For those looking to escape Long Island for the day but don't want to travel too far from home are in luck. New York City is just a short train or car ride away with tons of exhibits to see, restaurants to try, spots to explore and fun to be had this season.
Travelers should always check the latest guidelines and coronavirus testing requirements and follow COVID protocols (wearing a mask, social distancing) before and during their travels.
Here are some activities to add to your weekend itinerary.
Immersive Van Gogh
Running June 10-Sept. 6, the "Immersive Van Gogh" has already spent several months touring other major North American cities before finally arriving in The Big Apple. Comprised of over a half-million cubic feet of projections, each visual and audio bit combines to create a moving (as in actual motion) mosaic of the life and work of renowned artist Vincent van Gogh. Each 60-minute program is a 360-degree show that will be arranged with social distancing in mind. Tickets are $55-$60 and are available for advance purchase, guests can view the exhibit at Pier 36.
INFO: Pier 36, 299 South Street.; vangoghnyc.com
As temperatures rise, this oasis found in midtown will be adding several free lawn performances that will be open to the public. Starting in April and running into May, daily activity areas including the park’s ping pong tables will return to service. May will also see a return of live piano playing, with musicians firing up sessions of stride, jazz and ragtime every week through September. Members of the American Symphony Orchestra will also be on-hand to host four pop-up concerts in May and early June, while more than two dozen socially distanced dance, theater and musical events are in the works between June and September. Free dance and movement lessons with instructors from Limón Dance Company are also slated for June, while yoga is also expected to return this summer as well.
INFO: 40th- 42nd Sts., Fifth-Sixth Aves.; 212-768-4242, bryantpark.org
With dozens of shops and restaurants to sample, this West Side neighborhood is also home to some striking experiences to explore, such as Edge, an outdoor sky deck billed as the highest in the Western Hemisphere (timed tickets must be purchased in advance at edgenyc.com; adult tickets start at $36, ages 6-12 start at $31). Backyard at Hudson Yards is another feature not to miss, a public square and garden space where guests can enjoy various seasonal activities. Lookout for outdoor attractions like livestreamed sporting events, food trucks, movies and family-friendly opportunities this season.
INFO 10th to 12th Avenues and from 30th to 34th Streets; 332-204-8500, hudsonyardsnewyork.com
‘Goodnight House’ at Fort Makers
Inspired by the iconic children’s book "Goodnight Moon," the Fort Makers artspace is hosting an exhibition that includes creative takes on otherwise typical bedroom items that were illustrated within the beloved story. Look out for handwoven textiles, character-inspired candles and many other warm and familiar yet fresh and intriguing pieces. Running through May 27.
INFO 38 Orchard St., Manhattan; 917-960-1690, fortmakers.com
‘Euphoria: Midst Bloom’ at Absurd Conclave
An interactive work by artists Alex Robayo, Rebecca Villacis and Mario Villacis, "Euphoria" is intended to help attendees shake the gloom wrought from the past year by injecting positivity through a sunny handcrafted incarnation of man’s connection with nature. Runs through June 30; $23, ages 5-15: $15.
‘Blindess’ at the Daryl Roth Theatre
An interactive experience involving sound and light, this narrated tale (adapted from the Jose Saramago novel "Blindess") is a story that describes how a mass bout of sightlessness transforms some into monsters while leading others to stick together to survive.
INFO 101 E.15th St., Manhattan; blindnessevent.com. Runs April 2-Sept. 5; tickets must be purchased in pairs. $116; purchase in advance at telecharge.com
Live music back at City Winery
A combination winery and restaurant, this spot offers live music for guests to enjoy. Its event calendar features upcoming shows from bands like Jessie's Girl, Martin Sexton, Joan Osborne and Keb’ Mo,’ among others. Tickets to shows available via website; prices vary per performance.
INFO 25 11th Ave., Manhattan; 646-751-6033, citywinery.com
"As Long as the Sun Lasts" at the Met
Sitting atop the Met Fifth Avenue in its Cantor Roof Garden is a blue-hued version of the beloved Sesame Street character Big Bird. An installation by artist Alex Da Corte, the 26-foot-tall display features the blue bird sitting in a crescent moon with a ladder in hand. The piece is slated to remain in place until Oct. 31. $25, children age 11 and younger free; timed tickets are available via the website. NYS residents may pay less than the general admission fee by purchasing tickets in person with valid ID.
INFO 1000 Fifth Ave., Manhattan; 212-535-7710, metmuseum.org
This elevated park started out as a freight railway for decades before being transformed into a green space featuring gardens and art pieces. A new season of art commissions are being installed for the spring, including a group show titled "The Musical Brain," an exhibition showcasing how music can be used to embrace our world. Weekday visitors can enter without reservations, but those looking to drop by Saturdays and Sundays must RSVP for a free timed-entry pass; visitors can only use the Gansevoort Street, 23rd Street or 30th Street entrances.
INFO Parallel to 10th Avenue from Gansevoort to West 30th Streets; 212-206-9922; thehighline.org
The ‘Friends’ Experience
Explore an interactive installation based on the popular 90s show. Check out Monica and Rachel’s apartment and Central Perk—serving coffee, pastries and baked goods. Visitors can also get a look at original costumes and props from the program, and then stop by a gift shop. Timed $52.50 tickets are available in advance via the website.
