The weather is getting warmer and people are wanting to get those vacation plans going for this summer that they missed last year. Now the question is, where to go? Rome, London, Athens?
For many Americans, with restrictions still shifting minute to minute, making long-haul travel plans may not seem like the prudent thing to do. The prediction of the travel experts is that vacations close to home are the way to go.
Last summer may have been the year with no vacations, but this summer is definitely time to get out and explore. The idea of being a tourist at home is such a wonderful concept that many locals are taking into consideration. After all, New York is the #1 tourist destination in the United States and pretty close to the top of the list worldwide, so let’s get out there and see what we can discover in our own backyard.
New York and the surrounding states are so incredibly diverse in activities, geography, food, culture and entertainment. Within an hour of NYC, you could be in the mountains, at the lake or at the ocean. In NYC, there are so many new things that have been added to the bucket list of tourists coming into the city, so maybe you haven’t had the chance to get there yet yourself. An easy way to see the city is a Sight Seeing bus. You’ll be sure to learn a lot and see many neighborhoods.
If you really want to get immersed in the experience, you should get a MetroCard and download one of many apps onto your phone so you’ll always know where the best station is for where you want to go. There are other modes of transportation in NYC, no shortage in fact. There are ferries, helicopters, trams, trains, subways, pedicabs, buses, taxis, CitiBikes, Uber, chauffer transportation and good ole foot power. Once you plan out your visit, try incorporating a few of those modes…it adds to the adventure.
NYC, well there is always something to do or see. The main spots are Central Park, Empire State Building, Statue of Liberty, South Street Seaport, Broadway, Time Square, and you know the other spots. Maybe try to really get into it. Head out to the Green Market at Union Square, eat your way through Little Italy or Chinatown, People Watch in Washington Square Park. Heading Uptown? The Museums are open and ready to greet you. The new attraction is ‘Little Island’ is now open by reservation. Is it a Park or is it an art installation? Well, it’s both. Check it out at 13th Street at Pier 55 Hudson River Park.
Brooklyn would love to see you. They have the best views of NYC and you won’t go hungry! Coney Island, New York Aquarium, and a walk-through Dumbo are the usual stops. Try to venture out of the way and head over to Brooklyn Bridge Park, walk across to Manhattan, stroll through Williamsburg, pick up some great finds created by local artists, and take a Brooklyn Pizza and Brewery tour. Maybe don’t start with the brews and pizza, you won’t get to all the other things to do in Brooklyn.
Heading over to Staten Island for the day? Well, the Chinese Scholar Gardens are amazing. It’s a hidden gem where you can find your Zen! Also, check out some local history at Fort Wadsworth, the longest-operating military installation in the country, now being run by the National Parks Service. There may be goats there, no promises. The unofficial spot in Staten Island is the boat graveyard at Arthur Kill near the Fresh Kills landfill. Wear your boots and bring your camera. That’s all we’ll say about that.
If you’re going to the Bronx, with or without the kids, you must spend some time at the Bronx Zoo. It is truly a fun, magical, and educational place rooted in animal conservation. The New York Botanical Gardens is another stop that should not be missed. It encompasses 250 acres creating a giant, beautiful living museum. You will learn and be inspired to do great things in your home garden. Hey, if you can get a ticket, even a bleacher seat, go take in a game at legendary Yankee Stadium. If you get hungry, Arthur Avenue has everything needed to satisfy you. Bread, pasta, meats, cheeses…and end your day with a nice espresso.
Queens is so diverse, and there is so much to do and appreciate, but it’s summer, so we’re heading to the beach! But before we get there, if you’re at JFK airport or near JFK, head over to the TWA Hotel. You can stay overnight or book a Day Tripper experience. There is so much to discover there; The rooftop pool and bar, the sunken lounge, roller skating under the Connie, and then boarding ‘ol Connie for a Martini and taking in those runway views! It’s a great day at the airport to do some plane spotting, soak up the sun, and immerse yourself in the historic Saarinen architecture beautifully brought back to life at the TWA Hotel.
It’s summer in New York; you have to spend some time at the beach! With so many beaches to choose from, Rockaway Beach offers some unique options that the others just don’t have. A quick 15 minutes from JFK there is a new crowning jewel to the area, the Rockaway Hotel. It’s a great place for a quick overnight or to spend a few days by the beach in style.
On Beach 108th, the hotel boasts great views of the ocean, the bay, and even the NYC skyline. Decidedly Scandinavian in design, décor, and vibe, you can indulge in the rooftop pool and private cabanas, take a yoga class, and enjoy lunch and drinks, all at the beautiful beachside location. Make sure to take a bike ride or stroll on the boardwalk or grab your beach chair and sunscreen and head down to the beach and check out the local offerings. No need to pack your own bike and chair, the hotel loans them out to guests. In addition to the local hotspot restaurants and bars, the hotel is just 2 blocks from the Ferry! Head into NYC for a quick visit or just go roundtrip on the Ferry; the ferry ride itself is spectacular. Check the Rockaway Hotel website regularly as they are hosting live cultural arts and music events throughout the summer.
Whatever you choose to do this summer, whether you are traveling abroad or staying local, try to relax, recharge and reconnect with friends and family. It’s been a tough year for all, we could use some time to just have some fun and look forward.
Don’t forget to check in with wherever you’re visiting to see if there are any restrictions in place.