The Burton Blog

Finding Wild in New York City — A Summer Weekend in the Jungle

Blue skies peak through the tree tops. Other than that, it’s all green.

We’re walking up through New York City’s largest garden, taking note of bird watchers and craning our necks to catch a glimpse of what they’re looking at. The further up we go, the more peaceful it gets. 67 acres, 500 varieties of plants, trees, and shrubs, and eight miles of walking paths. There aren’t many people in Fort Tryon Park this morning. In fact, we only pass three during our twenty-minute ascent towards The Cloisters. As we get closer, we follow little stone stairways that eventually deposit us at the top of a hill at our destination. 

You'll miss these pathways off the main way if you're not paying attention.
The Cloisters is a division of the Metropolitan Museum of Art featuring nearly 5,000 medieval works, and many of the building’s components are artifacts from medieval European structures.

We’re changing the pace this weekend. Binging on delivery, staying out until we get sent home, and consuming as much action as possible — we like this tempo, but not today. Some people think that you have to catch Metro North or LIRR in order to slow down for a weekend, but we beg to differ. This weekend, we’re staying right where we are.   

Peace and quiet.

For a minute, it’s like we’ve teleported to Europe. We choose our favorites of the four small gardens and go eat some beef jerky under a tree rooted high above the Hudson.

Where to next? Let’s go to Brooklyn.

We trek it out to Brooklyn Botanic Garden to see how these 52 acres of urban garden stacks up. Somewhere along this stop is when sound — specifically, birds — becomes a barometer for success. It seems like you can go weeks in the city hearing everything but birdsong and it’s a welcome changeup. The threatening rain means we have the place to ourselves, and it doesn’t bother us. The Japanese Hill-and-Pond Garden, Cranford-Rose Garden, Shakespeare Garden, and Fragrance Garden are our highlights.   

Deep green.
It's a contest.

On Sunday we wake up in Greenpoint. A short walk over to The Lot Radio, in Williamsburg, and we have our coffee. Admittedly, this place is a little hipster, but sitting outdoors on a literal oasis — rather than a line indoors — wins. 

Making friends.
The Lot Radio.
Reuse and recycle, people.

The Lot is an independent online radio station that live streams one DJ set after another, 24/7, from a reclaimed shipping container. The coffee kiosk on one end funds the operation, and the whole thing is planted on this lot in the middle of Banker Street and Berry Street, decked out with flamingos, hammocks, all kinds of outdoor seating, and a very good view of the Empire State Building. Not sure where the hours go, but we can report that it’s easy to kill some time here with your friends. 

A foggy view, but she's looking good nonetheless.

We end up out at Red Hook Pier next. We sit on a bench and a couple of camp chairs, listen to the birds, and watch the waves crash against the concrete. The ferry goes back and forth while we sit still. The Statue of Liberty looks real nice from here and the breeze coming off the water is the perfect answer to a hot summer day. Thinking of our friends sitting in traffic or stuffed on a train coming back from the beach, we’re feeling good about our decision-making this weekend.  

That’s all we were able to do in two days. You know, without rushing.

Life is non-stop. You go hard all week long, then you try to make the most of your time off, and you end up planning so much even your down time feels like it needs to meet some set of expectations. FTS. Flip the script, let it go, do nothing, and lose your expectations. No plan is exactly what you need. ∆

The Hudson River from The Cloisters.