Years ago, when summer vacation was simply that, Memorial Day Weekend wasn’t just a long weekend. Instead, it was the intoxicating start to a stress free week of countless adventures and fun-filled exploits. College dismissed for the summer, Ryan and I would zip away to Cape Cod, enjoying long rides up the coast, soaking in the sun on the beach, yachting (aka ferry-ing) off to Martha’s Vineyard for the day, and surviving strictly on clam chowder, ice cream and cocktails.
As we entered the “real world,” the world we had been lectured about far too many times to count, we realized the days of stargazing on random Wednesday nights and mornings spent making up songs about our feet in the sand were long behind us.
After attempting MDW on the Cape we realized we spent more time in the car, stressed and frustrated by the endless traffic, than at the place we once considered our reprieve. So, we resigned to spending the coveted weekend in the city. And you know what? It ain’t that bad!
Hoards of Manhattanites board the Jitney for the Hamptons, or escape to the Jersey Shore, leaving the city quiet, relaxing and more enjoyable for the people smart enough to stick around.
Are you spending Memorial Day Weekend in NYC? A few tips on what to do…
CENTRAL PARK & THE MARGARITA MAN
Ryan and I have spent many Memorial Day’s (and summer weekends) surrounded by friends, at “our spot” on Central Park’s Great Lawn. Equipped with a bluetooth speaker for blasting tunes, chips and dip, a football and a picnic blanket, Central Park is the perfect escape on a warm city day. This next part is important. You will, without a doubt, see a man crossing the lawn with a sketchy looking tote on wheels hushedly selling margaritas. Instinct might tell you to avert your eyes and say no, but when you see the Margarita Man, the answer is yes. It is always yes. His drinks are strong and worth every penny, and while you’re at it, be sure to save his number in your phone, you’ll definitely need it for round two!
CONEY ISLAND & THE FREE HOT DOG
Head out to Coney Island and stroll up and down the boardwalk taking in the sights, sounds and smells of the sand and the sea. Then, amp it up as you make your way to the amusement park for thrill inducing action. Ritualistically, I never leave Coney Island without a stop at Nathan’s for a hot dog, smothered in mustard and sauerkraut, but this year, there’s a new game in town. While I feel guilty betraying my beloved Nathan’s, who can say no to a free hot dog? Quick history lesson: Charles Feltman invented the hot dog in Coney Island in 1867 and Feltman’s cart officially closed up shop in 1954. Marking its return to its Coney Island birthplace, Feltman’s will be offering free hot dogs to its first 150 guests, beginning at noon on Memorial Day. Salivating yet?
As May draws to a close in NYC, the weather is predictably unpredictable. However, if we are lucky enough to be spoiled with a bit of sunshine and a hint of summer, one of the City’s swanky rooftop pools is the ultimate oasis. For $65 day passes, both The Beach at Dream Downton and McCarren Hotel in Brooklyn are no brainers. Wishing you were in the Hampton’s instead? The Beach at Dream Downtown actually imports sand from the popular summer getaway. If that’s not enough, you can work on your tan while drinking a 10lb Moscow Mule on an inflatable unicorn. Need I say more? The pool at the McCarren Hotel is ideally located in one of Brooklyn’s hottest neighborhoods (pun intended), Williamsburg. Hosting live bands and DJs, this 4,500 square-foot pool deck is the place to be if you want a splash of the party scene as you soak up the sun.
If you thought you had to leave the city to go wine tasting, you are very wrong. Head over to Brooklyn Winery and discover how the urban boutique winery produces wine from grape delivery all the way to the finished product. Brooklyn Winery is hosting a special “Blind Tasting” this Memorial Day where you can learn to drink wine like the best sommeliers. No blindfold involved, so don’t worry about missing your mouth. Sip each glass of wine and use your deductive tasting skills to guess what you are drinking. I wonder how hard this gets the tipsier you become?
SHAKESPEARE IN THE PARK
Take in some culture at Shakespeare in the Park this Memorial Day Weekend with a performance of “Julius Caesar” at the famed Delacorte Theater, an 1,800-seat open-air theater located in the heart of Central Park. The actors are meticulously cast and the audience rarely leaves disappointed. While glassware is prohibited, feel free to bring food and beverage with you – throw some wine in a water bottle, and you’re good to go! Buy tickets in advance, enter the online lottery, or line up along the designated park path to score free admission. Tickets are distributed at noon, but be sure to get there early as the lines tend to grow at extraordinary rates.
Enjoy your Memorial Day Weekend in NYC! And don’t forget, it’s Fleet Week! Keep your eye out for cute sailors enjoying the city – and be sure to thank them for their service!