5 Incredible Wildlife Encounters that You Can Have in NYC

You don't need to go to the zoo to get a taste of nature in New York City.

New York City Isn't generally thought of as a hub for nature lovers.

With more than 8 million people crammed into 300 square miles of concrete, asphalt, and steel, there isn't a whole lot of room left for the natural world. Sure, there are some nice manicured green spaces, and you can always make a trip to the Bronx Zoo or the New York Aquarium if you want to see some nature in captivity, but apart from the pigeons, rats, cockroaches, and maybe some aggressive squirrels, you don't necessarily expect to see a lot of wildlife thriving in the big apple.

But as Jeff Goldblum so wisely put it in Jurassic Park, "Life, uh, finds a way," and that's exactly what tons of amazing creatures have done in NYC. From coyotes to opossums to white tail deer and three different species of bat, there are way too many wild animals finding ways to thrive in New York to list them all here, but these five offer some of the most amazing spectacles that locals and tourists are likely to see.

Peregrine Falcons Hunting

The peregrine falcon is widely known as the fastest animal on earth. But that title is a bit of a misnomer, since the peregrine falcon is only the fastest when its plunging through the air. In nature, peregrine falcons would usually nest on cliff sides and use that vantage point to launch into high-speed dives to pluck seabirds from the air. But in New York city, skyscrapers provide the same high ground for hunting a seemingly endless food source—pigeons.

In fact, the man-made cliffs and the abundant flying pests of new York City make such an ideal habitat that NYC is now home to likely the largest urban populations of peregrine falcons on earth, and if you're lucky, you might just get the chance to see one hunting. Not much larger than pigeons themselves, they use their tremendous speed—in excess of 200 mph—to dive on their prey and intercept them mid-flight. And if you do get a chance to see such a spectacular sight, don't forget to cheer them on.

Snapping Turtles Snapping

There are a surprising variety of turtles living in the ponds of Central Park. At least 12 different species have been identified breeding and thriving, despite many originating from different habitats. A lot of these turtles are descendants of abandoned pets, but the common snapping turtle is a true local to the region, and also the biggest of the bunch.

Commonly growing to over 30 pounds, the common snapping turtle—or Chelydra Serpentina—has been known to reach weights of 75 pounds in the wild. With massive jaws on snakelike necks, and leathery flesh marked with armored spikes, they look more like prehistoric monsters than the turtle your weird friend had as a pet growing up. Somehow that doesn't stop brave (stupid) tourists from sticking out their hands to feed them, but you should probably avoid that yourself if you want to keep your fingers intact.

Monk Parakeets Making Themselves at Home

The Monk Parakeet is not a native New Yorker, but rather an immigrant success story. Originally found in the temperate and subtropical regions of South America, legend has it that a group of Monk Parakeets escaped from a crate at JFK in the 1960s, and made their way to the Midwood area of Brooklyn, where they've been thriving ever since.

Their plump plumage and the huge enclosed nests they build in Brooklyn trees help them survive when the weather turns cold, and in the spring and summer the neighborhood is criss-crossed by streaks of dazzling green swooping from tree to tree.

Leopard Slugs Mating

While not quite as impressive as the banana slugs of the Pacific Northwest, New York's leopard slugs may shock you the first time you encounter one full grown. Growing up to eight inches long, they have a distinct spotted pattern that helps them blend in with tree bark, or with the sidewalk. Another invasive species, the leopard slugs are not quite as welcome an addition to the city as the parakeets—particularly if you've ever accidentally stepped on one after a rainy day.

They're not generally thought of as beautiful creatures, but that's because most people have never seen their incredible mating process. A slug will pick up on pheremones in another slugs slime trail, indicating that it's ready to mate. The slug will follow the trail until it catches up, and the two will climb a tree, then dangle together from a branch, slowly spinning on a sticky slime thread, exposing their enormous, fluorescent blue genitalia, and wrapping them around each other in a floral spiral. It is one of the most surreal sights in the animal kingdom, and if you're lucky, you might just see it happen in New York City.

Humpback Whales Breaching

Thanks to conservation and cleanup efforts, the waters around New York City are not the toxic sludge they once were. There's still a long way to go, but already local marine life has been making a comeback. Along with the fish, clams, and the Staten Island Harbor Seals whose populations have been surging, this environmental progress has attracted some impressive visitors to New York City's waters.

What used to be an almost unheard of sight has become increasingly common in recent years, with whales including massive humpbacks swimming up the Hudson River to feed, and putting on spectacular shows for anyone lucky enough to see them breach.

So, if you're a nature lover in New York City, don't let the concrete get you down. There's plenty of amazing wildlife thriving even in the center of urban life.

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Finally, we are done with 2020! Between all the highs and lows, it felt like 5 years packed into one, so I'm excited to start fresh in 2021. I'm taking my New Year's resolutions to the next level: cook more, read more, and get back to things I truly love like arts & crafts and morning runs (okay, most likely walks).

Honestly, I could go on forever about the new year, new me thing but actually getting started is my biggest hurdle. I realized that my motivation comes from my mood which directly relates to my environment … and for the past year, my house has been my habitat. So, it's not looking too great after all the wear and tear. The dirt and the mess have accumulated right under my nose.

It's not that I'm bad at it, I just feel so overwhelmed. When my house is clean, I feel much more in control and motivated, and right now it's far from it. When I was venting about my cleaning woes the other day, my friend recommended Handy.

Handy allows you to book local professional cleaners and sign up for monthly, bi-weekly, or weekly plans. Plus, you can schedule appointments at a time that works for you with availability 7 days a week from 7am-11pm. So to get me in the right headspace to tackle my goals, I'm going to be signing up for Handy. I'm looking forward to letting the experts take over.

