End-of-summer hot list: Essential things to do before Labor Day

Don't let the season pass by without enjoying these top things to do. Plus, the one highlight to catch at each of NYC's big series before the end of summer.

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Make the most of the warm, sunny days—while they last—with can’t-miss events, swimming pools, waterside hangs, cool markets, outdoor parties, end-of-summer concerts and Labor Day weekend blowouts. Browse our slide show of all 30 ways to see out the season in style, or click the link below to see the picks as a list. Plus, find out when more of our favorite summer series and activities call time with the countdown to fall.


RECOMMENDED: Summer in New York guide


  • Photograph: Whitney Lawson

    Honorable William Wall Clubhouse

    The Manhattan Sailing Club’s floating barge anchors just north of Ellis Island, to give members and—as of recently—the public a platform to watch races (Tue–Thu) and drink in spectacular views of the Manhattan skyline. A boat speeds you from Battery Park to the waterborne bar to sip beer, mojitos, white-wine sangria and Mount Gay rum-and-tonics ($6–$12). Although unless you’re an old sea dog, don’t drink like a fish—the barge bobs and rocks. Simple snacks are available, but visitors are welcome to bring a picnic. While the club will accept walk-ups if it can, it’s best to book tickets; berths have been selling out up to a week in advance. Departs North Cove Marina, dock F, 385 South End Ave between Albany and Liberty Sts (212-786-3323, myc.org). Tue–Fri 5:30–10pm, Sat 3–10pm; $20, members free. Through October, weather permitting.

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  • Photograph: Filip Wolak

    August Nights

    If you’re a late riser who craves shaved ice and handmade jewelry, listen up. The Hester Street Fair is extending its hours through Labor Day weekend. The market’s stellar vendors remain, but a new setup moves the picnic tables to the center of the space to create a beer garden—with Dock’s Eatery serving brews and wine—and a dance floor so you can boogie to bands and guest DJs from downtown club Santos Party House and chichi lounge Le BaronHester St at Essex St (917-267-9496, hesterstreetfair.com). Sat noon–10pm; free. Through Aug 31.

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  • Photograph: Camille A. Fernandez

    Brooklyn Bridge Park’s Pop-Up Pool

    This 60-person, 3.5-foot-deep swimming hole reopened in June, offering timed 45-minute slots. Wristbands are given out 30 minutes before sessions start, with the line forming even earlier. Thankfully, artisanal beverage makers Lizzmonade have set up across from the entrance, serving bites and made-to-order, fruit-infused lemonade to keep you cool while you wait. Once the pool closes, grab a glass of sangria, craft beer or wine from the concession stand, and hang out in the adjacent sandy spot (10am–11pm), which sports beach umbrellas, tables, occasional bocce and trivia nights (Tue 8pm). Pier 2, enter at Old Fulton St and Furman St, Dumbo, Brooklyn (brooklynbridgepark.org). Daily 10am–6pm; free. Through Sept 2.

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  • Photograph: Courtesy BFA

    Marina @ Pier 57

    This run-down wharf will be a mob scene in 2015, once redevelopment has added a rooftop park and made a market out of shipping containers. But for now, the expansive raw space is a cool, shady refuge from the Hudson River Park crowds. Its pop-up mini mall features wares from the likes of tees, bikes and boards purveyor North Brooklyn Collective, and grub by Takumi Taco, Tiny Empire juices and Fletcher’s Brooklyn BBQ. Take your treats to the strip of picnic tables on the water, then head back inside for a no-wait, gratis game of Ping-Pong. Every Saturday (5–7pm, through Aug 24), cultural collective NYCFiveHundred hosts performances such as opera singer David Cronin (Aug 24), who is joined by a pianist and a beat-boxer. Eleventh Ave at 15th St (marinap57.com). Tue–Thu 11am–8pm, Fri 11am–9pm, Sat–Sun 9am–9pm; free. Through early November.

