Where to Spend Labor Day in NYC

Where to Spend Labor Day in NYC

Flowers at the New York Botanical Garden

Though it’s not actually the autumnal equinox, Labor Day symbolically marks the beginning of my favorite season—I just can’t get enough of crisp, fall weather and cozy, wool knits. For many others, the last weekend of summer is bittersweet as it offers a last chance to enjoy outdoor activities, until next year. Here are our suggestions for some last-minute summer fun in the city:

A Walk in the Park

Central Park nearly always makes NYC visitors’ must-see lists, but there are plenty of other green spaces to check out in the five boroughs. One of the biggest is Inwood Hill Park in northern Manhattan. With stunning views of the Henry Hudson Bridge, a wooded maze of hiking trails that give the neighborhood its name and plenty of grassy spots for picnics, it’s worth the trek uptown.

Further north are two Bronx gardens: Wave Hill and The New York Botanical Garden. Both offer plenty of pretty flowers and plants. The Botanical Garden features plenty of educational exhibits, while Wave Hill opts for cultural events and cooking demonstrations.

Closer to midtown Manhattan, the three-block-long Madison Square Park is a perfect spot to escape the bustling crowds of the Flatiron District and grab a shake from the original location of Shake Shack. Currently, the park welcomes an art installation by sculptor Rachel Feinstein and a large screen showing the US Open matches.

Day Trip vs. Staycation

Long Beach Island, New Jersey

While there’s plenty to do within city limits, there’s also a lot to explore just outside of NYC. A slew of small towns, like Beacon and Phoenica, pepper New York State just north of the city. Long Island, to the east, offers a variety of beaches from Fire Island to Montauk. South of the city, New Jersey’s coastline is covered with even more sandy spots, like the quiet respite of Long Beach Island. A few hours to the west is the Pennsylvania amusement park Dorney Park and the relaxing Pocono Mountains area.

When you can’t get out of town, NYC has some spots that’ll make you feel like you’re on vacation. The Bronx’s City Island feels like a small town in coastal New England, with seafood restaurants, boats and quaint shops lining its main street. There are also a few beaches in the five boroughs, including Brooklyn’s Coney Island, Rockaway Beach in Queens and the Bronx’s Orchard Beach, just across the bridge from City Island.

Kid-Friendly Fun

Kids usually need a little more to entertain them than simply sitting outside to enjoy the weather. Give the kids a little exercise and hop on a bike to see the city with Bike and Roll, which offers both guided tours and rentals. This weekend, sports fans can head to Coney Island on Sunday or Staten Island on Monday to see NYC’s two minor league baseball teams, the Brooklyn Cyclones and the Staten Island Yankees, face off to finish out their respective seasons. Both stadiums feature great views: the Cyclones have the beach, boardwalk and theme park while the Yankees offer a view of downtown Manhattan’s skyline.

Food and Drinks

Is there a better way to enjoy the end of summer than with a heaping scoop of ice cream? NYC’s ice cream trucks make it possible to enjoy a cone on virtually any street corner, but some of the most inventive flavors are found behind shop doors. Williamsburg’s OddFellows, which recently opened a second outpost in the East Village, features 12 rotating varieties from Tequila Pineapple to Chorizo Caramel Swirl to Extra Virgin Olive Oil. Big Gay Ice Cream features more traditional flavors like chocolate and vanilla, but adds unique toppings like crushed ‘Nilla wafers, key lime curd and pieces of pie. If you’re feeling adventurous, Garage Restaurant offers a grilled-doughnut-and-ice-cream sandwich dessert.

The Press Lounge (Courtesy The Press Lounge)

Before the weather gets cooler, there are many outdoor restaurants and rooftop bars to check out. For dining, Jersey City’s Zeppelin Hall features a mostly-German menu, with plenty of brats, beers and even pieogi. The biergarten is only a short ride away on the PATH train and occupies a large space with an enormous backyard area for outdoor eating. Up on the rooftops of NYC sit many bars: among them are The Press Lounge and The Skylark. These two bird’s-eye-view spots feature an upscale atmosphere, signature cocktails and a variety of small bites for snacking.

On the Water

Manhattan by Sail

While the weather’s still warm, catch a cool breeze aboard a boat. From sailing trips to dinner cruises to educational tours, float around the New York Harbor and enjoy views of the skyline, Statue of Liberty and Brooklyn Bridge. Manhattan by Sail even offers beer- and wine-tasting sails, for the ultimate relaxing ride. For a free ride, take a roundtrip ride on the Staten Island Ferry or rent a kayak from The Downtown Boathouse.

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