Staycations from A (adventure) to S (sex)

21 classic in-town getaways for every mood.

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Nature's course

With summer comes the inevitable urge to run barefoot through a shady glen, but you don't have to leave the city to experience the great outdoors. Strap on your spurs and point yourself toward Prospect Park's 3.5-mile bridle path for an equestrian adventure. Kensington Stables (51 Caton Pl at 8th St; 718-972-4588, prospectpark.org) rents out steeds for hour-long trail rides ($37), or you can take a private lesson ($57). Once you've worked up an appetite, grab a seat on the outdoor terrace at nearby Crossroads Caf (1241A Prospect Ave, Windsor Terrace, Brooklyn; 718-972-1852, cafe-crossroads.com) and order the B&B (a burger and a beer for $9.95). If you crave the open seas, hop aboard a New York Water Taxi (212-742-1969, nywatertaxi.com) and embark on an NYC Audubon Sunset Eco Cruise (South Street Seaport, Pier 17, Fulton St at Water St; 212-691-7483, nycaudubon.org; Sun, 7-8;30pm; $25, children under 12 $10), during which you might catch a glimpse of egrets, falcons and some of the 3,000 herons nesting on neighboring islands. The Downtown Boathouse (downtownboathouse.org) lends free gear for 20-minute kayak paddles during summer weekends—all you need is a bathing suit and the ability to swim. At dinnertime, walk along the water to the Boat Basin Caf (Hudson River at 79th St; 212-496-5542, boatbasincafe.com) for shrimp, burgers and other pub grub. Show the urban jungle who's boss by ordering up a pitcher of fruit margaritas and watching the sunset over the river.

NYC 101

Feel guilty because you're not taking full advantage of the culture, entertainment and tasty morsels of New York City? Make like a tourist and hit the essentials in a hurry. Start at the Lower East Side Tenement Museum (108 Orchard St at Broome St; 212-431-0233, tenement.org), where you can immerse yourself in New York's rich immigrant history. Celebrate how far the metropolis has come at hip neighborhood eatery Little Giant (85 Orchard St at Broome St; 212-226-5047, littlegiantnyc.com), for classics with an upscale twist—try the duck confit BLT ($15). Your next stop is the Queens Museum of Art (Flushing Meadows Park; 718-592-9700, queensmuseum.org; $5 suggested donation) to check out that scale-model panorama you've been meaning to see for years. Then see the real deal from 70 stories up at the Top of the Rock Observation Deck at Rockefeller Center (enter on 50th St between Fifth and Sixth Aves; 212-698-2000, topoftherocknyc.com; $21, children 6-12 $14). Continue your rooftop tour at the Roof Garden Cafe at the Metropolitan Museum of Art (1000 Fifth Ave at 82nd St; 212-535-7710, metmuseum.org; Fri & Sat, open until 8pm), where you can swill martinis and take in spectacular views of Central Park and midtown Manhattan. When dinner calls, walk west to The Boathouse (midpark at 72nd St; 212-517-2233, thecentralparkboathouse.com) and chose from its contemporary seafood-oriented menu (or opt for an informal snack on the terrace). After sustenance, it's time for the requisite New York jazz experience. The Village Vanguard (178 Seventh Ave South between Perry and W 11th Sts; 212-255-4037, villagevanguard.com) has been hosting hepcats since 1935, and the bills are still vibrant. Ultimately, you can go back to your normal routine, but admit it: Sometimes it's fun to walk in a tourist's shoes (even if they're prone to infuriating stopping, starting and zig-zagging).

NYC is for lovers

Sure, we all know about Sting's staying power in the bedroom, but he didn't get there without hard tantric work—and neither will you. Expand your consciousness (and your orgasmic capacity) with one of Carla Tara's private couples sessions (1tantra.com; call 917-513-2500 for appointment; $400). Once you're tantrified, make a pit stop at the Pleasure Chest (156 Seventh Ave South between Charles St and Waverly Pl; 212-242-2158, thepleasurechest.com) for whatever your pervy heart desires, be it body frosting or a riding crop. Before getting frisky, bliss out at Metamorphosis Day Spa (127 E 56th St between Park and Lexington Aves; 212-751-6051, metspa.com), where you can indulge in a side-by-side couples massage ($210). After the rub down, take a romantic stroll up to Central Park's tranquil, tree-shaded Wagner Cove (midpark down a stone staircase off of Cherry Hill; enter at 72nd St). Perch on the tree trunk that grows horizontally over the water for a gravity-defying make-out session, then amble westward towards the Tangled Vine Wine Bar & Kitchen (434 Amsterdam Ave at 81st St; 646-863-3896, tangledvinebar.com), where you can share small plates and choose from among the 160 wines on the menu. If the aphrodisiacs aren't kicking in fast enough, zip downtown to sultry speakeasy Raines Law Room, where you can slip into a velvet-covered private booth. Ring the waiter to bring made-to-order cocktails ($13 on average), and then feel free to get as fresh as you like—no one's watching here. Brooklynites can seek similar indulgences at Cynergy Spa (87 Fort Greene Pl at Fulton St; 718-403-9242, cynergyspa.com) where the special couples package ($320) includes 55-minute side-by-side massages, a dip in the spa's Jacuzzi, and chocolate-covered strawberries and champagne. Follow up your pampering with a glass of prosecco on the coy vine-covered back patio at Stonehome Wine Bar (87 Lafayette Ave between S Elliott Pl and S Portland Ave; 718-624-9443, stonehomewinebar.com), and let the bubbly lull you into a love trance.

Off to the races

Two dollars won't even get you a subway ride in New York, but it will purchase a solid six hours of Thoroughbred racing at Belmont Park (2150 Hempstead Tpke, Elmont, Long Island; 516-488-6000, nyra.com; F train to Parsons Blvd, then Q110 bus) near Jamaica. The 105-year-old racetrack's biggest event is the annual Belmont Stakes, where on June 5, Super Saver and his equine competitors will get down to business. But the spot's seedy charm is best discovered on a sunny Sunday, when the four-level grandstand is mostly empty and there are no lines at the plentiful hot-dog stands (or the on-site barber shop). There's no need to plop down in a seat and stay there; visit the paddock as entrants tack up for the next race, then lounge at an outdoor table for a post parade or two. Free breakfast tours run on weekends from 7 to 9:30 am, with races starting in early afternoon. Six bucks too steep for a beer? Bring a cooler full of your own Silver Bullets (no glass) to the picnic area. With more betting windows than there are bank tellers left in Manhattan, there's no rush when making an unpracticed bet. Most days you can be mere feet from the finish line to holler "Baby needs a new pair of shoes!" at your chosen steed as he comes down the backstretch.

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