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  • Photograph: courtesy LIC Food & Flea

    LIC Food & Flea

    Although this new market may not be as expansive as the all-conquering Brooklyn Flea, it does offer a chance to browse dozens of food, craft, jewelry and antique vendors’ wares with minimal crowd-battling. Must-see stands include cool-treat purveyor Ice Riders, which uses a bicycle to power an ice crusher; Burger Garage, home of the $6 gourmet patty; and quirky-cute T-shirt and jewelry vendor Vintage Robot. A shuttle service departs from the Hunter’s Point South East River Ferry terminal at 11am and 1pm, to save you the ten-minute walk to the market. 5-25 46th Ave between Vernon Blvd and 5th St, Long Island City, Queens (718-866-8089, licflea.com). Sat, Sun 10am–6pm; free.

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  • King & Grove Williamsburg pool

    This recently renovated boutique hotel’s voguish new restaurant from Michelin-starred chef Paul Liebrandt, the Elm—and its complementary rooftop bar, Upper Elm—might be turning heads, but don’t let the summer end without a dip in the hotel’s saltwater pool, one of the largest private options in the city. Its tiled deck and wooden sun loungers and bleachers accommodate 150 bathers, so we recommend booking in advance and arriving early to lay down your complimentary towel before settling in for the day and snacking on a menu by the Elm. Alternatively, pony up to reserve a two-person sun bed (Mon–Thu $250, Fri–Sun $275) and swan in at your leisure to pop the bottle of Chandon included in the price. 160 North 12th St between Bedford Ave and Berry St, Williamsburg, Brooklyn (718-218-7500, kingandgrove.com). Daily 11am–9pm; Mon–Thu $35, Fri–Sun $45. Advance tickets available at happenings.kingandgrove.com.

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  • Photograph: Virginia Rollison

    The Lounge at Pod 39

    In balmy weather, midtown partygoers and backpack-lugging budget travelers alike can be found atop this Murray Hill hotel. Red brick and lofty arches lend Spanish flair to the outdoor terrace, which boasts spectacular views of the Empire State Building. Bar nibbles from April Bloomfield’s Salvation Taco, such as gazpacho ($8) or chips and fresh guac ($11), are also available. Sip a Salvation Margarita ($13), a mix of Pueblo Viejo Blanco tequila, fresh lime juice and Combier triple sec, rimmed with a zingy guajillo chili salt; or opt for a Devil’s Plaything ($8), a citrusy IPA produced exclusively for the eatery by Greenport Harbor Brewing Co. 145 E 39th St between Lexington and Third Aves (212-865-5700, the podhotel.com)

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  • Photograph: Luciana Golcman

    Summer Streets, Voice Tunnel

    This annual pedestrianization of a Manhattan stretch takes over the Park Avenue Tunnel, allowing walkers to stroll its length for the first time ever. Mexican-Canadian artist Rafael Lozano-Hemmer transforms the seven blocks of subterranean space into an interactive light-and-sound installation, stuffing the tunnel with 300 spotlights and putting a recording device midway. Participants speak into the microphone and their words are piped through 150 speakers, with the level and pitch of each voice controlling the intensity of the illuminations. Arrive early: Lines formed during the first edition. Organizers advise showing up by 11am. Enter at Park Ave and 32nd St (nyc.gov/summerstreets). Sat 17 7am–1pm; free.

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  • Photograph: Andreas Tjeldflaat

    James Turrell at the Guggenheim

    Art fan or not, you can’t close the door on the season without experiencing Aten Reign, the spectacular James Turrell installation that fills the Guggenheim’s rotunda with pulsating, ever-changing color. Take a seat on one of the white benches surrounding the atrium and look up as hypnotic LED lights bathe you in pinks, yellows, blues, greens and everything in between. Make sure to take in some of Turrell’s less monumental—but no less mezmerizing—light installations throughout the museum, such as the bordering-on-the-hallucinatory Iltar. Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, 1071 Fifth Ave at 89th St (212-423-3500, guggenheim.org). $22. Through Sept 25.

