Woody Allen is not the only New Yorker who gets anxious leaving town. Many of us prefer to experience the great outdoors right here in old New York.
Garden in the Sky
What: The High Line, Section #1
Where: Gansevoort Street to 20th Street, along 10th Avenue, (Enter/Exit by stairways & elevator: 10th Ave. & Gansevoort, 14th, 16th, 18th, 20th Sts.)
Contact: tel. 212/500-6035; www.thehighline.org
Back in the 1930s, an elevated, steel trestle carried freight trains along the West side of Manhattan. Abandoned since 1980 and gone to seed, the track has been regenerated as a garden in the sky. This urban walkway, three-stories high, has stunning views, beautiful plantings, wooden benches and lounges large enough for a ménage-à-trois to cozy up and admire the sunset over the Hudson river. Kudos to the architects, landscape designers and to all those who championed the cause. Make a beeline for The High Line.
What: Governors Island
Where: New York Harbor
For 200 years, Governors Island was a military base -- home to the US Army and Coast Guard. Now, it's a recreational area open free to the public on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays from the end of May to early October. With the austere, former barracks still in place, I find the Island a bit grim. But there's lots of redevelopment planned and the views of Manhattan and the Statue of Liberty are spectacular. Almost every weekend, there are activities, concerts and events. The car-free Island is a pleasant place for picnicking, walking, jogging, and biking. Bring your own bike or rent one there (rentals are free on Fridays). Access Governors Island by a free, 7-minute ferry ride from Manhattan or Brooklyn.
Beach Blanket Bingo
What: Water Taxi Beach
Where: Long Island City, Hunters Point
Right on the East river in Long Island City, this 44,000-square-foot playground is more an "urban sandbox" than a beach. During the day, it's family-friendly. Kids can dig in the sand or play beach volleyball. After 8pm, adults can dance to a DJ or listen to live entertainment. Day or night, the views of the Manhattan skyline are fantastic. There's a snack shack (no picnicking allowed). Open all week from the end of May to the end of October. Get there in 5 minutes from Manhattan via NY Water Taxi (www.nywatertaxi.com) or take the subway. There is now a new, smaller Water Taxi Beach at the South Street Seaport (on the left side of Pier 17) and another opening on Governors Island with a special concert series.
What: Queens County Farm Museum
Where: 73-50 Little Neck Parkway, Floral Park, New York
Contact: tel. 718/347-3276; www.queensfarm.org
Once upon a time, New York City was all woodland and farmland. Even up to the 1920s, there were some 800 farms within the city limits. So, grab the kids and head to Queens where the only working, historical farm still exists. Established more than 300 years ago in 1697, this 47-acre farm has lots for youngsters to enjoy -- pigs, goats and sheep; planting fields, a butterfly garden, an orchard and hay rides. Adults who like to cook will thrill to the heirloom produce available at the farm stand, open July to October. In the fall, the farm sells its own wines. And, throughout the year, there are several family-friendly events such as a county fair and pumpkin picking.
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