Shakespeare In The Park

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One of the perks of living in (or visiting) New York in the summer is Shakespeare In The Park. King Lear, starring John Lithgow and Annette Bening, debuted this week at the Delacorte Theater in Central Park and runs through August 17th. Shows begin at 8:00 pm rain or shine.

Here’s how to get tickets:

Line up at the Delacorte the day of the performance at noon for free passes–limit of two to a customer.

Or:

Check in for a virtual lottery. You can sign in between midnight and 12 pm on the day of each performance and request two tickets to that night’s show. If you’ve won, an email will be sent to you around noon and you can pick up the passes at the box office.

The organizers of the Shakespeare in the Park series truly strive to make admission accessible to everyone, regardless of income. (And these nice folks have been doing so for over fifty years.) Yet there is one way to bypass both long lines and Lady Luck.

If you become a supporter of the series and the Public Theater, you can help keep the program free for all New Yorkers while easily scoring tickets for yourself. A $200 donation will get you a pair of reserved seats, plus one ticket per production at the Public Theater on Lafayette St., plus 15% off an additional ticket at the Public. The donation is tax deductible and helps keep the production free for the masses–a win-win situation all around.

Image via publictheatre.org

The Little Red Lighthouse

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One of my favorite biking paths is along the Hudson River, straight up to the George Washington Bridge, with the Little Red Lighthouse–the last surviving one in Manhattan–tucked beneath it. My husband and I took a lovely bike ride up there yesterday to visit this landmark, beloved by children and adults alike.

The crimson 40-foot tower has resided on Jeffrey’s Hook, a rocky point on the Hudson River since 1921. In the beginning, its tiny lights dutifully warned ships away from the shore as they traveled along the water.

All was hunky-dory for about 10 years, until the George Washington Bridge was constructed. The blaring lights of the 600-foot towers along the bridge overwhelmed the tiny candle beacons of the lighthouse and in 1948, it was abandoned and scheduled for demolition.

Here’s where children saved the day. Six years earlier, a book entitled The Little Red Lighthouse And The Great Gray Bridge by Hildegarde H. Swift had hit the shelves. This sweet story portrays the diminutive guidepost as happy with its oh-so-important job of warning sailors away from land until the bridge is built over it. The lighthouse then worries that it has lost its purpose, but in the end, it learns that it still has an important job to do and that everything and everyone is important–big and small.

Thousands of kids who loved the tale of the lighthouse started a campaign to save it. Their combined efforts resulted in the transfer of ownership from the Port Authority to the NYC Department of Parks & Recreation, and, lucky us, we get to enjoy the result of their efforts today.

Visitors can still climb the iron stairs to the top of the tower, and visit the lantern room, which has a working lens.

This is a must-do for visiting kids (and adults) in the city. My stepson was enthralled with the book and delighted every time his Dad took him to visit. Pack a picnic lunch and plan to spend a good part of the day, as The Fort Washington Park just south of the bridge has been spiffed up in recent years. A new playground, picnic areas, even a natural turf soccer field have turned it into kid heaven!

 

 

 

Shape Up, NYC!

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The NYC Parks Department isn’t only good at one thing keeping our parks beautiful (aren’t they the best?), but they want to help us to get fit to boot with their Shape Up NYC classes.

Tons of free fitness classes are held throughout all five boroughs. In Manhattan alone, you can take zumba, yoga, kickboxing, cardio sculpt, pilates, body toning and Feldenkrais, to name a few. Feldenkrais? It’s a form of physical therapy that promotes healing from movement. (Who knew? Now you do.)

Our own Washington Square Park hosts a free BYOM* yoga class every Wednesday morning from 8:30 to 9:30 through August 13th. So whether you live here or are just visiting, take advantage of this freebie, then stop North Square for a cup of coffee!

Namaste!

*Bring Your Own Mat

Image via B.C. Lorio/Flickr

Putt Putt And Away…

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There’s a putting green right in the middle of Midtown Manhattan. Who’da thunk?

Bryant Park has a five-holed green on the southwest corner that’s open to all from 11 am to 7 pm through September. And it’s free! Free golf balls and clubs are also provided, but you’re welcome to bring your own.

The best putters can participate in the Bryant Park Putting Championships. Weekly lunchtime competitions on August 7, 14 and 21 could earn them a stake in the championship round on August 28th.

Find out about the championships here.

