Sights & Activities

One-stop-exercise-shop at Chelsea Piers in New York City

February 23, 2013

Photo courtesy of dandeluca on Flickr Creative Commons

NEW YORK CITY, USA – With its tangle of subways, cabs, buses, cars, and bikes, it’s easy to  forget that Manhattan is a place where, once upon a time, boats were the preferred way to arrive in and leave the city. New York‘s piers were once bustling embarkation and docking points for ocean liners arriving from Europe or departing for exotic locales.

And among those piers, the Chelsea Piers were some of the most happening, especially among the well-heeled. Until the 1930s, the world’s grandest luxury liners arrived and departed from these docks. This is even where the Titanic was supposed to land–need we say more?

But time marched on, and the mighty automobile became the favored travel mode. The piers fell out of use, repurposed as a cargo terminal in the 1950s and 1960s; by the 1980s, they were deserted. There was even a proposal to raze the Chelsea Piers so that a new highway could be built along the Hudson.

Luckily, the highway didn’t win out, and developers swooped in to create The Chelsea Piers Sports and Entertainment Center, which is pretty much just what it sounds like! Inhabiting four of the piers, the complex offers nearly every sporty pursuit under the sun–there’s a high-tech golf club with a driving range hovering over the Hudson (Pier 59); a bowling alley (Pier 59); a gym with a track, a pool, a rock climbing wall, and even a sand volleyball court (Pier 60); an ice rink (Pier 61); and a field house (Pier 62) which organizes countless classes, camps, and events for children and adults. How’s that for an exercise one-stop-shop? Although they’re all part of the same complex, the facilities on each pier keep their own hours and have their own entrance policies. (Check the website for details of each facility.)

It’s an awesome set-up for both locals and travelers. New Yorkers have a chance to get away from it all here, whether by driving golf balls into the Hudson River, striking yoga poses, or retreating to the pampering spa (housed in the sports center on Pier 60). Out-of-towners can take advantage of the drop-in classes at the Field House, perfect for those who want to jump in on a yoga class or salsa session but don’t want to buy a membership. We also dig their kid-friendly policies (there’s a day care center, a Toddler Adventure Center, and tons of sports programs for tots), which makes this a great spot for traveling families to get some exercise.

In a way, coming to the piers is not unlike embarking on a cruise. There’s something for everyone all in one spot, waterside views, and even some great grub (you deserve it after all that exercise!) at the elegant restaurant called The Lighthouse. (Skip the food offerings in the Field House–they’re mediocre and overpriced.) True, you can’t stay here like you might on a luxury liner…but then again there’s no risk of sinking.

Read more about Chelsea Piers in our New York Guide.

Chelsea Piers
Piers 59-62, 23rd St. at the Hudson River
New York, NY
(1) 212-336-6666

Click here for our full-form mobile travel guide, The Purple Passport to New York City.

Rachel Levin contributed to this post.

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