Summer Guide 2011: Great Outdoors

Written by NY Press on . Posted in Posts, Summer Guide.

Rollerblading in Central Park 

Rollerblading in Central Park appeals most to teenagers who now need another hangout since the ice rinks are all gone, as well as Brooklyn types who are increasingly replacing bicycles with blades on Bedford Avenue. If you don’t fit in either of these categories and the idea of wearing the required wrist guards still appeals to you, we recommend rollerblading in Central Park. There’s less of a chance someone you know will see you bite it at Columbus Circle than in your own neighborhood. You can skate in the park any time it’s open; however, we recommend waiting until the weekends, when Park drives are closed to traffic. Columbus Circle entrance to Central Park; weekends beginning at 7 on Fri., Free.

Wii Parties at the Creek 

If you spent all winter cooped up playing Mario Kart, Wii parties at the Creek in Long Island City are your chance to show everyone that that permanent impression of your ass on the sofa wasn’t made in vain. The event itself is indoors, but the commute to Queens qualifies as an outdoor excursion. First & 3rd Mon., 10-93 Jackson Ave. (at 11th St.), Queens, 718-706-8783; 7, Free.


Few things beat a pick-up game of basketball in the summer, or so we’re told by our friends with both height and hand-eye coordination. Whether you can or can’t jump is really irrelevant, as long as at least one person on your team can, so break out the tube socks and sweat bands and hit the courts. The Parks Department offers over 500 locations to play, and leagues are also an option through Zog Sports. Sat., various locations,

Hudson Kayaking 

Kayaking on the Hudson River is like the adult version of canoeing at summer camp, minus the obligatory trip to the mess hall to make another piece of art out of macaroni that always followed. It’s becoming one of the most popular outdoor activities in the city every summer, so we suggest getting there early, or risk being stuck with an ugly-colored kayak. Through Oct. 10, Pier 40, Pier 96 & Riverside Park at W. 72nd St.,; times vary, Free.


If kayaking involves too much of the Hudson River for you to handle, but you still want a water-based activity, why not try fishing? The Hudson River Park Trust provides rods, reels, bait and instructions, so don’t worry if you don’t know the difference between bait and tackle. And if retrieving fish out of the Hudson River has you raising an eyebrow, fear not: It’s catch and release, so you don’t have to eat it. May 28–Sept. 5, Pier 46 at Charles St., Pier 64 at W. 24th St. and Pier 84 at W. 44th St., www.; times and prices vary.

Twilight Tours in Prospect Park 

A boat ride around Prospect Park’s Lullwater and Lake is more intimate than a harbor cruise but equally romantic. It’s also less of a workout than rowing around the pond at Central Park. The park provides wine and cheese, but we say sneak some champagne or a six-pack and treat your significant other to a pleasure cruise. Thur., June 2–Aug. 26, Prospect Park Audubon Center,; 6:30, $30 (cash only).

Howl Festival 

Square Park is the perfect place to celebrate Allen Ginsberg’s 85th
birthday with the 8th Annual Howl Festival, for reasons obvious to
anyone in the know. Grab some grass (whether it’s still attached to soil
is your choice) and listen to Bob Holman and Beat poets like John
Giorno, Hettie Jones, Ed Sanders and Bob Rosenthal recite works, as well
as a rendering of one of Ginsberg’s greatest poems, Howl (also known as
that movie with James Franco). June 3–5, Tompkins Square Park, E. 7th
St. (betw. Aves. A & B), www.; 11, Free.


We suggest checking out salsa, cha-cha and bachata lessons with
some master teachers from Piel Canela Dance and Music School at
Riverside Park, if you’ve ever wanted to learn how to dance like a star
(or whatever constitutes one by today’s standards). It’s only happening
once this summer, so be sure not to miss it. June 5, Pier 1 at Riverside
Park, betw. W. 65th & W. 72nd Sts., www.; 6,

Tour de Brooklyn 

If you squint just right, Prospect Heights could be mistaken for Passage du Gois, where the Tour De France starts July 2. Possibly. Regardless, Brooklyn’s 18-mile interpretation, which circuits around the borough with a brief stop at Canarsie Pier, is a chance for cyclists to extend their turf outside of the borough’s bike lanes for a day. We recommend packing both sunscreen and a poncho, as this is one event that happens rain or shine. June 5, North 12th Street and Union Avenue, Brooklyn, www.; 8 a.m., Free.

