This is an alternative to conventional public transportation/walking and a great way to get around the city. They work much in the same way that Zipcar works, except they are bikes. There are hundreds of Citi Bike stations across NYC and Jersey City, with each one having anywhere from a few bikes to dozens available, 24 hours a day. Each station has a docking system in which the bike is released or unlocked after renting one using a touch-screen kiosk. You can select either a 24-hour unlimited pass or a 7-day unlimited pass and can use the bikes for 30 minutes at a time (an unlimited number of times) without any additional fees or for longer periods of time (60 minutes, 90 minutes, 2 hours, etc.) for an extra cost. You can return the bike to any of the hundreds of docking stations available.
30 minutes at a time may not seem like a lot, but given that all you have to do is get to any other docking station within that time, it works out pretty well. You can dock the bike, explore the area, then check it out again repeatedly throughout the day. It’s great during nice weather and a good way to get around the city for a change of pace. Website
Kayaking (at The Downtown Boathouse)
On a warm summer day, kayaking is a fun thing to do (and so un-NYC like), but free kayaking is even better. In Manhattan, there aren’t many places to kayak, let alone kayak for free, but the Downtown Boathouse offers it at three locations: Pier 40, Pier 96, and West 72nd Street.
They have the equipment you’ll need, including life jackets, and once you fill out the waiver, you can grab a free kayak (single or tandem) for up to 20 minutes for free. You can use it for even longer if no one is waiting (which often times they are not). They will give you a few pointers if you’ve never done it before, but if you want an actual lesson, they offer those weekly for free as well. Fun to give it a go if you’re up for something a bit off the cuff. Then go get a big NYC pretzel to reward yourself. Website