NYC summer bucket list: What to do before it's too late
Remember all those big summer plans you made while hiding from yet another polar vortex inside your dark, frigid house a few months ago?
Well, you may feel like the sun has just begun to shine (we sure do), but believe it or not, June has come and gone.
There's still time to enjoy the season, but let's face it: The pressure is on to get through your NYC summer bucket list. We're here to help you prioritize.
Ride the Thunderbolt(Credit: Jeremy Bales)
We know you've been meaning to get to Coney Island, and if the beach, boardwalk, people-watching, classic summer eats (hot dogs, funnel cakes, Italian ices), Brooklyn Cyclones baseball and the aquarium aren't enough motivation, riding the new Thunderbolt roller coaster is a must.
Conduct an ice cream taste test(Credit: Evan Sung)
There's no shortage of ice cream in NYC, but some shops are truly a scoop above the rest. Whether it's an old-fashioned egg crème in Brooklyn or an exotic lychee-flavored cone in Chinatown that wins your vote, you need to narrow down your go-to spot before the prime frozen treat-eating months are through. Start with some of our favorites.
Get out on the river(Credit: Brooklyn Bridge Park via Twitter)
There are plenty of opportunities to explore New York's waterways on kayaks or paddle boats for free, so there's really no excuse to miss out. Hit up the Downtown Boathouse, the Brooklyn Bridge Park Boathouse, the LIC Community Boathouse, Red Hook Boaters, or Kayak Staten Island. Or, check out our list of sports to do on the water, from horseback riding to pedal boating.
Walk the Brooklyn Bridge at midnight(Credit: Getty Images / Henny Ray Abrams)
Ah, summer romance. Looking for a date that's seriously rom-com worthy? Go for a late-night stroll on the Brooklyn Bridge. You'll beat the heat and crowds of tourists that kill the experience during the day, and you may even find you're not as jaded by city life as you thought as you gaze in awe at the skyline lit up in all its glory. (And yes, there will be enough people around that you'll feel safe doing it.)
Want to really impress? Set the mood with a pre-walk dinner at one of these picturesque restaurants.
Buy something unique at a flea market(Credit: Getty Images / Emmanuel Dunand)
Fifth Avenue stores are glam and SoHo boutiques are trendy, but there's nothing cooler than spending a summer day browsing booths for one-of-a-kind purchases, and just happening to stumble upon the perfect piece of antique jewelry or wacky apartment décor.
From Brooklyn's Fort Greene Flea to the Lower East Side's Hester Street Fair, there are plenty to check out .
And if it's your stomach you prefer to shop for, we all know Smorgasburg can't be beat.
Eat lobster on City Island(Credit: City Island Nautical Museum via Facebook)
A true hidden gem of the Bronx, City Island is only about a mile and a half long. But what this quaint summer spot lacks in size, it makes up for in fresh seafood -- especially lobster. Come hungry, because you'll have your fair share of restaurants to choose from. (Just cruise City Island Avenue, and you'll see what we mean.)
Afterward, walk it off along the waterfront, browse the local shops for antiques or learn more about this intriguing place at the City Island Nautical Museum. There is no better way to escape the city on a summer day without leaving the five boroughs.
Roller skate your heart out(Credit: iStock)
Take a trip down memory lane . . . on wheels. For a dose of nostalgia with your exercise, this retro activity can't be beat. Lakeside at Prospect Park or Pier 2 at Brooklyn Bridge Park are two outdoor skating rinks to check out.
Find your zen outside(Credit: Angelito Jusay)
Outdoor yoga classes will be taking place all over the city this summer, from Bryant Park to Brooklyn Bridge Park. Some are even free. Here's a list of different classes to try.
Take a daycation on Governors Island(Credit: Nina Ruggiero)
Yes, we also hate the word "daycation." But that doesn't mean you shouldn't take one.
One of our favorite in-city destinations is Governors Island. Call in sick, hop on the ferry and find yourself in the newly completed park, featuring mini golf, ball fields, bikes, hammocks, beer, food and a spectacular view.
Check govisland.com for special events and exhibits.
10. Catch World Cup fever(Credit: Ribalta)
Whether you're a soccer fan or not, the chance to jump on the bandwagon and get swept up by the infectious passion that the World Cup brings comes just once every four years.
Find the sport a bore? Meet the fans, enjoy the food and drink specials and soak in the revelry at a participating NYC bar or restaurant, and we bet you'll change your mind.
Here's where to watch, based on borough and team loyalty.
Get drunk (responsibly) on a rooftop(Credit: Loren Wohl)
OK, maybe you've accomplished this one already. In fact, maybe you've done it more than once. (You overachiever, you.) But the truth remains that there are so many amazing rooftops in this city, you could spend every weekend at a different one and still not see them all. Every rooftop's vibe, view and cocktail menu is different, but they all come with that natural high caused by fresh air, city lights and the unbeatable feeling that you're on top of the world. Here are some of our favorites.
Join the Bleacher Creatures(Credit: Getty Images / Nick Laham)
True Yankees fans know that Bleacher Creature status isn't simply bought, it's earned. But even if you can't devote yourself to every game, you can join in on a classic experience. Plus you'll be sure to eat well. Here are our Eats by Seat guides for Yankee Stadium and Citi Field.
Watch a movie outdoors(Credit: Irwin Seow)
Cushy theater seats are sooo overrated. From piers to parks to rooftops, there's nothing like grabbing a blanket and watching a movie under the stars. There are still plenty of free flicks to catch all over town, from "Singin' in the Rain" to "Creed." Check out the lineup here.
Go zip lining(Credit: NYC Parks )
It's not your typical NYC activity, but that's what makes zip lining in Queens even more thrilling. Save yourself a trip to the Poconos and head over to the Alley Pond Park Adventure Course, where you can strap on a harness and soar 100 yards through the sky and over a green, open field. Plus, here are some more outdoorsy adventures to try.
Play a team sport(Credit: Paul Brophy)
OK, you may not have time for an entire season of weekday softball games. That doesn't mean you have to miss out! Zog Sports is hosting softball tournaments on Aug. 20, and if you have more time, there are plenty of leagues you can join.
If you're looking for something even more casual, check meetup.com for like-minded athletes.
Or you can go old school and play some pickup basketball on one of the city's public courts.
Rock out at SummerStage(Credit: Michael Galpert via Flickr (CC BY-SA))
For music lovers across genres, free concerts in Central Park are a summertime tradition. See the schedule here.
If you're looking for more low-key entertainment, there's always Shakespeare in the Park. Read up on the secrets of the free shows before you go.
Go for a historical swim(Credit: Getty Images / Mario Tama)
The Parks Department's 55 outdoor pools are free -- and many are great pieces of NYC history. Eleven Olympic-size pools opened in the 1930s under Commissioner Robert Moses. And many are designated landmarks.
So take an opportunity to cool off while learning a bit about our city's past. Find the pool closest to your hot, stuffy apartment.
19. Go tanning, topless(Credit: Nev Brown via Flickr (CC BY-SA))
What? This is a bucket list ... live a little.
Fort Tilden Beach in Queens, known for its, um, lax environment, finally reopened this summer after superstorm Sandy put it out of commission for the 2013 season, so chances are you could use the vitamin D. Plus, there's no better way to explore your inner hipster this season.