Hang Ten: Nature and the City with Shanika Hillocks

For this installment of Field Notes, we sit with our friend, influencer marketer, and writer, Shanika Hillocks. Follow along as she walks us through her outdoor must-haves, sleeper hit jaunts and, of course (given her hospitality background), not-to-miss restaurant picks for dining al fresco in New York City.

Describe your relationship with the outdoors in three words.

  • Evolving, curious, and liberating

You spend a lot of time between New York, Florida, and California. Any beachside tips or tricks you'd like to share as we ramp up for the summer season? 

  • BYO(W)B - bring your own water bottle, ideally a glass one. Last summer, I participated in a beach clean up in Queens and couldn't believe how many plastic water bottles I'd collected. It's a simple action that's extremely helpful for the environment.

"[ITA] doesn't shy away from the realities of adventuring while Black - the joy, the discomfort, the history, and the hopes for the future--while encouraging me to show up, as I am."

You’re holding down a 9 - 5, while also working through freelance projects. While that could often mean chaining yourself to the desk, are there go-to green spaces or favorite stretches in NYC that you’ll sneak out to get in some air?

  • As a Harlemnite, I like heading over to Riverside Park for some fresh air; if I’m up to it, I’ll take advantage of the track and get a mile run in. When the weather is good, I aim to wrap up work early and head up to Highbridge Park. The views from above are pretty incredible.

Quick! What are a few of your favorite al fresco restaurants you’ll definitely be hitting on repeat this spring / summer / fall?

  • Clay in Harlem
  • Via Carota in West Village 
  • Atla in SoHo
  • Winona's in Brooklyn

We’re all planning for a hot vaxxed summer. Have any road trips on the docket? And what tunes will you be listening to?

  • Lake George and Hudson are on my road trip list this summer. Re: tunes-have you blasted “Leave The Door Open” in a car at the highest volume? If not, I highly recommend and truly hope that Bruno Mars and Anderson Paak make more music together. Their vibe is the soundtrack to my life as of late.

You’re going for a camping weekend. What cooking essentials are you most likely to take with you?

  • Never have I ever been camping, but I’m hoping to have my first experience this year. That said, I’d bring along a good cast iron pan. Mine is from Lodge.

How do you tend to seek out new adventures? Any accounts you love to follow for inspiration?

  • As a former publicist, I read a ton of digital and print outlets--everything from the Conde Nast Traveler to garner intel on potential destinations. I also like to follow specific destination hashtags as I prepare for a trip. 

Why does ITA’s mission resonate with you?

  • Because it centers experiences like my own, honestly. It doesn’t shy away from the realities of adventuring while Black--the joy, the discomfort, the history, and the hopes for the future--while encouraging me to show up, as I am.

What's your idea of #TimeWellSpent?

  • Ideally, it’s a day that isn’t dictated by meetings or called, spent with an intimate group of friends and delicious food enjoyed under the sun.