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.
1. 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 in its inaugural season is a must. Don't believe us? Check out those loops.
2. Conduct an ice cream taste test(Credit: FLICKR/ Robyn Lee)
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 creme 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.
3. Get out on the river (for free!)(Credit: Flickr/brianac37)
What's more adventurous than floating out on the Hudson River? There are plenty of opportunities to explore New York's waterways on kayaks for free, so there's really no excuse to miss out.
4. Walk the Brooklyn Bridge at midnight(Credit: Flickr/Luke Hayter)
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.
5. Buy something unique at a flea market/street fair(Credit: Getty Images)
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 decor.
The Antiques Garage in Chelsea is no more (sigh), but from Williamsburg's Brooklyn Flea to the Lower East Side's Hester Street Fair, there's still plenty going on. And if it's your stomach you prefer to shop for, we all know Smorgasburg can't be beat.
6. Eat lobster on City Island(Credit: Flickr/justjosef)
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.)
Afterwards, 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's no better way to escape the city on a summer day without leaving the five boroughs.
7. Roller skate your heart out(Credit: iStock)
Take a trip down memory lane... on wheels. Roller skating is making a comeback in the city this summer, thanks to two new outdoor rinks. For a dose of nostalgia with your exercise, this retro activity can't be beat. Here's where to get your skate on.
8. Pose in the park(Credit: Summer in the Square)
Getting your zen on is easy (and free!) all summer long, thanks to yoga programs taking place all over the city, from Union Square to Brooklyn Bridge Park to Rockaway Beach. To take part in one of the most popular yogi events of the summer, join Athleta every Tuesday at 10 a.m. and Thursday at 6 p.m. for poses in Bryant Park.
Yoga not your thing? Try one of these outdoor workouts, instead.
9. Take a daycation on Governors Island(Credit: Flickr/istolethetv)
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.
11. 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. See some of our favorites.
12. Join the Bleacher Creatures(Credit: Flickr/Jen Gallardo)
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 (or become the next Bald Vinny), you can join in on a classic Bronx experience. Now's the time to do it, as captain Derek Jeter embarks on his final summer in pinstripes.
Pro tip: Section 203 is where it's at. Start practicing the roll call... and check the promotional schedule if you want to take home a free souvenir, including a Jeter figurine or commemorative key ring.
13. Watch a movie outdoors(Credit: Warner Bros. Film)
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 "Ghostbusters" to "Jaws." Here are 11 places to see one.
14. Roam free at Summer Streets(Credit: Flickr/Summer Streets Camera Share )
Manhattan streets free of cars?! It's not a mirage. The NYC Department of Transportation makes it happen for three consecutive Saturdays every August.
On Aug. 2, 9 and 16, from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m., Park Avenue from the Brooklyn Bridge all the way to Central Park will be reserved for walkers, bikers, skateboarders and anyone looking to enjoy the open space, traffic-free.
Along the route will be free activities including live music, salsa dancing, snacks, a zipline and more. Not convinced? Just look how much this pug is loving the feeling of Park Avenue wind in her hair.
Learn more at nyc.gov.
15. Go ziplining(Credit: nyc.gov/parks)
It's not your typical NYC activity, but that's what makes ziplining 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.
Like the sound of that? Here are eight more outdoorsy adventures to try.
16. 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 a softball tournament on August 9.
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 and pretend you're Julius Erving.
17. Rock out at SummerStage(Credit: Flickr / Matt J. Carbone)
For music lovers across genres, free concerts in Central Park are a summertime tradition. There are still three more shows planned for July, featuring Neon Trees, Beck and more.
See the full schedule, here.
Looking for more low key entertainment? There's always Shakespeare in the Park for you literary types. But first, read up on how to survive the line.
18. Go for a historical swim
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.
19. Go tanning, topless(Credit: Flickr / Nev Brown)
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.