I’ve just returned from my own annual vacation — a short holiday on a tropical island. I loved being a guest, but I’m happy to put my “host hat” back on, do my spring cleaning, and reopen Between The Parks Bed & Breakfast for the season.
Like most of my fellow New Yorkers, I’ve got spring fever. Who can’t feel energised by the sight (and smell) of flowers blooming in Central Park? Isn’t it a pleasure to pack away winter sweaters and coats and wear sandals again?
My email in-box is filled with announcements of upcoming events in the city and links to great websites. Here’s a sample:
But first of all … One unfortunate result of last year’s Super Storm Sandy (among the severe losses sustained by our neighbors in NY and New Jersey) is the closing of the Statue of Liberty and the Ellis Island Immigration Museum (http://www.nps.gov/elis/index.htm) are closed until further notice. You can still ride the Staten Island Ferry or take a cruise of NY Harbor with http://www.statuecruises.com. And my favorite NYC museum, The Lower East Side Tenement Museum (http://tenement.org,) has grown and expanded its offerings of tours, talks, and even culinary walks through the neighborhood. The museum sells about half the spots on its tours online and about half are reserved for sale at the museum. But this has become — justifiably — a top visitors’ destination and tours book quickly. My favorites are the three tours of reconstructed apartments within the building: Sweatshop Workers, Hard Times, and Irish Outsiders.
I’ve always had a bike in New York City, ever since my dad taught me to ride as a kind in Central Park. (You’ll see parents — mostly dads — launching their kids on bikes on any sunny Saturday or Sunday.) When the transit strike of 1980 shut down buses and subways, I rode to work everyday, long specially designated bicycle lanes. It was a bit scary, but all New Yorkers were “in the same boat,” so we tried to respect one another’s right of way and safety. But since the development of the “Greenway” along the Hudson River, I’ve become an enthusiastic rider, and I love to recommend to guests that they try renting a bike and enjoying the path and the views from the Upper West Side down to the Battery. Bike and Roll offers easy, reasonably priced bike rentals from various NYC locations, plus guided bike tours and self-guided tours through Central Park, along the Hudson, over the Brooklyn Bridge, through Brooklyn neighborhoods, and more. I’ve had guests rent from Bike and Roll and they’ve given me positive reports.
Offbeat New York has a terrific article on “New York City’s (Outdoor) Markets: Flea Markets, Antiques, Farmers Markets and More.” We have a wonderful flea market in our neighborhood every Sunday in the school playground on Columbus Avenue at 77th Street. Antiques, vintage and new merchandise plus food stalls.
What would May be without Fleet Week? Whether your interest leans toward visiting the ships that dock in New York Harbor and viewing the military demonstrations or helping hundreds of young, attractive (yes!) sailors understand that “the Bronx is up and the Battery’s down”* you will enjoy this annual event. www.fleetweeknewyork.com
Do you like to dance? I mean … swing dancing, salsa, ballroom! Midsummer Night Swing on the plaza at Lincoln Center has become a New York summer tradition. “New York’s Hottest Outdoor Dance Party” runs every summer through June and July with bands playing almost every night. Generally, the dance floor opens at 6:00pm, there is a group dance lesson 6:30–7:15, and then music and dancing with live sets at 7:30–8:30 and 9:00–10:00 (unless otherwise noted.) You can buy season tickets or singles, and if you want to bring your dancing shoes, there is a professional floor set up. For more info: midsummernightswing.org
First Saturday at the Brooklyn Museum is another activity that has evolved over the years into a monthly happening that now brings thousands of visitors. Now sponsored by Target, First Saturday offers free programs of art and entertainment at the museum each month from 5 to 11 p.m. The Museum Café serves a wide selection of sandwiches, salads, and beverages, and there’s a cash bar. Tickets are now required, and the ticket line now forms 30 minutes in advance. But it’s worth it. The vibe is terrific, as are the exhibits and performances. Discover Brooklyn!
Next to the Brooklyn Museum is the wonderful Brooklyn Botanical Gardens, a must-visit destination as we head into spring. This year’s Cherry Blossom Festval, or “hanami,” officially runs from April 7 to 28th, and culminates in the Sakura Matsuri festival of Japanese culture on the 27-28 weekend. http://www.bbg.org/discover/cherries and plan ahead — the crowds are huge.
The art scene in Chelsea continues to grow, and with the expansion of the High Line, there is even more reason to take the afternoon and explore the neighborhood. Here is an online map of Chelsea art galleries that you can print out in PDF form. The site also provides an updated list of current exhibition and a newsletter to which you can subscribe. Weekly culture guides such as the New Yorker, New York Magazine and TimeOut New York can also help you plan your visit to Chelsea. There are terrific new restaurants and cafés along Eighth, and Tenth Avenues, as well as lovely side streets lined with historic brownstones.
For baseball fans, two special annual events are the 2013 All-Star Game hosted by the Mets at Citi Field on July 16, and the Subway Series, between the Yankees and the Mets, at Citi Field May 27–28 and at Yankee Stadium May 29–30. http://newyork.mets.mlb.com and http://newyork.yankees.mlb.com.
More to come …