Inner Tube Water Polo 

If that wedding didn’t sour you completely on the royals, we suggest you pay homage to HRH by slipping on a Speedo and an inner tube for a bit of water polo. And as players are allowed to flip one another out of their tubes, we recommend practicing plugging your nose and competing at the same time. Sun., June 5–July 24, Chinatown YMCA, 273 Bowery (at E. Houston St.),; 8, $100.


Kickball requires a certain level of coordination or intoxication, depending on how you look at it. Use whatever method works for you, and sign up for one of the three weeknight leagues or Saturday afternoon slot offered in the summer session. And if neither method winds up working out, there’s always the ultimate consolation prize: deals on drinks after the game. June 7–July 30, Tue., Wed., Thur. and Sat., various locations,; 6 or noon on Sat., $100 for the season.


The NYC Social Sports Club has several outdoor activities over the summer months, but none quite as cathartic for your awkward inner 11-year-old as dodgeball. The middleschool game that separated the mighty from the meek back in the day can be a less embarrassing experience as an adult, and a chance to take out your work frustrations on the guy who looks like the bully who used to stick your head in the toilet. Wed., June 8– July 20, various locations,; 6:30–8 or 8–10, $100 for the season.

Beach Fireworks at Coney Island

Coney Island’s fireworks are a clichéd element of summer we can still appreciate. Pick your way through the pre-pubescent teenagers making out under the piers and find a seat in the sand to enjoy this iconic summer event. Or at least laugh at those doing so in earnest. Fri., June 17–Sept. 5, Coney Island Boardwalk at W. 12th St., www.; 9:30, Free.

Midsummer Night Swing 

If late June to mid July isn’t hot enough for you, dial up the heat on the dance floor at Lincoln Center’s Damrosch Park during one of Midsummer Night Swing’s epic dance parties and DJ sets. Be sure to shake your groove thing through its soul train June 28, and stick around to hear Biz Markie drop some beats after. Tue.–Sat., June 27–July 16, W. 62nd St. (betw. Columbus and Amsterdam Aves.), www.; 6:30, $17.

Coney Island Hot Dog Eating Contest

Nothing says Fourth of July in New York like watching contestants distend their abdomens hoovering Nathan’s hotdogs, so if your gag reflex can stand it, head to Coney Island. Who knows, maybe another competitive eater will get arrested for crashing the event like Takeru Kobayashi did last year. An added bonus is that this year, ladies are eligible to win as much money at the contest as fellas. July 4, Coney Island Boardwalk, www.coneyisland. com; time TBA, Free.

Bastille Day Celebrations 

Because celebrating a single act of independence every summer isn’t enough, make sure to celebrate two by commemorating France’s independence and the storming of the Bastille four days early on July 10. Break out the berets and nautical stripes to shop at French-themed market stalls and sample wine and cheese at the city’s annual Bastille Day block party on East 60th Street. July 10, E. 60th St. (betw. 5th & Lexington Aves.), www.; 12.

Top Places to Picnic by Bike

HAL RUZAL of Bicycle Habitat reveals his favorite routes

these routes at your own discretion since everyone’s comfort (and
skill) with traffic conditions can vary," Ruzal advises. We also
recommend the website for tips on planning your route.
And with that… get on your bike!

River Terrace Lawn

WHY: A hidden treasure
just off the Hudson River Greenway, this little patch of green in
Battery Park City offers great, quiet picnic spots with peaceful views
of the Statue of Liberty.

BY WAY OF: Ride the
Hudson River Greenway to Warren Street, which ends at River Terrace. 

Governors Island 

WHY: A historical landmark, with no cars allowed and a
bike path around the circumference of the island. 

BY WAY OF: Accessible only by the free ferry from Brooklyn and Lower Manhattan.

BROOKLYN: Marine Park

WHY: Right near the Salt
Marsh Nature Center, it’s a nice place to relax for a picnic—and it has
a separated bike path exactly 1-mile around!

BY WAY OF: Bedford to
Avenue R. 

BROOKLYN: Jacob Riis Park 

WHY: Jacob Riis Park has the beach,
handball courts and picnic tables, "and the surf is good!" Ruzal says. 

BY WAY OF: Bedford to Emmons and through Plumb Beach greenway.

