Say, you know what doesn’t sound delightful to do the day after Thanksgiving in New York? Willingly participate in the chaos that is Black Friday. Long lines, pushy crowds, buying obligatory gifts for other people who already have everything they could possibly need or want…it’s physically exhausting just thinking about it. How about opting out? Flip the switch on the shop-till-you-drop insanity with a hike, a meditation session, or a little sensory deprivation. You’ll emerge lighter, more energized, and…ready for Cyber Monday?
Lift/Next Level Floats
WSWD expert Jess Bender tried flotation therapy at this spalike space. The idea is simple: You strip down, climb into a warm pool of water filled with Epsom salts, close your eyes, and float…in total darkness, solitude, and silence. The sensory deprivation (you’re alone with your thoughts) is a meditative technique frequently used to treat hypertension, stress-related ailments, weight gain, and chronic tension headaches—all of which can rear up during the holidays. 320 Court Street, 2nd Floor, Carroll Gardens
Meditation With a View
What could be further away in spirit and intention from Fifth Avenue commercialism than a peaceful botanical garden overlooking the Hudson River and Palisades? If the spectacular views alone at Wave Hill aren’t enough to restore inner peace, head to the grounds’ 19th-century Ecology Building for a community meditation, led by an instructor from Yoga for Bliss in Riverdale and “focused on going inward to clear your mind of holiday clutter.” Wave Hill, West 249th Street and Independence Avenue, Bronx; November 25, 11 a.m.–noon.
Post-Thanksgiving Super Hike
Just the thing for anyone who ate a little too much turkey, this annual outdoor excursion is a vigorous trek on the seven-plus-mile White Trail, one of several that make up the Staten Island Greenbelt. The hike is led by a guide from the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation, and you’ll tromp through the urban forest and get away from it all for a few hours. It includes some uneven terrain; wear comfortable, supportive shoes or hiking boots, and bring water and a snack. If this sounds like too much for you, NYC Parks is also offering shorter, easier Black Friday hikes in Pelham Bay Park and Prospect Park. Willowbrook Park, 1 Eton Place, Staten Island; November 24, 11 a.m.–1 p.m.
Montauk Salt Cave
Coming down with a case of holiday-itis? There’s no official research on whether breathing salty air can really prevent a respiratory illness, but a session in a salt cave may soothe your lungs and your soul. This cozy, gently lit hideaway is built out of pink bricks of Himalayan salt. It even has a layer of salt on the floor, like sand. You simply settle into a lounge chair and hang out there for a while, soaking in the dryish, clean-feeling air. (You stay fully clothed.) Chat quietly with whomever you’ve brought with you or listen to music, and remember to soak up the atmosphere and breathe deeply. 90 East 10th Street (between Third and Fourth Avenues), East Village
New York Cares Coat Drive
Over 29 years, this citywide effort has collected more than 1.8 million warm coats and distributed them to needy New Yorkers. This year’s drive runs through December 31, but donating a coat earlier ensures that its recipient will suffer fewer cold days. Take a few minutes on Black Friday to visit one of the drive’s drop-off boxes—you’ll find them at NYPD precincts and various other locations—and you’ll have given a gift with real meaning. Coats should be clean and in good condition (defined as “an individual could walk out of our Walk-In Centers wearing the coat and feeling warm”). And while all coats are appreciated, the highest demand is for kids’ and extra-large men’s sizes. Various locations
You could hit the ice at Rockefeller Center or in Bryant Park, but neither of those skating venues will get you away from the frenzied shopping hordes. Central Park’s rinks, meanwhile, will be packed full of tourists. So while the rink at Chelsea Piers isn’t exactly a quiet spot, at least there you’ll have a fighting chance for a little less of a Black Friday scene. Located on Pier 61, Sky Rink boasts gorgeous architecture and fabulous views of the Hudson. 61 Chelsea Piers, Chelsea; general skating hours: 1:30–5:20 p.m.
Now that you don’t have to worry about waking up at 3 a.m. to hit the stores, spend more time planning the anti–Black Friday you deserve.