Taste island life with sports, waterborne activities and beaches.
Tue Jun 14 2011
What was once a vacated rock in the New York Harbor, abandoned by the Coast Guard in 1995, is now a haven for creative types. This year, find more than a dozen free exhibitions throughout the island. For instance, the artists' festival Figment is displaying interactive sculptures, while Storm King Art Center hosts a retrospective of sculptor Mark di Suvero. Keep an eye on the schedule for big summer concerts, too, including the with Girl Talk, Empire of the Sun and Big Boi (Sat 18 noon--11:30pm; $95--$150), or ditch work early and ferry over any Friday to borrow a pair of wheels from Bike and Roll (10am--4:30pm, last rental 3:30pm; first hour free, each additional hour $12). Cool off with a drink (and maybe some grilled kielbasa) at the sandy Water Taxi Beach, which also has the best views of downtown Manhattan. (212-825-3045, govisland.com). Fri--Sun through Sept 25. Travel: Ferries leave from the Battery Maritime Building, Slip 7, in Manhattan and Pier 6 at Brooklyn Bridge Park in Brooklyn.
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Randalls Island has been a home for sports events since 1936, when Downing Stadium opened to host Jesse Owens's famous Olympic trials. Today, the Icahn Stadium continues the tradition with a full roster of amateur and professional track and field, plus other activities. At Sportime, you can catch the World TeamTennis series (888-WTT-NYC1, wtt.com; July 6, 11, 14, 15, 20; $55--$515), which features matches with Martina Hingis, Anna Kournikova, Lindsay Davenport, Jimmy Connors and John McEnroe. Show off your own athletic abilities by racing around the 4.5-mile bike path (BYO cycle), signing up for tennis lessons at the $19 million Sportime facilities (212-427-6150, sportimeny.com/randallsisland; from $375 for session for five-week group lessons) or taking on some of the (actually challenging) 36 holes of minigolf available at the Randall's Island Golf Center (212-427-5689, randallsislandgolfcenter.com; $7, children under 12 $5). After you putt around, buy your opponent a beer for every stroke under par at the Golf Center's Beer Garden and Grill. (212-830-7722, randallsisland.org). Travel: 4, 5, 6 to 125th St, then take the M35 bus from Lexington Ave and 125th St; or walk over the 103rd Street pedestrian bridge, which opens in July.
Trade the stress (and smell) of Manhattan for the small-town charms of this Bronx isle. If you're looking for a maritime outing, see old yachting paraphernalia at the City Island Historical Society and Nautical Museum (718-885-0008, cityislandmuseum.org; free) or take a sailing lesson at the New York Sailing Center and Yacht Club (718-885-0335, startsailing.com; three-day course $795). Landlubbers can rummage for antiques and visit the art galleries on City Island Avenue. Come hungry: More than two dozen restaurants looking to feed you have squeezed onto the mile-long main drag. You can opt for semi-upscale at a spot like Lobster Box (718-885-1952, lobsterboxrestaurant.com), or go for casual takeout chowder at Chef Rafael's To-Go Express (718-885-9656). Travel: 6 to Pelham Bay Park, then take the Bx29 bus to City Island.
This one is ideal for a Hamptons-style getaway without the obnoxious scene. It's easy to spend an afternoon on Crescent Beach on the Southold Bay or Wades Beach on the Shelter Island Sound. But an even better way to experience the area is by kayaking with Shelter Island Kayak Tours (631-749-1990, kayaksi.com; rentals start at $30 for two hours), which wind through the 2,000-acre Mashomack Nature Preserve. Make it a weekend and stay at the Pridwin Beach Hotel and Cottages (631-749-0476, pridwin.com; weekends through June 26 from $204, weekends beginning June 27 $279), situated right on Crescent Beach, which—if you can lure yourself away from the sand and private pool—will give you a bike for island touring (one hour free, each additional hour $5, all day $15). Travel: LIRR or Hampton Jitney to Greenport, then take the North Ferry to Shelter Island.
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