Private rooftop cabanas, "drive-in" movies and more new activities await in New York City. If you’re ready to return to the area and eager to explore what fun it has to offer, here are places to consider with social distancing guidelines in place.
GOVERNORS ISLAND Glamping and outdoor oyster bar
Collective Retreats has returned with a third season of glamping on Governors Island—and its facilities are offering new amenities, such as event pavilions and an open-air wood fire. The spot has more than 30 of its signature tented accommodations available plus a fine dining experience focused on modern American food that is grilled over a wood flame. As for the scene itself, the set-up is laid out in a socially distanced setting, the spaces are cleaned thoroughly for new guests and the dining service includes spaced-apart tables; even the s’mores sticks are six feet in length to promote space between those who choose to roast up the dessert.
INFO 970-445-2033, collectiveretreats.com; tents start at $209.
EAT AT AN OUTDOOR OYSTER BAR
Offering amazing views of Manhattan, Island Oyster features socially distanced seating and contact free ordering—not to mention a menu with surf, turf and shellfish from which this spot takes its name; the current options are Montauk Pearl (harvested from the LI Sound) and Wellfleet (from Wellfleet, MA). Open afternoons Friday through Sunday, you’ll need a ferry to get there (from 10 South St., Manhattan or Pier 6 in Brooklyn Bridge Park), but guests can walk-in (they’re not currently taking reservations) to dine and grab some of its tropical cocktails, like the “Get On Up” (tequila, lime, habanero, syrup, bitters) and the “Permanent Vacation” (three-rum blend, pineapple, coconut, orange, nutmeg).
INFO 146 Carder Rd.; 917-268-0200, islandoyster.com
MANHATTAN New eateries, rooftop cabanas, more
ROOFTOP DINING ATOP EATALY NYC FLATIRON
Eataly is turning its 14-story rooftop dining space into a greenhouse-inspired restaurant featuring dishes that are intended to recall summer in the Italian countryside. The menu at the newly opened Serra Fiorita, offers items constructed from local sources—with the star dish being “Fior Fiore:” featuring seasonal produce served raw with fava bean puree in a flower stoneware pot; other highlights include a biweekly special Thursday menu, a substantial wine list and entrees featuring trout. To keep with current health rules, the restaurant will only be serving when conditions allow the retractable roof to remain open. Reservations are available.
INFO 200 5th Ave., Manhattan; 212-229-2560, eataly.com
“BACKYARD” FUN AT PIER 17
Looking for a lawn in the Seaport District of Manhattan might take a while, but The Rooftop at Pier 17 is delivering something grass-inspired with “The Greens,” a dining experience that stretches across 28 alfresco “mini-lawn” spaces set upon synthetic pasture and equipped with lounge chairs and umbrellas. The scene offers wide-ranging views and games like giant Jenga, cornhole and bocce. DJs are slated to spin throughout the rest of the summer; watch for movie nights and fitness classes as well.
INFO 89 South St.; thegreens.pier17ny.com. Reservations recommended; each green has a maximum capacity of eight guests.
EAT OUTSIDE AT KATZ DELI
Dating back 132 years, there’s not too many city eateries that can compete with the history of Katz's Delicatessen- the home of what is widely considered to be the greatest pastrami on rye is trying something new: outdoor seating. Guests can now grab a table set on the sidewalk under its classic, ancient signage and enjoy their meal.
INFO 205 E. Houston St.; 212-254-2246, katzsdelicatessen.com
BACK TO THE HIGH LINE AGAIN
Manhattan’s former freight railway-turned-elevated park space is open once again. Dotted with gardens and art pieces, visitors can reserve free timed-entry passes (intended to limit capacity) from noon to 8 p.m. daily. The only current open entrance is at Gansevoort and Washington streets; the park is closed north of 23rd Street. Masks are required; food services and entertainment remain suspended.
INFO 212-206-9922; thehighline.org
ENJOY FROSÉ AT JUE LANE CLUB
Older nightlife fans will immediately recognize the digs, as this Chinese restaurant is situated in the same spot (and former church) once home to the infamous Limelight. It’s got a clubby personality of its own—it spawned a Southampton satellite after all—but the Manhattan version is currently an outside affair, with dining available along the sidewalk. Guests are seated at tables that are surronded by beautiful greenery and protected by canopies and umbrellas with dangling Edison bulbs above.
