Among the perks of living in Hell’s Kitchen is access to the Hudson River and its piers, in particular those that make up the Hudson River Park. The park, which encompasses 550 acres in total, along the river from Battery Place to 59th Street, is a boon to those who prefer their fitness alfresco.
For starters, there’s the five-mile Hudson River Park Bikeway, which runs through Hell’s Kitchen. Despite its name, this path—the most heavily used bikeway in the country—is open to skateboarders and rollerbladers as well as cyclists. There’s a path for runners, joggers, and walkers too, with lovely landscaped esplanades.
And then there are piers within Hell’s Kitchen, some of which offer outdoor activities you might not expect to enjoy in the midst of Manhattan.
Pier 96 (cross at 55th Street)
The nonprofit Manhattan Community Boathouse offers free use of kayaks at this pier, as well as free paddling and safety instruction throughout the summer. Access to both the boats and the lessons is on a first-come, first-served basis. And if you’re using the bikeway and in need of a breather, this pier is a good spot; it’s home to a 30-foot-long sculpture, Private Passage, that’s worth a look. An artsy take on the concept of a ship in a bottle, the piece by Malcolm Cochran looks like a bottle from the outside, but portholes along the sides enable you to view its interior, designed to resemble a stateroom of the Queen Mary ocean liner.
The Private Passage sculpture at Pier 96. Image: Samantha Chapnick/Flickr
Pier 95 (cross at 55th Street)
Bring your fishing rod to Pier 95, which lets you get as close to the Hudson River as possible without actually being in the river. There’s plenty of seating and a shaded pavilion so that you can keep your cool as you reel in your catch.
Pier 84 (cross at 44th Street)
From Pier 84 you can access the river with your kayak or paddleboard. Or you can take lessons from Manhattan Kayak Company, which also runs tours according to your level of experience and expertise. What’s more, this summer Manhattan Kayak and Hudson River Park will be hosting monthly Community EcoPaddles, evening outings that combine kayaking and oyster restoration. For kids, the pier has a playground with a number of water features—little ones can work a pump so that water sets sculptures spinning, then they can raise and lower gates to operate a mini canal. And Fido isn’t left out of the fitness and fun: Pier 84 has a fenced-in dog park where canines can be let off their leashes to get a workout of their own.
A bike rental shop at Pier 84. Image: Jim Henderson/Wikimedia