Man must have held his breath in the presence of this continent, compelled into an aesthetic contemplation he neither understood nor desired, face to face for the last time in history with something commensurate to his capacity for wonder.”     – F. Scott Fitzgerald

A visit to the Mannahatta/Manhattan exhibit at the Museum of the City of New York reminded me of the vast ecological haven that once was Manhattan — a land of nearly 600 hills, 66 streams (not just the famous Minetta Brook, long buried underneath Washington Square Park) and 55 different ecological communities. These days it’s a little harder to find a natural setting that isn’t landscaped by architects, let alone some like-minded adventurers to go with. Urban Escapes, a company run by two friends of mine, Maia Josebachvilli and Bram Levy, brings you “out of the bubble” to places both around the city and internationally that you just won’t find in a guidebook. Recently featured on CNN, Urban Escapes subscribes to “Socially Responsible Travel,” including a “Leave No Trace” policy, partnerships with sustainable brands, small carbon-footprint recreational activities, and annual donations to organizations that maintain the parks and trails the company traverses.

Here are ways you can explore the outdoors with Urban Escapes over the next couple of months:

AUGUST: Whitewater Rafting, River Tubing and Wine Tasting, Day and Full-Moon Hiking, and more.
SEPTEMBER: A 5-day adventure to Mexico including spelunking, zip lining, hiking and rapelling.
OCTOBER: One week in Costa Rica filled with mountain biking, rafting, hiking and hot springs.

Mannahatta/Manhattan at the Museum of the City of New York, 103rd and 5th Avenue, $12 admission on Wednesday evenings comes replete with free cocktail at the terrace speakeasy (which will be “busted” up at the end of August).