Well, summer is officially OFFICIALLY over (just ignore that 81-degree day we are supposed to have on Sunday). In May I wrapped up grad school and the last year of higher education I plan on pursuing at this point. In a rush of relief and thirst for freedom, I whipped up a list of 50 things to do in New York that I had either never done because I never had the time, or that I had done before years ago and wanted to do again. I called it the Summer of Fun, and I was determined to hit all 50 between Memorial Day and the Fall Equinox.
Well, my friends, 50 items in a summer is ambitious, as I learned. I only managed to hit 21 of the items, which percentage-wise ain’t that great, but I’m still pleased. Below is the list in its entirety, with the activities I managed to hit in bold, along with some info on how you can do it, too. Here’s to Summer 2012: eight months and counting…
1. Mermaid Parade
2. Studio Square BBQ Festival – held at Studio Square beer garden in Astoria, this pig-fest included all-you-can-drink Sam Adams and a roast of two 400-pound hogs, served up by both Jim Koch and David Burke.
3. High line – an elevated park built on an old rail track. It runs along Manhattan’s West Side from Gansevoort Street to W 34th Street. (And it’s ehhh in my opinion.)
4. Statue of Liberty
5. Original Beer Garden
7. Central Park boozy picnic
8. Coney Island – looking for crushed glass in your sand and gray water? Take the N or the Q line all the way to the end and enjoy this Brooklyn beach and boardwalk.
9. Blues on Bleeker Street
10. Visit Staten Island
11. NYC Pizza Tour
12. Cheesy Little Italy dinner – You will have your pick of overpriced, overquaffed Italian restaurants if you walk along Mulberry Street. Be sure to pick one with a guy playing the accordion. I opted for Palazzo Ristorante. (The bill for two people was upward of $200, just fyi.)
13. Korean food in Flushing
14. Governor’s Island
15. Brooklyn Cyclones game
16. Rooftop Film
17. All-You-Can-Drink Sushi – The East Village is ripe with all-you-can-eat/drink sushi establishments. I prefer Ashiya on First Ave between 10th and 11th streets.
18. Rooftop bar at The Delancey
19. The Met Martini Bar
20. The Frying Pan – docked at Pier 66, The Frying Pan is an old lightship-turned-grill and bar. The crowd gets a little douchey around happy hour, but the burgers are good, the beer is flowing and the view over the Hudson is pretty spectacular.
21. Mets game – This one is pretty self explanatory, but I managed to catch a subway series in July against the Yankees.
22. Hong Kong Dragon Boat Festival
23. City Island
24. The Cloisters – This branch of the Metropolitan Museum of Art sits all the way up in Fort Tryon Park. It is a collection of medieval pieces, including the famous Unicorn Tapestries
25. Brennan & Carr
26. Spumoni Gardens – Like Sicilian pizza? You will love Spumoni Gardens. This Brooklyn establishment is talked about in hushed, reverent tones among die-hard Brooklynites. It’s one stop in from Coney Island and is a great way to end a pretty lame beach day.
27. Corned beef at Katz’s – Another must for any New Yorker, this is the spot for Jewish deli favorites. Corned beef, pastrami, cole slaw and a cold Dr. Brown’s Cream Soda.
28. Diner – Somewhere under the Brooklyn Bridge in Williamsburg sits this old converted dining rail car. The restaurant changes its menu daily and gets its meat from the butcher shop next door. Anthony Bourdain speaks highly of it, so you know I have to concur.
29. Roosevelt Island
30. Camping – Take Adirondack Trailways from Port Authority up to Woodstock. Round trip tickets are $50 and you will be plopped down in prime Catskill camping territory. One of my favorite camping spots is Vernooy Kill Falls, where a short hike in gives way to a secluded swimming hole.
31. Peter Luger’s – In all honesty, I’ve had better steak. But this is an institution, so I’m not going to knock it. But..yeah…I’ve had better.
32. Shake Shack – This burger joint is catching like wildfire and spreading all across the country, but the original sits in Madison Square Park. Brave the lines, people. It is THAT good.
33. Ride the 6 train through – I once heard that if you rode the 6 train south to the end of the line, it would loop back around to the Uptown platform. As it loops around, you get to see an abandoned station with beautiful mosaic vaulted ceilings. It’s eerie and abandoned and pretty cool
34. The Original Jackson Hole
36. Italian-American Museum – Proud of your Italian heritage? This small museum on Mulberry and Grand gives a cool glimpse into Italian American immigrant life in New York at the turn of the last century.
37. Blue Ribbon – Oh. my. god. This restaurant is so good. The Blue Ribbon group has opened up several restaurants, including a bakery and a sushi restaurant, but my favorite will always be the Brasserie in SoHo. Tip: Try the cheese fondue and Shrimp Provencal.
38. The Woods – Like dancing and tacos? Who doesn’t. This dimly lit bar in Williamsburg offers some of the greatest dance parties I’ve ever been subject to. After a night of dancing head out back to the yard, where mom and pop grill up authentic tacos and burritos. Perfect for preventing hangovers.
39. Astoria Park – Right on the Hudson underneath the Triboro Bridge is an expansive park and public pool. Great for laying out and enjoying river views.
40. Daly’s Pub
41. Yoga Agora
42. The Smoke Joint
43. Tortilleria Mexicana Los Hermanos
44. Smorgasburg – On summer Saturdays the lot in Williamsburg that typically hosts the Brooklyn Flea Market opens up to food vendors from around the city. For minimal fees sample delicious porchetta sandwiches, papusas, barbecue and more.
45. Biking adventures – The outer boroughs of New York are incredibly bike friendly, and it only took me until my seventh year of living here to realize that. Rent a bike and explore Brooklyn and Queens.
46. The Pickle Guys
47. The Frick
48. Broad Channel
50. Merchant House Museum