101 things to do in New York City in the summer
Fri Jun 3 2011
Booze by the water at Pier I Cafe
Photograph: Robert Lewis
Cool out at the Blue Note Jazz Festival, which includes a performance by Alas...
Photograph: Syd London
Toughen up at Gotham Girls Roller Derby
Photograph: Bennett Sell-Kline for ElectricZooFestival.com
Pump your fists at a dance music festival, including Electric Zoo on Randall's...
Go kayaking from the Downtown Boathouse
Photograph: Jena Cumbo
Get an eyeful at 5Pointz
Photograph: courtesy flickr.com/ Ian Meyer
Be a free agent for the Brooklyn Kickball League
Photograph: Sean Ellingson
Reclaim the city at Summer Streets
Photograph: Kevin Yatarola
Learn some steps at Midsummer Night Swing
Photograph: Courtesy Shakespeare in the Park
See Shakespeare in the Park
Booze by the water at Pier I Cafe
31. Booze by the water
Head to picturesque Riverside Park along the Hudson for some day drinking at Pier I Cafe. While you relax under an umbrella on the tree-lined terrace with a Coney Island Lager ($6), temporarily forget the noisy chaos behind you. A steady lineup of live music and dance lessons, like salsa, cha-cha and bachata tutorials taught by instructors from Piel Canela Dance School (Sun 6pm; free; June 5--27; visit pielcaneladancers.com or call 212-924-6160 for more info), will keep you entertained. W 70th St at Riverside Park South (212-362-4450, piericafe.com). Mon--Thu noon--11pm, Fri noon--12:30am, Sat 11am--12:30am, Sun 11am--11pm.
32. Cool out at the Blue Note Jazz Festival
In honor of the iconic club's 30th anniversary, jazz musicians will be taking over the city for the entire month of June. Highlights include a reimagining of George Gershwin's work by none other than pop luminary Brian Wilson (Highline Ballroom, 431 W 16th St between Ninth and Tenth Aves; highlineballroom.com; June 11 at 7:30pm; $125) and a funk flashback with Chaka Khan (B.B. King Blues Club & Grill, 237 W 42nd St between Seventh and Eighth Aves; bbkingblues.com; June 18; $65). Locations and times vary; visit bluenotejazzfestival.com for more details.
33. Toughen up at Gotham Girls Roller Derby
Angela Slamsbury. Bitch Cassidy. Anne Phetamean. No, those aren't names of badass characters in a feminist graphic novel—they're names of badass women athletes in New York's all-female roller derby league. Turn out for bouts (once or twice a month June 4--Oct 29) as four boroughs (teams include the Brooklyn Bombshells and the Queens of Pain) leave it all in the rink. Afterward, slug a beer with the gals at the after-party, which is announced during the match. Laid-back rock bar Manitoba's (99 Ave B between 6th and 7th Sts; 212-982-2511, manitobas.com) is a favorite watering hole. Location and times vary; visit gothamgirlsrollerderby.com for more information.
34. Pump your fists at a dance music festival
Just kidding about the fist-pumping, but you will want to lace up your dancing shoes for these electronic-music festivals. Hard NYC returns on August 20 with German dance punk duo Digitalism, bass handler Caspa and the West Coast's Destructo in tow (Terminal 5, 610 W 56th St at Eleventh Ave; hardfest.com; 8pm; $35). And over Labor Day weekend, Electric Zoo commandeers Randalls Island for three days of house, trance, techno, dubstep and electro. Headliners include international heavy-hitters Tisto, Armin van Buuren, David Guetta, John Digweed and plenty more beatsmiths, many of them returning to the Zoo (Sept 2--4 11am--11pm, three-day pass $249--$324; madeevent.com/electriczoo).
35. Go kayaking from the Downtown Boathouse
While you'd probably never consider swimming in the moat surrounding Manhattan, you can still indulge in some aquatic activity with a kayaking excursion on the Hudson. Head to one of three locations on the island's West Side for free weekend river outings. Pier 40, West Side Hwy at Houston St; Pier 96, West Side Hwy at 56th St; West Side Hwy at 72nd St (downtownboathouse.org). Sat, Sun, holidays through mid-October 9am--6pm from all locations, plus Mon--Fri 5--7pm at Pier 96; free.
36. Get an eyeful at 5Pointz
Trek out to graffiti mecca 5Pointz, an industrial complex covered in street art, which has displayed work by aerosol artists like Stay High 149, Cope2 and Tracy 168. Every Sunday, stop by to hear the stylings of beat-box performers led by Kid Lucky while you take in the art (4:30pm). 45-46 Davis St at Jackson Ave, Long Island City, Queens (5ptz.com)
37. Be a free agent for the Brooklyn Kickball League
Partake in the ultimate hipster sport without committing to a weekly team. Simply post a message on the "Join" section of the Brooklyn Kickball League's site to add your name to the roster of 350 roving players. If you're contacted to participate in a match, the fee will be at the discretion of the team. Various times and locations; visit brooklynkickball.com for more details.
38. Reclaim the city at Summer Streets
Take it to the tarmac at the city's fourth annual fest, during which police will shut down vehicular traffic along a route between the Brooklyn Bridge and Central Park for three Saturday mornings. That means you'll be free to walk, bike or pogo stick to your heart's content, without the threat of speeding taxis. From Chambers and Court Sts to Madison Ave at E 72nd St (nyc.gov). Aug 6, 13, 20 7am--1pm; free.
39. Learn some steps at Midsummer Night Swing
Learn how to dance samba, Texas two-step and, of course, swing at this outdoor shindig. First, instructors lead a basic lesson (such as mambo by Eddie Torres on July 8), then musical acts like Western trio Hot Club of Cowtown (July 6) or New Orleans jazz group Palmetto Bug Stompers (July 12) take over to lead a good, old-fashioned get down. Damrosch Park at Lincoln Center, W 62nd St between Columbus and Amsterdam Aves (midsummernightswing.org). Lesson 6:30pm, concert 7:30pm; $17, six-night pass $90, season pass $160. June 27--July 16.
40. See Shakespeare in the Park
Catching these high-end productions under the stars is an essential New York treat—and a free one, too. This year boasts two of the Bard's problem plays: Measure for Measure and All's Well That Ends Well, which is helmed by Daniel Sullivan, who directed last year's excellent rendition of The Merchant of Venice both in the park and on the Great White Way. Tix are handed out at the theater at 1pm. Make sure you get there early: People have been known to start queuing as early as the night before. Or you can try your luck registering for tickets online and hoping your number comes up. The Delacorte Theater in Central Park, enter at Central Park West and 81st St (shakespeareinthepark.org). June 6--July 30; free.