1. Lose yourself in the clouds at the Met's installation "Tomás Saraceno on the Roof: Cloud City"
2. Marvel at an architectural wonder; then dance; then eat; then dance some more at MoMA PS1's Warm Up series.
Pictured: Rendering of HWKN’s Wendy, winning design of Young Architects Program 2012
3. See New York’s space shuttle Enterprise
4. Clamber over sculptures on Governors Island
Pictured: Zaq Landsberg, "Face of Liberty"
5. Hit up Williamsburg’s latest outdoor venue
Pictured: My Morning Jacket, who play Williamsburg Park Aug 19
6. Dance in a shady grove at Mister Sunday
Pictured: Horse Meat Disco at Mister Sunday in 2011
7. Get involved during Pride Week
8. See classic films at the HBO-Bryant Park Summer Film Festival
9. Swoon to free outdoor classical concerts
Pictured: Alan Gilbert conducts the New York Philharmonic in Central Park
10. Ride to the Rockaways
It's summer again in New York City, and you know what that means: Crowds of cute, scantily clad people wandering the city. While gazing at them in Sheep's Meadow and on the High Line is not officially one of our 101 things to do in the summer, we've collected some that are nearly as entertaining—epic music festivals, theater, exhibits, fairs, and all the best things to do outdoors. It's everything worth breaking a sweat over this summer in NYC.
RECOMMENDED: The most recent 101 things to do in the summer in New York City
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The Enterprise’s flyover made for one dramatic entrance. Get more than a brief glimpse on June 6, the tentative date when the shuttle will ride a barge up the Hudson to its final destination, the deck of aircraft carrier turned museum the USS Intrepid. You’ll have to wait until a climate-controlled pavilion is built around the shuttle, but by July 19, patrons will be able to view the shuttle’s exterior and explore the history of space with interactive exhibits.
The brand-spankin’-new, 7,000-person-capacity venue Williamsburg Park opens this summer, filling the void for concerts on the Williamsburg waterfront. Check out the space at a Northside Festival shindig (see No. 51) featuring indie-rock heavyweights Jens Lekman, Of Montreal and the Thermals (June 15 at 4pm; $33.50); a bill with hardcore faves Refused and Off! (July 18 at 5:30pm; $35); or during the jam-happy rock outfit My Morning Jacket’s (pictured) sure-to-be-epic set (Aug 19 at 5pm; $49.50). More gigs will be announced throughout the summer, so keep an eye on our Williamsburg Park page for more upcoming shows.
Essential Monday-night staple HBO-Bryant Park Summer Film Festival celebrates its 20th year this June. And as with year’s past, the lineup is stellar, running the gamut from black-and-white classics—Psycho (June 18), On the Waterfront (July 9), The Maltese Falcon (July 23)—to big-budget Hollywood spectacles including The Wizard of Oz (July 2) and Raiders of the Lost Ark (Aug 20). Make sure to pack rotten tomatoes in your picnic in case Glenn Beck makes another appearance on the lawn.
New York Philharmonic: Concerts in the Parks
The Phil skipped its popular summer series last season, but the hometown orchestra returns to play five concerts in parks across the city this year: Alan Gilbert and guest maestro Andrey Boreyko lead the players in invigorating fare by Respighi, Tchaikovsky and Brahms, while we revel in the merlot warmth within us and the starry skies above us. Visit nyphil.org for details.
Join the Five Borough Bike Club on its Sunday morning Bicycle Beach Bums ride (10am–5pm; free; through Aug 26) from Grand Army Plaza to either Neponsit Beach or Jacob Riis Park in the Rockaways. The route consists mainly of bike lanes and less heavily trafficked streets. and it’s a 30-mile round-trip (assuming you don’t ride the A train home). It may sound like a long way, but once you’re crossing the Marine Parkway–Gil Hodges Memorial Bridge and look down on the beckoning shore, it’s worth it. Once you’ve made it to the Rockaways, claim your reward. Make a beeline for Rockaway Beach Club, the row of foodie concessions that include returning vendors like Motorboat & the Big Banana (try the chocolate-dipped bananas) and Santa Salsa (which slings Venezuelan street-style hot dogs). Keep an eye out for new-to-the-beach outposts of NYC eateries such as Steve’s Ice Cream, the Commodore and the Lobster Joint. If you can drag yourself away from the shore, head to Rockaway Taco’s modest shack, located a couple blocks from the beach. It serves amazing tacos (tofu, fish, carne, chorizo; $3–$4), watermelon juice ($2) and a plantain quesadilla ($4) that somehow encapsulates the joy of summer in each sweet bite. You should be able to find it by way of the loud music and faint smell of heaven.
Perennial favorite Brooklyn Bridge Park just keeps getting better. This summer, it inaugurates a new 1,500-square-foot, 3.5-foot-deep wading pool (opens early July) on the greenway adjacent to Pier 2 and launches Books Beneath the Bridge (Mon 7–8pm; free; July 9–Aug 13), programmed by a half dozen of the best independent bookshops in Brooklyn. Big names (Martin Amis, Aug 13) and local heroes (Lizz Winstead, July 23) will read on Pier 1’s Granite Prospect with the Manhattan skyline as their backdrop. Returning to the fold is the Syfy Movies with a View series (Thu 6pm, July 5–Aug 30) on Pier 1—Wet Hot American Summer screens August 2—and three walk-up sand volleyball courts plus a roof deck with concessions from Bark Hot Dogs (Wed–Fri, holiday Mon 11am–10pm; Sat 11am–midnight; Sun 11am–11pm; opens May 26).
Once you’ve had your fill of sober lounging in Brooklyn Bridge Park, cross the bridge to Beekman Beer Garden Beach Club in South Street Seaport and imbibe in its sandy environs. Recline on the white couches, play a free game of pool, Ping-Pong or foosball (tables are first-come, first-served), or gather round the fire pit when the night turns chilly. As well as one-off events like a crawfish boil (May 31 at 6pm; $65), there’s a slew of Wednesday night shows (times and prices vary) and Sunday afternoon parties.
