08/02/16 9:00am
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Brighton Beach is waiting for you, at the end of the Q. Photo: Regina Mogilevskaya

I will choose Brighton Beach over the Rockaways any day, and it’s not just on account of my last name. This laid back beach boasts irrefutable seductions: It’s easily accessible via the Brighton Beach stop on the B or the Q train, from which the sand is less than a five-minute walk. It’s spacious and rarely overcrowded. And the best part? It doesn’t feel like a damn American Apparel ad.

Though on the outskirts of what is essentially Little Russia/Odessa, the crowd that’s scattered across the beach is always diverse, and families are very much welcome. The bathrooms leave much to be desired (wear your shoes and hold your nose), but the water is consistently warm and tranquil and the sand is clean, you know, for New York. Unlike the Rockaways, the Brighton Beach boardwalk is relatively bare when it comes to food and drink (apart from Tatiana and Café Volna, two pricey Russian restaurants whose pleasures we’ll leave for another time). So while you won’t find tacos or happen across a hip flea market here, there’s a very undeniable allure to this boardwalk, beautiful and aging in the harsh sunlight. Whether it’s the gusto of foreign languages swirling around you, or the unparalleled people watching, there’s something about Brighton Beach that will make you feel much further from your apartment than you are, maybe even like you’re on an overseas adventure.

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Poppy seed-filled pastries at La Brioche Café on Brighton Beach Avenue. Photo: Regina Mogilevskaya

Before you set foot on the sand, hit up some of the small shops and bakeries that line the streets for snacks, salads and sandwich makings. You won’t regret it. One challenge is that in many stores the signs are exclusively in Russian, so if you have a friend with some Slavic language skills, hit them up for their assistance. Or get ready to point and nod and smile a lot. And keep in mind that the Q train will get you here in under 30 minutes from Atlantic Terminal, so it’s a solid shorefront destination even in the winter, when many of the hot dishes will be even more appealing. Here are three of the best spots to stop and stock up. (more…)

07/28/16 9:00am

When Johnny Cash sang about falling into a burning ring of fire, we’re pretty sure he was talking about living in New York City in August, which is why this month’s culture roundup is replete with ways to keep it chill indoors—like a new Ellen Page film that offers the perfect excuse to Netflix and grill—as well as a few reasons to brave the heat, including MoMA PS1’s final installation at Fort Tilden.

Rockaway! by Katharina Grosse Photo: MoMA PS1

Rockaway! by Katharina Grosse Photo: MoMA PS1

10. Not that we need an excuse to head to the beach in August, but Katharina Grosse’s installation, Rockaway!, at Fort Tilden’s aquatics building is reason enough to hitch a ride to the Rockaways. To call Grosse’s latest work site-specific is kind of an understatement, seeing as how the German artist transformed the decaying building, which never bounced back after Hurricane Sandy and will be demolished after the exhibition closes in November, into her canvas, spray painting it in electric hues of oranges and pinks inspired by a beachy sunset. (more…)

07/26/16 10:57am

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We’re in it. The hottest part of the year. Rooftop weather. Right now it seems like the long, steamy days, sudden thunderstorms and sultry nights will last forever, but one of the sweetest things about summer is how fleeting it always feels. Here are three ways to take full advantage of the season and get up on a rooftop, take a deep breath, absorb the view and appreciate the moment.

Get a drink

New York being a drinker’s paradise, the most obvious rooftop activity for summer months is cooling down with a glass of something cold, refreshing and, well, dehydrating. We visited Rooftop Reds in the Brooklyn Navy Yard earlier this summer and highly recommend ordering a rosé tasting flight followed by a bottle of whichever wine you enjoyed the most. They also have hammocks for post-sipping total relaxation.

BB contributor Ellen Killoran has a new favorite rooftop drinking venue this year. She writes: The Llama Inn rooftop bar has managed to create a near-impossible oasis from the city while being so close to the BQE that you can almost touch it (strategic design keeps the roadway hidden). The compact space above Williamsburg’s new Peruvian destination restaurant feels like a tropical getaway, somehow muffling the noise right outside. The Spanish and Latin American wine list will challenge the palate. The Bodegas Los Bermejos ($13) is not your typical bone-dry rose, and the Llama Del Ray ($13), their signature frozen Pisco-red wine punch, will make your tastebuds stand at attention. (more…)

