Let’s face it: New York gets hot in the summer. On the brightest days, it can feel as though the heat from the concrete sidewalk might melt the rubber right off the soles of your shoes if you don’t find some shade, fast. But not to worry — there’s a solution to the heat that doesn’t require you to trade summer fun for air-conditioned purgatory. This season, cool down with one (or all) of these New York City waterfront activities:
Fishing on Pier 5
Need a moment of serenity in the city? Pick up a fishing rod and spend a peaceful morning fishing on the West Promenade of Pier 5! The pier has been arranged for your convenience; it offers bait prep tables and fish cleaning stations for all who visit. The view and ambiance are second to none — even if you don’t get any bites! However, if you do find a catch, take care in who you serve it to; currently, New York’s Waterbody Advisory warns that any fish caught in New York City waters could be harmful if eaten by pregnant women, women of childbearing age, and children under 15 years old.
Relief from the summer heat is never far away in New York. The city maintains dozens of pools of all shapes, depths, and sizes for public use — the Bronx alone has nine swimming spots! Most of these public pools host free aquatics programs in addition to their open swim hours. Pack up your sunscreen and towel, but remember that you’ll need to leave food, glass bottles, electronic devices, and newspapers at home when you do. Floaties are also a no-go at the pool, so parents with young children should play at the shallow end when they visit.
Future Attractions: The Squibb Park Pool!
While the Squibb Park Pool isn’t available to the public this year, it will be soon. When the Brooklyn Bridge pop-up pool debuted on Pier 2 in 2012, it was one of the park’s most popular seasonal attractions. In fact, it was so appreciated that advocates from local neighborhood groups ensured that it recurred for two years after its original end date. The pop-up pool closed for good in 2018, but work is underway to ensure that residents can enjoy a permanent public pool in Squibb Park within a few years — so keep a lookout!
Boat Rentals in the Park
Central Park offers some of the most peaceful views in the city — and now, you can enjoy them from the water! Visitors to the park can rent rowboats and gondola rides at Loeb Boathouse from April until October. Rowboats cost $15 per hour, with a $4 charge for every additional 15 minutes. Professionally-crewed gondola rides can be purchased at $45 per half-hour. It’s a fantastic way to relax and enjoy summer in the park.
Why stay landlocked when you could explore the water? New York City’s countless water trails span over 160 square miles of ocean, rivers, bays, inlets, and creeks for residents to enjoy — and most of the time, you don’t even need to pay for the opportunity!
In Manhattan, the volunteer-run Downtown Boathouse offers paddlers the chance to enjoy no-charge, twenty-minute kayaking trips at their convenience. Their summer programming also includes free kayaking lessons on Wednesday nights and public, three-hour trips from Pier 96 on most weekday mornings. The Boathouse’s only major requirement is that paddlers must know how to swim and must sign a waiver before getting into a kayak.
Long Island Community Boathouse
The Long Island Community Boathouse in Queens also offers free kayaking; however, the boathouse’s major appeal lies in its weekend programming. During the summers, volunteers run hour-long, one-way paddling adventures between Anable Basin and Hallets Cove.
That said, New Yorkers’ paddling opportunities aren’t limited to boathouse-run trips. If you have a kayak of your own, you can set out from any one of the city’s 45 launch sites. However, if you choose to set out on your own, you must have a permit to do so and adhere to regulations set by NYC Parks.
Want more ideas for summer fun? Check out our post on the 7 Best NYC Outdoor Brunches to Enjoy in Spring and Summer!
New York City is a veritable hotspot for arts and culture in the summertime. No matter your artistic passions, at least one of the countless, long-running cultural organizations in the city will have something to appeal to your interests. Add one (or all) of the below festivals to your calendar and share in the excitement! Who knows — some of the best performers in the country may be just a short walk from your doorstep.
First launched in the summer of 1979 by Brooklyn residents, Celebrate Brooklyn! is one of New York City’s longest-running outdoors performing arts festivals. This multi-day summer concert series highlights the best, brightest, and most promising Brooklynite musicians of the year. Since its founding, the festival has showcased over 2,000 artists, many of whom used the appearance as a springboard towards greater success. The festival spotlights internationally-celebrated and emerging artists from all musical genres, including but not limited to classical, jazz, pop, alt, hip-hop and regional American. This year’s lineup features notable performers such as Patti LaBelle, Courtney Barnett, Shareef Keyes & the Groove, and Iron & Wine. Attendees should note that while the festival itself is and has always been free, certain performances are charity benefits and have an associated cost.