INFO 49 W. 20th St.; 646-518-8715, juelanclub.com
TAKE A DIP ON ROOSEVELT ISLAND
Beat the heat this summer and take a dip at this Roosevelt Island outdoor pool at the Manhattan Park Pool Club. Every year, the deck gets a colorful reboot, and for 2020 it features a vibrant pastiche of pastels that may make guests feel like they're vacationing in Miami rather than Manhattan. The pool is cheaper for residents($25 on weekdays and $30 on weekends), but visitors can access the hotel pool for $40 on weekdays and $60 on weekends.
INFO Manhattan Park Pool Club: 30 River Rd.; 212-759-8660, manhattanpark.com; By reservation only; until Sept. 7.
BROWSE FOR BOOKS AT STRAND UPPER WEST SIDE
If you're looking for a book to read this summer, explore the options at the newly opened Strand Bookstore on the Upper West Side. Browse through the stores signature selection of new, used and rare books, plus anyone looking to get their kids’ hooked on a new read, can check out the children’s section.
INFO 450 Columbus Ave., Manhattan; 212-473-1452, strandbooks.com. Closed Mondays.
BROOKLYN Drive-in movie, wine garden and Smorg To Go
CHECK OUT A DRIVE-IN MOVIE
Cinemas remain dark across the Big Apple, but there are some external opportunities to catch a flick. One of the more buzzworthy options is the Skyline Drive-in NYC, with first-come, first-serve parking spaces and a screen that uses the city vista as its backdrop. Pet-friendly and running rain-or-shine, films are scheduled nearly every day for the rest of August.
INFO 1 Oak St., Brooklyn; 347-462-0353, skylinedriveinnyc.com. Cars are $54.99 each, bring your motorcycle for $34.99, sit sans vehicle for $22; tickets must be bought online.
SIP AT BROOKLYN WINERY
Long Island has plenty of vineyards to visit, but this spot in Williamsburg has a street-side, urban wine garden (open Wednesday through Sunday; reservations are recommended) where varietals from upstate and the West Coast can be had by glass, tasting flight or bottle.
INFO 213 North 8th St.; 347-763-1506, bkwinery.com
ORDER SMORG TO GO
Billed as the largest weekly open-air market in the nation, the Smorgasburg NYC Outdoor Food Market would usually be humming in its two Brooklyn locations (Marsha P. Johnson State Park and Prospect Park)—but with all that currently on hold, the organizers have devised a smaller take-out version: a rotating row of ten vendors are ready to fill online orders that can be picked up 11:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday.
INFO 51 N. 6 St.; smorgtogo.com
ROAM GREEN-WOOD CEMETERY
A national historic landmark, this is the final resting place of such luminaries as Leonard Bernstein, Samuel Morse and Jean-Michel Basquiat, as well as infamous New Yorkers like William “Boss” Tweed and William "Bill The Butcher" Poole. The cemeteries entrances are now open to the public (7 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily), and it’s free to enter and wander this iconic landmark that dates back to 1838 and offers nearly 480 acres of space and sights of interest; free maps are available at all entrances.
INFO 500 25th St., Brooklyn; 718-210-3080, green-wood.com
SEE THE SIGHTS ON A PADDLE TOUR
Since the city is mostly surrounded by water, taking a kayak to the East and Hudson rivers is a unique way to get a glance at the popular attractions in the area. One spot offering this kind of experience is Brooklyn Bridge Park Boathouse, which is running group excursions Wednesdays (3:45 p.m. to 7:45 p.m.) and Saturdays (9:45 a.m. to 3:45 p.m.). Reservations are required, but the trips (through Oct. 14) are free and 20 minutes in duration; no experience necessary.
INFO 150 Furman St., Pier 2; bbpboathouse.org
TIME OUT MARKET NEW YORK
This massive DUMBO spot sporting more than 20 restaurants, eight bars and several shops has added even more outdoor seating, with riverside options or up on the rooftop terrace. The views are exquisite and the types of food range from meat and fish to vegetarian and desserts, plus cocktails and beer among the beverage options.
