Thursday, September 17, 2015

Your Guide to a NYC Summer Bucket List

Long Branch Beach, New Jersey
As a local New Yorker, my family is always planning vacations to escape the concrete jungle we call home during the summer months. However, this summer was going to be different. My extended family was visiting from Canada and I had gotten a student worker position at the Undergraduate Admission Office. I knew it was going to be impossible to take an extended vacation so my friend, who was also staying in at Fordham College at Lincoln Center, decided to come up with a summer bucket list to complete. We complied our list based on two things: the events had to be free or cheap and within two hours of driving distance for any day trips. So over the month of June, we participated in free yoga and Latin dance classes that were taking place in Bryant Park. Also, many parks around New York City were screening free outdoor movie nights. We caught the all time classic Back to the Future at Bryant Park and Frozen at Randall’s Island. You can drive into Randall’s Island if taking the RFK Bridge from Queens, Manhattan and the Bronx. If coming in from Manhattan, a cheaper option is to take the walking passageway or one of the MTA local buses that frequently make trips to the island.

For my water lovers, I was able to able to take multiple free kayaking trips in the Hudson River. The two most popular locations are Pier 96 uptown and Pier 26 downtown. What I really love about the NYC free kayaking program is how accessible and easy it is. I went to Pier 26 a total of three times and every time I went before 10 am, I barely had to wait in line. There is a waiver that you have to sign but the good news is that you do it once, and it’s good for the rest of the season. There are single and double kayaks available as well as free lockers, lock, life jacket, and a changing room. For the perfect afternoon activity with your partner in crime or significant other, Central Park offers daily boat rides that you can enjoy right at the heart of the city. While not free, boating was a lot of fun because of the beautiful location and atmosphere. For people seeking a little more thrill, we did drive out to the Six Flags Great Adventure Hurricane Harbor water park in New Jersey. If you don’t have a car, not to fear! There are group buses that take folks into six flags from Manhattan. For the perfect day beach trip, we headed out to the shores of Jersey to Long Branch Beach. It’s a cute little resort town about two hour drive from NYC but also accessible via the NJ transit as well. Long Branch does a really good job at making us forget we’re still in the tri-state area with its gorgeous sand dunes and palm trees.

Smorgasburg eats at East River State Park, Williamsburg
   Last but not the very least, no vacation is complete without exploring the local food scene! Summer is a great time to dine out in NYC because of the many different food festivals and events that take place. Taking advantage of Restaurant Week, I tried out Korean, Mexican, and Mediterranean fine dining. Another really cool way to explore new kinds of food was going to the Smorgasburg food fair that takes place in various locations around the city every week. They promote 100 local vendors of various world cuisines and it’s basically a one-stop shop for any form of food craving you could possibly want. I tried vegan burgers, Ethiopian food, Hawaiian food, Vietnamese food, as well as a variety of ice cream shops in my visits. As you can see, there are plenty of ways to enjoy NYC that doesn’t have to include going to all the tourist attractions. I completed my first summer bucket list here in my “hometown” and I can’t wait to see which city to explore next year! 

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