Celebrate Brooklyn! starts Tuesday, June 4.
Shakespeare in the Park
Shakespeare in the Park wasn’t always such a summertime staple in Central Park. When director-producer Joseph Staff initially launched the program, he did so with the not-so-hidden disapproval of the then-parks commissioner, Robert Moses. Moses didn’t have a problem with theatre productions in the park per se, but he was firmly against the lawn erosion that audience members were beginning to cause on the grass in front of Turtle Pond. He demanded that Papp charge a fee to cover the cost of sod and lawn care — but Papp refused to charge for the performances, stubbornly maintaining that the theatre should be free to any who cared to see it. A long legal battle ensued between the two parties and ultimately ended in Papp’s favor. Surprisingly, the clash reportedly left Moses with a deep respect for Papp and led the commissioner to request the funds the director needed to build a proper theater in the park.
Since then, Shakespeare in the Park has developed into one of New York City’s most beloved summertime arts offerings. It has entertained over five million people throughout its run, and in past years even featured standout actors like Meryl Streep, James Earl Jones, and Al Pacino.
Interested? You can find the dates for 2019’s productions below. Remember — while entry is free, you’ll need to claim tickets beforehand to reserve a seat!
Much Ado About Nothing: May 21 – June 23
Coriolanus: July 16 – August 11
Hercules: August 21 – September 8
Founded by Jay K. Hoffman, William W. Lockwood Jr., Schuyler G. Chapin, and George F. Schutz in August of 1966, the Mostly Mozart festival was initially intended to provide freelance classical musicians with work opportunities during the summer off-season. Then and now, the event’s in-house orchestra pulls its members from notable classical ensembles across the country; its performers hail from high-profile orchestras such as the New York Philharmonic, Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, St. Louis Symphony, Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, and more.
The focus of Mostly Mozart has expanded since its early years. While the festival primarily offers concerts that feature its in-house orchestra, it also features solo classical artists, dance pieces, panel discussions, and film screenings. Most events occur at the David Geffen Hall at the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, but other venues include and are not limited to Rose Theater, Merkin Concert Hall, the Walter Reade Theater, and the David Rubenstein Atrium.
In 2019, the Mostly Mozart festival will run from July 10th through August 10th; tickets for various events available for purchase online.
Midsummer Night Swing
Midsummer Night Swing is a three-week extravaganza of dance, music, and culture. Held at Damrosch Park at the Lincoln Center, this long-running annual event offers new and experienced dancers alike the chance to learn how to swing, disco, salsa, ballroom step, and more. Each night follows a similar pattern: attendees arrive in the early evening for a formal lesson on the dance featured that night, and then spend the next few hours dancing the night away. The fun doesn’t always stop with formal steps, either; in recent years, organizers have even begun handing out wireless headsets and facilitating post-dance silent discos on certain nights!
This year, dancers can enjoy live music from celebrated musicians such as Bobby Valentin, Eyal Vilner Big Band, Curles Turner & Uptown Swing, and Bria Skonberg, among others. This is a ticketed event; attendees can buy four dance passes for $60, six dance passes for $84, a season pass for $170, or advance tickets for select evenings at $18 apiece.
Midsummer Night Swing will run from Tuesday, June 25 until Saturday, July 13th.
Want more artsy events on your calendar? Check out our blog post on the Coolest Pop-Up Museums in NYC!
New York City is known for its bustle, its glam, its excitement, and…its flowers? That’s right — in springtime, our concrete jungle becomes a hotspot for garden enthusiasts. Is one of the city’s best bloom-spotting attractions in your backyard? Read on to find out!
Brooklyn Botanic Garden
If you’ve never been to the Brooklyn Botanic Garden in spring, you’re missing out. As the weather warms, the garden boasts no less than 17 varieties of blooming cherry blossoms. Those blooms aren’t the only draw; visitors can find and enjoy the sights and smells of exotic and domestic flowers alike in the garden’s plant collections and specialty gardens. If you’re looking for a dash of culture with your springtime flowers, check out the Steinhardt Conservatory! This horticultural center encompasses the C.V. Starr Bonsai Museum, an aquatic plant house, an art gallery, and three climate-themed plant pavilions.
Central Park Conservatory
If you’re a fan of European formal gardens, the Central Park Conservatory is a must-see. This quiet, six-acre corner of the Park boasts three sections adhering to the English, French, and Italian styles of formal gardening, respectively. It’s a peaceful haven for flower enthusiasts who want to enjoy a meditative moment of admiration. Wilder blooms can also be spotted along Central Park’s less-formal walking trails and green spaces.
