What to do on a 3-day weekend if you’re staying in town? The first thing is to make time to take in the West Indian Day Parade on Monday, September 7th, along Eastern parkway in Brooklyn. This is one of the biggest parades in New York City, so get there early. There are also several concerts in the days leading up to the parade to get you in the mood.
On the other two days, I’d say get close to the water, and take advantage of how much we’ve reclaimed our shoreline.
Governor’s Island has lots to offer: art exhibits scattered across the island, activities for kids (miniature golf, tree house); bicycle riding – bring your own or rent one, but be forewarned, there are a lot of bicyclists. You can learn about the City’s early defense systems at historic Fort Williams, a circular fortification built in 1811 to protect the City’s harbor. Standing by the fort you can look over at the skylines of Manhattan, Brooklyn, and New Jersey, and see how they’ve changed. Don’t worry about getting hungry – there are lots of food vending trucks. There are ferries to Governor’s Island leaving from Battery Park and Brooklyn Bridge Park.
From the Battery, you can also continue up the west side along Hudson River Park where you’ll find lots of things to do, such as taking a Nature walk or going fishing on Sunday. The park runs along the Hudson River up to 57th Street, with passive recreational areas as well as a wide range of sports and other activities
Also on the west side, climb up to the High Line – I guarantee it will give you a new perspective on the City.
When I moved to Brooklyn, the waterfront now known as Brooklyn Bridge Park was nothing but dilapidated piers and empty warehouses. The transformation still astounds me. What I especially like about the park is that you can just sit and watch the boats sail by, or stroll along the water’s edge and admire the public art or if you’re up for some sports, go over to Pier 2 , that has areas set aside for basketball, handball, soccer and other sports. You can also bike through the park.
There’s a ferry that goes from Brooklyn Bridge Park to Governor’s Island, so you can visit both in the same day!
In addition to it’s regular concerts, Bargemusic, located at the Fulton Landing end of the park, will be offering a free concert on September 5th at 4:00
The Queens waterfront I’d save for the evening. There are two parks that offer stunning views of the Manhattan skyline, but are really designed for more passive activities, such as sunbathing, and don’t have a lot of trees to shade you from the sun.
Long Island City boasts some fabulous museums – take the LIC Art Bus which runs on Saturday and Sunday from 1:00 to 6:00 from MOMA PS1 to the Noguchi Sculpture Center (galleries will be open but the garden closed) to the Socrates Sculpture Garden .
The Socrates Sculpture Garden has a great location on the water, with some lovely small gardens, but there aren’t a lot of trees, so it can get very hot during the day. Over the weekend, there will be free dance performances in the early evenings, and Agnes Denes sculpture, “The Living Pyramid” will still be on view.
At the other end of Long Island City (Hunters Point) is Gantry Plaza State Park a small local urban park, with wooden-planked walkways and nicely designed chairs, great for enjoying the views.
While you can bicycle from the Socrates Sculpture Garden to Gantry Plaza, don’t try walking – I have the blisters to prove it.
If you’d rather swim in the ocean, New York City also has several fine beaches:
In Queens, there’s the Rockaways for your inner surfer
Outside the City, Jones Beach is still one of the best.
And, if you’d rather bike around the City, be sure to download the NYC DOT BIKE MAP
In case you’re wondering about the Labor Day Parade, it will take place next Saturday, September 12th , at 10:00 am at 5th Ave & 44th Street.
Whatever you do, ENJOY!!