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  • Photograph: Hyla Skopitz

    “The Roof Garden Commission: Imran Qureshi”

    At first, you might miss Pakistani artist Imran Qureshi’s new work on the floor of the Met’s roof garden. Out of what looks like the aftermath of a bloody zombie attack, intricate paintings of flowers bloom, inspired by the traditional techniques of Mughal and Persian art. The installation is a powerful commentary on violence and hope in Qureshi’s homeland—making for a museworthy juxtaposition with the views of the UES skyline and Central Park. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1000 Fifth Ave at 82nd St (212-535-7710, metmuseum.org). Suggested donation $25. Through Nov 3.

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  • Photograph: Caroline Voagen Nelson

    City of Dreams Pavilion

    Governors Island’s got a lot of goodies to offer—bike rides, vintage French carnival rides, kayaking and a roller-skate rental truck, to name but a few—but Figment’s art installations, which include an arty minigolf course and an interactive sculpture garden, might be the best of the bunch. The centerpiece is this year’s winner of the City of Dreams Pavilion design competition, Studio Klimoski Chang Architects’ Head in the Clouds, a cumulus of 120 pillowy segments made from recycled milk and water jugs, some filled with blue water. Enter to chill on the seating at either end, marvel at the shapes and shades formed, and let your thoughts peacefully float away. Governors Island Parade Grounds (figmentproject.org). Sat, Sun, holiday Mon 10am–7pm; free. Through Sept 22.

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  • Photograph: Courtesy Intrepid Sea

    Intrepid Summer Movie Series: Top Gun

    We’ve got that loving feeling for whoever had the inspired idea to screen this high-octane, eminently quotable, totally ridiculous flyboy flick on the flight deck of a decommissioned aircraft carrier. To add to the allure, the Intrepid’s collection of historic planes includes an F-14 Tomcat, as flown by Maverick in the film, and one MiGs (but, sadly, no faceless baddies). Bring a lawn chair or blanket, a picnic and aviators, but leave the booze at home, Iceman. The show starts at at sundown, but last admission is at 8:30pm. Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum, 46th St at West Side Highway (212-245-0072, intrepidmuseum.org). Thu 15 at 7:30pm; free.

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  • Photograph: The Central Park Conservancy

    11th Annual Central Park Conservancy Film Festival

    Pack a picnic basket and head to the gently sloping lawn north of Sheep Meadow for this five-flick series held over consecutive nights. Tens of thousands of New Yorkers decided the program, voting in classic, family, rom-com, horror and adventure categories. So what happens when you bend to the will of the mob? You’re rewarded with iconic NYC–based musical West Side Story, Steven Spielberg’s Hook, the Oscar-winner Silver Linings Playbook, Kubrick’s The Shining and the first installment of the Indiana Jones franchise, Raiders of the Lost Ark. Democracy—we sure do love you. Midpark at 69th St, enter at Fifth Ave and 72nd St (212-310-6600, centralparknyc.org/filmfestival). Aug 22–26. Screenings at 8pm, gates open at 6:30pm; free.

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  • Photograph: Courtesy Socrates Sculpture Park

    Socrates Sculpture Park Yoga

    As summer nears its end, seize every opportunity to be outside, building up your reserves of vitamin D for the coming winter. While many of the city’s free alfresco stretching sessions require setting an early alarm during the workweek, Long Island City’s serene, art-filled waterfront park offers three no-cost, beginner-friendly hatha yoga classes each weekend, taught by trained yogis Monique Schubert and Yojaida Estrella. The park is also home to a Greenmarket (Sat 8am–4pm, through Nov 16), so you can stock up on organic seasonal produce for a healthy postpractice picnic. Socrates Sculpture Park, 32-01 Vernon Blvd at Broadway, Long Island City, Queens (718-956-1819, socratessculpturepark.org). Sat 9:30–10:30am, 11am–noon; Sun 10–11am. Free. Through Sept 29.  

