There is SO MUCH to cram into summers in NYC.
I think it's that fear that Labor Day will slowly creep up on you, and next thing you know you're back to wearing those awful looking (and incredibly expensive) Hunter boots, instead of your super cute wedges or comfy Gladiator sandals showcasing your neon pedicure.
There are still so many "summer" activities I haven’t don't yet. Like attend a concert from the Summer Concert Series, or watch a movie on a big screen during Movies in the Park.
But, this past week I checked off a few majors of my bucket list.
I wanted to attend Shakespeare in the Park. What more can you ask for? It's Shakespeare, in gorgeous Central Park, on a colorful summer evening. And, it's FREE! Here's the catch, tickets are distributed by lottery, and you have to go in person to put your name to be drawn, and if you get chosen, you have to go to the show the same day. Stressful! I almost rather PAY for the tickets and have a guaranteed seat, than take time from my busy schedule to stand in a lottery line.
But, let's not complain here. It's FREE. The location for the lottery is located at the Public Theatre's headquarters in The Public Theater, 425 Lafayette Street at Astor Place. You go, stand in line, put your name on a piece of paper, it gets thrown in a bowl with other names, and within the hour they draw names. Fingers crossed, your name gets called, and you get two tickets to the same night's show.
In reality it wasn't so bad. I. Got. Lucky. Within the hour I was on my way with tickets in hand and- HUNGRY. This worked our perfectly, because I had a lunch meeting in the West Village.
It was such a gorgeous day; I decided to walk there,
Can I just say, how much I LOVE the West Village? I think it would be right up there with Upper West Side, in terms of "future aspirations"- for my next move. I really need to take a weekend to just explore that neighborhood.
Anyway, taking advantage of Restaurant Week, I had lunch at Sant Ambroeus in West Village. Sant Ambroeus has several locations, but what you'll find at this location is an adorable quaint restaurant on a street corner in the heart of the West Village. It was such a beautiful summer day; I just had to sit outside.
Food was delicious.
Thanks Restaurant week!
That night, I attended Shakespeare in the Park. The cool thing about this is that you can pack stuff and have a little picnic in the park. My friends and I picked up some wine (boxed wine- because they don't allow glass bottles in the park), some cheese and crackers, guac & chips and had a nice little evening.
Can I tell you how this brought back memories of my Honors English class in high school, when we were forced to read Macbeth? And then, sadly it reminded me of how much I don't LOVE Shakespeare. Don' get me wrong- the concept of a classic play, in a world renown park, on a beautiful summer evening with wine & friends (for free) sounds like the perfect afternoon.
Except- there is only so much Shakespeare I can take. Until I runeth, outeth, of patience.
Intermission, where are you?! I can only take so much, until I fear, my bed I craveth. Intermission- AKA- quick exit. In summary? Do it once, check it off the NYC bucket list, and then don't ever bother with it again. But hey- that's just me.
Continuing with the flow of FREE things to do this summer is Kayaking on the Hudson River. Native New Yorkers will squirm at the thought of getting your body even NEAR the waters of the Hudson River. But not me. Anything that involves water activities, with this gorgeous skyline and can give me w good workout? I am all in for!
Free walk-up kayaking, kayak trips on the harbor and evening classes are operated from the boathouse at Pier 26 for the park by Downtown Boathouse. Facilities are available for the launching of small hand powered boats. Kayaking is free every Saturday all summer long! They even have lockers for you to store your stuff. I just got a GO PRO, so it was the perfect opportunity for me to try it out before my upcoming trip to Thailand.
Such a gorgeous view! And what a workout! I only wish I wore a bathing suit! Even though you don't really GO IN the water, the Kayak itself gets splashed with water. So, it's best to go in your bathing suite. Life jackets are a must! Get there early to avoid the lines and the sun!
It was still early, so we decided a bike ride to Brooklyn was in order.
Can you tell by now I love my Citibike?! I've biked all over this city- including the Manhattan Bridge, through Dumbo etc. And al though I've walked the Brooklyn Bridge several times, I've never biked it. And so I did. What a challenge. The bridge is PACKED with tourists, who clearly do NOT understand that the bike lane is for bikers, and the walking lane is for walkers. SIGH.