Queens Botanical Garden
What’s spring without a little fun? New flowers pop up and bloom near-daily in this 39-acre plot, making the Queens Botanical Garden a prime weekend destination for nature-loving families. The garden hosts several events to celebrate new blooms throughout the season, including its family-centric Arbor Day Festival. This high-energy event offers kids the chance to do arts and crafts, visit a petting zoo, play in a bouncy castle, and more! Adults can enjoy a quieter spring season by walking through the Queen’s Botanical Garden’s arboretum, visiting its art gallery, or exploring its rose, herb, perennial, and bee gardens.
New York Botanical Garden
Want a tech-friendly take on flower-spotting? The New York Botanical Garden has you covered. If you love azaleas, daffodils, roses, or cherry trees and don’t want to miss seeing any or all in peak blossom, check out the NYBG’s plant trackers! These trackers offer flower enthusiasts a quick glimpse of how far into bloom these springtime staples are from the comfort of their homes. Don’t cap your visit to peak season, though. NYBG hosts a series of events to highlight its plants, including an indoors orchard show!
Wave Hill might be small, but its snowdrop populations are unparalleled. This 28-acre park is a quintessential New York garden spot tucked away in the Bronx; it has wildflower greens, woodland paths, and lovely vistas.
Narrows Botanical Garden
Founded in the mid-nineties by two Bay Ridge residents, the Narrows Botanical Garden is living proof that local engagement can make positivity bloom within a community. The garden is home to several tree groves, a butterfly garden, a turtle sanctuary, and flocks of birds. Interestingly, the Narrows only includes plants native to New York. Today, the park is still maintained by Bay Ridge residents. It has a delightful view of the Bay and the Statue of Liberty.
The High Line
Springtime isn’t only for delicate flowers. The Highline encompasses a collection of hardy New England perennials, shrubs, and trees. Its Lilafee Barrenwort — a tough plant with rich, spring-blooming purple flowers — is particularly beautiful this time of year. The most exciting time for the High Line, however, is its annual spring cutback. Unlike other gardens, landscapers for the High Line allow winter-dried stalks to remain in place as habitat for native wildlife. In the spring, the High Line invites hundreds of local volunteers to join their gardeners in cutting back plants by hand to allow for compost and new growth. It’s an experience that garden enthusiasts won’t want to miss!
So, what are you waiting for? Shake off that winter chill and get hopping; there’s a ton to enjoy at these NYC gardens!
Want more insights about New York’s hidden treasures? Check out our post on NYC’s Most Overlooked Landmarks!
What’s better than a delicious mid-morning brunch in New York City? That’s easy — a mid-morning brunch that can be enjoyed during the peak of Spring! Below, we list a few of our must-go brunch places. These top-notch restaurants span the cuisine gamut, but they have one common characteristic — they all offer an outdoors dining experience.
Believe us, brunch doesn’t get much better than this. Try out one (or all) of these fantastic restaurants this spring!
With its casual atmosphere and morning-patio ambiance, Claro pairs the comfortable welcome of a friend’s backyard with the culinary expertise of a high-tier restaurant. All of Claro’s cheese and sausages are crafted in-house, and it’s not rare to see a chef grilling away on the back patio. Bring a friend or three; this restaurant sports a counter bar, tables and enough green space to make even a fast-paced New York morning feel relaxed. Best of all? Claro takes reservations.
Price Point: $$
Menu Highlights: Offerings change daily, but we recommend the huevos oaxaqueños and mezcal-based cocktails!
Gottino Enoteca Salumeria
Who says that a wine bar can’t pull off brunch? Gottino adds a delicious Italian flair to its midmorning meal, crafting a menu that would make any jaded foodie ask for seconds, grazi. Best of all, springtime visitors can enjoy a meal at one of the restaurant’s outdoor tables. With a charming wooden fence, soft hanging lights, and delicate greenery, Gottino’s outdoor ambiance isn’t one to miss.
Price Point: $$
Menu Highlights: We recommend Gottino’s Uova al Tegame — sunny-side eggs with pancetta and sage. Keep a lookout for daily specials, too!
Sure, you might have tried Peruvian food — but if you haven’t experienced Llama Inn’s brunch, you’re sorely missing out. This charming restaurant is upscale and fun, with a beautiful rooftop patio that any springtime diner will love. The outdoor space’s sharp modern aesthetic is softened into quirky charm by colorful throw pillows and cozy seating.