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  • Photograph: Scott Kowalchyk

    Adidas presents: Fool’s Gold Day Off

    Last year, A-Trak (pictured) and Nick Catchdubs’s record label, Fool’s Gold, was midway through a raucous free party when the cops shut ’em down, due to overeager gate-crashers pushing the space beyond capacity. This edition should avoid that problem, as it’s relocating from the West Village to the more accommodating Williamsburg Park. Although the lineup is still under wraps, we’ll wager it’ll be thoroughly stacked with some of the best DJs and MCs from the imprint’s roster and beyond, plus a handful of surprise guests (last year, A$AP Rocky joined Flatbush Zombies). We have our fingers crossed for an appearance by El-P and Killer Mike; Fool’s Gold released their collaborative album, Run the Jewels, this summer as a free download. Kent Ave at North 12th St, Williamsburg, Brooklyn (williamsburgparkbk.com). Sept 2 at 2pm; free.

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  • Photograph: wagz2it

    Afropunk Festival

    This two-day bash fuses music with art, food, skate culture and fashion. The bill includes Public Enemy’s Chuck D, performing the entire album Fear of a Black Planet with DJ Lord, plus Questlove, Sacramento punk band Trash Talk and local rappers Danny Brown, Theophilus London and Le1f. There’s also live painting at an art wall, a skate park, two beer gardens, a thrift market of local vendors, and food trucks including Rickshaw Dumplings, Takumi Taco, Mac Truck and Wafels & Dinges. Simply put, it’s a feast for all the senses. Commodore Barry Park, Navy St between Flushing and Park Aves, Fort Greene, Brooklyn (afropunkfest.com). Aug 24, 25 noon–9pm; free, fast pass suggested donation $25.

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  • Photograph: Whitney Lawson

    ¡Arriba! Community Dance Parties at the High Line

    Velvet-rope rooftop wingdings may not be your thing, but one elevated party you should count on attending is this come-one-come-all fiesta. This third and final evening of the summer features danceable, samba-inspiring guajiro music performed by Nu D’Lux, one of the city’s most dynamic Cuban bands. Dancers of all skill levels are welcome to get down, or just watch well-practiced partners and try out their steps by the side of the stage. The seasonal open-air wine bar Terroir at the Porch and a clutch of concessions, including the Taco Truck and Delaney Barbecue’s SmokeLine, are located on the party’s periphery, in case you find yourself in need of a snack or a bit of liquid courage.  Chelsea Market Passage, enter at 16th St between Tenth and Eleventh Aves  (212-206-9922, thehighline.org). Wed 21 7–9pm; free.

     

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  • Photograph: Shervin Lainez

    Blues BBQ

    Stuff your face with summer’s last rack of ribs at Hudson River Park’s annual food-and-music fest. The free shindig welcomes barbecue heavyweights Brother Jimmy’s, Delaney Barbecue and Dinosaur Bar-B-Que, who are bringing their own smokers to the pier and doling out tons of smoked treats, like sauce-slathered chicken, pulled-pork sandwiches and ’cued beef ($8–$15), along with brews from the likes of Modelo Especial, Negra Modelo and Pacifico Clara. Entertainment comes courtesy of local guitar whiz Kaki King, pictured, Grammy-nominated nine-piece the Heritage Blues Orchestra, blues belter Tracy Nelson and gutsy roots vocalist Nikki Hill. Pier 84 at Hudson River Park, W 44th St at the Hudson River (212-627-2020, hudsonriverpark.org). Aug 24 2–9pm; free.

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  • Photograph: Jack Vartoogian

    Charlie Parker Jazz Festival

    This perennial August favorite brings some of the most talented jazz musicians in the world to pay homage to one of the most influential improvisational sax players in history. The three-day event is split between uptown and downtown, beginning in Harlem with the evening premiere of Jimmy Heath’s big band orchestration of Parker’s work, “Bird Is the Word.” Saturday’s lineup boasts Grammy-winning sax player and flutist Kenny Garrett and French-American singer Cécile McLorin Salvant, before the action moves to the East Village and Lee Konitz, an innovative altoist who played in the Parker era, blows with his quartet. Marcus Garvey Park, Madison Ave between 120th and 124th Sts; Aug 23 7–9pm, Aug 24 3–7pm • Tompkins Square Park, Ave A to Ave B between 7th and 10th Sts; Aug 25 3–7pm • cityparksfoundation.org. Free.