We finally biked into Brooklyn and all the way to River Cafe (another bucket list dining spot)- but it was closed for a private event. BOO. We stopped to enjoy the view though and took few scenic shots.
Then we decided all that exercise was worthy of a piece of PIE. A Pizza Pie- that its. Stopped in for a slice at the legendary Grimaldis. Except they don't sell you slices, they only sell you pies. And they only take cash. None on you? No fear, the ATM with crazy fees is NEAR. No really -it's inside the restaurant.
If you've never been to Grimaldis, you should. Grimaldi's Pizzeria is one of the most popular pizzerias in New York City. They are famous for their coal fired pizza. In recent years, Zagat Survey has rated Grimaldi's No. 1 Pizzeria in New York. They don't take reservations and the line is always out the door. Grimaldi's Pizzeria was chosen as one of the five best pizzerias in United States by the Food Network. Its pizza was featured on the television show The Best of... It was good- very good. But ehhhhh it could have been better. The pizza itself wasn't as crispy as I like it- it was kind of soggy- but that was probably from the seventeen toppings we put on.
So full from a scarfing down three slices of Pizza and a Diet Dr. Pepper (tastes just like REAL Dr. Pepper- PUN INTENDED). HA! We decided there was no way our legs were pedaling up that bridge. So we decided to walk it off.
Have you ever seen such a beautiful skyline? This is right when the sun is starting to go down.
You can see the locks that have started to pile up on the Brooklyn Bridge. Apparently the Department of Transportation is not too happy about it.
We walked back into the city through Chinatown and Soho. When our legs finally gave up, we found the subway, only to find that station was closed. And what was staring us in the face? A rack full of available Citibikes. And so, we Citibiked home. That pizza was damn earned.
Can I just say, I woke up the next day and was so sore! As if I had a torturous workout the day before. All that biking, kayaking, walking, etc. Sunday I was determined to have a lazy brunch.
I have been (for years) wanting to have breakfast at Clinton Street Baking Company (bucket list). But for years, to no avail, there is always a minimum two-hour wait. Basically to get a table, you have to wake up at 8 am, to get there when they open at 9 am. And it doesn't look like I'll be doing that any time soon.
So, we went down the street to Essex, in the Lower East Side.
Went for brunch on a Sunday. They have a great deal. $25 bucks gets you an entree and 3 cocktails. We had the banana chocolate pancakes topped with strawberries & blueberries. They were absolutely delicious. My only complaint is that there weren't a lot of bananas in the actual pancakes and the chocolate was buried in the middle. As you can see, they kinda burnt the pancakes too. I know, I know. I'm picky, but come on. Food is not free, so I can critique as I please.
We also ordered the lobster Benedict. Also very delicious, al thought they served it with mixed greens (even though they said it came with Kale) and the greens themselves weren't the freshest. Sorry, you say Kale, I want Kale.
Also ordered a side of the hand cut fries. YUMMMMMM. Those were my favorite.
For cocktails, I chose the mimosas. The first one came with too much OJ and not enough bubbly. I asked the waiter to swap it out and he ended up bringing me champagne for the remainder of the drinks with no OJ- MUCH BETTER! See that glass down there? It is TOOOOO orange if you ask me!
Service was great, the music is awesome, and the crowd is great. They have a nice bar scene and delicious. I really enjoyed the whole experience and I'd def come back.
After brunch we thought about being a little touristy and checking out the observatory at One World Trade, but after 3 glasses of champers, we decided the right decision was to keep drinking.
Walking around the Lower East Side, you find some pretty cool street art!
We headed to the rooftop of Hotel Chantelle (not really a hotel though). What a scene! I loved it! They have a live jazz brunch the most adorable rooftop (with a retractable roof which came in clutch when it started sprinkling). The tables, decor, drink menu, music and bar scene was simply put- perfect.
They even have a brunch happy hour menu, where select cocktails are half off. We had a few drinks, enjoyed the live jazz band and ended our Sunday Boozy Brunch.
There is still so much left to do! But I've got to pack for Jamaica right now (ugh, work is sooo hard- sarcasm super intended).
Summer is still not over though! So, stay tuned for more adventures!