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ziplining
Photograph: Courtesy Zipline New York

Extreme sports in or around NYC that thrill seekers must try

Have the need for speed (or heights or whatever)? Discover some of the wildest extreme sports in or around NYC.

By Annalise Mantz and Alison Kotch
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Calling all daredevils (wannabe or otherwise): Extreme sports—you know, hang gliding, shark diving, jumping from a friggin’ plane—are all around you, if you know where to look. That’s where we come in. Discover some amazing ways to get a rush, whether it’s squeezing through an underground cave during one of your weekend getaways from NYC or hitting 200mph in a luxury car. No matter the thrilling experience you desire, you can find it near NYC. Even better, outdoor adventures near NYC are often just a short train, bus or car ride away. (The best road trip songs will help you pass the time.)

Best extreme sports in or around NYC

Shark diving
Photograph: Shutterstock

Shark diving

Sports and fitness Long Island

Jaws is a movie, people. Put your fear of staring into those dark, beady eyes to bed with Montauk’s Sea Turtle Dive Charters, which has allowed brave New Yorkers get this close to mako, thresher, blue and hammerhead sharks in the open water for 12 years. After slipping into your wet suit and gear (all included as part of your dive package and orientation; there’s no scuba certification necessary), you, your instructors and the other brave souls take the two-hour trip out to shark territory, where the crew chums the water to attract what you came to see. You then step into a two-person aluminum cage with your instructor and are lowered into the water for up to two 30-minute sessions, during which it’s not uncommon to see as many as 12 sharks at once. (Don’t worry—the anodized-aluminum-pipe cage is hella safe.) The journey is BYO-drinks-and-grub—we suggest a shot of something strong before you submerge. $275

Long Island Skydiving Center
Photograph: Courtesy Long Island Skydiving Center

Skydiving

Sports and fitness Long Island

Fact: You’re more likely to die getting hit by lightning than get hurt—or worse—by jumping out of a plane (well, with a parachute, we mean). If it’s your first time making the leap, sign up for a tandem jump with one of Long Island Skydiving Center’s instructors: The scariest part is psyching yourself up to actually leave the plane when you’re 10,000 feet above the ground. Once you do, you literally can’t breathe until your guide opens your parachute; that’s because you’re falling at 120 miles per hour for about 45 seconds. Once that chute opens and you slow down to a canopy ride, you’re treated to a bird’s-eye view of the New York countryside. How...calming. $229

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Airplane
Photograph: Shutterstock

Flying a plane

Take the controls of a Piper PA-28-181 Archer II in a flying lesson with an FAA-certified flight instructor from O’Toole Airways at Republic Airport on Long Island. After a quick orientation and safety briefing, you’ll clamber into the cockpit and complete the pre-flight inspection. The instructor will prep you for takeoff and help you guide the plane into the sky. You’ll take in breathtaking views of the coastline before landing safely back at the airport. Who’s ready for takeoff? $162–$255

The best helicopter tours in NYC
Photograph: Shutterstock

Flying a helicopter

The only thing more badass than piloting a plane might be flying a chopper. Take over the pilot’s seat in a Robinson R-44 helicopter at Westchester County Airport in White Plains. Though the instructor will handle the more complex maneuvers of take-off and landing, you’ll take the controls in mid-air. You can even bring two passengers with you to show off your newfound skills. $420–$965

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ziplining
Photograph: Courtesy Zipline New York

Zip-lining

Sports and fitness

Zip it and rip it! With a 650-foot line suspended 60 feet above the Catskills’ tree canopy, Zipline New York offers the highest, fastest and longest ride of its kind in the country. You can start with the family-friendly Mid Mountain tour, or go straight for one of the most extreme options: the Night Zip, which takes place by moonlight, surrounded by forest creatures, or the Skyrider, which allows you to reach speeds of up to 50 miles per hour. Enjoy the high-octane rush and take comfort in the knowledge that you’re safely strapped into a harness during your glide. $89–$119

Brooklyn Boulders
Photograph: Courtesy Rory Moon

Rock climbing

Sports and fitness Yoga & Pilates Gowanus

You don’t have to plan an expedition to the mountains to learn to rock climb. Reach new heights on the climbing or bouldering walls at Brooklyn Boulders. This Gowanus gym offers plenty of routes for absolute beginners and experienced climbers alike. True novices should start with the Intro to Climbing class, which covers everything you need to know about belaying, top-roping and safe climbing. Climb on! $32 for a day pass; $49 for an introductory class

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Racing
Photograph: Shutterstock

Racing

Got the need for speed? Channel your inner The Fast and the Furious racer as you zoom around the New Jersey Motorsports Park track in a Lamborghini. After a quick classroom session on driving techniques and safety tips, you’ll head town to the pit to be fitted for a helmet. Then, it’s off to the races for three (or more) adrenaline-pumping laps around the track. Car aficionados might have a hard time choosing between a classic Lamborghini Gallardo or futuristic Huracan, but you really can’t go wrong. $338–$737

Hang gliding
Photograph: Shutterstock

Hang gliding

Tandem hang gliding in Middletown, New York might be your one and only chance to soar like an eagle. Meet your certified instructor for a quick safety briefing before being towed high into the sky by an ultralight plane. When the pilot releases you, you’ll experience the sensation of open flight for the 15 minutes it takes to coast toward landing. Feeling extra daring? Opt for the Mile-High Flight: You’ll be towed to a height of 5,280 feet before the glider is released for a 40-minute flight. $200–$300

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Jet skiing
Photograph: Courtesy Shutterstock

Jet skiing

See the Statue of Liberty from an entirely new vantage point on a New York Harbor Jet Ski Tour. The four-hour excursion departs from Rockaway Beach, where you’ll get a brief safety training before zooming towards the city’s most iconic sights. You’ll feel your adrenaline spiking as you cruise beneath the Brooklyn Bridge, around Governors Island and near the World Financial Center. Bonus: The tour comes with complimentary photos of you on the water. $382

Howe Caverns
Photograph: Courtesy Howe Caverns

Cave exploring

Sports and fitness

Do like Lil Jon says and “get low,” New Yorkers. At Howe Caverns, the state’s second-most visited natural attraction after Niagara Falls, you can descend 156 feet under the earth’s surface, peeping beautiful stalactites and stalagmites along the way. The main attractions here are the 15-stories-below-ground limestone cave and the Lake of Venus, best seen on a lantern-guided tour on Friday or Saturday evenings. Novice explorers should make sure to catch the newest attraction: the Signature Rock Discovery tour, which exposes rocks and areas of the cave that haven’t been seen for nearly 100 years. More seasoned folks can join a spelunking tour to squeeze themselves through some pretty tight passageways and spy natural wonders like the 107-foot-high dome known as the Great Rotunda. $25–$155

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