Where Can You Safely Walk?
Pianists play the piano. Fine artists have their paint brush. Actors have our bodies and “tuning” our instruments to keep us able to play all of the characters we play is important. It’s especially important during a pandemic. Normally I walk around five miles a day. Living in a city makes that easy and that’s just doing my day to day errands, auditions, rehearsals, and projects.
Our whole industry is largely shut down, and we’re all finding ourselves needing to find new ways to stay active. Some people have found dancing on Tiktok. Some have found online yoga, and some have found enjoyment in long social distanced walks. The pandemic has challenged me emotionally and physically. Trust me, I want to stay on my couch and bake bread all day, and sometimes I have! I’ve also found the most wonderful excuse to discover new places to explore and stretch my legs. Here are my picks for safe social distanced days out within driving from NYC.
Poets’ Walk Park (Red Hook, NY):
Poets’ Walk Park sits on 120 acres in Dutchess County on the side of the Hudson. It’s just as romantic as it sounds. Giant fields sprawl covered with the occasional knotted tree looking bench. There are wonderful views of the river if you wander far enough, and the space is very big to be able to distance. After a few miles on one of the loops you can find a wooded area with little brooks and bridges that make the whole thing a bit magical. When I went I felt like twirling and singing “The hills are alive….!!!!” Just like Maria did in “The Sound of Music.” There are ticks and wild snakes and stuff so be careful, but the fields are big enough for everyone to spread out.
Watchung Reservation (Mountainside, NJ):
This park is the largest nature reserve in Union County, NJ. You can stick to the fields and playgrounds near the parking lot areas or you can take one of the many hikes through the woods. We encountered brooks, a lake, some scenic slopes, and some artifacts along the way. My favorite part was the lake we found was called Lake Surprise! I enjoy bodies of water named after excitement!
Rockaway Beach Boardwalk (Queens, NY):
Located on the tip of Queens, between Beach 3 St and Beach 153 St, this has become my favorite evening stroll. After super storm Sandy when this whole area was decimated, the city did a wonderful job restoring it. The boardwalk is clean and light up well at night. I don’t go during the day, because I want to avoid people, but I think the evening is where the real magic is. There aren’t that many folks around. It is cooler out, the ocean is on your side, and if you look up you can see the stars. It’s the safest date night there is these days. I go often.
Untermyer Park and Gardens (Yonkers, NY):
This place is Narnia. Located just north of the city in Yonkers, this garden is currently free to the public, you just have to reserve tickets. It’s full of gorgeous seasonal blooms, picturesque fountains, and lots of butterflies. The architecture feels like you’re someplace very very fancy and regal. We all need to feel a bit of that when we’re staying home so much.
Bethpage State Park (Bethpage, NY):
This park is big. There is a large field area but there are also a lot of winding trails. We saw people on their bikes trekking through the woods. The wooded area was fun, because it felt like a maze. There were lots of trails you could wonder through. My favorite part was that the wooded trails were full of wild honeysuckles. Because there weren’t that many people you could even take your mask off a bit to enjoy their smell.
Honorable Mentions I’ve enjoyed:
The Aqueduct Trail (Dobbs Ferry, NY)
West Point Foundry Preserve (Cold Spring, NY)
Central Park (New York, NY)
Forest Park (Queens, NY)
It doesn’t matter where you go to stretch your legs, but stretch your legs. Find a peaceful spot in nature, or around your block, but find new ways to explore. As actors staying good at what we do means staying curious. Discover that journey. Walk it, and in time our industry will catch up to us when Mother Nature and science tell us they’re ready. Make tuning your instrument fun, and make time for bread making and things sometimes too.
Awesome Resources to Find a Cool Walking Spot:
Awesome Stuff to Wear on a Walk: (not including the obvious face mask!)
Teva Women's Original Universal Sandals (I live in these on walks through the water)
Awesome Stuff to Bring on a Walk:
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This is me stretching my legs and my curiosity during the pandemic.