There are many ways to try to cope with heartbreak: burrowing under the covers, comfort eating, binge-watching, talking to friends, and obsessive social media monitoring. You can also try to go outside to find solitude, take a long walk, and try to change perspective.
If you live in or are visiting New York City, here are a few places worthy of a visit when you are sad, desolate, or heartbroken.
When You Need to Cry Outside, But Not In Public
In NYC, we often share our private spaces. If you don’t want your roommate/partner/children to hear you crying, consider going outside to find privacy. Visit Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn for almost guaranteed solitude in a quiet and beautiful setting. You can walk for hours among centuries-old trees, pausing in the shade of gravestones and statues to sob your heart out.
Founded in 1838, Green-Wood was one of the first rural cemeteries in America. Its 478 acres of hills, valleys, ponds, and wooded paths became a popular tourist attraction in the 1860s and inspired New York City’s Central Park and Brooklyn’s Prospect Park.
Climb to the top of the hill in Green-Wood, one of the highest points in Brooklyn, to see the bronze Minerva statue waving to the Statue of Liberty across New York Harbor.
You may also see the hallucinatory sight of bright green parrots fly by. A colony of monk parakeets nest in the cemetery’s gates.
If you are looking for an encouraging sign, you may find one in the monk parakeets, descendants of the escaped who thrive against all odds.
When You Need to Walk It Off
Sometimes the best antidote to heartbreak is a long walk along the water with an unencumbered view of the horizon. There are a few options in the five boroughs. My favorite is a long walk along Rockaway Beach.
Rockaway Beach is the largest urban beach in the United States. It stretches for more than five miles along the Rockaway Peninsula facing the Atlantic Ocean. I like to start at the Beach 98 (the Beach 98 – Playland subway stop) and walk for miles in either direction.
Depending upon the time of year, you might have the beach to yourself. You might find solace in the continuous tides and the vastness of the ocean.
When You Need Perspective
If you want to change your perspective, try a hike through Inwood Hill Park. It’s the perfect place to focus on Deep Time as an antidote to mourning in your own human time.
At the northern-most tip of Manhattan, Inwood Hill Park has the city’s last native forest. Some of the trees here tower 100 feet overhead and have lived here for more than 200 years. Try to imagine the trees’ past and what they have stood through.
Inwood will remind you of geological time. On your hike, you will pass cave-like rock shelters, slabs of bedrock piled up from the glaciers that passed eons ago. Look for large indentions in the rocky outcroppings along the path. These are glacial potholes, hollowed out from water melting from glaciers 20,000 years ago.
It may help your heart to think about a rock’s history. Try to imagine the rock’s “life” thousands of years ago. Envision your parallel time periods. Imagine the rock’s future.
These are just a few urban nature retreats in NYC that might offer solace when you need it. What is your favorite landscape to visit when you are sad?