circuit training on the edge of Manhattan, in which participants travel from Pier 40 to the Canal Street Pier as they fire off pushups, lunges, and squats along the way. As they eradicate calories, participants can admire skyscrapers, surging waters, and the envious glances of tour-goers who just have to walk everywhere.
Allen Batista Travel launches catered cruises on select Sunday afternoons and Wednesday evenings from the New York Skyport Marina. Each venture boasts themed entertainment, and besides comedians and professional dancers, the private yachts might bear jazz musicians. These cruises might also form a link in a full-scale vacation?the agency arranges travel packages that include flights, hotel stays, and sightseeing expeditions. Allen Batista Travel and Metro NYC Tours team up to present walking tour and boat ride packages on select Sunday afternoons and Wednesday evenings. Professionally-licensed tour guides who have conducted more than 100 tours share history, culture, and interesting facts with both locals and tourists in guided jaunts through noted New York areas, such as Chinatown and Greenwich Village. In the event of a thunderstorm, tornado, or other act of nature, walking tours and cruises will be rescheduled for a future departure date.
On foot, atop a bicycle, or in the back of a driver-powered pedicab, guests on Zebra NYC's guided tours of Central Park get an inside look at the celebrated space's history and the many movies filmed there. Amblers on the walking tour stop by Belvedere Castle?the home of Sesame Street's Count von Count?and a menagerie of topiary animals familiar to any fan of Edward Scissorhands. Bike tours shed some light on landmarks spotted in Breakfast at Tiffany's, Stuart Little, and Sex in the City, while pedicab outings explore Strawberry Fields and the slightly less famous Crevasse of Bananas. But no matter what the means of transportation, Zebra NYC's knowledgeable guides provide intriguing insight and tidbits to help visitors discover the hidden treasures of Central Park.
Snackin' Tours steers hungry groups to original and oft-overlooked destinations throughout New York to give them a unique taste of the city. In small groups of eight, tours avoid obvious tourist traps in favor of local favorites with routes arranged around a certain theme. Guides recount tales of neighborhood history and toss in factoids along the way while trawling the East Village's bounty of vegetarian eats, the Lower East Side's cluster of boutique food, or the West Village's dessert-paved sidewalks. Tour operators can accommodate guests with dietary restrictions at certain tastings in advance. Snackin' Tours also runs a much larger pub crawl on Thursdays, in which staggered groups of up to 40 people explore six dive bars, taverns, and other pub-like places all over lower Manhattan.
Most fitness centers house treadmills, free weights, and studios with fitness classes—but The SWEAT Party is different. Instead of relying on that same familiar set-up, the establishment (which grew directly from the dance club scene) draws DJs, eclectic fitness trainers, and cutting-edge choreographers to its classes. There, each session or party leads revelers in pulse-pounding workouts focused on fun, wellness, and not stepping on fellow students' feet. SWEAT also hosts a quarterly SWEAT party which incorporates a power hour, dance party, and Wellness Lounge where participants can head for massages, facials, blood pressure screenings, and anonymous HIV testing.