Price Point: $$$
Menu Highlights: Set aside the pancakes for once. Why not try the tacu tacu with adobo sauce, pork sausage, fried egg, and avocado?
Esme’s outdoor patio is a delight; a plethora of well-maintained plants bring life and peaceful ambiance to the space, counterbalancing the bustle of the city outside. Cloth drapes stretch overhead, allowing for both natural sunlight and airflow while still keeping harsh sunlight off of diners. Long tables and intimate two-person rounds allow parties large and small alike to enjoy their creative takes on classic brunch plates. Be warned, though — Esme’s brunch is only on weekends. The good news? They take reservations.
Price Point: $$
Menu Highlights: You’ve never had French toast quite like this. Try Esme’s Savory Parmesan French Toast with tomato-braised kale and slow-poached eggs!
Enjoy the best of American brunch in Hudson Clearwater’s garden patio. This space uses brick, wrought iron, and climbing ivy to create a tucked-away aesthetic that is equal parts charming and quiet. Two-person wrought-iron tables populate the space and contribute to the patio’s intimate ambiance. It’s a great spot for a comfortable brunch, but you may not want to invite more than a few friends if you care to eat outside. Keep in mind; brunch is only available on weekends from 9 AM to 3 PM.
Price Point: $$
Menu Highlights: Enjoy some southern charm on a New York morning! Order Hudson Clearwater’s Southern eggs benedict — poached eggs with house-cured ham, sauteed spinach, jalapeno hollandaise, and a biscuit.
Sunday in Brooklyn
Want to enjoy mid-morning brunch on a tucked-away rooftop? Look no further — you can while away a pleasant Sunday in Brooklyn…at Sunday in Brooklyn. This delightful restaurant may not be the place for large parties to gather, but it’s a fantastic spot for an outdoor brunch with friends or a midmorning date. Be warned — the restaurant can get crowded from time to time, but the food and ambiance is well-worth the wait.
Price Point: $$$
Menu Highlights: You may have had pancakes — but have you had Sunday’s malted pancakes with hazelnut maple praline and brown butter?
Let’s bring a little more lunch into brunch, shall we? Narcissa offers some fantastic American plates for those who want a little less breakfast in their late morning meals, along with several brunch-dedicated cocktails. The restaurant also maintains an enormous patio spaced with charming wood furniture. Well-placed trees and plants create a garden-like outdoors ambiance, while decorative hanging lights and paper ornaments add a delightful flair to the space.
Price Point: $$
Menu Highlights: Bring the bacon to brunch; the Steakhouse Burger piles bacon, shropshire blue, spinach, jalapeno, and garlic mayo high on the plate.
All of these spots are well-worth a visit. Check out our blog if you want more neat tips on how to snag a reservation at some of the most exclusive restaurants in NYC or find the coolest comedy clubs in the city!
New Yorkers may be ready for spring in the city, but Winter is fast approaching – for the HBO series Game of Thrones, that is. The eighth and final season returns to the small screen on April 14th, and plenty of New Yorkers are looking to travel back to Westeros with their fellow fans.
Whether you just want to venture out for the premiere or make watching with friends a weekly habit, here are four spots to catch the show which offer special drinks, reserved watching areas, and all around revelry that would make the show’s original master of excess, Tyrion Lannister, proud.
If mixology is your thing, head to SoHo’s Liquor Lab and make like wine-swilling Queen Cersei. For the Game of Thrones premiere, the Lab has planned one of their signature hands-on cocktail creation experiences at the Game of Thrones cocktails and watch party, which includes teaching attendees how to mix up three show-inspired cocktails – The Rains of Castamere, North of the Wall and the Search for the Grey Lady. Pizza and snacks will also be served as you create.
This Michelin-starred Indian restaurant has developed nine in-house Game of Thrones-themed cocktails over the years including the Jon Snow, said to be dark and mysterious, which arrives in a sea of spiced smoke, the Arya Stark, which appears innocent but comes with a kick, and the Mother of Dragons, which comes with its own citrus peel dragon head garnish. The bartender at Junoon, Hemant Pathak, will debut a 10th themed cocktail at the premiere — rumor has it, it’s dragon glass related.
If you are really ready to be outside, show up at this self-described oasis in Brooklyn which has 4,000 square feet of outdoor space, drinks and food on April 14th at 7:30pm. Watch the Season 7 finale followed by the premiere under the stars at 9pm. Check back to see if the whole season will be screened, and enjoy your Game of Thrones drama in the outdoors as the weather warms up.
