The renowned physicist Albert Einstein once said: “Look deep into nature, and you will understand everything better.” Indeed that theory holds true for Fall travellers, when Mother Nature brings forth a unique brew of seasonal, sensory delights. Whether you’re craving the crisp autumn air of New York City or the sun-splashed climes of Miami and Tampa, visitors will find an abundance of outdoor adventures to help you get back in touch with nature.
In this bustling metropolis filled with a cacophony of car horns, sirens and millions of people, there are dozens of parks that offer an urban sanctuary, and perhaps, zen-like peace right in the middle of the city. And with Cayman Airways offering nonstop flights from Grand Cayman to New York City on Wednesdays and Sundays, there is all the more reason to head north to explore this not-so-concrete jungle.
“Fall is a perfect time to explore the bucolic parks and gardens of New York City,” says Christopher Heywood, a spokesman for NYC & Company, the city’s tourism arm.
“The five boroughs are full of vibrancy and beauty.”
Of course, it’s no surprise that a city renowned for its lofty skyscrapers also possesses stunning parks, including one that is seemingly suspended in the sky. That would be the High Line, a 1930s-era elevated rail line, turned vibrant green space that is perched some 30 feet above Manhattan. Unveiled in 2009, the 1.45-mile, 6.7-acre park is billed as the first public space of its kind nationwide, complete with meticulous landscaping and an aesthetic layout worthy of a French impressionist canvas. Some 300 species of trees, plants, wildflowers, grasses and shrubs sprout from the beds of industrial railroad tracks. An interconnected series of walkways with pebbles underfoot, and concrete planked paths meander for a mile, winding its way through several city neighbourhoods.
The High Line joins a pantheon of New York City green spaces, amongst them is the nation’s first — and perhaps most famous — public park, Central Park. Dating back to the 1800s, it boasts 843 sprawling acres and is considered an oasis for urbanites.
Travellers can also check out Brooklyn Botanic Garden; Wave Hill and the New York Botanical Garden in the Bronx; Flushing Meadows Corona Park in Queens; Snug Harbor Cultural Center and Botanical Garden on Staten Island; and Governors Island, located off the coast of Manhattan.
Tourists can also commune with nature by exploring
the National Parks of New York Harbor. Stretching from
The Battery at the southern tip of Manhattan into three other boroughs and beyond, the National Parks of New York Harbor (NPNH) include 10 national parks, with nearly two-dozen natural, historic and recreational sites. These national parks preserve special places that tell the story of America, along with New York City.
“In the centennial year of the National Park Service, National Parks of New York Harbor wants a new generation to discover the 10 national parks here in New York Harbor,” says NPNH commissioner, Joshua Laird. They range from the Statue of Liberty National Monument to Ellis Island Immigration Museum to the newly designated Stonewall National Monument, America’s first LGBT national park site.
Travellers can now download and use three free apps to visit the national parks throughout New York Harbor. “Having an app is like having a park ranger in your pocket, ready to answer your questions and give you more information,” adds Laird. “Whether you want to enjoy peaceful natural areas, explore our nation’s history or find a great beach, these apps can help you to find your park.”
Tampa Bay, Florida, bills itself as the hip, urban heart of Florida’s Gulf Coast, and many of this destination’s trove of unique treasures are outdoors.
Start your journey downtown at the newly finished Tampa Riverwalk, which extends for 2.4 miles and links some of the city’s most popular spots. Here locals and visitors alike can stroll along the historic Hillsborough River and Garrison Channel and visit parks, museums, hotels, restaurants, breweries and state-of-the-art facilities like the Amalie Arena and the Straz Center for the Performing Arts. Don’t miss the unique light art installations along the Riverwalk, which illuminate the nighttime sky with colour and energy.
Rent paddleboards, kayaks and water bikes to view Tampa Bay’s skyline from the shimmering bay. Located a few miles upstream, Canoe Escape helps you slip silently amongst moss-draped cypress trees and migratory birds on the Hillsborough River.
Santiago Corrada, President and CEO of Visit Tampa Bay, the region’s tourism entity, says the great outdoors is just minutes away from anywhere travellers may decide to stay in the Tampa Bay area.“Great Gulf of Mexico beaches are just a 30-minute drive. Uniquely Florida experiences are even closer — downtown is just 15 minutes away from canoe trips through lush cypress forests filled with birds and other wildlife,” says Corrada. “However you want to experience nature, Tampa Bay makes it easy.”
There are multiple options for getting around town. Tampa Bay has some 60 miles of bicycle lanes, and companies such as Coast Bike Share have more than 30 stations across the region for bike rentals. There’s also the new Pirate Water Taxi, which makes for an easy journey along the sparkling waterfront.
This Fall, visitors can check out Oktoberfest Tampa Bay, which draws revellers to Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park for German-inspired festivities, food and beer. For another cultural experience, visit the Ybor City neighbourhood, where for more than a century, Cuban culture continues to thrive. To wit, a self-guided trail honours original Cuban revolutionary Jose Martí, whose 1890s campaign against Spain found support in Tampa. Visit the park dedicated to Martí, which has been owned for more than a half century by the people of Cuba.
Cayman Airways offers nonstop flights from Grand Cayman to Tampa on Mondays and Thursdays, and Friday through Sunday.
In the southern tip of the Sunshine State, Miami is known for its sun, sand and style. “The beaches and nightlife are the biggest draw of the Miami area, but there’s plenty of history, culture and adventure to explore and enjoy,” says Benjamin-Émile Le Hay, U.S. Public Relations Manager for Quintessentially Lifestyle, a luxury concierge service with specialists around the globe. So much of what makes Miami appealing, he says, are attractions that take advantage of the region’s lush natural beauty. Luckily, Cayman Airways offers daily nonstop flights from Grand Cayman to Miami. There are also nonstop flights from Cayman Brac to Miami on Saturdays, and connecting flights from La Ceiba to Miami.
For a tour that melds art — both inside and outdoors — the Quintessentially Lifestyle team recommends Vizcaya Museum and Gardens, an Italian Renaissance-style villa with formal gardens and art installations. “It’s a great experience for culture and architecture lovers,” says Le Hay. “We also suggest a guided tour of the Everglades National Park.” The Everglades National Park is a stunning 1.5 million-acre network of wetlands where native fauna, flora and wildlife thrive. The park offers an array of activities, including hiking, fishing, boating, biking and camping, to name a few.
You’ll also find Mother Nature in all her glory at Biscayne National Park, the largest marine park of its kind. It boasts a unique coral reefs ecosystem that provides habitat for fish, invertebrates and other organisms. Visitors can snorkel, dive or rent a kayak, canoe or boat at the local visitor center.
In Miami’s Redland District, make a point of stopping at the unique Fruit and Spice Park. Envision more than 500 varieties of fruits, herbs, vegetables, nuts and spices — not to mention 150 varieties of mango. The best part is tours allow guests to sample nature’s goodies.
Beyond the parks, the Miami Beach Botanical Garden offers beauty and serenity amid the urban landscape. The garden’s features include native plant species and water features, and lovely outdoor spaces suitable for public programming.
This Fall, step outside and enjoy the crisp autumnal air. A relaxing outdoor escape awaits in these three unique U.S. cities!