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  • Photograph: Terri Nguyen

    CT5: Five Years of Captured Tracks

    A valuable contributor to the indie music scene, this vibrant Brooklyn label celebrates its fifth anniversary with a two-day Labor Day weekend blowout in the Well’s 11,000-square-foot backyard. Catch Montreal songman Mac DeMarco’s irresistible, jangly lo-fi pop and goofy stage antics on Saturday, before local reverb-heavy headliners DIIV take the spotlight. The next day, bliss out to the exceedingly dreamy and totally gorgeous sounds of Jack Tatum’s outfit Wild Nothing; he’s joined by psych-rock faves Beach Fossils, pictured, and captivating indie-poppers Widowspeak, among others. Two-day passes score you a ten or 20 percent discount at the label’s new record shop and trading store (195 Calyer St between Leonard St and Manhattan Ave, Greenpoint, Brooklyn; 718-609-0870, capturedtracks.com). The Well, 272 Meserole St between Bushwick Pl and Waterbury St, Bushwick, Brooklyn (347-599-1759, thewellbrooklyn.com). Aug 31, Sept 1 at 3pm; $30, two-day pass $55–$100.

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  • Photograph: William Thoren

    George Clinton and Parliament Funkadelic

    Situated in a picturesque spot at the base of the East River, with views of the Brooklyn, Manhattan and Williamsburg Bridges, Beekman Beer Garden is a sandy summer standby (albeit a slightly fratty one). But free your mind of judgment and follow your ass to a concert by music legend George Clinton and his band Parliament Funkadelic, who set the foundations for hundreds of groovy hip-hop samples. Clinton may have now eschewed his rainbow-colored ’do and wild getups for natty suits, but the 72-year-old is as vital as ever, recording with Sly Stone and dance-music duo Soul Clap this year. 89 South St at Fulton St (212-896-4600, beekmanbeergarden.com). Aug 22 at 7pm; $30.

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  • Photograph: David Kimelman

    An Intimate Evening with Carol Channing and Justin Vivian Bond

    It was going to take a lot to outdo last year’s marquee show from gay-party promoter Daniel Nardicio’s debut Icon Series. After all, it doesn’t get much better than Liza Minnelli and Alan Cumming. But Nardicio refuses to rest on his laurels, pairing Broadway legend and three-time Tony Award winner Carol Channing with downtown chanteuse Justin Vivian Bond for a one-night-only cabaret at Fire Island’s charmingly ramshackle Ice Palace nightclub. The adjacent Grove Hotel still has occupancy starting at $369, for those looking to make a beach weekend of it. Ice Palace, 1 Bayview Walk at Dock Walk, Fire Island, L.I. (631-597-6600, danielnardicio.com). Aug 24 at 8pm; $70.

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  • Photograph: Jena Cumbo

    New Music in Bryant Park

    The revered Monday-night movie series isn’t the only reason to make a postwork pilgrimage to this midtown oasis. The green space hooks up with celebrated classical and jazz artists to air mind-expanding compositions commissioned by Chamber Music America. Jazz ensemble Matt Wilson’s Carl Sandburg Project (Fri 16) performs a piece that incorporates recordings of poet Sandburg reading his work; the Jane Ira Bloom Quartet (Aug 23) plays Mental Weather, which explores Bloom’s interest in neuroscience and the unconscious; and the Dorian Wind Quintet (Aug 30) blows through David Del Tredici’s Belgian Bliss, which began as a play on Mendelssohn’s Wedding March. Performances take place on the upper terrace, so there may be space in the adjacent outdoor patio of the Bryant Park Grill for a tipple and view of the action. Sixth Ave between 40th and 42nd Sts (212-768-4242, bryantpark.org). Fri 6pm; free. Through Aug 30.

