Urban Camping: Pitch A Tent In Central Park

urban camping in Manhattan
Flickr, Sarah Ackerman

High Manhattan hotel prices ruining your summer travel plans? If you’d like to try urban camping — sleeping under the skyscrapers of New York City — you can try your luck for a spot at one of the city’s summer Family Camping sessions. The Urban Park Rangers lead programs in more than a dozen city parks in all five boroughs, including Manhattan’s Central Park (August 24) and Prospect Park (September 21) in Brooklyn. The campouts are all free, starting with an early evening hike, cookout with food provided (don’t expect anything fancy, but you might be surprised with s’mores) and even a tent — you need only bring sleeping bags. The catch? There’s a lot of competition to join, with only 30 tents available for each night. Each event is open to online registration for 24 hours, with the “winners” chosen by lottery and notified about two weeks in advance. Find all the details and get lucky here.

Where else can you pitch a tent without leaving the city? Here are a few other urban areas with camping options.Austin: Emma Long Park offers campsites for $10-25 per night, depending on utilities, in addition to the $5-10 park entrance fee charged to all visitors. Set beside Lake Austin, the Texas city park is less than a half-hour from downtown. Check out the our adventure guide to Austin for more ideas.

Berlin: An innovative use of “fallow” urban space, the Tentstation project is unfortunately not open this season, but you’ll find other options in and around Berlin to pitch a tent or park an RV, even with a group. In typical German efficiency, some are within a few minutes’ walk to public transportation.

Honolulu: The Hawaiian capital has over a dozen campsites, many on the beach with fishing and surfing opportunities and views to rival expensive Waikiki resorts. Camping permits are issued for 3 or 5 days, and cost $32 and $52, respectively. Interesting note: several of the campsites warn that “houseless encounters are likely,” so look out for beach bums.

Japan: One of the most notoriously pricey countries also has a strong tradition of urban camping. While not officially sanctioned, it’s tolerated and generally quite safe in public parks. It might be hard to actually pitch a tent in downtown Tokyo, but you’ll find many guides online to finding a place to sleep al fresco.

Would you want to camp in a city? Have you done any urban camping?

Rare View Of Empire State Building Endangered


I had only been talking to Brooklyn’s Richard Kessler for a minute or two before he began telling me about his personal passion project: protecting a rare view of the Empire State Building, the Brooklyn Mirador.

The view of the iconic building from the edge of Prospect Park, a view many New Yorkers or travelers aren’t even aware of, is framed by the Grand Army Plaza arch. If you stand at the base of the black median lamppost which is on the road that leads into Prospect Park, face the Grand Army Plaza arch and look through it, you can see that the Empire State Building bisects the arch perfectly. Keep in mind that this view will be easier to see in colder months when the leaves have fallen. This serendipitous placement of the arch in relation to the Empire State Building provides a breathtaking image of New York City for those entering or exiting the park, or just passing by.

According to Kessler, plans are underway for the construction of a building that would obstruct this rare view. You can read and sign his petition here.Brooklyn residents have a long history of fighting to preserve increasingly rare views of Manhattan. The Brooklyn Paper has documented this kind of opposition in DUMBO and Greenwood Heights and these aren’t the only cases by any means. Without much in the way of scenic landscape, views of the famous skyline are coveted among New Yorkers.

[Photo Credit: Richard Kessler]

A Toy Tree In Brooklyn


When I caught a glimpse of this toy tree in Brooklyn, what surprised me most was that it didn’t surprise me. When you spend nearly a decade living in a city like New York, you begin to expect the unexpected, or rather, expect nothing and simultaneously categorize every possible crazy thing that might happen as expected. Toys aren’t the only things you’ll find hanging in Brooklyn and other boroughs of New York – shoes strewn across telephone wires are seen frequently. But no matter how unsurprised I was, this tree filled with toys is an extraordinary (and somewhat creepy) sight. And out of respect for the people who live near this tree, I’m not going to tell you where it is. I’m sure you’ll find it yourself if you ask around.

Man Rappels Off Brooklyn Bridge, Escapes Cops

French Vintage Carnival Rides Come To NYC

vintage carnival rides at Fete Paradiso
Courtesy Fete Paradiso

If you are a fan of carnival rides, history, or just good old-fashioned summer fun, take a ferry out to NYC’s Governor’s Island this summer for a festival of vintage Parisian rides and carousels. Billed as a museum meets amusement park, Fete Paradiso will open on July 13 and run until September 29, and feature 19th- and 20th-century attractions such as a pipe organ, flying swings and a bicycle carousel like the one featured in “Midnight in Paris.” To add to the vintage French feel, there will be food from bistro Le Gamin and a beer hall and event space converted from a 1900 bumper car pavilion, along with special events opening weekend for Bastille Day.

Admission to Fete Paradiso is free and rides are $3 a pop. The free ferry to Governor’s Island from Manhattan‘s Battery Maritime building or Brooklyn‘s Pier 6 runs half-hourly until 7 p.m. every Saturday and Sunday. Learn more about Governor’s Island on their website, and follow the carnival set up on Instagram here.

Brookland! America’s Hippest Theme Park

Upright Citizens Brigade’s latest parody video takes a shot at Brooklyn hipsterdom. The comedians turn trendy neighborhoods like Williamsburg into Brookland!, the place where adults who don’t want to grow up can eat pizza every day — while playing kick ball. Arcades and candy stores are on every corner, subways and taxis turn into roller coaster rides, and the proper skateboard age rises up and up. It all seems pretty amusing until the comedians point out seasons passes start at $57,000.