Big openings on Memorial Day weekend

Beaches! Governors Island! Citi Bike! There’s a ton of stuff debuting for the season over the coming days. Here are the biggies.

Coney Island Beach

Coney Island Beach Photograph: Lya Cattel

You might not know by the scary thunderclaps, but Memorial Day weekend is almost upon us. And with this extended weekend comes the unveiling of a bunch of great summertime attractions, such as beaches, the New York Aquarium (both clobbered by Hurricane Sandy), the much-anticipated Citi Bike initiative, a new theme park in Coney Island, a blockbuster dinosaur exhibit and more.

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Here's what you can look forward to:

Front Row Cinema

Starts Fri 24. You’ll have three chances to preview this upcoming free outdoor-movie series over the weekend. (Organizers of the South Street Seaport–set fest plan to showings of Big, Iron Man and Sleepless in Seattle between Friday and Sunday.) Come July 10, the fest proper kicks off for an eight weeks on Wednesday nights, featuring flicks such as Ghostbusters, Back to the Future, Young Frankenstein and The Aviator.

  1. South Street Seaport

Beaches open

  • Free

Starts Sat 25. Hurricane Sandy threatened to put the kibosh on idyllic summer days of crashing waves, sun-drenched picnics and walks in the surf. Thankfully, the parks department has been hard at work rebuilding the devastated and debris-littered oceanfront areas. With the exception of Fort Tilden in storm-battered Breezy Point, all of the city’s public beaches will reopen on Memorial Day. Work on your tan at family-friendly standby Coney Island Beach (Surf Ave between Ocean Pkwy and W 37th St, Brooklyn), foodie and Ramones favorite Rockaway Beach (Boardwalk between Beach 9th and 149th Sts, Queens) or Orchard Beach, a mile-long stretch that’s been dubbed “The Riviera of New York” (Park Dr at Orchard Beach Rd, Bronx). Suck it, Sandy. Visit for details. Beaches are open for swimming May 25–Sept 2.

Coney Island boardwalk

Big Mark’s Action Park opens

Starts Sat 25. Slated to debut Memorial Day weekend, this new boardwalk destination aims to complement Coney Island’s kitschy, throwback vibe while offering modern touches. Most of the rides and attractions were selected with high action and a low carbon footprint in mind; look for a wind tunnel designed to simulate skydiving, a zip line spanning the length of a city block, rock-climbing walls and hot-air-balloon rides. The now-defunct Mega Whirl, a ride that was destroyed by Sandy, will find new life as a tropical-themed bar. And if you’re not in the mood for a hot dog (especially post–wind tunnel), the park plans to offer a variety of international, health-conscious fare. Mon–Thu 10am–11pm; Fri, Sat 10am–midnight; Sun 10am–11pm. $5–$25/ride.

Governors Island

  • Critics choice
  • Free

Starts Sat 25. A seven-minute ride on a free ferry takes you to this seasonal island sanctuary, a scant 800 yards from lower Manhattan. Thanks to its strategic position in the middle of New York Harbor, Governors Island was a military outpost and off-limits to the public for 200 years. It finally opened to summer visitors in 2006. The verdant, 172-acre isle still retains a significant chunk of its military-era architecture, including Fort Jay, started in 1776, and Castle Williams, which was completed in 1812 and used as a prison. The 22-acre area containing the forts and historical officers’ residences is now a national landmark. Today, the island is jointly run by the city, the state and the National Park Service, and it provides a peaceful setting for cycling (bring a bike on the ferry, or rent from Bike and Roll once there). The island hosts a program of events, such as concert series and art exhibitions (see website for schedule), and where else can you have a picnic directly across from the Statue of Liberty?

  1. Governors Island
More info

New York Aquarium

  • Price band: 2/4

Starts Sat 25. See a living re-creation of the Pacific coastline, and catch sight of various East River Species, plus some truly awesome sharks and sea jellies. Visit the newest addition making a splash in the Sea Cliffs exhibit; a California sea lion pup was born over the summer to mom Clarice. Fantasize about extending your summer as you visit Glover's Reef, a 150,000-gallon tank stocked with 35 species—give or take—of marine life from the coast of Belize, including jawfish and moray eels. At the "Explore the Shore" exhibit, kids can learn facts about the ocean and the animals that live in and on it; the salt-marsh area mirrors the Jamaica Bay wetlands, allowing an underwater view of sheepshead minnows and hermit crabs.

  1. Surf Ave, (at 8th St)
More info
A Citi Bike in a docking station in Dumbo

Citi Bike

Starts Mon 27. Never worry about cycle theft again with this new bike-share program perfect for making quick trips. Sometime in May, 6,000 seriously uncool-looking two-wheelers will appear at 330 stations along a corridor that runs downtown from 60th Street, across the East River and infto central Brooklyn. A pass affords you unlimited 30–45 minute trips—but beware, staying out longer incurs a penalty ($2.50–$12). To see how the ride handles, take a trial run with a gratis day pass, given out after free Street Skills classes at Bicycle Habitat in Soho or Red Lantern Bicycles in Fort Greene (locations, dates and times vary; visit for details; registration required). Passes: day $9.95, week $25, annual $95.