The gigantic white head (otherwise known as Jaume Plensa’s Echo) is gone from the Oval Lawn, but it’s been replaced by a mixed-media installation that is just as whimsical—and a tad less scary. Pet Sounds (through Sept 9), by California artist Charles Long, consists of colorful railings and cartoonish blobs that vibrate and emit sounds when touched. It’s worth timing your visit to either before June 1, when Worth Square is packed with 25 local food vendors—including Eataly and Momofuku Milk Bar—for Madison Square Eats (daily 11am–9pm; free), or on Wednesday evenings after June 20 for the Madison Square Music: Oval Lawn Series (times vary; see madisonsquarepark.org for information), which culminates in a show by lauded veteran soulstress Bettye LaVette on August 8.
Having recently returned to action with a pair of instantly sold-out club dates, Fiona Apple commandeers Randall's Island June 24 to properly celebrate the release of her new album, which naturally has a 23-word title. Beck, Modest Mouse and Explosions in the Sky are among the major acts that share the Sunday bill; on Saturday you can catch Passion Pit, Duck Sauce, Chromeo, Santigold, Special Disco Version and more.
Director Daniel Sullivan returns to the Delacorte Theater with As You Like It (June 5–30)—where he's had remarkable success with Twelfth Night, A Midsummer Night's Dream and other notably fresh takes on Shakespeare. This new staging of the Bard's beloved pastoral romantic comedy stars Lily Rabe as the witty and pretty Rosalind, Oliver Platt as the clown Touchstone and Stephen Spinella as the mordant Jaques, he of "seven ages of man" fame. Normally, New Yorkers expect one or two Shakespeare classics presented free in Central Park, but we'll make an exception this time for Stephen Sondheim's Into The Woods (July 23–Aug 25), staring Amy Adams.
Follow a flock of food trucks
Good news: Food trucks, previously thought to be solitary, elusive creatures, do in fact travel in packs. Downtown office workers will find five of the mobile snack stands parked outside 4 World Financial Center (North End Ave at Vesey St) during the week; vendors at the Food Truck Court (worldfinancialcenter.com/foodtrucks; Mon–Fri 11am–3pm; through 2013) shuffle daily, but favorites like Kimchi Taco, Rickshaw Dumpling and Red Hook Lobster Pound are often in attendance. On select Sundays, a five-to-eight-vehicle strong Gourmet Food Truck Bazaar convenes at the Hell’s Kitchen Flea Market (hellskitchenfleamarket.com; second Sunday of the month 11am–5pm; through October); city staples like Kimchi Taco, Coolhaus, Frites n Meats and Taim Mobile are all regulars. Between eight and a whopping 15 grub mobiles gather in Grand Army Plaza for Prospect Park’s monthly Food Truck Rally (prospectpark.org/food-truck-rally; May 26, then every third Sunday 11am–5pm; through October). Produced by the NYC Food Truck Association, the roundup draws members such as Luke’s Lobster, Milk Truck and Souvlaki GR over the course of the season.
Root, root, root for the home team
This summer, catch the Yanks on their home turf of Yankee Stadium as they battle their fierce rivals, the Boston Red Sox (July 27–29), or watch them face off against the Mets at Citi Field for the second Subway Series of the year (June 22–24). Just remember to remain civil and avoid fistfights. No one wants to be that guy who shows up in ESPN highlights. For a less expensive, more laid-back alternative, hike out to Coney Island to see minor-league team the Brooklyn Cyclones at MCU Park. Even if sparks don’t fly on the field, there’s still a good chance you’ll catch a fireworks show—11 night games this year end with ’em.
How do you turn an unremarkable, empty parking lot into a popular summer destination? If you’re City Winery, you haul out custom barrels for serving vino on tap, create a makeshift stage from an adjacent loading dock, book an eclectic assortment of musical acts and call it the Hudson Square Music and Wine Festival. The lineup for this Tuesday evening concert series includes novelty string collective the Portland Cello Project (June 26), Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Sam Moore (July 17) and local bluegrass quintet Ollabelle (July 31) pumping out tunes while an after-work crowd of revelers eats, drinks and makes merry. A couple of City Winery’s own craft vintages are available for sipping (2011 sauvignon blanc, $7; 2011 zinfandel, $9), or select from a trio of German bottled beers ($6). If it’s dinner you’re after, mix and match a locally sourced burger-and-salad combo ($10) from Great Performances catering, which comes with a fresh-brewed, mint-infused strawberry lemonade. Though they’ve added a few tables this year, don’t count on snagging one as attendance can reach upwards of 1,000 people. Bring a blanket. A heavy one: All this might sound glamorous, but it’s still asphalt. (212-608-0555, citywinery.com/hudsonbbq)
SummerStage returns to its spiritual home with a doozy of a lineup. Big-ticket draws include silky-voiced ivory tickler Norah Jones (July 3 at 6pm; $49.50), summery Baltimore dream-pop duo Beach House (July 23 at 6pm; advance $30, at the door $35) and catchy French electro outfit M83 (Aug 8 at 6pm; sold out). A ton of ace free gigs are on the docket too, such as folk-rockers Dawes (June 16 at 7pm), rising retro-soul youngsters Alabama Shakes (June 24 at 3pm) and Malian duo Amadou & Mariam (Aug 4 at 3pm). For the best green spaces to check out before or after the show, consult our comprehensive guide to Central Park.
Ever wanted to dance with the devil in the pale moonlight? We’re sorry to inform you Beelzebub’s washing its hair (we checked), but find another partner and head to Hudson River Park’s MoonDance series to salsa (July 22, 29), swing (July 15, Aug 12) or tango (Aug 5) to music by live bands. Arrive at 6:30pm for a dance lesson led by instructors from Dance Manhattan before that night’s orchestra strikes up and you get to practice your steps as the sun sets over Jersey—the romantic view should help your partner forgive you for treading on his or her toes.
