The Healthy NYC Guide
While it’s LA that gets all the credit for being a health-centric city, the wellness scene in New York is getting bigger and better by the day. Healthy restaurants and juice bars seem to be popping up on every corner, and between the West Side Highway, the High Line, and Central Park, there are ample outdoor places to run and stroll. Meanwhile, old favorites (like the fabulous Shibui spa at the Greenwich Hotel) are as compelling as ever. Below, a few of our favorite health-centric spots for a clean-eating, self-care-focused weekend in the city.
Equinox, Columbus Circle | 212.871.0425
Equinox’s recently rebranded Tier X training program—the most extensive they offer—does a full-on deep-dive into the science of fitness. In your first session, you’ll undergo a series of fitness evaluations, including metabolic testing, a 3-D body scan, and a lengthy questionnaire on eating and fitness habits. Taking all of the data into account, the trainer will tailor a full-fledged food and fitness program to your specific body type, metabolism, and goals. All of the data gets reviewed quarterly, so you can (literally) see how far you’ve come. Tier X is only available at Columbus Circle, Highline, Tribeca, and West 92nd, but the gym offers other levels of personal training at every location (which at this point is every neighborhood in the city).
This massive, man-made, historic park in the middle of Manhattan might just be the thing that makes city life bearable for so many of its citizens: With acres of green space, it’s a public oasis offering incredible playgrounds, swimming pools, public concerts, running tracks, dog parks, gondola dotted lakes, a boathouse, a wonderful zoo, and the John Lennon Memorial. It’s a wonderful place.
23rd St. and Hudson River Park, Chelsea | 212.336.6666
Situated on a pier along the Hudson River, this gigantic sporting complex operates out of the “if you build it, they will come” mindset. And it’s true: Here, you’ll find year-round ice skating, a rock climbing wall, gymnastics, soccer, a driving range, and more, all situated under one sprawling roof.
109 W. 17th St., Chelsea | 212.929.7900
We’re pretty smitten with the concept here: Founder Alison Cayne transformed a carriage house into a cooking school/supper club, where area chefs lead classes on everything from cooking Vietnamese food with fresh herbs to gluten and allergen-free baking. Once the meal is made, participants grab chairs and eat the spoils together.
There are now thousands of Citi Bikes in NYC, accessible via 500 ports spread out over every neighborhood. In short, you buy a 24-hour ($10) week-long ($25), or annual pass ($149), and then can pick up and drop off as many bikes as you need to get around the city. While there are plenty of designated bike lanes, ride with caution, as cab traffic moves fast!
35 E. 18th St., Union Square | 212.475.5829
Helmed by Chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten, this airy, all-white space—attached to ABC Home—is a temple to inventive, seasonal, and local cooking sourced from nearby farms and cooperatives. It doesn’t come as much of a shock that the fare is GMO-free, and also grown and made without pesticides, synthetic fertilizers, insecticides, antibiotics, and hormones. It’s not surprising because you can taste the well-sourced provenance on the plate, whether in the form of housemade ricotta ravioli or fried organic chicken in a hot butter sauce.
185 Bleecker St., Greenwich Village | 212.290.8000
Chloe Coscarelli was fresh out of culinary school when she won an episode of Cupcake Wars with a vegan cupcake recipe: She was the first person to do so on that show or any other televised cooking competition. She’s since opened a casual restaurant in the West Village (followed by others), with an adorable interior (striped wooden floors, colorful tiles, hanging swing) and a little fridge with pre-packaged food. While the menu is focused on smoothies, juices, and great vegan burgers, you can still pick up her famous cupcakes.
1414 6th Ave., Midtown | 212.703.2007
Chef Jonathan Waxman was one of Alice Waters’ protégés, and after stints at Chez Panisse and Michael’s in Santa Monica, he was one of the first to bring that hyper-fresh, California style cooking to New York. His new restaurant at 1 Hotel Central Park resurrects the name of his first-ever New York operation, and brings that same, seasonal cuisine to a spacious corner space with simple, Scandinavian-style design. Because it’s connected to the hotel, there are several private rooms available for events and celebrations as well. Obviously, get the chicken.
206 E. 86th St., Upper East Side | 212.358.0500
Organic Avenue debuted in 2002, and the results of their five-day juice programs were pretty amazing, plus their juices and smoothies (especially the coconut mylk blends) were so delicious that we’d stock up on them whenever we were in town. They sadly shut down at the end of 2015, but recently reopened a handful of locations in NYC. In addition to juices, they offer healthy prepared foods, making it a good choice for a quick lunch.
