Summer in the City
Whether your personal idea of the beginning of summer is Memorial Day weekend, the first of June, or the summer solstice, summer has truly arrived in New York City. While the sticky, sometimes sweltering days drive many residents to escape the city as often as they can, there are still numerous ways to enjoy the city during the summer months. While air conditioned theaters, museums, and restaurants still beckon with their multitudinous charms, there are a surprising number of free events held in New York City in the summer. Here are a few of my favorites:
Shakespeare in the Park
The Public Theater, always a champion of new and innovative theater at its flagship on Lafayette Street, delivers a generous present to New Yorkers each summer at the Delacorte Theater within Central Park – free top-notch Shakespeare performances (with the occasional surprise of something like Hair or Into the Woods). This summer, Much Ado About Nothing is currently running, and later in the summer, who could resist seeing John Lithgow as King Lear? Ticket distribution information (there’s a virtual lottery in addition to the iconic line of people camped out every performance day in the park) and the performance schedule are available at www.publictheater.org. Limited tickets are also available for supporters of the Public.
Concerts in the park
Throughout the summer, a variety of concerts take place in New York City Parks, many of them free. Good Morning America presents a concert within Central Park every Friday morning throughout the summer, while the Today show does the same in Rockefeller Center – prepare to get up early for either. The New York Philharmonic performs in each of the five boroughs for free in July, twice in Central Park. Check out www.nycgovparks.org for details.
There are free movie screenings under the stars in various parts of the city over the summer. Make it a picnic, and enjoy the shared experience of watching classic movies under the stars. Some of the best known series are the Bryant Park Summer Film Festival (behind the main branch of the NY Public Library in midtown), River Flicks (on the Hudson River piers downtown), Movies With a View (Brooklyn Bridge Park), Central Park Film Festival (in Sheep’s Meadow in the park), and Summer on the Hudson (in Riverside Park on the Upper West Side).
New York City beaches
Let’s not forget that you don’t need to have a place in the Hamptons to experience the beach – several are accessible via subway! The most famous is of course Brooklyn’s Coney Island, with its boardwalk arcade, the Cyclone and Wonder Wheel, and Nathan’s Famous, all fronting a busy stretch of sand and surf (D, F, N, or Q train). Brighton Beach is its neighbor (B, Q). Did you know that the city’s only legal surfing beach is in Queens? It’s Rockaway Beach (A, transfer to S), and not surprisingly, known for very strong waves. There is even an option in the Bronx, Orchard Beach (Robert Moses’ “Riviera of New York”) – just take the 6 train to Pelham Bay, and transfer to the BxR bus to Orchard Beach.
New York City is ever-vibrant and never boring, and summer in the city is yet another reason why it is such a rewarding place in which to live.