Enjoy two weeks of alfresco culture at the Lincoln Center Out of Doors Festival
Each summer, the Lincoln Center Out of Doors Festival blows open the cultural institution’s staid reputation with nightly concerts featuring exotic, danceable and just plain weird musical acts. This year we’re particularly excited about the Aug 2 show, which pairs the New York premiere of avant-jazz trio the Bad Plus’s Stravinsky-inspired On Sacred Ground and the U.S. debut of minimal techno soundsmith Brandt Brauer Frick’s contemporary-music ensemble. Or catch the world premiere of local musical iconoclast Phil Kline’s dreamcitynine the next night (Aug 3). Taking a cue from John Cage’s Indeterminacy, it features 60 percussionists scattered across the plaza. Events take place at Damrosch Park, Josie Robertsson Plaza and Hearst Plaza. Visit lcoutofdoors.org for more info.
The respectfully irreverent art collective Audio Tour Hack creates humorous, pop-culture-tinged guerrilla audio tours, which can be downloaded for free off its website. The Guggenheim’s “Choices” exhibit was the first to be hit: In the Artobots audio tour, American artist John Chamberlain’s large-scale metal sculptures were reimagined as Decepticon monuments. Those who gamely took the alternative tour learned that what looked like “a charred knot of steel, cables and wires” was in fact the remains of Bluestreak, an unfortunate Autobot “forcibly shaped into a clenched black fist.” Participants were also encouraged to close their eyes and sniff one of the pieces, with the exhortation to “let your nose inhale the artist’s intent, and unleash your own animal desire to be smelled by the universe around you.” The next project will focus on a permanent MoMA exhibit; go to audiotourhack.com in June to download the tour and for more details.
Urban Space NYC, the folks behind this collection of shops in shipping containers, regularly transforms the lot on Flatbush Avenue into a space for movies, dance parties, roller rinks and more. For instance, watch a flick during the monthly Thursday-night Bike-In Movie series (May 30, June 28, July 26, Aug 30, Sept 27 8pm–midnight; free), or catch the return of the Down & Derby roller-disco party (June 15 6pm–1am; with R.S.V.P. $5). Check our venue page for this week’s events.
The venerable institution of spray-painted art celebrates a decade of existence, even with the pall of potential development draped over it. But don’t let that get you down—the people behind 5Pointz certainly haven’t. They’ve put together the most ambitious season of free programming yet with B-boy battles (June 9 2–6pm), live painting by street-art legends during the Battle of the Kings in Queens (Aug 11 noon–6pm), music at Freestyle Sundays (May 20, July 1 2–7pm) and more.
Watch movies under the stars
The cinematic series Rooftop Films programs a 16th season of screenings held in city aeries (and parks and piers). Each event is preceded by a talk or musical performance, and usually followed by a respective after-party—which provides a chance to discuss the works over a drink or two. Notable screenings include SXSW weekend (June 6–8), showcasing favorites from the Austin festival; Jonathan Lisecki’s Gayby (June 23) during New York Pride Week; “New York Non-Fiction,” featuring personal city narratives (June 29); and Florian Habicht’s Love Story (Aug 17), which will close the series. Locations and times vary; visit rooftopfilms.com for details. Screening $12, all-access pass $65.
Thanks to this summer concert series, now in its 34th year, the Prospect Park Bandshell is to Brooklynites what Central Park SummerStage is to Manhattan residents—the place to hear great music in the great outdoors. The season opens with reggae legend Jimmy Cliff (June 5), and also features shows from British folkie Laura Marling (June 14) and indie-rock quartet Wild Flag (Aug 3). If you don’t mind ponying up more than the $3 suggested donation for benefit concerts to help fund programming, you can catch comedian Donald Glover’s hip-hop alter ego Childish Gambino (June 26; $40, advance $35), hometown heroes Dirty Projectors (July 10; $30) or quirky dance band Hot Chip (July 18; $40, advance $35).
By the desolate site formerly occupied by the Fulton Fish Market, commerce is bustling once again. Every Sunday, locavores and artisanal purveyors—including Brooklyn Oenology, Hot Bread Kitchen, Saxelby Cheesemongers and Marlow & Daughters—gather to buy and sell local produce and gourmet products. Some weeks, the vendors are curated around a theme, for instance a cheese-maker’s showcase (June 24) or the annual Ice Cream Sunday (Aug 19). But motif or no, the quality of this snackfest is consistently excellent. Make use of a cool new feature this year: valet bike parking, courtesy of Bowery Lane Bicycles. South St between Beekman St and Peck Slip (newamsterdammarket.org). Sun 11am–4pm. Through December.
For the first time in nearly three decades, New Yorkers will be able to cool off at the McCarren Park Pool, scheduled to open for the season on June 28. The newly renovated 37,950-square-foot pond fits 1,500 swimmers and features eight lap lanes, alongside a sand volleyball court and a recreation center.
Dance outside at All Day I Dream
Legendary DJ Lee Burridge’s Sunday afternoon alfresco shindig returns for a second season, featuring the same dreamy, melodic house that made it such a hit last summer (and one of our best parties of 2011). The kickoff event—All Day I Dream of Manhattan (June 10 4–11pm; $30)—takes place at Beekman Beer Garden Beach Club, with three more of the monthly wingdings to follow. Check facebook.com/alldayidream for details.
New Yorkers, as well all know, need a sense of purpose. Sometimes, hopping a free ferry merely to laze around on the car-free island oasis just won’t cut it. Consider, then, penciling in one of these many one-off events into your planner. The 1920s-themed shindig Jazz Age Lawn Party (June 16, 17, Aug 18, 19 11am–5pm; $15) finds flappers cutting a rug by vintage cars on Colonels’ Row. Tasting event Cook Out NYC (July 7, 8; $45, advance $40) brings food purveyors and breweries like Sixpoint to the island. And after a successful debut last season, pianists and co-artistic directors Pam Goldberg and Blair McMillen bring back the Rite of Summer Music Festival (July 7, Aug 4, Sept 3 at 3pm). Check our Governors Island guide for a full schedule of special events.