85 W. Broadway, Tribeca | 212.220.4110
Little Park is actually huge. It has banquet and bistro tables, plush booths, and it occupies an entire corner in Tribeca (right below The Smyth hotel). For late-night revelers, the adjoining Evening Bar is a cozy spot to sip on mixologist Anne Robinson’s inventive cocktails. To craft the most seasonally sound menu possible, Chef Andrew Carmellini tapped local farmers, foragers, and ranchers for organic produce, grass-fed meats, and heirloom grains. Come here for traditional breakfast fare as well as lunch and dinner.
95 Greenwich Ave., West Village | 212.242.6115
Owned by nutritionist Marissa Lippert, this beautifully designed café serves healthy fare all day long, from delicious frittatas and almond milk lattes, to hearty grain bowls. Besides being a great resource for quick, balanced meals, the cafe also sells a bijou collection of beautifully selected homewares and healthy cookbooks.
410 Avenue of the Americas, Greenwich Village | 212.420.1600
This shop has been around forever, and the knowledgable employees here can help you find literally any healthy, impossible-to-get ingredient you can imagine. Not cooking? There’s also a vegan bakery, a juice bar, and plenty of organic snacks.
210 6th Ave., Soho | 212.807.7421
A New York mainstay since the 70s, the prevailing theory at Soeun is an old-school Japanese-based macrobiotic one: there is no meat, dairy, or eggs on the menu and certain veggies are prohibited. One could argue that the cult of the macro plate began here, but there are plenty of other dark green veggies, grains, beans and fish on the menu to leave you feeling pleasantly sated. Salmon or black cod can be ordered with teriyaki sauce; the yuba, tofu “skins” are served with Chinese cabbage, carrot, and scallion in a tamari kombu broth. Both downtown spaces (the other is in the East Village) are light-filled and sparsely decorated. Bonus: They deliver.
430 E. 9th St. East Village | 212.256.1192
Superiority Burger made a name for itself with chef Brooks Headley’s (formerly the pastry chef of Del Posto) rakish take on vegetarian fast food. The menu is brief, but you can’t really make a bad choice—the small-but-mighty veggie burger, a Sloppy Dave (their version of a Sloppy Joe), and burnt-broccoli salad are standouts. Daily specials range from soarana beans with parsley to kabocha squash with pea shoot pepita pesto. Grabbing one of the few seats is basically a competitive sport, so better take your food over to Tompkins Square Park and grab a bench. Check their Instagram feed for daily specials. (Note: Superiority Burger is closed on Tuesdays.)
19 Kenmare St., Nolita | 212.219.3434
Count on Joya Carlton, the former chef at Buvette, to help open up another stellar brunch spot. Set up on the corner of bustling Kenmare Street in Nolita, the Butcher’s Daughter offers the kind of vegetarian fare you can feel good about—their version of a breakfast sandwich features an egg, cashew cheese, kale, and tomato jam on an English muffin; their organic muesli is topped with fresh fruit and almond milk. The cold-pressed juices are easy to make a habit of—the honey bee, with grapefruit, turmeric, yuzu, kumquat, honey, and bee pollen is good for fending off colds. The minimalist (but Instagram-ready) decor includes big-picture windows, bleached wood, and exposed brick; produce hangs from meat hooks and herbal infusions are lined up behind the bar.
HEALTH & BEAUTY
315 Court St., Cobble Hill | 718.576.2679
Shen Beauty offers an ever-expanding range of exclusive, niche brands, such as Kate Logan and Percy & Reed, in a clean, bright, and elegantly girly space, making the subway ride into Brooklyn totally worth it. Everything here is super clean and non-toxic too, including goop‘s own line of clean skincare, which is a pretty amazing touch.
112 Reade St., Tribeca | 212.406.1010
This is not your regular neighborhood mani/pedi joint. Set up above the bustle of Tribeca, the low-key space is outfitted with mid-century modern antiques (you won’t find any oversized massage chairs) and the technicians are incredibly well-trained. They do kiddie manicures, at-home appointments, and best of all, all they’re open late. Their polish line is 8-free.
