Summer Guide 2024: Out of Manhattan

| 13 May 2024 | 02:08


Rockaway Beach, Queens

Keep your Hamptons, keep your Jersey Shores, even keep your Fire Island—which nice, sure, but a little too rustic for devoted urbanites. And besides, why drive (if you even have a car) when you get to paradise—also known as Rockaway Beach— by A Train? It’s true, the best combination of beach, boardwalk and related amenities is here, facing south upon the Atlantic Ocean, between Beach 67th and Beach 116th Streets. Yes, the peninsula stretches further east and west (where Jacob Riis Park and Fort Tilden are also popular) but this is the wave-pounding, jetty-filled, surfer beach heart of it, especially the blocks in the Beach 80s, 90s and 100s. Besides the sand and surf, the Boardwalk pulses cyclists, runners, walkers and assorted characters. If Hurricane Sandy had one benefit to Rockaway Beach, it’s the addition of some remarkable children’s playgrounds and an adult fitness park adjacent to the reconstructed (sans wood, sadly) boardwalk. For sit down food and drink, check out Rockaway Beach Boulevard. Bring sunscreen, and a hat!

Wave Hill, the Bronx

4900 Independence Avenue


There are many reasons to visit the Bronx, some intensely urban, like the dynamic ethnic food scenes of Mott Haven and others surprisingly bucolic. Among the latter, Wave Hill is a standout in two ways. First is its natural environment. Nestled in the Riverdale section on a hill overlooking the Hudson River and Palisades, Wave Hill features 28 acres of gardens and woodlands to explore. Second is its extensive cultural programming, with Sunset Wednesdays, a series of evening concerts on the Great Lawn, a summer highlight. Running from July 10 through 31, performers include jazz vocalist Ncole Zuraitis; Boston-based improvisatory Americana band, Twisted Pine; Columbian-born jazz harpist, Edmar Castañeda; and The Missing Element featuring The Beatbox House, a combined dance and vocal hip-hop ensemble—“All music and sound is 100% human-generated”!

Admission to Wave Hill is $10 adults, $6 students and seniors; $4 children 6-18. Free on Thursdays.

Brighton Beach, Brooklyn

One of the city’s most exciting, intriguing polyglot neighborhoods, Brighton Beach, rewards visitors as much as its more popular destination to the east, Coney Island, including its amusement district and the New York Aquarium. Historically, however, Coney Island is just that—the whole island, from today’s Seagate to Manhattan Beach, and the amusements were in a section called West Brighton. Brighton Beach proper was—and remains—something else. Once home to a thoroughbred race track and near infinite number of Jews (see Wallace Markfield’s novel, “Teitlebaum’s Window,” and Neil Simon’s play “Brighton Beach Memoirs” for details), by the 1990s, it was home not just to many Jewish Russians emigres but a substantial cross-section of the post-Soviet diaspora, as well as notable Pakistani and Mexican settlements. As one would hope, the food scene here is incredible, especially along Brighton Beach Avenue. Not to be missed: Kashkar Cafe, which offers a rare glimpse of Uyghur cuisine as well as more common Uzbek favorites.

Governor’s Island, New York Harbor

It sits there, tantalizing lower Manhattan and Brooklyn alike but for years, the question remained: how do you get there if not in the military (Army, Coast Guard) or government (any of the agencies with work on the island)? Today things are different, and getting there is easy, with both a free and paid ferry options available year-round. The administration of the Island is in two parts: the federal section, run by the National Parks, takes in the historic Castle Williams and Fort Jay; the substantial remainder is administered by the Governor’s Island Trust and has, in the last two decades, become one of the city’s conspicuous civic success stories, with its various carefully designed landscapes offering recreational, environmental, artistic activities galore. Pick hit: three iterations of a Jazz Age Lawn Party, taking place on June 9 and August 10-11. Period costumes encouraged!

Fort Wadsworth / South Beach, Staten Island

The northeast shore of Staten Island isn’t the easiest place to get to without a car (the Verrazano Bridge takes you right there) but it is doable and highly worthwhile trip by some combination of ferry, bus, bicycle and foot. On top of the bluff sits Fort Wadsworth, which is both part of Gateway National Park and home to the U.S. Army Reserve and Coast Guard. Especially popular with bicyclists and families from around the north shore, its combination of military history with stunning views, nature, including hilly paths down to the water, is uniquely pleasant, and includes a small children’s playground to keep the little ones engaged. Interior roads from Fort Wadsworth—also highly popular with cyclists, runners and walkers— lead one down to the sand and sea of South Beach, the Verrazano towers looming in one direction, the Franklin D. Roosevelt Boardwalk and myriad ballfields and playgrounds the other. Also, for those unaware of the rich ethnic and cultural diversity of Staten Island, prepare to be surprised!