The night may be long and full of terrors in Westeros, but at The Bedford in Williamsburg you’ll find a rustic haven to watch the show every Sunday. The upscale pub, known for casual neighborhood dining, occupies a former garage. The restaurant has a carefully curated wine list, cocktails and a back dining room with a projector screen to make sure attendees can catch every minute of the final season.
No matter where you choose to catch Game of Thrones’s final season’s action, these venues make it possible to have a hand to hold and a shoulder to cry on, as well as a drink in hand. To paraphrase one of the show’s most infamous lines: if you think this has a happy ending, you haven’t been paying attention.
Looking for NYC activities with no series finale? Read our guides to the best live comedy, pub trivia, and free music in the five boroughs!
New York City is a global mecca for art, fashion, entertainment, and just about every cultural delight, especially food. It’s safe to say no other city in the world has a higher density of eateries than NYC. It’s well-known as a foodie’s paradise with every sort of dining from pizza shacks to casual eateries to fine luxury dining. Foodies who want to go all out and head to the most exclusive New York restaurants are usually surprised to find that their name may have to remain on a waiting list for months! This list of some of NYC’s most elegant restaurants will give you an idea of what to expect from a high-end restaurant in terms of menu, atmosphere — and making reservations.
Le Bernardin – Midtown Manhattan
With a long list of accolades including a four-star rating by the New York Times, this French seafood restaurant originated in Paris, making the entrées truly authentic. The talented French-born chef Eric Ripert is at the helm cooking up fresh and simple seafood cuisine. Feasting on peerless dishes like baked lobster, royal osetra caviar, and geoduck sashimi is the ultimate foodie luxury. The food is the reason for more James Beard awards than any other NYC restaurant and includes Outstanding Restaurant, Outstanding Chef and Outstanding Wine. In 2012, a redesign earned the space numerous design awards.
Le Bernardin accepts reservations online or by phone, beginning on the first day of each month for the following month, and is closed on Sundays. Be prepared for a long wait, but one well worth it.
Rao’s – East Harlem
Located in Spanish Harlem, Rao’s Italian restaurant has existed since 1896. The food is authentic Italian, of course, and the whole atmosphere is old school New York. It’s the red sauce that carries the show: it’s considered by many to be the best in the world and is sold on store shelves nationwide. The restaurant itself boasts several wildly delicious entrées like steak pizzaiola and Italian meatloaf, but the huge meatballs are the main draw, and diners can enjoy them in meatball sliders, on top of spaghetti muffins, and served as cocktail meatballs.
It’s almost impossible to get a table at Rao’s because years ago, as their popularity grew, the owners realized that valued, long-time customers were having difficulty getting reservations. Their answer was to give the regulars first dibs on tables. Consequently, it can take an immeasurable amount of time to swing a spot at Rao’s. Start calling your most connected contacts now.
The Chef’s Table At Brooklyn Fare – Midtown West
They say you can’t judge a book by its cover. Turns out that’s true about restaurants, and the Chef’s Table proves it. It’s a small place in an ordinary looking part of Brooklyn and is in reality, a converted kitchen that only seats 16 people. This scarcity combined with their divine menu of Japanese Food with a French twist puts this restaurant on the hard-to-get-reservations list. Chef Cesar Ramirez is the mastermind behind delicacies like truffle ravioli and brandade, and his talent earned him a James Beard award and a Michelin 3-star rating. Chef Cesar’s tasting menu takes over two hours to complete but satisfied patrons will be more than willing to take their time to savor it.
Reservations can be made online or by phone Monday-Friday from 10:30 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. and fill up far in advance. Expect several months of waiting before your seat is available.
Atera – Tribeca
Chef Matt Lightner has brought a taste of the Pacific Northwest to the Big Apple with his buzz-worthy restaurant in Tribeca called Atera. The atmosphere is very inviting, with modern décor and a chill-worthy downstairs lounge area. Still, it’s the food that’s the main draw. They have a two and a half-hour long tasting menu that’s seasonal and evolving and includes fresh, locally sourced produce. Each dish is creatively put together to perfection and will make the taste buds sing for joy.
Make reservations at least six weeks in advance to dine at Atera. They can only be made online.
Looking for world-class eats on a budget? Visit New York’s ethnic enclaves in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, Jackson Heights, Queens and Arthur Avenue in The Bronx for incredible food that won’t require a jacket and tie, just a hearty appetite.