What is Memorial Day? Well, it isn’t just about day-drinking and savoring extra time away from your desk—it honors the men and women who have died while serving in our armed forces. Pause during your BBQ to remember the sacrifices made for the red, white and blue, and check out one of the Memorial Day parades happening in each of the five boroughs. Memorial Day weekend also marks the unofficial start to summer in New York. Here are the best events, beaches, parks, memorials, concerts, vacation spots and other things to do throughout the three-day weekend.
When is Memorial Day?
Memorial Day is on 26 May 2014.
Your last-minute plans
Whoops, forgot to make Memorial Day weekend plans? Don’t worry, there’s plenty going on
The best parks for Memorial Day
Find an outdoor plot that suits your holiday plans, whether they’re by the shore or above city streets
Events for food-lovers
Make the most of the three-day weekend with barbecues, jazz parties and brunch celebrations
NYC's best rooftop bars
Celebrate Memorial Day weekend by taking in spectacular views with cocktails high above the city
The 50 greatest war films
What better way to honor the sacrifice of Memorial Day than with a ranked list of cinematic greatness?
Things to do on Memorial Day
Weekend getaways from NYC
The best free shows, festivals and world-music picks at clubs and outdoor venues all over NYC.
The best Coney Island attractions
10 best parks in New York City
Take advantage of spring's warmer temperatures at ten of New York City's best public parks. New York City is full of public parks—in fact, nearly 14 percent of the city is covered in green spaces. But some of these verdant spots stand out above the rest. Here, we've rounded up ten of our favorite New York City parks—pack a picnic basket and hunker down for an afternoon, or simply lace up your sneakers and take a walk. Brooklyn Bridge Park Some city parks—Central and Prospect, most obviously—were built to replicate rustic fields and preserve serene woodland. Brooklyn Bridge Park, however, was not—and that’s precisely why it has become so popular in the almost three years since it debuted. The project has transformed a chunk of the Brooklyn waterfront into a nearly 85-acre expanse; several sections house unique attractions such as Jane’s Carousel, a restored 1920s merry-go-round, and riverside esplanades with gorgeous Manhattan views. Pier 5, the first part of the park designed specifically for “active recreation,” opened in late 2012, cementing the space as the city’s premier urban playground. Central Park For your stroll head to the 38-acre wilderness area on the west side of the park known as the Ramble. The area has a storied history (as a gay cruising spot dating back to the turn of the last century, among other things), and it was even proposed as a recreational area in the mid-'50s. Thankfully, the winding trails, rocks and streams remain, seemingly waiting to be discove
Parks with barbecue areas
The park barbecue is a great Memorial Day, Fourth of July or Labor Day standby. Gather your friends and fire up the grill in one of these park barbecue areas. If you're like us, you've gazed wistfully at the park barbecues in Prospect Park, admiring the BBQ and plentiful sides that line the picnic tables. Well, stand on the edges no longer—it's summer in NYC and there's a grill in a New York park just waiting for you. RECOMMENDED: Get outdoors in NYC Grilling 101 1. All parks prohibit open fires, ground fires and propane.2. Keep grills at least ten feet away from trees and overhead branches.3. Parties of 20 or more in city parks must obtain a special-events permit for $25 (processing takes approximately one month) (Manhattan: 212-408-0226; Brooklyn: 718-965-8912; Queens: 718-393-7272; nyceventpermits.nyc.gov/parks).4. Dispose of coals in the marked drums, or extinguish with water and wrap in foil before putting in a nearby Dumpster. Manhattan parks with barbecuing areas For permits and other information, call 212-408-0226 or visit nycgovparks.org Riverside Park One of Manhattan’s more scenic areas, this four-mile stretch of waterfront has perhaps the city’s most idyllic grilling hangout. Cookouts are permitted anywhere north of West 145th Street, affording you and your friends plenty of room to spread out. And you’ll need your pals to help lug the equipment; it’s BYOG (bring your own grill). East River Park The six grills and picnic tables at this barbecue spot are in high
Beaches in New York City
