Biking is a great and safe way to see New York City—no, seriously! In the past decade, the city has seen a surge in the number of cyclists rolling through its streets. Dedicated bike lanes now connect many parts of the city, making it possible to ride without having to do battle with Manhattan traffic. The leisure ride described below—or any part of it, depending on what you’re up for—takes riders along both sides of the East River, and can easily be done in one weekend afternoon: the whole route takes about 50 minutes. It’s all on bike paths or lanes, and best of all, it takes you right to some of Long Island City’s cultural gems, all without having to wait on a single subterranean subway platform while the sun shines without you. Hug the shoreline on your way to Wards Island This ride starts from the quiet and scenic neighborhood of Yorkville—that northeast slice of the Upper East Side that prides itself on not being the Upper East Side. You’ll be zipping along the riverside promenade for pedestrians and cyclists that extends all along the east side of Manhattan. Starting on the stretch of promenade that goes through Carl Schurz Park, ride north past Gracie Mansion until you get to the Wards Island Bridge at 103rd Street. Twice along this route, you’ll have to lug your sweet ride up or down a flight of stairs—but luckily, they’ve installed these neat bicycle rails so you can just push your bicycle up without having to carry it. Once you cross over to Wards Island, you’ll ride pretty on wide asphalt paths surrounded by lots of gardens and greenery. Savor the scenery as you proceed on your way to the next and last bridge. Wards Island Bridge as seen from Wards Island. Huff and puff your way up the Robert F. Kennedy Bridge The Robert F. Kennedy Bridge is admittedly unscenic when compared to the now-defunct Hell Gate Bridge right beside it. It is also the most challenging part of the trip. The ramp up to the bridge is a good five-minute uphill ride (enough to induce red-faced panting from me), and it’s a bit noisy, though the path is safe and separated from all car traffic. Technically, you are required to walk your bike on all parts of the bridge, though this seems to be a widely disregarded rule. But your struggle will be rewarded—after the uphill climb, it’s a leisurely stroll or roll down on the other side. Hell Gate Bridge. Absorb some art at Socrates Sculpture Park Your first stop in Long Island City, Queens, is Socrates Sculpture Park, open every day from 10 a.m. to sunset. The sculptural works on view change regularly, there’s free yoga and tai chi every weekend, and it offers a beautiful view of Manhattan. If you want a break from the sun, skip this park and head to the Noguchi Museum just across the road (admission is $10). You’ll find a sculpture collection inside, as well as a sculpture garden in the courtyard and a cute café. A sculpture at the Noguchi museum. Treat yourself to street food at the LIC Flea You’ve probably worked up an appetite by now with all this physical activity and appreciation of culture, so cruise down the Vernon Boulevard bike path to the food tents at the Long Island City Flea. Vendors there offer the cross-cultural foods that are the hallmark of so many Brooklyn outdoor events, such as burgers, dumplings, empanadas, salads, and lemonades. If you’re in the mood to shop, there’s also antiques, artwork, clothing, and knickknacks aplenty on sale, with what seems to me like better prices than flea markets you’ll find in the “hipper” borough to the south. Eclectic food options at the Long Island City Flea. Photo courtesy of the Long Island City Flea. Relax with scenic views in Hunter’s Point South Park After the LIC Flea, head south along the water or bike paths to one of the city’s newest parks, an industrial site turned landscaping beauty called Hunter’s Point South Park. Built last year, the park is one of the upshots of the gentrification of Long Island City, with sleek landscaping, weirdly fancy public bathrooms, and a beautiful view of the city (as the stunning photos on the architects’ website show). A wide, smooth path leads across the park’s sprawling lawns toward piers packed with park benches from the future, perfectly designed for an intrepid cyclist to take a well-deserved break. A view of Long Island City from Hunter's Point South Park. Choose your own bike adventure From here, you have a few options to finish out your day: If you haven’t had enough culture, head to MoMA PS1, a few minutes’ ride northeast. It’s a must-see, $5-admission museum housing MoMA’s contemporary collection. (Note, though, that on Saturdays until September 6, the museum closes its galleries and instead hosts concerts in its courtyard that cost $20.) Ride over the Pulaski Bridge to Williamsburg’s many restaurants and bars (don’t drink and ride—remember bikes are allowed on the MTA). Head home, knowing you’ve made the most of one of our last summer days this year. Check Groupon for more great things to do in New York City. Photos by Kasia Mychajlowycz unless otherwise noted.Read More
