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5+ Memorial Day NYC Activities and Events
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25 May 2012 04:29 PM EST

-by Jennifer Monteagudo, Staff Writer; Image: Service men and women spelling “I ‘heart’ NY” on the deck of the USS Kearsarge (Image Source: cryptome.org)

The “unofficial” start of summer is this weekend with the Memorial Day holiday (the official start is in late June).

Despite the crippling heat and that those teeny, tiny air conditioners never really cool down even the smallest of NYC bedrooms, this is a great place to spend the summer. Beaches, pools, parks and beer gardens abound for the outdoor lovers, and those who prefer the cool, dark indoors have plenty of options too. Below are 5+ ideas for what to do in the city this Memorial Day weekend.

Barbeque

Of course you’re going to barbeque—on Memorial Day, it’s practically law that you do so. However, if you don’t have a nice backyard/terrace/balcony space to grill up some hot dogs or veggie burgers or what-have-you, don’t fret. If you bring your own equipment, barbequing is allowed in certain parks—including Prospect Park. For a full list of parks and where in them barbequing is permitted, visit the facilities page of nycgovparks.org. Saturday may be your best bet for outdoor eating, as it looks like there might be thunderstorms on Sunday and Monday.

Beaches

City beaches officially open Saturday, May 26. New York City has 14 miles of beaches open to the public, with lifeguards and all, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily until Labor Day. Wade or just soak up some rays this weekend, but if you’re the more adventurous type—NYC also has two surfing areas on Rockaway Beach. For more information, visit nycgovparks.org. If you feel like getting out but don’t want a full blown vacation, jump on a LIRR train to one of Long Island’s many great beaches. May we recommend Montauk?

Indoor Pools

NYC’s outdoor pools don’t open until June, but did you know several of the city’s rec centers have indoor pools? Get your chlorine fill without worrying about sunscreen: the 12 year-round, indoor pools are located within four boroughs (sorry, Staten Island), and are accessible with Rec center memberships ($150 for adults, with discounts for seniors and minors). For more information and to find an indoor pool near you, go to nycgovparks.org.

Beer Gardens

There’s no greater pleasure in life than sitting out in the sun, drinking a delicious beer, surrounded by your friends and with nothing to do and little to worry about. That’s the general attitude at most beer gardens, traditional watering holes where the objective is to sit back, relax, and just chat away an afternoon or evening. One of the most famous is, arguably, the 101-year-old Bohemian Hall in Astoria, Queens. While “biergartens” are all the rage nowadays, this one’s been around when it was all the rage... 100 years ago. Even when the general popularity of biergartens sank, this one stuck around. Next door in Long Island City is Studio Square, and Radegast Hall is the biergarten for those who don’t want to leave Williamsburg. GuestofaGuest.com has a list of some Manhattan-based garten/gardens, including Lot on Tap and Beekmans. Check out the Beer Gardens NYC app to find the locations of the over 50 NYC biergartens.

Indoor Activities

If you simply can’t live without air conditioning and a bit of shade, the city still has many options for you. Blip Festival is this weekend—in the very cool and dark Gramercy Theatre, and you can catch Wes Anderson’s latest flick, Moonrise Kingdom, at Union Square throughout the weekend. The MoMA still has their exhibition on photographer Cindy Sherman, and as always, NYC offers cheap Broadway tickets, tons of shopping, and opportunities for relaxation.

Whatever you do this weekend, just remember to take a moment to think about the people who this holiday is for: those who laid down their lives for this country. Fleet Week runs until the 30th, so if you happen to run into a navy member, be sure to thank them and hey—why not—buy them a drink!

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