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  • Photograph: Joe Demby

    Seahouse

    The Brooklyn Flea’s invasion of Manhattan has given us another reason to make for the otherwise tourist-overrun South Street Seaport: the Flea and Raspberry Jones–curated parties on Thursday nights at Topsider, a bar set atop shipping containers. August’s stellar lineup includes NYC deck stalwart Small Change (Thu 15), the genrehopping King Britt (Aug 22) and a preparty for the two-day Captured Tracks anniversary shindig (Aug 29). If you need sustenance (other than alcohol), head for the food vendors of the Flea’s nearby SmorgasBar (Front St between Beekman and Fulton Sts), which stay open late. Topsider Bar, 11 Fulton St at Front St (brooklynflea.com). Thu 7–11pm; free. Through September.

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  • Photograph: Courtesy Bryant Park Corporation

    The HBO–Bryant Park Summer Film Festival 

    If the end of E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial doesn’t move you, we don’t know what will. Watching a movie in this lush-yet-urban setting, perhaps? Bryant Park, Sixth Ave between 40th and 42nd Sts (212-512-5700, bryantpark.org). Mon 19 dusk, gates 5pm; free. Series through Mon 19.

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  • Photograph: Julienne Schaer

    Syfy Movies with a View at Brooklyn Bridge Park

    Classic Hitchcock (Vertigo) plus a Manhattan backdrop equals one memorable evening. Pier 1 Harbor View Lawn, Doughty St at Furman St, Brooklyn Heights (718-802-0603, brooklynbridgepark.org). Aug 22 dusk, DJ set 6pm; free. Series through Aug 29.

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  • Photograph: Laura Lynn Petrick

    SummerStage

    Mac DeMarco brings his goofy-as-hell live antics (and the ace songwriting chops to back them up) to SS’s penultimate gig of the summer. East River Park, FDR Dr between Cherry and Jackson Sts (summerstage.org). Aug 28 at 7pm; free. Series through Aug 29.

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  • Photograph: wagz2it

    Warm Up 2013

    Caribou, pictured, (a.k.a. Daniel Victor Snaith) spins thumping psych jams and other eclectic weirdness at MoMA PS1’s third-to-last bash. 22-25 Jackson Ave at 46th Ave, Long Island City, Queens (718-784-2084, momaps1.org). Aug 24 at 3pm, doors noon; $18, advance $15. Series through Sept 7.

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  • Photograph: Bryan Derballa

    Vans House Parties

    Brooklyn indie-rock vets Les Savy Fav, led by eccentric frontman Tim Harrington, get wild in a Greenpoint warehouse. Oh, and it’s free. Oh, and there’s beer. Free beer. Go to this. House of Vans, 25 Franklin St between Meserole Ave and Quay St, Greenpoint, Brooklyn (vans.com/houseparties); Aug 29 at 7pm; free; R.S.V.P. required. Series through Aug 29.

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  • Photograph: Jason Nocito

    Live on Pier 26

    Pier 26, we hardly knew ye. This massive outdoor venue along the Hudson only opened last month. Bid adieu to it when the catchy, synthy and ridiculously popular outfit Passion Pit takes over for a two-night run. North Moore St at the Hudson River (hudsonriverpark.org). Sept 6, 7 at 7pm; $40.­

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Photograph: Whitney Lawson

Honorable William Wall Clubhouse

The Manhattan Sailing Club’s floating barge anchors just north of Ellis Island, to give members and—as of recently—the public a platform to watch races (Tue–Thu) and drink in spectacular views of the Manhattan skyline. A boat speeds you from Battery Park to the waterborne bar to sip beer, mojitos, white-wine sangria and Mount Gay rum-and-tonics ($6–$12). Although unless you’re an old sea dog, don’t drink like a fish—the barge bobs and rocks. Simple snacks are available, but visitors are welcome to bring a picnic. While the club will accept walk-ups if it can, it’s best to book tickets; berths have been selling out up to a week in advance. Departs North Cove Marina, dock F, 385 South End Ave between Albany and Liberty Sts (212-786-3323, myc.org). Tue–Fri 5:30–10pm, Sat 3–10pm; $20, members free. Through October, weather permitting.

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