How to Have Your Own Summer Wellness Retreat in NYC

The Big Apple may be known as the city that never sleeps, but it's also one of the best cities to practice mindfulness in. Here's how.

NYC summer getawayPhoto Credit: Shutterstock

Movies ruined New York summers for me. Thanks to scenes of leaf-crunching strolls through Central Park (I’m looking at you, You’ve Got Mail) and sparkly Christmases in Rockefeller Center, I always felt like it was a city best explored in the colder months, wool coat on and hot beverage in hand. Summer holidays should be for enjoying places with natural beauty and getting your fix of sun, sand and relaxation. Not only that, but it’s a good time for a mid-year break, and NYC seems like sensory overload. I was content to leave the sizzling stoops of brownstones free for the real New Yorkers to loiter on. But after this trip to Manhattan, I realized that summer is the season to visit.

The weather is just right, there’s a softer side to discover (with help from NYCGO, the digital equivalent of having a New Yorker friend) and, yes, there’s even natural beauty. Punctuate the trip with a beach vacation within your vacation and you’re golden. Here’s how to have a relaxing NYC summer getaway. And if you’re from Toronto like me, the travel can be relaxing to boot — just a quick flight with Porter by way of a ‘gram-worthy island airport. Punctuate the trip with a beach vacation within your vacation and you’re golden.

Stay here: The James New York – NoMad

Opened in early 2018, this 337-room boutique hotel in the NoMad district is steps from some of the ’hoods that make NYC shine, like Greenwich Village and Chelsea. Aside from the as-chic-as-it-is-cozy atmosphere, the wellness touches make it a great home base to do your thing from, such as in room-massages and a 24-hour fitness centre (complete with Peloton bikes). They even offer a digital detox program: Your phone is locked up during your stay, and if you complete the challenge, you’re offered 10 percent off your booking fee – just make sure to get the hang of the numbered streets before you ditch Google Maps.

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Day trip here: Brooklyn Botanic Garden

Trip over to hip and happening Brooklyn to enjoy this sprawling urban garden with magnolia-lined paths and ponds bobbing with lotuses and lilies. Explore the distinct gardens within, including the Shakespeare Garden and Cranford Rose Garden, but make time for the Japanese Hill-and-Pond Garden. Complete with a koi pond, it’s the most visited Japanese-inspired garden outside of the country. Indulge in a scenic lunch at Yellow Magnolia Café, where you’ll dine on veg-focused fare in an airy space overlooking the lily pool.

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Hit the town here: Gallow Green

Visit the historic McKittrick Hotel (home to Sleep No More), and travel to the roof to find Gallow Green — a restaurant that takes the term “atmospheric” to new heights. Lush greenery, twinkling lights and cozy dining nooks in gutted vintage train cars create a unique secret-garden environment that competes with sweeping views of the city. But the food isn’t about to play second fiddle (or third fiddle, if you happen on a night with live music) to the surroundings. Nosh on fresh spring veg with a photo-worthy crudité bowl (spoiler alert: flowers) or indulge in creamy burrata with heirloom tomatoes before moving on to a kale and anchovy pizza that gives “authentic” NYC slices some competition.

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And while you’re in New York, you might as well visit Long Island.

Wave bye to the city and hi to actual waves. Hop on the Long Island Rail Road at Penn Station and, in a matter of hours, you’ll arrive on this 190-kilometre strip that’s home to The Hamptons, world-renowned beaches and more than 50 wineries. (New Zealand next on your travel list? Here’s how to have a wellness day in wine country.)

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Stay here: The Baker House 1650

On the eastern part of Long Island, you’ll find the The Hamptons, a vacation community as quaint as it is renowned. Settle into The Baker House 1650, a historic bed and breakfast just steps from downtown and, most importantly, a 20-minute walk to the beach. The spa, which features an endless pool, massage services and a steam shower, will have you wondering if this is a B&B at all, but the resident yellow Lab, Bogey, will make you feel right at home. Bonus: It’s also mere steps from where they film Barefoot Contessa.

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Dine here: 1770 House and Inn

Just a four-minute walk (we told you we’d keep this low-key) from your digs is The 1770 House Restaurant. Start with the oysters (East Coast sourced, of course) before digging into dishes like Scottish salmon with Brussels sprouts and butternut squash. Whatever you nosh on, save room for a cappuccino crème brûlée. Bon appétit!

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Sun here: East Hampton Main Beach

Grab a towel and stroll half an hour from The Baker House 1650 to East Hampton Main Beach. Simply take in the sand and sun or rent everything from surfboards to stand-up paddleboards to kayaks at the nearby rental shop. (Psst: From top to toe, here’s your three-week guide to getting beach-ready.)

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Sip here: Bedell Cellars

Head to the North Fork of Long Island to visit this sustainably run, family-owned winery. Their wines have earned critical acclaim and were even served at the 2013 presidential inauguration (NBD). Come for the résumé and stay for a wine tasting on their expansive patio overlooking the vineyard.

Now that you’ve got your NYC summer getaway planned, next read up on the best places to travel every month of the year.

Originally Published in Best Health Canada