When the weather warms up, New Yorkers use every available outdoor space to sunbathe, picnic, and party. Luckily, there's no shortage of places where you can just go to chill or to hear a free concert. And, since drive-ins aren't practical in New York City, we've got free movie nights under the stars.
Midtown Parks: Among the Skyscrapers
This delightful respite in Midtown has the feel of a Parisian park; maybe it's the little green café chairs or the promenades bordered by London planes (the same trees as in the Jardin des Tuileries). This space has been a park since 1842, but it's only been in the last 20 years that the lovely lawn has become a popular spot to hang out with friends, eat lunch, listen to music, use the free Wi-Fi, or simply sit and ponder. Throughout the year, there are wonderful free concerts, festivals and films.
Bryant Park Summer Film Festival(www.bryantpark.org) Mondays, June 21-Aug 23, 2010, 9pm
East Side Parks: Along the River
Stuyvesant Cove Park (East 23rd St.-14th St., past the FDR Dr.; www.stuyvesantcove.org) Accessible from: 23rd St., 20th St. & 18th St.
This two-acre promenade runs along the East River and then links up with the much-larger East River Park. It's a lovely spot to go for a stroll, have a picnic, or chat with some local fishermen. You can even learn about energy conservation, hear a concert, or see a film sponsored by Solar One.
East River Park (East 10th St.-Delancy St., past the FDR Dr.; www.nycgovparks.org) Accessible by footbridge: 10th St., 6th St., Houston St., Delancey St.
This park is great for recreational activities. There are tennis courts, a jogging track, and a bike path. Local school teams use the softball and football fields, while families enjoy the playgrounds and picnic areas. Cool off at the artsy, seal-sculpture sprinkler, or enjoy free summer concerts and dance performances at the Bandshell (both near Delancey St.). Or, just relax and revel in the views of the East River from the promenade.
West Side Parks: On The Piers
Hudson River Park (Battery Park City-59th St., past the West Side Highway; www.hudsonriverpark.org)
The Hudson River Park runs along the river for five miles with a bike path and walkway with stunning views. At various points, several piers, renovated for recreational purposes, jut out into the mighty Hudson.
Pier 45 (at Christopher St.; www.hudsonriverpark.org)
This pier, with its grassy lawn, is a great spot to relax and chill out from the hustle bustle of the city. In the summertime, enjoy free music on Friday nights.
Sunset on the Hudson concerts (Pier 45, www.hudsonriverpark.org)
June 11-Aug 20, 2010, 7pm-9pm
RiverFlicks (www.riverflicksnyc.com) For Kids (Pier 46, at Charles St.; Fridays, July 9-Aug 13, 2010, 8:30pm) and For Grown-Ups (Pier 54, at 14th St.; Wednesdays, July 7-Aug 18, 2010, 8:30pm)
Free popcorn! Beverages & snacks are available for purchase. Bring lawn chairs and blankets.
Downtown Green Space: Garden in the Sky
The Elevated Acre (55 Water St., between Broad St. & Old Slip; www.elevatedacre.com)
This being New York, you have to take an escalator up to nature. But once you've reached the Elevated Acre, you're in for a treat. The urban lawn in a garden setting has lovely views of the East River, the Brooklyn Bridge, Governors Island, and beyond. This tranquil spot is just a few blocks from the bustling South Street Seaport, yet you'd walk right past it if you didn't know it was there. (Look for the staircase and escalator, mid-block.) During the summer, several River To River (www.rivertorivernyc.com) free events take place here. Spread out a blanket or set up a beach chair on the lofty lawn.
River to River: Movie Nights (Elevated Acre; www.rivertorivernyc.com) Mondays, July 6-27, 2010, 8pm
The movies at all locations usually begin at dusk (around 8:30pm, in the summer) but arrive early to get a good spot. BYOP (Bring Your Own Popcorn) or have a meal first (or drinks afterwards) at one of New York's waterfront restaurants with great views.
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