INFO 130 E. 23rd St., Manhattan; friendstheexperience.com
Luna Park Coney Island
Now that city amusement parks have been given the green light to reopen, Brooklyn’s iconic fun zone is back in business. Among the things to ride include the nearly century-old Cyclone, the rollercoaster, the Astro Tower high-drop, the Coney Clipper swinging ship and the Atlantic Aviator flying experience; several games, shops and concessions are also up and running.
INFO 1000 Surf Ave., Brooklyn; 718-373-5862, lunaparknyc.com
Stay at the INNSIDE, take a Circle Line cruise
One of the city’s easily recognizable ways to tour, Circle Line Cruises officially started running again on April 1. Giving customers a view of the Big Apple from a rare, shoreline vantage point, the cruise company is now partnering with the INNSiDE by Meliá New York Nomad hotel, and is offering a special deal: guests who stay at the INNSIDE get a 10-percent promo code for the Circle Line’s Landmarks Cruise, which gets passengers a 90-minute journey that passes by several NYC landmarks and around the downtown Manhattan skyline.
INFO 132 W. 27th St., Manhattan; 212-951-1000, melia.com
The Skyline Drive-in NYC is showing movies (ranging from recent classics to iconic gems) on an outdoor screen that sits in front of the East River and the Manhattan skyline. Spots are first-come, first-serve, there’s a concessions stand, pets are permitted and movies run rain or shine. Tickets must be bought in advance; cars are $55 each (up to seven passengers per vehicle), motorcycles $35 each. Outdoor seating is also available for $22 a seat.
INFO: 1 Oak St., Brooklyn; 347-462-0353, skylinedriveinnyc.com
Known as the world’s largest urban wildlife park, there are thousands of animals to see, and some of the major exhibits to explore this season include the Congo Gorilla Forest, African Plains (starring lions, zebras and African wild dogs), the Baboon Reserve and Tiger Mountain. Other experiences to try are the Treetop Adventure aerial ropes course (separate ticket required, available at bronxzootreetop.com), the Butterfly Garden, Wild Asia monorail and the Bug Carousel. Timed-entry tickets must be reserved online and in advance; rates are $39.95, ages 3-12 is $29.95, age two and younger are free.
INFO 2300 Southern Blv., The Bronx; 718-220-5100, bronxzoo.com
New York Aquarium
Featuring hundreds of sea creatures on display, this massive aquatic attraction will extend its daily hours starting June 19 to 10 a.m.-6 p.m., with last entry at 5 p.m. through Sept. 6. Attendees coming through this spring and summer can look forward to exhibits like the new "Spineless" exhibit where undersea invertebrates get the spotlight, or see the "Ocean Wonders: Sharks!" subsurface display where the carnivorous fish swim alongside sea turtles and rays. Sea lion shows take place in the Aquatheater, while guests looking for an immersive experience without getting wet can visit the 4-D Theater, where a 3D movie is combined with sensory effects. Timed-entry tickets must be reserved online and in advance; rates are $26.95, ages 3-12: $22.95.
INFO 602 Surf Ave., Brooklyn; 718-265-3474, nyaquarium.com
Shakespeare in the Park
After the nonprofit Public Theater performance company was forced to skip its 2020 shows in the park’s open-air Delacorte Theater, the organization is planning to get back on stage for an eight-week run July 5 through Aug. 29. The free show is to be a production of "Merry Wives," in an adaptation set in a South Harlem community of West African immigrants, and will celebrate their lives, their strength and their moments of joy.
INFO Enter Central Park at West 81st Street, walk to West Drive, then to the South Lawn; 212-539-8500, publictheater.org.
BOTANICAL GARDENS TO EXPLORE THIS SEASON
Central Park Conservatory Garden
This spring come see six acres’ worth of blooming flowers and greening trees. Visitors can stroll through its three main sections, each with its own distinct style—but it’s in the North Garden where one can take in the famed Untermyer Fountain, and it’s the Italianate Center Garden where visitors can enjoy the Wisteria Pergola.
INFO East side of the park between104th and 106th sts., Manhattan; 646-740-8097, Free; centralparknyc.org.
New York Botanical Garden
The garden launched "Kusama: Cosmic Nature", a celebration of Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama with four installations to be found around the grounds (through Oct. 31). $28 for adults, $12 ages 2-12, under age two (and members) is free. Advance timed-entry ticket reservations are required.
INFO: 2900 Southern Blvd., Bronx Park (Bronx); 718-817-8700; nybg.org.
Brooklyn Botanic Garden
Head to Brooklyn and explore the outdoor flora at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. The spot will be extending its hours and adding some relaxed live music and performances while the cherry trees flower. Look for a trio of sound-based art pieces to arrive for the spring: "Terminal Moraine" Ben Rubin and Brian House, the "Meander" meditative sound walk by Gelsey Bell and Joseph White and "loved.," a COVID remembrance sound installation (until May 9). Advance tickets are required for entry; $18, age 11 and younger are free.
INFO: Prospect Park: 455 Flatbush Ave., Prospect Lefferts Gardens (Brooklyn); 718-623-7200, bbg.org.