Image via Sarah Spaulding/Flickr

 

SummerStage: What You Need To Know

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One of the highlights of summer in the city is the wonderful SummerStage series of concerts. The shows have been going on since the 80′s and never disappoint.

SummerStage in Manhattan takes place at Rumsey Playfield: enter Central Park on 69th and 5th Avenue and follow the crowds…you’ll be sure to find it. (There are SummerStage events in Brooklyn, Queens and the Bronx, too–with some shows devoted solely to kids.) Almost all the events are free; the few that aren’t are benefits for charities. And it’s all about variety.

Some cool highlights this year: The Metropolitan Opera Summer Recital Series on June 23rd, Ballet Hispanico on July 16th, the Rock Steady Crew’s 37th Anniversary Concert on July 27th and a Motown Gospel Revue on August 9th. Beck, The Counting Crows and Toad the Wet Sprocket will be playing benefits. One thing I love about this series is that you can check out different music genres and it costs nothing.

Along with the music, there is, of course, FOOD! And good, interesting local food at that. Asia Dog, Blue Marble Ice Cream, Lonestar Empire BBQ and Pizza Moto. Plus local City Winery wine, and local brews: Laguanitas, Ommegang and Six Point. All vendors are cash-only.

There are bleacher seats available, but it’s probably more comfortable to head to the park early and bring a blanket. I’d arrive at least an hour before the show to get a good viewing location. The show goes on rain or shine, but will be cancelled in the event of dangerous lightening. (We New Yorkers are hardy, but we’re not stupid.)

Check out the complete lineup here.

Image via Wally Gobetz/Flickr

Movies In The Park

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The Bryant Park film festival starts this year on June 16th. Every Monday at 5:00 pm, New Yorkers gather with blankets and picnic supplies in the park, located behind the New York Public Library in Midtown Manhattan, between 40th and 42nd Streets and Fifth and Sixth Avenues. (I’d bet there even earlier–maybe 4:30–to get a prime spot.) Films begin at sunset (figure between 8 and 9). Dramas, comedies, classics..something for everyone will be screened. Best of all? It’s free.

June 16th: Saturday Night Fever
June 23rd: The Mark of Zorro
June 30th: A Soldier’s Story
July 7th: Blazing Saddles
July 14th: Suddenly Last Summer
July 21st: National Lampoon’s Vacation
July 28th: Key Largo
August 4th: The Karate Kid
August 11th: Lover Come Back
August 18th: The Shining

And the New York Public Library that you’ll be sitting next to? That’s the one that was featured in Ghostbusters!

Image via Wikipedia

It’s A Big Apple Barbecue Block Party!

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What: Seventeen of the country’s best pitmasters will assemble right her in our fair city. Barbecue pros are traveling from Texas, Tennessee, Missouri, Mississippi, Alabama and both Carolinas to join our NYC stars for this huge cookout. And yes–of course there will be music! Bands of multiple genres will perform. This ain’t your mama’s weenie roast.

he 12th annual Big Apple Barbecue Block Party and 17 of the country’s best pitmasters are coming back to Madison Square Park on Saturday and Sunday, June 7 & 8, from 11:00am to 6:00pm. The Park will be bustling and bursting with guests from all over the country looking to indulge in an amazing assortment of authentic American barbecue.

Event admission is free for this weekend long event – and FastPasses and the new Big Piggin’ Pass are now on sale: get them here! We hope to see you in the park in June for some award-winning barbecue and Southern-inspired fare, and live performances from emerging and established musical artists.

- See more at: http://www.madisonsquarepark.org/things-to-do/calendar/big-apple-barbecue-2014#sthash.nqvdcDJa.dpuf

When: Saturday & Sunday, June 7th and 8th from 11 am to 6 pm.

Where: Madison Square Park, 23rd to 26th Street between Fifth and Madison.

How much: Zero to get in, though the ‘cue will cost you. Various special passes are for sale that enable attendees to skip the lines, sit in a VIP area and/or get unlimited beer, wine, cocktails or non-alcoholic beverages.

Prepare to pig out!

he 12th annual Big Apple Barbecue Block Party and 17 of the country’s best pitmasters are coming back to Madison Square Park on Saturday and Sunday, June 7 & 8, from 11:00am to 6:00pm. The Park will be bustling and bursting with guests from all over the country looking to indulge in an amazing assortment of authentic American barbecue.

Event admission is free for this weekend long event – and FastPasses and the new Big Piggin’ Pass are now on sale: get them here! We hope to see you in the park in June for some award-winning barbecue and Southern-inspired fare, and live performances from emerging and established musical artists.

