Roommate bonding might be more important now than ever. We’re spending most of our free time indoors which means we’re spending it with our roommates, too. If you’ve both chosen to live in a Common building, it’s very likely you already share some of the same values with your roomies. But the best way to really get to know the ones you’re living with is to venture outside. Here’s a roundup of socially-distant activities to help you and your roommates make the most of this fall in New York City.
Watch movies the new (old) way at a drive in theatre
Movie theatres in the city have been shut down since mid-March, unfortunately without plans to reopen in the near future. In their place, a few drive-in theatres have popped up around the city, making movie-going a group activity once again.
If you or your roommates have a penchant for film festivals, head to the Brooklyn Drive-In down in Sunset Park. They’re showing a roster of independent flicks from the international festival circuit – this month you’ll see films from the New York, Nordic, and French festivals. While going at night is definitely the move, you might want to arrive a little early so you don’t miss the sun setting over the East River. They have a second pop-up in Queens, too!
If you want your movies with a side of jaw dropping views of Manhattan, then Skyline Drive-In up in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, is the spot for you. This location is a great option if you don’t have access to a car, because bikes and foot traffic are also welcome. If you’re driving in the old fashioned way, you can split the cost of a per-car ticket with your fellow passengers. This drive-in has a concession stand on site, but don’t we all sneak our snacks into movies anyway?
Play florist for a day
Another outdoor group activity that can actually help to beautify your home: flower arranging in the park! New York’s flower district is one of the city’s best-kept secrets, as most don’t know that many of its vendors sell directly to the public. Our favorite spot, Dutch Flower Line, sells just about every kind of stem and bloom you can imagine, so we’d recommend heading to either their Chelsea or Long Island City locations before they close at noon.
Start by brainstorming color palettes with your roomies (remember, you’re buying in bulk) so you have a game plan for the market. Then, source vases or upcycled objects to hold your flowers, like jars or fun decor. You’ll want a few pairs of gardening shears, and maybe some drinks, too. Then, take your supplies to the nearest park, find an open picnic table, and become one with your inner florist.
Savor spooky season with a walking ghost tour
You can find ghost tours all year ‘round, but they’re more fun in early autumn, before it gets too cold to feel your toes. With safety top of mind, these outdoor-only walking tours have limited capacity, so get together with your roommates and reserve your spots in advance. NYC Ghosts hosts tours in historic Greenwich Village and will take you to 10 different haunted locales over the course of one dark hour. With a history dating back to the 17th century, this neighborhood is sure to harbor some creepy finds (did you know Washington Square Park used to be a mass grave?)
For something just as spooky but a little less expected, check out Boroughs of the Dead, who pride themselves on a boutique and well-researched experience. You can choose the ever popular tour Greenwich Village, West Village, Lower Manhattan, or the abandoned institutions of Roosevelt Island.
Spend the day on Governor’s Island
Governor’s Island is another hidden gem, mostly because it’s only accessible by a dedicated ferry and closes to the public on November 1. Fall is the best time to visit this charming island, so hop on a ferry from either Battery Park or Red Hook for only $3, or ride for free if you board before noon on the weekends. Also, capacity is limited to keep things safe, so make sure you book ahead through their new reservation system.
This small island is a former military base with a handful of empty (read: abandoned) stone buildings, so if you’re looking to extend your ghost tour then this may be the spot for you. During the day, this park is incredibly charming and offers views of the Manhattan skyline, all the bridges, Statue of Liberty – you name it. Chill out in Hammock Grove or check out one of it’s rotating art installations. Our favorite way to explore the island is by renting a bike and pedaling through it’s 7 miles of car-free roadway. Make the most out of your visit by packing a picnic lunch and taking in the views.
Sweat safely in an outdoor exercise class
Nothing says roommate bonding like sweating through a grueling workout together! Get your blood flowing and boost your endorphins by signing up for a group exercise class. If you and your roommates have different preferences when it comes to working out, make it a series and take turns picking the class each week.
If you head to your nearest park, you’re bound to find signs for local yoga classes. If you’re missing your regular cycling studio, you’ll love BYKlyn Cycle’s pop-up outdoor studio. Now called the BYKlyn Yard, this set-up is the city’s first outdoor cycling studio, and it has an accompanying gym, too. For a top-notch cardio workout and great vibes, take a 305 Fitness class in Bryant Park, where attendees can dance at a safe 15-foot distance. And if you’re missing the release that comes with punching it out, take a Rumble boxing class on the roof of Catch in the Meatpacking district. Cap off your group workout with smoothies and a cool down hang sesh.
Experience art, together
Taking a tour of local galleries and art museums is a great way to learn more about your roommates’ aesthetic inclinations and to get your creative juices flowing. Museums like The Met are opening back up to share their expansive collections with the world once again, so make sure you reserve a time to visit in advance. Once inside, plan your route through the expansive collection. A good way to make sure everyone has a say is to have each person pick 2 rooms or collections to visit – remember, you can always come back. And don’t forget that your admission will get you into The Cloisters, which are absolutely lovely in the fall. So if you have the time (and the stamina), head up town and make a whole day of it.
Galleries in the Chelsea art district are open to the public, too, so if you’re looking for more variety, or to see something new, take your roommates to a show you’ve never seen before. David Zwirner and Gagosian are two well-known names for a reason, so start with one of their expertly-curated shows and wander through the street until you’ve had your fill.