The list of free summer concerts vying for your time is long (more than 200!), but the small (a mere three shows) RiverRocks series makes a compelling, perfectly formed argument for your time. The season kicks off with the avant-pop pairing of Dan Deacon and John Maus (July 12 at 6pm), followed by local favorites Oberhofer and the Soft Pack (July 26 at 7pm). The knockout finale is a one-two punch of deliciously dreamy ’80s-style one-man band Wild Nothing (the work of Jack Tatum) and Montreal weirdo-pop artiste Grimes (Aug 9 at 6pm).
Break out your blankets, vino and snacks: The Central Park Conservancy Film Festival returns to the Sheep Meadow for its tenth year. Showtimes for this summer are still up in the air, but organizers have confirmed screenings of two quotable-as-hell stoner-comedy classics: Tim Burton’s Pee-wee’s Big Adventure and the Coen brothers’ The Big Lebowski. And for the less munchie-inclined viewer, Spike Lee’s portrait of volatile ’80s Bed-Stuy, Do the Right Thing.
A Jedi master be
Newmindspace (newmindspace.com), the team behind such participatory public fun as Pillow Fight NYC, gives you a chance to live out one of your childhood fantasies during its free Glow Battle summer 2012 tour. Six cities in the U.S. and Canada, including NYC and Halifax, will witness massive lightsaber battles. You can either BYO luminescent weapon or reserve a special six-color lightsaber for $5 (plus PayPal fee). The New York date and location have yet to be finalized; use the Force for updates on details, or check glowbattle.com.
Enjoy the cool night air and delicious treats at Hester Nights, a weekly food market in the Hotel Eventi open-air hotel plaza, formerly occupied by Beerparc. Hester Street Fair’s food purveyors make the trip from the LES to Midtown West, serving irresistible offerings like the chicken biscuit from Pies ’n’ Thighs and gourmet grilled cheese from Little Muenster. For dessert, buy a treat from the Macaron Parlour, or if we’re suffering through a heat wave, an ice-cream cookie sandwich from Melt Bakery. Keep an eye out for announcements of special fashion and style events throughout the summer. • hesterstreetfair.com
Each summer, hipsters flock to the outdoor film series Summerscreen. And fittingly, this year’s schedule pairs ironic favorites—Cruel Intentions (July 11), Dirty Dancing (July 25) and Top Gun (Aug 8)—along with crowd-pleasing comedy classics, such as Raising Arizona (July 18) and The Princess Bride (Aug 1). Before each screening, a different local act plays a short set. Don’t forget to vote for Summerscreen’s closing-night film on Facebook. Empire Records is currently in the lead; join us in stuffing the ballot boxes for Showgirls. • summerscreen.org
In 1992, this once crime-ridden green space reopened to the public after a dramatic redesign and renovation. See the change unfold for yourself with the park’s exhibit of 86 images along the outer fence that charts the transformation from blight to the emerald jewel of midtown’s crown. One of the major changes was the addition of moveable lawn seating, a feature that’s celebrated with a mass game of musical chairs (June 20 at 8pm; free; registration required via bryantpark.org).
Visit the new homes of a Coney Island favorite
Once a boardwalk staple, dive bar Cha-Cha’s of Coney Island lost its lease last year, but returns bigger and better than ever. It’s launched a restaurant (1315 Surf Ave between Stillwell Ave and W 15th St; chachasofconeyisland.com) with brick-oven pizza and opened outdoor drinking spot Club Atlantis Bar (3070 Stillwell Ave between Surf Ave and the Boardwalk). If that’s not enough, there’s also a theme park in the space formerly occupied by the flea market (Stillwell Ave between Surf Ave and the Boardwalk) with ten rides, including the MegaWhirl. Good news for sufferers of vertigo: It never leaves the ground. Bad news for sufferers of motion sickness: You’ll be spun 360 degrees.
BHS and Brooklyn Brewery team up for this monthly pop-up beer garden. While tossing back $5 pours of lager and summer ale, you’ll be able to explore exhibitions such as “Inventing Brooklyn: People, Places, Progress” (which traces 400 years of the borough’s history) and take in live music from folk trio the Tres Amigos (May 31) and funk band Kids on a Hill (July 26).
The outdoor art installation Flow returns to this green and pleasant park with five new interactive works. Among them, Gabriela Bertiller’s playful red-and-white checkered picnic benches and Nathan Gwynne’s “Famous Faces of Randall’s Island.” The latter consists of life-size cutouts of a motley crew of luminaries such as Jesse Owens, Jimi Hendrix and Robert Moses; the faces have been removed, so you can stick your mug in their place and have your friend take a snap. Expect to see it on your social-media feeds all summer long. Randalls Island (randallsisland.org).
The former shipbuilding spot has experienced a flush of development and taken on a new lease on life—with enough attractions to warrant a day trip. Jump on the free shuttle from Jay Street at Willoughby Street (Sat, Sun noon, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5pm) and begin at the BLDG 92 information center to check out the exhibition “Brooklyn Navy Yard: Past, Present and Future.” To explore the yard, sign up for one of Urban Oyster’s tours (urbanoyster.com). Choose from regular two-hour bus tours (Sat, Sun 2:30pm; $30; through November), monthly highlight tours (next tour June 10 1–2pm; $18) or enlist your steed for a bike tour (June 17, 30, July 15, Aug 12, Sept 1, 23, Oct 14 at 12:30pm; $24). We also recommend stopping into Kings Country Distillery’s new digs (Building 121, 63 Flushing Ave at 4th St; kingscountydistillery.com) for a tour and tasting, due to begin in mid-to-late-June. Check the website for updates.