Although having people in your home may sound a bit strange right now, Handy has rolled out the Handy Safety Standard to help promote the health and safety of the customers and professionals who use their platform. Some of these measures include requiring Pros to wear face coverings during bookings and mandatory daily in-app check-ups to verify they are in good health before claiming a booking. They even have a section on their site dedicated to keeping customers and professionals updated on the latest CDC health and safety guidance.

To top everything off, all of the Cleaning Pros booked through Handy are vetted and background checked. And you can even check out each Pro's ratings and reviews before you book.

Once my house is in order, the fresh feeling will have a domino effect on so many other areas of my life:

✔ Read More

Lying on my cozy couch without inhaling all the dust I'd chosen to ignore, despite my clear uptick in sneezing the last few months. My reading list is chock-full of thrillers and fantasy. And with my new clean slate, I've even added some books about organization.

✔ Get Cooking

Nothing makes cooking more enjoyable than a sparkling kitchen. I'm inspired by a clean space and all the new recipes I'll be whipping up in 2021 already have me drooling.

✔ More Exercise (aka walking!)

I won't feel guilty getting out for a walk on-the-daily when I know I'm not neglecting any household chores thanks to Handy. And when I come home I'm not greeted by any reminders to clean.

You can specify exactly what you want to be cleaned before your Pro arrives and if you like them, you can request to have the same Pro come every time. I can already imagine how exciting it will be to walk into my spotless space.

I cannot wait to book my cleaning through Handy so I can get my 2021 resolutions rolling. My New Year is all about my wellness and my environment plays such a big part in it. I'm signing up for bi-weekly appointments. But their plans are super flexible and if I need, I can always change to a weekly or monthly cleaning plan — sometimes they even have bookings available as soon as the next day!

With Handy, I'm leaving that rough 2020 in the dust and jumping into 2021 feeling fresh and ready-to-go.

Update: Handy is offering a limited time discount for our readers! Follow this link today to get a special offer on your first time cleaning plan.

This perfect low-key vacation is not your average camping experience.

Locations

Atlanta, Austin & San Antonio, Boston, Charlotte & Raleigh, Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles, New York, Pittsburgh & Cleveland, Portland, and Washington, DC.

Getaway's outposts are a maximum 2-hour drive from these major cities.

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Why Getaway?

It's an escape for the always on. Leave your work, technology and worries at home, and lean into an experience that allows you to reconnect and center yourself in nature.

Each cabin features 1 (or 2) queen-sized bed as well as a full indoor bathroom, both heat and a/c, and reliable electricity. The kitchen is stocked with food staples and cookware and there is a fire pit and outdoor seating. All cabins are family-friendly and dogs are permitted.

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Booking & Price

Book through the Getaway site. Cabins fit 1 - 4 guests and cost as low as $129 a night.

Safety

Cabins are already distanced (50-150' feet apart) from one another and go through a deep disinfection process between guest stays. Check-in is contactless, and each guest accesses their cabins through a personalized key code.

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UPDATE: Plan Your Winter Escape Today With Getaway! Take $20 Off Your Stay With Code Winter20!

Given the nature of the pandemic, it can be tough to find the best ways to spend the usual festivities that New Year's Eve brings.

Luckily, if you're comfortable enough to step outside for the occasion, there are great places still open and worth visiting. Although you should always keep COVID-19 safety precautions in mind, here are three of the most stunning places to spend Near Year's Eve in the U.S.

New York City (New York)

No guide to stunning places to spend New Year's Eve in the U.S. would be complete without the presence of New York City, New York. The Times Square ball drop is a must-see annual event, though this year it will be a bit different due to the pandemic. Thankfully, the city will still be throwing an event for all to enjoy that will keep social distancing in mind and focus on bringing people together virtually.

While there might be live events for some to enjoy, none have been officially announced just yet. Even if you're enjoying the festivities virtually, there are few better places to spend this special occasion than at the tip of the NYC skyline.

New York City New Years Eve New York City New Years EveForbes

Lake Travis (Texas)

Lake Travis is a brilliant body of water in Texas that provides a versatile collection of ways to enjoy its beauty. If you'd prefer to keep your party secluded due to the pandemic, you can enjoy the evening on a boat in the waters of this lake, which is home to the famous "Devil's Cove" party destination.

If you're comfortable spending the evening in a venue that practices COVID-19 safety precautions, consider relaxing on one of the three decks on display at The Oasis. Even if you don't stick around to ring in the New Year, viewing the sunset from The Oasis is an incredible experience in itself.

Lake Travs Lake Travislaketravis.com

Cape Cod (Massachusetts)

If you're looking for a quainter way to ring in the new year, consider visiting Cape Cod, Massachusetts. Aside from the cool weather and stunning scenery, when spending New Year's Eve in Cape Cod you can visit places such as the Belfry Inn & Bistro. This lovely location has a focus on good dining, stylish and comfortable living, and COVID-19 safety, all of which they put on display via their website.

If you'd prefer not to spend too much time in a restaurant or bar, you can indulge in the incredible appearance of areas like Martha's Vineyard or Nantucket. Simply wandering around the area and taking in the scenery before enjoying an intimate evening inside makes for an unforgettable adventure.

Cape Cod New Years Eve Cape Cod New Years Evebluegreenvacations.com

Due to the ever-changing nature of certain venues during the pandemic, be sure to regularly check-up on any venues you wish to visit. That way, you can remain in the loop on their availability, activities, and safety precautions upon arrival.