Umbrellas and chairs line a plaza in New York City. Many New Yorkers sit enjoy the outdoors.

New York City has something for everyone—even outdoor enthusiasts. While your options may seem limited, a plethora of opportunity to get outside and connect with nature awaits NYU students. You just have to know where to go. “If you’re coming to NYU from a rural or suburban area, it might seem like New York has nothing to offer in terms of nature,” says Eva Boyes, an Environmental Studies major with minors in Business and Hellenic Studies. “But over the four years I’ve lived in the city, my concept of nature has changed. I’ve found ways to connect with the environment within this dense city.”

Here, you’ll discover numerous avenues for outdoor exploration at NYU, from clubs and classes to day trips and green spaces.

Students working in an outdoor garden.

Put Down Roots with the Community Agriculture Project

If you want to plant, prune, weed, and water, you’re in luck. The student-led Community Agriculture Project gives NYU students their very own green space in the heart of Greenwich Village. “Our outdoor meetings are wonderful, because we work together to grow plants while bonding over a common interest,” says Maya Rabago, club secretary. She’s a Language and Mind major and Chemistry minor on the prehealth track. In warmer weather, the group regularly gathers to tend to their one-tenth-acre plot, and members often take home flowers, fruits, or vegetables. In winter, they meet indoors “to help stay connected to the environment.” Previously, they’ve started seeds, made bouquets, and discussed Indigenous foodways. “It lets us care for ourselves by taking care of our garden,” Maya says. “And it helps us keep in mind that we aren’t trying to connect with nature. Instead, we are a part of it.”

Students hold kokedamas, balls of soil, covered with moss, on which ornamental plants grow.

Branch Out with Earth Matters

Earth Matters connects students to the outdoors with a focus on sustainability. “Many of our events revolve around sustainability and making positive changes in our local environment,” explains Eva, club president. So events can include hikes, cleanups, or guest presenters. For example, the club recently planned a waterfront cleanup at Jamaica Bay-Rockaway Parks Conservancy and a trip to bird-watch in Bryant Park with the NYC Audubon. Sometimes, though, weather interrupts the events. When this inevitably happens, Earth Matters brings the outside in. This year, they hosted an upcycling and planting event, where students planted herbs in repurposed containers.

A large group of people walking along the High Line, a former railroad turned park, in New York City.

Get a Change of Perspective

Even if you don’t join a nature-related club at NYU, there’s plenty of ways to connect with nature in the city. In fact, NYU’s Washington Square campus is filled with outdoor spaces where you can take a breath of fresh air. Pause at the native woodland garden in Schwartz Plaza between classes; it’s designed to re-create the landscape of Manhattan Island as the Indigenous Lenape people knew it before Europeans settled there. Take in the view at the 238 Thompson rooftop garden, a 3,700-square-foot, unirrigated green roof with a wide variety of plants. And, enjoy the more than 700 trees throughout campus that are managed by the NYU Urban Forest Project.

You can also venture off campus for some variety. Visit Central Park, the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, or Fort Tryon Park. Stroll along the East River. Hop on a train to Long Island and take a hike. “I also get outdoors and keep the outdoors in mind by going to parks in my neighborhood and keeping houseplants in my space,” Maya says. “Plus, I try to notice the trees and bugs and critters in the city around me. People often think of the urban world as separate and opposite from the natural world, but that isn’t accurate. This is one world that we have helped to build, and nature and city are intertwined.”