Perhaps you need an extra reason to travel to Corona, Queens, to check out the Louis Armstrong House Museum, where Satchmo lived from 1943 until his death in 1971. How about a Hot Jazz/Cool Garden party in Armstrong’s Japanese-inspired garden with a live band and swing dancing? The monthly parties begin in June with the trad jazz stylings of the Hot Sardines. While you’re there, make sure to take a docent-led tour (included in the ticket price, $15) of the historic house. Can’t spring for admission? Then attend the free annual block party (Aug 16 at 7pm), sponsored by Jazzmobile, to see multi–Grammy Award winner Arturo Sandoval blow his trumpet.
Rub elbows with indie rockers at the Northside Festival
More than 350 bands are expected to descend upon Williamsburg for this year’s Northside Festival, which feature a plethora of indie-rock showcases. We’re pretty jazzed to catch a bill with Velvet Underground–nodding hometown heroes Crystal Stilts; Wymond Miles of pleasing San Fran rockers the Fresh & Onlys; and Var, a new side project of punishing Danish punk band Iceage (Glasslands Gallery; popgunbooking.com; June 17 at 8:30pm; $12). This year’s lineup also throws a few welcome curveballs, such as the perpetually pissed one-liner comic Neil Hamburger (Knitting Factory; June 17 at 9pm, doors 8pm; $14, advance $12) and Wu-Tang Clan’s GZA performing his classic hip-hop LP Liquid Swords (Music Hall of Williamsburg; June 14 at 8:30pm, 11:30pm; sold out). • Visit northsidefestival.com for a complete schedule.
Meat lovers can make their annual pilgrimage to Madison Square Park for this gut-busting ’cuefest. Some of the nation’s top pit masters—including chefs from local spots like Hill Country, Dinosaur Bar-B-Que and Blue Smoke—will be manning the flames, dispatching grub for $8 a plate. Cough up $125 for a FastP-pass to skip the lines; otherwise expect a lengthy wait for your ribs. In between plates of meat, listen to live bluegrass tunes and check out the free seminars and cooking demos. • bigapplebbq.org.
For this year’s Movie Nights on the Elevated Acre, the River to River series teams up with Tribeca Film to screen three of the company’s recent acquisitions—Stella Days (June 18), Collaborator (June 25) and Side by Side (July 9). Don’t miss the latter; the documentary about Hollywood’s switch from film to digital formats was one of our ten favorite movies at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival. Show up early to nab a spot on the lawn and catch a short film before the screening.
Explore City Island
Spend the day in a sleepy seaside destination without leaving NYC. The Bronx’s City Island is just a short public-transit trek away (take the 6 train to the end of the line and then hop on the BX29 bus to City Island) and offers fresh seafood and a salty breeze. Stroll along City Island Avenue, the mile-and-a-half-long main drag, stopping to check out the quirky antique shops along the way. You’ll find the Lobster Box (34 City Island Ave at Belden St, Bronx; 718-885-1952, lobsterboxrestaurant.com), a family-owned restaurant with Long Island Sound views, near the southern tip. Take a seat at the clam bar and sample seafood-shack fare like a lobster roll ($16) or a crab-cake sandwich ($16). If you have room for dessert, head up the street and partake in a few scoops from Lickety Split (295 City Island Ave between Fordham and Hawkins Sts, Bronx; 718-885-9654, licketyspliticecream.biz). Don’t leave without perusing the City Island Historical Society and Nautical Museum and, if you’re a movie buff, ask locals to point you to the beautiful old home known as the Queen Anne, which was seen in both The Royal Tenenbaums and Long Day’s Journey Into Night.
Get out on the water
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 the Downtown Boathouse’s three locations on the island’s West Side for free weekend river outings (Pier 40; Pier 96; West Side Hwy at 72nd St; downtownboathouse.org; Sat, Sun, holidays 9am–6pm from all locations, plus Mon–Fri 5–7pm at Pier 96 weather permitting; free; through mid-October). Free paddling is also available courtesy of the Brooklyn Bridge Park Boathouse (Pier 1, Brooklyn Bridge Park; bbpboathouse.org; Sat 10:30am–4:30pm, select Thu 5:30–7:30pm; free; June 9–Sept 15), which has added extra after-work dates on select Thursdays and will be unveiling a new floating dock later in the summer that should cut down on wait times, which were often more than an hour last summer. If you find yourself in Socrates Sculpture Park in Queens, opt for the free 20-minute sessions in Hallet’s Cove, presented in conjunction with the Long Island City Boathouse (select Sat, Sun 1–5pm, tide and weather permitting; 718-228-9214, licboathouse.org; May 27—Oct 7).
Get crabs in Red Hook
The owners of Alma, one of our top ten outdoor restaurants, are opening new seafood joint Brooklyn Crab in Red Hook this summer that’s shaping up to be a glorious place to spend a balmy evening. Chow down on plates of crab, lobster, mussels, clams and oysters while watching the sun set behind the New York Harbor from the patio or roof deck. Take a break from the gorging by playing 18 holes of minigolf, or taking a turn on one of three bocce or two cornhole courts. The seafood shack will also run a free first-come, first-served shuttle from the Carroll Street subway stop (Mon–Thu, Sun 6–10pm; Fri, Sat 6–11pm; every 20 minutes), and there are bike racks provided for two-wheelers. The Crab hopes to open before mid-June; visit brooklyncrab.com for updates. (718-643-2722). Mon–Thu, Sun 4–10pm; Fri, Sat 4–11pm.
Every July since 1903, the Shrine Church of Our Lady of Mount Carmel has hosted one of Williamsburg’s more unusual festivals. Around 100 men, known as paranzas, lift a four-ton, 65-foot aluminum tower (the giglio) covered in papier-mâché flowers onto their shoulders and parade it along Havemeyer Street to meet another gaggle of paranzas carrying an equally cumbersome boat topped with a band, a singer and an effigy of Saint Paulinus. All this fanfare is to celebrate Paulinus, who is said to have liberated child slaves in ancient Southern Italy. The kooky pageantry, known as the Dance of the Giglio, is followed by a street fair encompassing three blocks (Havemeyer St between North 7th and North 9th Sts) with Italian treats from sausages to zeppoles, games for children and carnival rides.
