Your perfect Memorial Day 2011
Wed May 18 2011
Yes! NYC's beaches officially open this weekend. For those of you looking to stay close to home, do like the Ramones and hitch a ride to Rockaway Beach (Boardwalk between Beach 9th and Beach 149th Sts, Rockaway Beach, Queens; 311). After a day of sunbathing on the sand, feast on delicious tilapia tacos ($3 each, $4 with guacamole) at Rockaway Taco (95-19 Rockaway Beach Blvd at Beach 96th St, The Rockaways, Queens; 347-213-7466, rockawaytaco.com). There's also the slightly scuzzier (though more wonderfully kitschy) Coney Island, where you can dry off after a swim by taking a ride on the brand-new coasters at Scream Zone (Boardwalk near Stillwell Ave, Coney Island, Brooklyn; 718-373-5862, lunaparknyc.com/screamzone). For more options, check out our guide to the best beaches in and around town (and cool things to do by each).
Fire up a grill
Memorial Day, much like the Fourth of July, is one of those awesome patriotic holidays that encourages us to cook loads of meat outdoors. Show up early at Brooklyn's Prospect Park (north of the Picnic House, enter at 3rd St and Prospect Park West) to try nab a spot on one of its dozen-plus grilling areas. (Consult our handy by-borough grilling guide for more options.) Prefer to flip that burger while getting wasted at a watering hole? Bring your own meat to Williamsburg's East River Bar (97 South 6th St between Bedford Ave and Berry St, Williamsburg, Brooklyn; 718-302-0511, eastriverbar.com; 5pm--2am)—or any of these drinkeries that provide ready-to-use grills. If you prefer to leave the cooking to the professionals, settle in for all-you-can-eat pig and pancakes in Fatty 'Cue's backyard, washed down with Beer Table beers. Turn up early as there are no advanced tickets and entry is on a first-come, first-served basis (91 South 6th St between Bedford Ave and Berry St, Williamsburg, Brooklyn; 718-599-3090, fattycue.com; noon--7pm, free).
Sip suds on Governors Island
Take the ferry (and a ready-to-gorge appetite) to Governors Island for the Brewers' PicNYC (Governors Island; 212-982-3006, brewerspicnyc.com; Sun 29, Mon 30 11am--5pm; admission only $15, admission plus two beers and one dish $25, admission plus three beers and three dishes $45, kids 12 and under free). Nibble on eats from Fette Sau, Jimmy's No. 43, Luke's Lobster and other notable restaurants and food trucks; then wet your whistle with Sixpoint's Sehr Crisp Pilsner, Two Brothers' the Bitter End Pale Ale, Brooklyn Lager and more craft brews ($6 each).
Salute fallen troops
Take a moment to remember those who lost their lives in battle at the Memorial Day ceremony at the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum (Pier 86, Twelfth Ave at 46th St; 877-957-7447, intrepidmuseum.org; 11am; $24, seniors and college students $20, military veterans $17, children ages 3--6 $12), where you can witness jets flying above in a military formation, a three-volley salute and a 100-foot-long American flag. Afterward, tour the USS Growler submarine, which carried nuclear missiles during the Cold War.
Peruse worldly art
The DanceAfrica 2011 Bazaar takes over two blocks outside Brooklyn Academy of Music (Ashland Pl between Fulton St and Hanson Pl, Fort Greene, Brooklyn; 718-636-4100, bam.org; Sat 28 noon--10pm, Sun 29, Mon 30 noon--8pm; free); stop by for African and Caribbean sculptures, as well as other artwork, ethnic eats and face-painting stations for the young'uns.
Revisit our revolution
Walk our forefathers' stomping grounds during the Big Onion's Revolutionary New York tour (meet at the entrance of City Hall Park at Broadway and Murray St; 888-606-9255, bigonion.com; 2pm; $15; seniors, students and active military personnel $12). The two-hour downtown stroll visits notable Revolutionary War spots, as well as the final resting places of General Richard Montgomery and Alexander Hamilton, and the haunts of George Washington and Thomas Jefferson.
Get funky on a boat
Rocks Off is back for another summer of concert cruises—and just as we started healing from its raucous Black Lips show from this past year, too. Board the Queen of Hearts for a shindig dubbed "The Memorial Day Cosmic Funk Spectacular!" (Pier 40, W Houston St at the Hudson River; 212-571-3304, rocksoff.com; doors 6pm, departs 7pm; $25), where the soulful musician DM-FunK gets you moving to synthy grooves on the Hudson and the East River.
Take in Beethoven at a house of the holy
Looking to end the day on a classier musical note than drunkenly screaming along to "Born in the U.S.A." at your local pub? Trek up to the beautiful Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine (1047 Amsterdam Ave at 112th St; 212-875-5656, nyphil.org; 8pm; free) for its annual Memorial Day Concert, during which New York Philharmonic's musical director, Alan Gilbert, conducts Beethoven's Symphony No. 3, "Eroica," and Barber's Adagio for Strings. The gig is free, but it's advised that you line up early—tickets are distributed on a first-come, first-served basis.
Visit McKinley High, circa 1980
Don an oversize green jacket and toast the cult comedy Freaks and Geeks at the Bell House (149 7th St between Second and Third Aves, Gowanus, Brooklyn; 718-643-6510, thebellhouseny.com; 8pm; $5) during the venue's latest TV Party affair. In addition to favorite episodes from the cult classic's single season, the event will feature dodgeball, "mathlete" challenges and more frivolity culled from the show. There's even—listen up, ladies—a Bill Haverchuck--impersonation contest.
Keep your holiday-weekend partying going strong at Cielo's long-running late-night dub bash, Deep Space (18 Little W 12th St between Ninth Ave and Washington St; 212-645-5700, cieloclub.com; 10pm--4am; $12, before 11pm with flyer free). Just make sure you arrive early—the waived entry fee and gratis vodka drinks only last until 11pm. (But you should probably get to bed somewhat early tonight; tomorrow is a workday, after all.)