Summer's here! Plan a beach outing with our guide to New York City's best seaside retreats. Beekman Beer Garden Beach Club Sun-deprived city slickers can pretend they're boozing oceanside at this waterfront bar. The former Water Taxi Beach location has kept the 300 pounds of sand left by its former occupant, but the rejiggered drinkery now features a menu from Buddakan alum Jason Mayer. Settle into a communal wood table with a wurst, burger or lobster roll, or hit up one of the game tables for a round of Ping-Pong, pool or foosball. Beer lovers can grab one of six drafts—such as Sixpoint Crisp Lager, Ommegang Witte Beer and Magic Hat #9—at two long driftwood bars. On Sundays, indie-rock bands take the stage for free concerts. Brighton Beach Brighton Beach is largely Russian, as if its nickname, Little Odessa, weren’t a dead giveaway. Located next to Coney Island, the sandy strip is lined with Russian eateries. Coney Island Beach Coney Island is one Brooklyn standby that perfectly juxtaposes old and new. While some might say its peak has come and gone, others would disagree, particularly Dick Zigun, the founder of Coney Island USA, the nonprofit responsible for organizing Coney Island's famed events, including the Mermaid Parade. "The beach is still the main attraction," says Zigun of the shore's three miles of southern exposure. "Some people might prefer the Riviera or Montauk, and maybe our sand isn't as pristine, but we've got half-naked New Yorkers here!" Jacob Riis Park
Rockaway Beach attractions
Here’s your guide to getting the most out of the Queens coast The beach that’s always been a summer staple for New York residents has cleaned up its act. The Rockaways are now full of happening places to surf, shop, get a delicious burger or cold drink and more. Treat yourself to a mini vacay and head over to the beautiful Queens coast! See all summer events Summer concerts It’s music-festival season! From the Governors Ball blowout to stadium pop happenings and hip indie shows, there are concerts to satisfy every music lover this summer. There are plenty of music festivals to get stoked for this summer-both indoors and out. Governors Ball returns with a killer lineup featuring Jack White, OutKast and the Strokes, plus Celebrate Brooklyn! returns with soul star Janelle Monáe. You can also catch some of the biggest artists like Katy Perry or Eminem and Rihanna on their summer tours. Most popular events this week Brooklyn Flea It’s that time of year (starting May 4, to be exact) when the Brooklyn Flea comes back outside on Saturdays in Fort Green and Sundays at a new, yet to be announced Williamsburg location. Pick up a couple hand-hammered stack rings by Jessica De Carlo, at a special Flea-only price ($20 each, 2 for $35), or take a walk in Nina Z's eco-conscious clogs and sandals ($95-180). Visit Sharon London for easy-fitting tube dresses ($78) and vintage locket earrings ($12), or Hartford Denim Co. for quality-denim goods, like hoodies ($325) and aprons ($110).
May events calendar
Plan your month with our events calendar of the very best activities, including Memorial Day activities, free things to do, and our picks from the arts and music. Start planning your summer now with our events calendar for May. This guide has all of the best things to do this month, including Memorial Day activities, Fleet Week, and the best arts and music events. Plus, get information about popular attractions like Governors Island. RECOMMENDED: New York City events calendar for 2013 Featured events in May 2013 TD Five Boro Bike Tour More than 30,000 bikers will be able to enjoy a scenic 42-mile, traffic-free spin through the five boroughs during this mass ride. Advance registration is required. Ride begins at Battery Park. The Thrilling Adventure Hour This L.A.-based comedy show is a big, boisterous spoof of old-time radio shows. The campy tales of hobos, robots and celebrities past (e.g., Amelia Earhart) feature soundtracks, sound effects and big-name performers hamming it up in the best sort of way. Tonight brings regular player Paul F. Tompkins, along with Paget Brewster, John Hodgman, Marc Evan Jackson and James Urbaniak. Queens Taste Celebrate the diversity of the city in the best way possible—with your taste buds. Now in its 11th year, this festival that began as a handful of restaurants in a JFK terminal has made its home in Citi Field’s Caesars Club, a sprawling convention hall with views of Flushing Meadows–Corona Park. Fifty food vendors from the borough wil