Set sail for party land
Pull on your dancing shoes and sea legs for our two top boat parties this summer. The monthly soulful-house and classics tea party 718 Sessions takes to the waves for its annual Gay Pride cruise (June 24), with veteran DJ Danny Krivit at the helm. Later in the season, two of the city’s premier party-tossing crews—Let’s Play House and Global Frequencies—team up to host Scotland’s sachem of slo-mo disco, Graeme “The Revenge” Clark (Aug 11).
Join the Coney Island Brighton Beach Open Water Swimmers (CIBBOWS) for a dip in the Atlantic every Saturday and Sunday morning during lifeguard season (Memorial Day through Labor Day). You can swim as far as you like along the shoreline with the group of roughly 50 participants, some of whom are using the sessions to train for an English Channel crossing. • cibbows.org
Take over car-free city streets
Walkers, joggers, skaters and bikers won’t have to share the asphalt with speeding cabs or exhaust-spewing semis during the city’s fourth annual Summer Streets program. Police will shut down all vehicular traffic along this year’s route, linking the Brooklyn Bridge to Central Park (with selected cross streets in between) for three Saturday mornings. • nyc.gov/summerstreets
This social hipster pastime is a great way to find new friends or even a new crush. Registration for the McCarren Park interloper Singles Social Sports summer Thursday-night league (s3nyc.com; $105 for eight games) is currently open. But for our money, the Sunday-afternoon Brooklyn Kickball League is the original and the best. While the season has started, you can still find a game without committing to a weekly team (giving you a better chance of playing the field). Simply post a message on the “Join” section of the Brooklyn Kickball League’s site (brooklynkickball.com) 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.
Summer in NYC boasts outdoor concerts, bars, restaurants, theater and films—why should comedians have to ply their trade in darkened rooms? Thankfully, a few trailblazing free shows and series are remedying this ill. John Hodgman hosts a wealth of Daily Show regulars at Comedy Central: Indecision in the Park (Central Park Summerstage; June 20 at 8pm); Eugene Mirman prays for better weather this year for his Pretty Good Friends special (July 19 at 7pm) at Williamsburg Park; and peripatetic stand-up series Laughter in the Park (June 16–July 9) makes eight appearances at green spaces across Manhattan.
MoMA turns a curatorial eye on the Philadelphia-born identical twins in “Quay Brothers: On Deciphering the Pharmacist’s Prescription for Lip-Reading Puppets,”whose experiments with Eastern European puppetry have been captured in stop-motion-animation films, Tony Award–nominated set design and plenty of 1990s music videos. This holistic look at the Brothers Quay’s artistic output includes their drawings, puppets, dioramas and screening of works, such as their acclaimed Street of Crocodiles (1986), which Terry Gilliam called one of the ten best animated films of all time.
Celebrate the blue note
The impressively ambitious Blue Note Jazz Festival began last year in honor of the iconic club’s 30th anniversary, and returns with 68 shows in 20 days. We’re jazzed to see Yasiin Bey (the new moniker of Mos Def) at the Apollo Theater (June 14), Little Richard at B.B. King’s (June 14) and the festival’s SummerStage takeover (June 17) with a soulful lineup featuring Groove Theory, Soulive and a collaboration between the Roots’ MC Black Thought and beat-boxer Rahzel. Visit bluenotejazzfestival.com for more information.
See Shakespeare in the park
Before this descends into a farce because of a case of mistaken identity we’ll speak plainly: We’re not talking about the production at the Delacorte Theater, but New York Classical Theatre’s (newyorkclassical.org) roving summer play. Unless your brain is as dry as the remainder biscuit after voyage, you will have guessed this year’s production is Twelfth Night, but there’s a twist: The company’s taking early-20th-century New York as its setting. The run begins in Central Park (Meet at W 103rd St and Central Park West; Thu–Sun at 7pm, May 31–June 24) before moving to Battery Park City (Meet at Castle Clinton; Tue–Sun at 7pm; June 26–July 22).
The 21st-annual celebration of LGBTQ performance cooks up a monthlong explosion of comedy, theater, music, burlesque, storytelling and more. We’re stoked for the second installment of polymath Dan Fishback’s Ian Fleishman Trilogy. The Material World (Sat 7pm, July 6-28) imagines a 1920s household that counts a family of socialist Jews, Madonna and Britney Spears as its inhabitants. Naturally, it’s a pop musical, and stars downtown darlings Cole Escola and Molly Pope. • hotfestival.org
Supplement your diet of summer blockbusters at a film festival
You’ve seen The Avengers, and yes, it was awesome. Now try something a little less mainstream. The popular Australian short-film event Tropfest (tropfest.com/ny) comes to New York for the first time this year; on June 23, watch the finalists—all under seven minutes and featuring this year’s signature item, bagel, in some way—at a free screening hosted by Hugh Jackman in Bryant Park. The New York Indian Film Festival (iaac.us/NYIFF2012; May 23–27) features a red-carpet gala, parties and industry panel discussions alongside docs, features and shorts from the subcontinent. Online videos take the spotlight during the Vimeo Festival + Awards (vimeo.com/awards; June 7–9), when the public and judges such as James Franco vote for best original content in 13 categories like music video, fashion and advertising. Or try the whimsical offerings at the ninth annual Animation Block Party (animationblock.com; July 27–29). Student, professional and independent animated shorts will be on view for three evenings, complete with an open-bar after-party at Bar Matchless (July 27 at 11:30pm; free) on opening night. For something totally offbeat (and in case Bike Month in May passed you by), check out the Bicycle Film Festival (bicyclefilmfestival.com; June 27–July 1) which, aside from screenings, is throwing a street party and BMX jam at Anthology Film Archives (June 30 noon–6pm).
