Jamaica Bay, Queens
Why: Nestled between JFK airport and the converted-park Floyd Bennett Field, where Amelia Earhart and Howard Hughes once took flight, is the 9,000-acre Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge. A sanctuary for overworked New Yorkers and 325 bird species, this under-the-radar cluster of islands and wetlands is facing the threat of more extreme annual storms. Even worse: "Sea level rise analyses show the islands disappearing," says Bill Ulfelder, the Nature Conservancy New York's Executive Director. "Jamaica Bay is a hugely important migratory bird stop-over area." According to TNC's Climate Adaptation Tool, this critical natural defense system could lose a big part of its landmass in our lifetime.
What to do: It's not every day you ride the subway with your tent in tow. After setting up camp at Floyd Bennett Field — the only place you can legally camp inside the five boroughs — head off the runway and out into a totally different kind of urban jungle. Go for a hike along 2.2-mile West Pond trail, explore the historic Fort Tilden, or paddle the area on a guided kayak tour with Sebago Canoe Club.
More info: nyharborparks.org