BROOKLYN: Prospect Park Lake

WHY: "Watch the ducks
and the geese and whatever else lives there," Ruzal laughs. It’s a
relaxing location, great for families and easily accessible. 

Prospect Park West, of course!

BROOKLYN/QUEENS: Ridgewood Reservoir

WHY: Ridgewood Reservoir is accessible by the many bike paths through Highland Park.

BY WAY OF: Near the Jackie
Robinson Parkway, this park’s location along the Brooklyn/ Queens
border makes it accessible to residents comfortable with riding city
streets by many of the DOT-shared bike routes. 

QUEENS: Fort Totten

Joe Michael’s Mile offers a pleasant ride along Little Neck Bay. At
Fort Totten, enjoy a picnic and a view of the waterfront!

BY WAY OF: Joe Michael’s
Mile bike path. 

QUEENS: Cunningham Park

WHY: "You can bring a mountain
bike and a tennis racquet!" Ruzal says. Games of cricket are also quite
common. This park is one of the few true mountain bike trails in the
city— "I’ve ridden them on my road bike," Ruzal admits. "But I’m
adventurous like that!"—this park also features plenty of benches, too.

BY WAY OF: Vanderbilt
Motor Parkway bike path. 

BRONX: Pelham Bay 

WHY: Pelham Bay is actually
the largest park in New York City. It’s a great place to enjoy the beach
with the locals, plus it offers nice riding and walking paths around
its 2,700-plus acres of beachfront, saltwater marshes and wildlife
sanctuaries. Enjoy the nature— and the beach!

BY WAY OF: Pelham
Parkway bike path offers a direct route from the Bronx. For less
adventurous folks, you can also throw your bike on the subway and take
the 6 train to its last stop and ride from there.

BRONX: Ferry Point Park

WHY: A lovely and isolated spot (a rare find in NYC), with a few areas
to stroll by bike, plus nice views of boats. Ferry Point is always
windy, perfect for a picnic and then flying a kite.

BY WAY OF: Hutchinson River Parkway bike path.

Ink About It

As summer approaches and temperatures rise, hemlines go up and tank tops come out—or off— and our pale skin gets its muchneeded contact with the sun. But how do we keep from getting burned on our most sensitive parts? Of course we mean our tattoos. Ink can be a costly investment, and no one wants to sit in a chair for hours being stuck with a needle only to have that bird/Chinese character/set of Black Flag bars fade once the summer comes along. So what is the best tattoo maintenance remedy?

James Motz, manager of New York Adorned (47 2nd Ave., 212-473-0007), warns that proper skin care is essential for keeping tattoos looking as good as the day they got inked. "The tattoo’s only gonna look as good if you take care of your skin," he says.

And even though you’ve heard this advice from everyone, it can never be stressed enough: The numberone must for preserving tattoos—and your skin in general—is making sure to put on sunscreen. "The higher the SPF the better," advises Matty No Times, an artist at Three Kings Tattoo (572 Manhattan Ave., 718-349-7755). "Tattoos break down over time, it’s just something that they do," says No Times. But he stresses that if you’re going to be in the sun, lotion goes a long way to preserving the color.

And it’s not just the sun that’s out to get you. Marina Inoue from Fly Rite

Tattoo (492 Metropolitan Ave., Brooklyn, 718- 599-9443) says those who are planning to get inked in the summer might want to think about this: You can’t go swimming in the ocean or a pool, and it’s recommended that you stay out of the sun for at least two weeks after getting a tattoo.

Hendrix Alomar, the manager of NorthStar Tattoo (74 E. 7th St., 212-228-6724), says he sometimes encounters customers who ignore his rules and instead get their tattoo care advice from outside sources. And the results can be pretty bizarre, like people applying mayonnaise instead of moisturizer, or using Listerine—ouch!— to clean a tattoo.

Inoue has also seen some pretty weird self-prescribed methods for tattoo preservation. "Some people slather on Vaseline thinking that’s what you should do. You shouldn’t," she says. "I’ve seen dudes walking around in tank tops with their new barbed wire armband blazing in the sun covered in shiny ointment. That’s never good."

And lastly, if you do get a tattoo in the summer, do not apply suntan lotion to the fresh ink. After all, a tattoo is basically an open wound and that, everyone agrees, would not be beneficial—plus it would sting like hell. The best bet for fresh summertime ink is to keep covered up.