Hot Town, Summer In the City

17 Jul

Fact:  I am a summer person.  Sun, sand, and water give me my mojo back.

Gross Fact:  I sweat buckets as soon as the temperature reaches 80 degrees outside (ok, 75).  Then, I turn lobster red in the face and feel like I’m going to pass out.  Fun times, right?

So how’s a girl (or guy) supposed to cool down in the land of pavement, during the heat of the summer?  Sure, some days you’re in the AC at work (boo).  But on a beautiful sunny day, like today, you need real relief from the heat.  And, believe it or not, NYC has you covered.  So, the next time you’re dripping with sweat by 8 AM, give these options a try…

Parks

NYC has got it going on in the parks department.  In Connecticut, where I’m from, a park is a mere destination for use of a ball field or a playground.  But, in NYC, city folks put our amazing parks to good use.  Truly, every few blocks you’ll find a park.  Don’t believe me?  Check out this website, where you can enter your zip code or address to find some green space near you.

One of my fave NYC park spots is Sheep Meadow at Central Park. It's ideal for sunbathing, frisbee, picnics, and a constant supply of illegal but thirst-quenching beer cooler guys. Oh, and the view is nothing to scoff at.

The big mamas of NYC parks are:

  • Central Park (Manhattan)Central Park is ridiculously big, in proportion to the rest of Manhattan.  You can get lost in it very easily, with its winding paths and secluded spaces, so plan before you go.  Or at least plan on an afternoon of getting lost in Manhattan’s version of nature.  Central Park features a reservoir, huge lawns, ball fields, an ice rink, a zoo, a castle, row boats, bike paths, concert areas…I could go on forever.  Check it out.  It doesn’t disappoint.
  • Prospect Park (Brooklyn) – I tend to think of Prospect Park as the Central Park of Brooklyn.  It’s huge and it has a lot to offer.  Features also include, expansive fields, botanic gardens, ball fields, a lake, concerts, festivals, and a zoo.  If you live in a neighborhood surrounding this park, you must go over and explore.
  • Pelham Bay Park (Bronx) – You will completely forget you’re in the city when you head over to Pelham Bay Park.  Featuring a large beach, a sizeable picnic area, ball fields, and actual parking areas (!!!!!) Pelham Bay Park has everything to make a Bronx resident’s life pleasant in the summer.
  • Flushing Meadows Corona Park (Queens) – The site of the 1939 and 1964 World’s Fairs, this massive park in Queens features a wildlife center, a museum, and a theater.  And that’s before I even mention its natural beauty.  Add this park to your list of must-do’s in the city, and if you’re a Queens resident, head over there to relax, sun bathe, and picnic.
  • The Greenbelt (Staten Island) – Although my relationship with Staten Island is green (to say the least), I can tell you that the Greenbelt is an area of over 2500 acres of parks, trails, and nature-y goodness.  If you really want to feel like you’ve left the universe that is NYC, head on over there to check out truly unadulterated natural area.  The ferry ride to SI is free, so make it a cheap day-trip.

But NYC parks are not a go-big-or-go-home kind of deal.  Some of the best parks in the city are seemingly untouched little gems.  If you’ve got kids, maybe check out the waterworks at the Madison Square Park playground.  If you’re an uptown BBQ’er hit up St. Nicholas Park in Harlem.  Like to fish?  Check out the piers on East River Park.  Concert-lover?  Try Fort Greene Park.  Kayaker?  Meander over to the Downtown Boathouse at Hudson River Park.  And if you really think there’s something you want to do that you can’t find in a city park, send me a note.  I’ll find it for you.  And prove you wrong.  Type A?  Yes sir.

Oh, you're a bocce buff? We've got that covered.

Pools

Oh you thought you were going to say, “What if I want to go swimming?  In a real pool.”  Well NYC’s parks and rec department is here to grant your chlorine-loving wishes.  Pools are scattered in parks throughout the city – there are 54 of them, in fact.

Plunge, kid. Plunge.

Lasker Pool is located in the northern reaches of Central Park and features an Olympic pool and a wading pool, and like all the city pools it’s open from the end of June, up through Labor Day.  Sunset Park also features a large pool in Brooklyn.  Up in Harlem, there is a pool at the park right across from Riverton (where I lived).  And if a “regular” pool just doesn’t tickle you pink, how about a pool on a barge?  Head up to the Bronx to try out the Floating Pool, docked for the summer.  If you’re looking for something closer to home, visit the pool page on the city’s website here.

Beaches

My favorite way to stay cool in the summer is to just have a good old fashioned beach day.  Sand and surf is required for my wellbeing during the months of June, July, and August.  And, again, NYC does not disappoint.  The beaches are a bit of a further trek than your local parks and pools, but, in my opinion, they are worth it!  The trick is to find the beach that is closest to your apartment, while also being accessible via a nearby subway line.

When I lived in Sunset Park, the famous Coney Island was the most convenient place to go.  This beach/amusement park area is JAM PACKED with people.  Loud music, loud people, and good times are the most notable features of this little strip of coastline.  There are a zillion places to eat along the boardwalk, and there are easily-accessible bathroom facilities.  Want a cold (and illegal) brew?  Some dude will pull a cooler full of beers around within 5 minutes of you sitting down.  And if you need something just a bit quieter, head down Brighton Beach, next door to Coney.  That southern section of the Brooklyn coastline is littered with beach options.  If you’re jazzed by the thought of Coney Island, though, be a tacky as you’d like, and ENJOY!

Coney Island. Please note that you cannot see the water behind my girlies in this picture - that's because the MASS OF HUMANITY is blocking the nice view of the water.

A beach favorite of mine, with calmer waters, is Orchard Beach in the Bronx.  Part of Pelham Bay Park, this shoreline can be just as packed as Coney Island.  However, the noticeably absent waves can make it a safer choice for little ones.  Plus, if you live uptown, Orchard Beach is probably your closest option, in terms of proximity.

Today, I took my first trip out to Rockaway Beach (Beach 60, to be exact), and I have to say, it may be my fave.  Rockaway has a loooooong beach, and depending on where you lay your towel, you can have a crowded or secluded experience.  The beauty of Beach 60 was that it was quiet all morning, and then had a little bit of activity, for my people-watching pleasure (what can I say, I’m a starer), in the afternoon.  The waves were perfection for water lovers, but a bit rough for the faint-of-surf.  The downsides of Rockaway were that Beach 60 had no food spots in the immediate area and no bathrooms.  My friends and I brought drinks and bought snacks at a small convenience store, but there weren’t many any options beyond that.  I am told, though, that there’s an area of Rockaway where a taco truck pulls up.  And fear not, I’ll be searching for that the next time I venture out to Rockapulco, and I’ll pass along any info I discover.  With over 7 miles of beach, there’s food somewhere.  It’s just a case of finding it.

Rockaway Beach 60. See all that open beach space? Let's all say ahhhhhh together.

For more info on the city’s beaches, click here.

So there you have it:  all the 411 on summers in the city.  I hope you’re sunkissed by the next time we chat.  With that, I need to go put some aloe on my slightly-burned back.  Ah, summer.

Images:  (1, 2, & 3) NYC Department of Parks and Recreation, (4 & 5) Rebecca for Happy City Living

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2 Responses to “Hot Town, Summer In the City”

  1. jk July 18, 2011 at 8:47 am #

    Rockaway Beach seems like the perfect find. Love the links to all the parks, pools & beaches. There’s something for everyone, as always, in NYC.

    • anna July 28, 2011 at 3:29 pm #

      rockaway beach IS the perfect find! something for everyone and right off the A train. woo hoo!

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