88 Franklin St., Tribeca | 212.274.3777
Tucked away in Tribeca, this is one of New York City’s best spa secrets—which also happens to look a bit like the Temple of White and Black from Game of Thrones. You descend into a candle-lit stairs into an equally moody space with many baths and steam rooms (all sorts of different temperatures, from hot to ice-f-ing cold to a sublime extra-salt version where you float like you’re in the Dead Sea), where you’ll likely be content to hang out for awhile. They also offer really great massages—some of Manhattan’s best, actually.
1130 Broadway, Flatiron | 646.869.3601
For exceptional skincare at an accessible price point, head to this facial spa located next-door to Madison Square Park (there’s a second location in Tribeca). With a membership option, flexible scheduling, and a staff of New York State-accredited and licensed estheticians on hand, Heyday manages to make it easier and, most importantly, more convenient than many luxury facial spas to stop in for a last-minute tune-up.
49 W. 33rd St., Koreatown | 212.695.9559
Smack in the middle of Koreatown, this futuristic joint revolves around four grottoes, which light up an otherwise pitch black room. You’ll find a jade, clay and amethyst sauna, each infused with far infrared, along with a series of wet rooms for really, really, really good Korean scrubs. As a bonus, it’s open from 10am to 2am.
29 Great Jones St., Greenwich Village | 212.505.3185
They’ve got every treatment under the sun here, at a range of prices. If you’re not looking for a massage or facial, just book the water lounge and spend the day between the pool, the sauna, and the jacuzzi—it’s really fun to do with friends. Also worth mentioning is the prenatal massage, which most mommas-to-be will agree is incredibly effective at easing pregnancy-related discomfort.
515 E. 5th St., #1A, East Village | 212.388.9788
As its name implies, Gravity East Village specializes in gravity-based colonics, which means that the in-flow and out-flow of water is simultaneous. Gravity also has a far infrared sauna, which is a nice complement for a full detox.
73 Spring St., Ste. 305, Soho | 212.925.0203
Founder Tracy Piper brings more than twenty years of experience in Chinese herbology and colon hydrotherapy, which she believes can aid in everything from indigestion to wrinkles in her one-stop cleansing center. For those in need of a recharge, there’s also dry-skin brushing, a lymphatic draining detox wrap, and infrared sauna sessions, which aim to boost metabolism. Her ace staff includes a live blood analyst, colon therapist, and in-house nurse practitioner for highly personalized sessions.
377 Greenwich St., Tribeca | 212.941.8900
The hotel offers a wonderfully secluded and private stay, while the on-site restaurant, Locanda Verde, is one of our favorite Tribeca haunts. Subtly Mediterranean in vibe, the simply decorated rooms here are cozy and airy, plus there’s an incredible Shibui spa, a pool and steam room, and a secluded courtyard that’s the perfect destination when you just want coffee and the morning paper. We’ve had amazing traditional massages here; the fact that they use natural and organic products, for the most part, is a huge bonus.
180 10th Ave., Chelsea | 212.929.3888
This sixty-room boutique hotel sits on ground that was actually an apple orchard in the early days—though the federally protected historic building (formerly the General Theological Seminary) wasn’t built until the 1800s. The rooms themselves are modern but very comfortable, furnished with antiques and one-of-a-kind pieces that were sourced in and around the city. As for the downstairs amenities, you’ll find a cozy little courtyard restaurant protected from the street, and Chelsea Market just a few steps away. As the name indicates, you’re also right near the High Line—we like to pick up a coffee from the on-site Intelligentsia to nurse during the walk.
80 Columbus Circle, Upper West Side | 212.805.8800
Towering over Central Park in the Time Warner Center building, the Mandarin Oriental’s location is within striking distance of Fifth Avenue, Broadway, and Lincoln Center. That’s all overshadowed by the view. The décor is typical of the Mandarin’s modern, Asian-inflected style, the spa is excellent, and there’s a pretty insane 75-foot lap pool.
153 W. 57th St., Midtown | 646.774.1234
In a neighborhood that’s primarily serviced by grand, historic hotels, the recently-opened Park Hyatt offers an experience that’s very modern. The Christian de Portzamparc-designed skyscraper, One 57, sits directly across from Carnegie Hall and offers some of the biggest rooms, square-footage-wise, in the city. Meanwhile, the contemporary interiors by design firm Yabu Pushelberg strike the perfect balance between modernism and comfort. Bonus: the 13,000-square foot Spa Nalai, which is divided into a fitness room, 65-foot lap pool, and six suites offering everything from treatments on a sand quartz bed (the only one of it’s kind in NYC) to cupping. This fall, they partnered with MNDFL meditation studio to offer a series of private and semi-private sessions.