3 Affordable Ways to Rejuvenate in NYC

Okay, I know it's been a while. I don't have any excuse other than I've been extremely busy ramping up with my new job, traveling for work/pleasure, and getting up to speed with the social calendar of summer. In the midst of all of this, I have (shockingly) found myself physically tired, emotionally stressed and battling a month-long summer cold. However, I'm happy to say that I'm FINALLY feeling back to normal and looking forward to this glorious holiday weekend that is almost upon us. And since I'm getting back into the swing of things, it felt right to post about it! Here are my top 3 suggestions for how to rejuvenate on the cheap in NYC:

1. Get a Chinese Massage $20-$45

Also known as a Qi Gong parlor or hey-that's-a-sketchy-looking-place, these massage joints literally hit all the right spots. You probably pass by them regularly, thinking to yourself, "no way would I dare walk down this strange, dark alleyway." Next time, you should dare and you just may be rewarded with a glorious massage by an authentic Chinese Qi Gong masseuse that actually knows what they're doing. And have no fear, they cover the cleanliness basics by changing the cotton sheets and paper face thingies in between each session. Sure, the walls are more like soft dividers and there's no steam room to lounge in afterward, but at $37 for a 45 minute massage, you still can't beat the bang for your buck.  I mean, that's like a brunch bill. Come on.

2. Treat yo'self at Juice Generation $4-$10

As mentioned, I had been battling an epic summer cold for about a month, during which time I ingested somewhere around half of aisle 5 at the pharmacy. While medication certainly has its place, I'm also a big proponent of natural remedies. Enter: Juice Generation. For $5.45, you can get a 12-ounce fresh-pressed Cold Warrior, which includes: green tea, fresh orange, ginger root, echinacea, zinc and Vitamin C. It's a pleasant indulgence AND extremely good for you. Even if you're not sick, a trip to Juice Generation for a drink and some of their delicious meals will leave you feeling like you just experienced a mini health retreat. And all for $15-$20. Next girls night adventure? I think so. 

3. Get. Out. Side. FREE 99

I've said it before: never have I interacted with nature on such a daily basis as I do living in New York City. It sounds strange to most people, but it makes plenty of sense when you think about it. First off, I live a stone's throw away from Riverside Park and three blocks from Central Park. Because of the layout of the city, I walk nearly everywhere, including the 2+ miles to work. If you live uptown, this is a no-brainer. However, even if you're downtown, I bet you're not too far from The Highline, Madison Park, Washington Square or an accessible rooftop - so make use of it! You don't necessarily need to kayak in the Hudson or take a day trip to the botanical gardens (though, kudos if you can swing it!), you just need to get outside for a little bit each and every day. We've all heard the factoids about the positive benefits of even just 15 minutes of Vitamin D and they're all true. Even if you're super crunched for time, take 10 minutes to stroll outside in the sun on your next lunch break while counting your blessings or calling a loved one and then try telling me you didn't have a good day.

The Local Tourist: Central Park

All too often I hear people say that they "could never live in New York because there are no trees" and this sentiment just kills me. True, New York is a metropolis and not a rural paradise of rolling hills. So, not every neighborhood has a park and tree-lined streets. However, living on the Upper West Side, I honestly enjoy more greenery and have more interaction with the outdoors here than I ever have elsewhere. 

How could that be, you ask? A large part of that answer is, of course, Central Park.

In the mornings, I walk alongside the park to work. On weekends, I have jogged through its trails, ambled around its lakes, picnicked near the baseball fields, watched concerts at Summer Stage and attended Global Citizens Festival on the Great Lawn. So, when people talk about Central Park, particularly regarding its massive size, I've always felt fairly in-the-know about it. 

That is, until recently. 

The Tourist: Central Park

I usually stroll in from the west side of the park, but recently approached via the very common 6th Ave./Central Park South entrance.  While the terrain was somewhat unfamiliar to me, I figured I’d get my bearings soon enough. After all, the lower part of the park is certainly more occupied and mapped out. However, after a few hundred yards, I began to pass unseen statutes, curious buildings and small ponds. I saw volleyball courts and gigantic boulders seemingly spring out of nowhere and even spotted an elevated carousel-like house built for chess playing. I became smitten with each and every new trail, view and landmark in my path, and it was then that I realized how little I had actually seen of the park the past few years. It truly is huge.

So huge, in fact, that for time-conscious visitors, I would definitely recommend having a plan or destination as opposed to just walking around it aimlessly, since that could easily take up your entire day.

Most notable picks for:

Family-friendly activities: The Central Park Zoo

A  Romantic Date: Kayak, A Guided Walking Tour

Friends: Summer Stage, The Met (Upper East), American Museum of Natural History (Upper West)

The Local: Loeb Boathouse

First off, let’s get something straight: the Loeb Boathouse is no grand secret. It is, however, an absolute gem that remains in certain ways undiscovered. True to my spoiled nature of good luck, I had the opportunity to have dinner there just last week and I would recommend it to anyone. The boathouse simply has that “thing” that people talk about when they speak of the magic that is Manhattan. Set off significantly from the streets but with the backdrop of the city over the water and trees, the atmosphere is both calming and splendid. At one table, a group of women celebrated another’s birthday – standard. At the bar, a local read a book while sipping her drink. Bartenders and managers softly flitted to and fro, greeting her only in the way a regular can be greeted, with a relaxed rhythm and commentary on recent conversations. The lofted ceilings and white pillars overlook a peaceful pond, lined with wooden boats and an authentically Venetian gondolier. Oh, and the food, drinks and service are, without hesitation, superb.

The boathouse, all things considered, is special. It is certainly crafted to attract tourists, but it has a natural way of fitting in comfortably well with the locals, too.  It feels like the subtle-yet-magnificent place one goes to hit pause on life – just for a moment – and to soak in all that is wonderful in the world.