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Just because you’ve hauled the grill in from your patriotic backyard cookout doesn’t mean it’s time to let up on summer fun. Pack the post-Fourth-of-July week with a ghost story performed by a kabuki theater troupe, a free concert in Hudson River Park, and a three-course picnic in the Rockaways curated by French foodies. And, as always, check Groupon for other great things to do in New York City. Heisei Nakamura-za at Lincoln Center Festival Upper West Side | Monday, July 7–Sunday, July 13 In their first visit to the Lincoln Center Festival since their sold-out run in 2004, Japanese kabuki troupe Heisei Nakamura-za will perform Kaidan Chibusa no Enoki, a 19th-century ghost story. Look forward to cutthroat stage combat, theatrical grimaces, and raucous slapstick comedy from the elite troupe, which traces its roots back to the 17th century. Before or after the show, stroll to the Japanese Artisan Village, which will vend traditional textiles, dolls, hair ornaments, and other handicrafts in Lincoln Center plaza through Sunday. (Rose Theater at Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Frederick P. Rose Hall, 10 Columbus Circle; $45–$150; 7 p.m. each day with 1:30 p.m. matinees on Wednesday and Saturday) Photograph of Heisei Nakamura-za above: © Shochiko. Wild Beasts and Mutual Benefit Hudson River Park | Thursday, July 10, 6 p.m. The UK’s Wild Beasts are probably best known for singer Hayden Thorpe’s distinctive vocals, which can veer from soaring falsetto to guttural growl within a single line. Their 2014 album Present Tense may have toned down that roughness in favor of lush synthesizers and a smoother, R & B-inflected sound, but the new tunes still preserve the band’s intrinsic sense of drama. Get a taste this weekend at Hudson River Park, when Wild Beasts kicks off RiverRocks along with chamber-folk group Mutual Benefit. (free) Le Fooding Beach Club Rockaway Beach | Friday, July 11 French gastronomes Le Fooding return to New York City with this three-day event honoring the cuisine of the Sandy-ravaged Rockaways. Chefs including Christina Tosi of Momofuku Milk Bar and Andrew Field of Rockaway Taco prepare a three-course, picnic-style meal, which guests can pair with San Pellegrino sparkling fruit drinks and bartender-stirred mocktails. Saturday and Sunday tickets have sold out, but you can still grab a Friday ticket to kick off a long weekend or really long lunch break. (97-01 Shorefront Pkwy.; $40; seatings at noon to 1:45 p.m. and 2:15 p.m.–4 p.m.) Saturday Sculpture Workshop Long Island City | Saturday, July 12, noon to 3 p.m. This weekly event brings different artists to Socrates Sculpture Park to lead creative and kid-friendly arts-and-crafts activities. This week, artist Janelle Iglesias teaches kids to make geometric mobiles with straws and string. (free) Raekwon and Jay Electronica at the Brooklyn Hip-Hop Festival Williamsburg | Sunday, July 13 The Brooklyn Bodega–sponsored festival, which celebrates its 10th anniversary this year, brings two hip-hop heavyweights to the stage for its fifth and final night. With a feud with RZA brewing, Raekwon may not be in the mood to perform old Wu-Tang hits, but there’s plenty to love in his solo catalog—including some new tracks from Fly International Luxurious Art, due out this fall. The music doesn’t get underway until later in the afternoon, but those with tykes in tow can show up early for Family Day from noon to 2 p.m. (50 Kent Ave.; doors open at noon; $30+; buy tickets here)Read More
Don’t let the Fourth of July hog all the attention. From an Avengers-themed costume party to a dream-pop concert at MoMA, there’s plenty to do this week beyond cookouts and fireworks. If you still need help filling your schedule, check Groupon for more great things to do in New York City. Drunk Shakespeare Hell’s Kitchen | Monday, June 30, at 8 p.m. Sure, this limited-run show has multiple performances throughout the week. However, you’d be hard-pressed to find a more highbrow(ish) excuse to get tipsy on a Monday night. Upstairs at Quinn’s Bar & Grill, an actor downs a minimum of five shots of whiskey before attempting to perform a Shakespeare play from memory. Botched lines, mangled soliloquies, and other antics ensue as the troupe blends the poetry of the Bard with the spontaneity of improv comedy. (356 W. 44th St.; $29) Downward Doll Yoga at Karma Kids West Village | Wednesday, July 2, from 11:30 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. Child-centric yoga studio Karma Kids kicks off its Wednesday summer event series with a yoga lesson for kids aged 3–6 and their favorite stuffed animals and dolls. Each toy gets its own mini yoga mat to practice poses alongside its pint-size owner. If this session fills up, no worries—Karma Kids has pirate, shark, and fairy-princess themed yoga yet to come. (104 W. 14th St.; $30) MoMA Nights with Au Revoir Simone Midtown | Thursday, July 3, at 6:30 p.m. The austere white walls of MoMA’s sculpture garden will reverberate with the dream-pop of Brooklyn trio Au Revoir Simone this Thursday in the latest outing in the MoMA Nights series. Snacks and drinks will be available for purchase, including local gelato and sorbetto from the Garden Bar. Get there before doors open at 5:30 p.m. to wander the museum’s summer exhibitions. (11 W. 53rd St.; free with $14–$25 museum admission) Nathan’s Famous Hot-Dog Eating Contest Coney Island | Friday, July 4, starting at 11 a.m. Fireworks, shmireworks. Every red-blooded American knows that the real way to celebrate our nation’s birth is to watch an adult man (or woman) scarf down dozens of hot dogs in a matter of mere seconds. Stop by to see Kobayashi’s archnemesis Joey Chestnut and Sonya “The Black Widow” Thomas defend their 2013 men’s and women’s titles. (1310 Surf Ave.; free) Midtown Comics Fan Party and The Avengers Screening South Street Seaport | Saturday, July 5, starting at 4 p.m.; movie screening at 8 p.m. Can’t make it to Comic Con this year? No worries—this Pier/Party event will be crawling with cosplayers. Costumed fans enjoy drink specials and compete for prizes provided by South Street Seaport and Midtown Comics. Stop by to participate or people-watch before The Avengers brings heroes like Thor, Captain America, and Iron Man to life on the big screen. (11 Fulton St.; free) Photo of 2006 Nathan's Famous Hot-Dog Eating Contest sourced from Wikipedia under a Creative Commons License. Downward Doll photo courtesy of Karma Kids.Read More
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