INFO 55 Water St., Brooklyn; 917-810-4855, timeoutmarket.com
OUTER BOROUGHS Beach, botanical gardens and bike tour
MARVEL AT ‘MONUMENTS NOW’ AT SOCRATES SCULPTURE PARK
A public space dedicated to the presentation of art, Socrates Sculpture Park is a free opportunity to walk amongst striking retrospectives and open space in Queens. The current exhibit “Monuments Now” is intended to express how monuments serve modern society while representing the lives of groups whose personal experience and cultures may not be properly embodied by the mainstream.
INFO 32-01 Vernon Blvd., Long Island City; 718-956-1819, socratessculpturepark.org
HANG TEN AT ROCKAWAY BEACH
Surfing in New York City? For summer fun-seekers looking to get beachy within the five boroughs, Rockaway Beach is the place to explore. Equipped with a boardwalk and lifeguards are back on duty. Try the dual beer gardens and concessions at Riis Park Beach Bazaar (16702 Rockaway Beach Blvd.; riisparkbeachbazaar.com) while Rippers (86-01 Shorefront Pkwy.; 718-634-3034 eatrippers.com) is once again serving up its beloved burgers and Caracas Arepa Bar’s seasonal satellite (106-01 Shorefront Pkwy.; caracasarepabar.com) specializes in casual Venezuelan food.
INFO Beach 9th-Beach 149th Sts.; 718-318-4000, nycgovparks.org
SPEND THE AFTERNOON AT NEW YORK BOTANICAL GARDEN
With several cultivated spaces filled with verdant landscapes, this horticultural gem is open to the public—but like other open spaces, face coverings are required and timed-entry tickets must be reserved online in advance. However, once all is arranged, you can tour the grounds and do so with a downloaded sheet or digital guide—and the website has a “garden navigator” and an audio tour that will also aid in your exploration. Food is available for purchase at the facility’s Pine Tree Cafe, or families can bring their own grub and dine at the Clay Family Picnic Pavilions.
INFO 2900 Southern Blvd., Bronx; 718-817-8700, nybg.org. Tickets are $8-$22 for non-members.
TRY A BIKE TOUR
Unlimited Biking is offering several NYC tours by pedal, which include journeys through four of the five boroughs. Excursions can be booked with tour guides and private routes are available, as are journeys with guides through Central Park speaking English, Dutch, Spanish or French.
INFO unlimitedbiking.com. Rides start at $45.
EXPLORE SNUG HARBOR CULTURAL CENTER AND BOTANICAL GARDEN
Snug Harbor Cultural Center and Botanical Garden is home to dozens of acres of park space and historic buildings to roam. As for events, it’s still hosting its “Wellness Wednesdays” series through the rest of August. Held at 4:30 p.m., the two-and-a-half hour event takes place on the South Meadow, features relaxed DJ beats and free health-minded workshops plus food to purchase from its Heritage Farm CSA. Bites like burgers, sandwiches and tacos are also available Friday through Sunday at the outdoor Harbor Eats cafe.
INFO 1000 Richmond Ter., Staten Island; 718-448-2500, snug-harbor.org
TAKE A DIP OR WALK THE TRAILS AT ASTORIA PARK
Some good news for fans of the free-to-use pool at this city space, home to the oldest and largest in the NYC Parks system: as of Aug. 1 is open again to use—but all must don a mask to enter the facility and again in the bathrooms, locker rooms and on the pool deck—and if capacity is reached, those waiting on line to enter may be asked to return later. Luckily, between its playgrounds, sports courts, trails and stunning views of both the RFK and Hells Gate bridges, there are other things to do and see if swimming isn’t immediately available.
INFO 19 St. between Astoria Park S. and Ditmars Blvd.; nycgovparks.org
STAY THE NIGHT Hotels with pools
Hotels, motels and Holiday Inns: you’ll find plenty of each within the five boroughs should you decide to hang for more than a day, but for those looking for a spot with a pool, try Sixty LES (190 Allen St., Manhattan; 212-460-5300, sixtyhotels.com) which has 24-hour room service and rates starting at $220, while over in Brooklyn the McCarren Hotel & Pool (160 N. 12th St.; 718-218-7500, mccarrenhotel.com) has a heated saltwater swimming spot; stays here start between $242-$365.
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