Salute MCA and Hot 97 at the Brooklyn Hip-Hop Festival
This hip-hop blowout has evolved into a whole week of cultural activities. The NYC-centric schedule includes an opening-night competition for local artists to win a main-stage time slot (Brooklyn Bowl; July 9 at 9pm; $10), a seminar (Brooklyn Library, Central Branch; July 10 noon–6pm; $10) that includes a discussion on the demise and legacy of radio station Hot 97, a DJ showcase (Public Assembly; July 12 at 9pm; $10) and the BHF’s first-ever film night (reRun Gastropub Theater; July 13 noon–6pm; $10). Longtime rap hero Busta Rhymes will headline and cocurate the main event on Saturday (Pier 3, Brooklyn Bridge Park; July 14 3–8pm; $20–$65). Brush up on your MCA lyrics beforehand; we can guarantee tributes aplenty. • bkhiphopfestival.com. Festival pass $100.
The Good Beer Seal—an association of independently owned craft-beer bars in NYC—presents this monthlong celebration of quality brews. The event has won support from on high: Back in 2009, Mayor Bloomberg officially proclaimed July to be Good Beer Month. The schedule is crammed with tastings, talks, parties and festivals; check the website for details as summer approaches. Highlights include Cook Out NYC (July 7, 8), which pairs BBQ with craft suds on Governors Island; a Beer Book, Blog and Video Fest (July 25) at South Street Seaport; and Edible's annual Good Beer tasting event, featuring local grub and brews.
A 23-block stretch of Fifth Avenue becomes a car-free promenade when ten of the city’s most prestigious art institutions—including the Guggenheim, the Met and the Museum of the City of New York—open their doors to the public free of charge for three hours. The crowds at this annual culturefest can be daunting—more than 50,000 people are expected to show up—but don’t get overwhelmed; plan to get there early if you want to see big-name shows. Musical performances, including string quartets and jazz ensembles, will enhance your walk from one museum to the next.
Ride the ferry to Sandy Hook Beach
Sail to a pristine seven-mile stretch famous for its silky-smooth sand. The Seastreak Ferry transports sunseekers to Sandy Hook from two Manhattan locations. A 45-minute ride, tops (complete with free Wi-Fi, a full bar and a sundeck), will bring you to the prime swimming spot.
E 35th St at FDR Dr. Departs Mon–Fri 8:45, 11:15am; Sat, Sun 8, 10:30am, 1:20pm. • Pier 11, South St at Wall St. Departs Mon–Fri 9, 10:50am; Sat, Sun 8:15, 11am, 1:35pm • (seastreak.com). Round-trip $43, one-way $25.
Forgive us the somewhat misleading title, you won’t be having a tête-à-tête with Patti LuPone (you’re not Andrew Lloyd Webber are you—are you?!?), but this is better. During Broadway in Bryant Park, stars of the stage will serenade midtown office workers on break. While this year’s bill has yet to be announced, 2011’s lineup included performers from Memphis, Billy Elliot, Rock of Ages and Avenue Q.
Just as you’d expect, there will be blues legends galore at the second annual free Hudson Blues fest (try Buddy Guy and John Mayall, for starters). But we’re thrilled to see fearless, fiery alt-country heroine Neko Case top the schedule this year, along with Brooklyn R&B survivor Charles Bradley.
The Studio Museum of Harlem revives its summer courtyard parties with live DJs and libations. Just don’t spend all your time dancing and mingling, or you’ll miss the docent-led tours of summer exhibitions, including Caribbean: Crossroads of the World. This extensive survey of the art and representation of the Caribbean is exhibited over three venues (the others being El Museo del Barrio and the Queens Museum of Art), with the Studio Museum examining topics of race and the duality of the archipelago’s image. • $20, members $15.
Catch the country's masters of improv comedy at the 14th Annual Del Close Marathon
During this annual weekend-long extravaganza, improv fans descend on several venues in Chelsea to indulge in a nonstop stream of laughter—courtesy of big-name talent from New York, L.A., Chicago and beyond—drinks and any number of other stimulants before passing out in a heap. Until you’ve been serenaded by a gaggle of Michael McDonalds or pummeled into submission by Wicked Fuckin’ Queeyah in the wee hours of the morning, you don’t know what punch-drunk is. • ucbtheatre.com
Marvel at the killer combination of puns and violence 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 through Oct 27) 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. gothamgirlsrollerderby.com. • $19.99—$35.
Watch a race around the harbor and fete the winners at a luau
Teams from around the globe face off in the Hawaiian Airlines Liberty Challenge, hosted by New York Outrigger (libertyoutrigger.org), racing traditional Polynesian canoes along a 15-mile course. Teams launch from North Cove in Brooklyn Bridge Park for the start line under the Manhattan Bridge. The boats then round Battery Park City, head up the Hudson, double back and swing around the Statue of Liberty and Governors Island, before finishing back at North Cove. New Yorkers can watch from most vantage points of the river, but festivities will be concentrated at Brooklyn Bridge Park (6:45am–4:30pm), with the FDNY breaking out its Marine Division for a water display. Watch the winners receive their awards at the after-party luau at the Frying Pan (6pm, $30), featuring traditional Hawaiian and Tahitian hula dancing. And if you think it looks like the sport for you, try the free New York Outrigger novice sessions (Boathouse at Pier 66, W 26th St at the Hudson River; newyorkoutrigger.org; Sat 10:30, 11:15am, noon; Sun 12:30, 1:15, 2pm; free; reservations required; e-mail email@example.com; through Sept) to get out on the Hudson with local experts.
Your principled stand against multiplex ticket prices is admirable, but if you give us one more confused look when we say “I’m not even confident on which end that came out of,” we can no longer be friends. School yourself on 2011’s Hollywood hits at RiverFlick’s Wednesday night programming (Fridays are for kids), that front-loads the schedule, beginning with Moneyball (July 11), Super 8 (July 18) and Bridesmaids (July 25). Now you’re up to speed, keep pace with our guide to 30 essential summer movies.
Commercial space flight may be on the horizon, but for now, Tom Sach’s wry, lo-fi “Space Program: Mars” is a decent approximation to leaving Earth’s atmosphere. Sachs and his 13 assistants have filled the 55,000-square-foot Wade Thompson Drill Hall with a cosmic spectacle, leading viewers through the separate stages of manned flight, beginning at the indoctrination station and continuing with mission control, exploratory vehicles and a martian landscape. Don’t dawdle, the launch window is closing rapidly. The show ends June 17.