- See more at: http://www.madisonsquarepark.org/things-to-do/calendar/big-apple-barbecue-2014#sthash.nqvdcDJa.dpuf

The 12th annual Big Apple Barbecue Block Party and 17 of the country’s best pitmasters are coming back to Madison Square Park on Saturday and Sunday, June 7 & 8, from 11:00am to 6:00pm. The Park will be bustling and bursting with guests from all over the country looking to indulge in an amazing assortment of authentic American barbecue.

Event admission is free for this weekend long event – and FastPasses and the new Big Piggin’ Pass are now on sale: get them here! We hope to see you in the park in June for some award-winning barbecue and Southern-inspired fare, and live performances from emerging and established musical artist

- See more at: http://www.madisonsquarepark.org/things-to-do/calendar/big-apple-barbecue-2014#sthash.nqvdcDJa.dpuf

12th annual Big Apple Barbecue Block Party and 17 of the country’s best pitmasters are coming back to Madison Square Park on Saturday and Sunday, June 7 & 8, from 11:00am to 6:00pm. The Park will be bustling and bursting with guests from all over the country looking to indulge in an amazing assortment of authentic American barbecue.

Event admission is free for this weekend long event – and FastPasses and the new Big Piggin’ Pass are now on sale: get them here! We hope to see you in the park in June for some award-winning barbecue and Southern-inspired fare, and live performances from emerging and established musical artists.

- See more at: http://www.madisonsquarepark.org/things-to-do/calendar/big-apple-barbecue-2014#sthash.nqvdcDJa.dpuf

‘Ello Guvnah!

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In a prior post on Memorial Day happenings, I mentioned that Governors Island will be opening for the season that weekend. Here’s a little whowhatwhenwherewhy on this cool place:

First of all, what is it? GI is a 172-acre island in the heart of New York Harbor, right in between Lower Manhattan and Brooklyn. For almost two centuries it was a military base. In 2003, the feds sold the bulk of the island to New York and voila, we have yet another big, beautiful park.

It’s open weekdays from 10 am to 6 pm and weekends from 10 to 7. Ferries run from Lower Manhattan daily, and from Brooklyn Bridge Park’s Pier 6 on Saturdays, Sundays, Memorial Day and Labor Day. A mere $2 can get you a round trip; kids under 12 pay zilch and seniors just have to fork over a buck.

Bring your bike! And if you don’t have one, you can rent one there. Free Bike Mornings, a new program this year, allows visitors to borrow a bike for free for up to one hour every weekday between 10 AM and noon.

You can bring your own picnic from the mainland, but frankly, I’d just buy your snacks there because there are plenty of options: picnic food places, Carribean food joints, Philly cheese steaks, ice cream and even a beer garden.

There are special events all summer long, including a Jazz Lawn Party, a badminton competition and musical performances. Check for more info here.

 

Cherry Blossoms Are (Almost) Here

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Little darlings, it’s been a long, cold lonely winner, but now the cherry blossom trees are thisclose to blooming in our parks. Hooray!

The Brooklyn Botanical Garden reports that its first tree is starting to blossom. The BBG updates a map on the buds’ progress regularly, so you can plan the best time to visit.

Central Park also reportedly has a few blooms. The trees are located by the Delacorte Theater, on the southeast edge of the Great Lawn, the Reservoir, the Ramble and Bethesda Terrace.

And the New York Botanical Gardens in the Bronx also plays host to the Spring beauties.

FYI, you can expect the season to last about five weeks, so start planning now!

 

Five Reasons To Visit New York City In April

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April brings a little something for everyone. Here’s why you should come and stay with us next month:

1. In just a few weeks, the cherry blossoms will be in bloom. Central Park and the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens are key viewing spots, but our own Washington Square Park has its fair share of the springtime-announcing buds.

2. The Tribeca Film Festival. This year it runs from April 16th through the 27th and includes free community events like the Tribeca Drive-In, which screens family-friendly movies like Mary Poppins and Splash outdoor at Waterfront Plaza.

3. It’s opening season for baseball fans! The Yankees toss out the first ball on April 1, while the Mets get a head start on March 31st.

4. Car lovers can check out the New York International Auto Show from the 18th through the 27th. Visitors can drool over the fancy cars with no alternate side of the street parking issues to worry about.

5. The average daily temperature is about 60 degrees….oh-so-perfect for exploring the city.