Face it, that beach-ready body isn’t going to appear by itself. Get some fresh air while you work out at Fort Tryon Park, which offers a slew of free activities suitable for all fitness levels. Early risers can find the energy to tackle hump day with tai chi (Wed 6:30–7:30am, through Aug 29) or wind down for the end of the week with qigong (Fri 9:30–10:30am; through June 29) on the Linden Terrace, or. Or head to Abby’s Lawn after work on Wednesday for sunset yoga classes (6:45–8pm; June 6—Aug 29), led by seven rotating instructors from studios including MindBodySoul Yoga and Beloved Yogi Harlem. Or just stick to good old-fashioned walking (with some toning and stretching tossed in for good measure) during the year-round Fitness Walking Program (Tue, Thu 7:30–8:30am; Sat 8:30–9:30am; meet at the Heather Garden).
Once a year, this old-timey horse-racing mecca is restored to its former glory, as ladies in hats and men in seersucker fill the stands, Belmont Jewels (the New York Racing Association’s answer to the mint julep) in hand. Expect the annual celebration to be a little more festive than usual, as the fans watch aptly named colt I’ll Have Another try to complete the Triple Crown. After nosing out Bodemeister in both the Derby and the Preakness, the New York–based thoroughbred is the first to attempt the feat since Big Brown in 2008; and could be the first to accomplish it since Affirmed in 1978. Head to the park early to assure a seat on the grounds; pick up a racing form and put down a few on the best-looking ponies. • belmontstakes.com. $10–$1,414.
Dig for vinyl in Tribeca
For true audiophiles (ourselves included), there’s nothing quite like spending an afternoon—even one that lands on a lovely June day—sifting through rare records. Cheers, then, to not-for-profit research center and library ARChive of Contemporary Music, which throws a ginormous genre-spanning sale of 20,000 vinyl LPs and 7-inches, CDs, posters and other music ephemera (such as programs from Fillmore East rock shows and original, mint-condition ’60s psychedelic posters).
ARChive of Contemporary Music, 54 White St between Church St and Broadway (212-226-6967, arcmusic.org).
Hop on your steed
With NYC becoming ever more bike friendly, there’s never been a better time to explore the city on two wheels. To help you find your way, we asked three biking experts to suggest routes. Pick from a public-art ride that takes in Central Park, Roosevelt Island and finishes in Long Island City; a trip along the Brooklyn waterfront; or, for the photographer, a cycle around the Queens cemetery belt.
Celebrate Bastille Day
Admit it—the French know how to live well. Relax, drink wine and throw a couple of boules in honor of Bastille Day. Among the celebrations throughout the city, one of the biggest is on Smith Street. The Gallic bistros—which include Bar Tabac and Provence en Boîte—shut down the thoroughfare for a day of music, French food and aperitifs, as well as the largest pétanque tournament in North America.
Ascend to locavore heaven
You can’t get produce that’s much more local than that from Brooklyn Grange. The rooftop farm in Long Island City supplies restaurants like Roberta’s, Fatty ’Cue and Bobo, and during its summer open hours you can shop at its farm stand situated in the lobby of its headquarters. (If Queens is too far, you’ll find stands at Smorgasburg and in McGolrick Park [Driggs Ave to Nassau Ave between Monitor St and Russell St, Greenpoint, Brooklyn; nycgovparks.org; Sun 11am–4pm; June 17–Oct 28]). While you’re there, head to the roof to admire what’s growing on the one-acre plot and find out more from a volunteer about how the farm operates.
Ride the river
Cruising New York’s waterways can be an expensive proposition, but the East River Ferry has joined the Staten Island Ferry in providing affordable views of the city from the water. We’re partial to chugging a brewski ($3–$6) on the way to Staten Island—toasting Lady Liberty along the way—but the East River Ferry now offers a less boozy alternative with concessions from Benchmarc Events, including iced coffee from Brooklyn Roasting Company ($3), chocolate or vanilla egg creams ($3) and Butter Lane cupcakes ($3). Make a day of it by riding the East River Ferry and using our New York neighborhood guides to explore nabes where it stops, like Long Island City, Queens; Williamsburg, Brooklyn; or Governors Island. Locations and schedules vary; visit nywaterway.com for more information.
One of New York’s oldest musical traditions, the Naumburg series welcomes a pair of top-drawer local chamber orchestras—Orpheus (June 19) and the Knights (July 10, 24)—as well as the popular violinist Lara St. John & Friends in a sultry all-Piazzolla program (Aug 7), for its 107th season. • naumburgconcerts.org
This summer, look for the launch of the NYC Bike Share program, which will introduce 10,000 rentable two-wheelers, accessible via 600 stations in Manhattan and Brooklyn for a daily or annual fee. Alta, a Portland, OR–based company that has successfully operated bike shares in Washington, D.C., and Boston, will be running the system. Rollout date and prices are not yet established.
Perform in a Philip Glass premiere during Make Music New York
The horns and sirens of NYC are drowned out by music during this annual one-day concertathon in public spaces throughout the city. This year, professional and amateur singers are invited to Times Square (Broadway at W 46th St, 6:30pm) to participate in the debut of a short choral piece, The New Role, by composer Philip Glass (pictured). If you’re interested, download the score on the NPR website and get practicing. For a full lineup of concerts, visit makemusicny.org for details.
By now, if you’ve been completing our 101 things to do in the summer in order (as you should), you will have partied on a boat, in a grove and on an island. Now for a rooftop. Gansevoort Park Avenue NYC opens its space to the second annual Summer Series—think Pacha in the sky. A guest DJ spins (like Italian Alex Gaudino on June 10) while you recline in the lap of luxury, take a dip in the pool, drink in the view or pump your fist. Table reservation required at gansevoortsummerseries.com.