07/15/16 11:10am
Head to Long Beach on the LIRR. Photo: Annaliese Griffin

Head to Long Beach on the LIRR. Photo: Annaliese Griffin

Summer is here and that means it’s time to go to the beach! It’s a little counterintuitive, but it’s actually easier to take my five-year-old to beautiful Long Beach on the LIRR than taking public transportation to most of the beaches in New York City. Plus, there’s a sweet beach and train combo deal–when buying your ticket, choose the Deals and Getaways option which includes train fare plus a day pass to the beach all for $24. Consider that if you drove and paid for parking and for a beach pass (yes, you have to pay to get on to Long Beach). All you have to do is exchange your train ticket for a day pass to the beach at one of the kiosks along the boardwalk. Children under five ride for free and ages five to 11 ride for $1. 

Off we went on the sunny Saturday of Memorial Day weekend, starting at Atlantic Terminal, making an easy transfer at Jamaica, and ending up at Long Beach Station. The entire trip takes about an hour, but for my boy and his friend the train ride was almost as much fun as playing in the sand. The front of the train will be crowded as that’s where the exit is at Long Beach Station. If you want a seat, head toward the back. (more…)

07/12/16 12:24pm

If we could, we’d wave a magic wand and make every summer weekend four days long. Sadly, we’re not that powerful. We can though, do our best to make your summer the best ever, with our outdoor movie calendar, round-up of free spots to do yoga, concert guide, beach reads and, with these seven summer pro-tips, including your new favorite app, the best cocktails for steamy nights and what to binge watch for when only AC and the couch will do.

c0da4874fbf1c61b3deeea5e147fd4d37b6a5aeaWhat to wear: $20 sunnies at In God We Trust For a long time I’ve had a personal policy that forbids me from spending more than $15 on a pair of sunglasses. I have a terrible habit of throwing them in my bag, dropping them, or misplacing them all together. The result is a cluttered tangle of Target specials, crappy aviators I’ve bought at gas stations and plastic freebies, none of which I really enjoy wearing. In God We Trust has changed all that. The boutique stocks $20 pairs of sunglasses in of-the-moment and classic styles. They’re all better than average quality for a $20-pair of sunglasses–just nice enough so that I finally bought a case for mine, and actually use it, but I’m also not afraid to wear them in the water when I go to the beach. Perfection.



screen322x572 (1)What to bring on vacation: Sky Guide ($2.99 on iTunes) Mars and Jupiter have both been highly visible in the night sky in New York recently, which I know thanks to Sky Guide. Launch Sky Guide and hold your phone up to the sky and the screen displays a labeled map of planets and constellations that syncs up with what you are seeing overheard. You can click on individual celestial bodies to learn more about them, and track the rise and set times for the sun, stars and planets. It’s all exceptionally intuitive and well designed, and one of the only apps I’ve wholeheartedly felt good about paying for. It’s fun, if a little depressing to see all the stars that aren’t visible in New York, shining behind the light pollution, and truly awe inspiring to launch Sky Guide around a campfire out in the middle of nowhere (no wi-fi or GPS signal needed for it to work). Just be prepared to pass your phone around while everyone takes a look, because it’s really that cool.


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06/14/16 12:20pm
Commune with the sky at the Brooklyn Grange Photo: Sarah Capua

Commune with the sky at the Brooklyn Grange Photo: Sarah Capua

It’s possible to do yoga, for free, almost every day of the week this summer, as New York City’s parks are transformed into al fresco yoga studios. These classes are all either mellow Vinyasa flow or Hatha yoga–a gentle style that often includes a meditative component, so they’ll be satisfying and safe for all levels of practitioners, even total newbies. Wear comfortable duds, bring water and a mat, and use common sense, if it’s raining, classes will probably be cancelled. Remind yourself that there are green trees and soft grass in the city, and calm pastures in your own mind.

FREE

Mondays: Sunrise Abhaya Yoga in Brooklyn Bridge Park, 7:30am through July 25 Early risers, this one is for you. On Mondays from now through July 25 salute the sun on the lawn at Pier 6 in Brooklyn Bridge Park while the rest of us are still groggily loading up on coffee and trying to figure out what to wear. Registration for each free class starts at 7am, so get there early if you want to stake out a specific spot.

Wednesdays: Yoga in the Grove, 6:30pm, through August 31 As part of the massive Navy Yard transformation that’s going on right now, a weird little park called the Naval Cemetery Landscape recently opened at the intersection of Kent Avenue and Flushing, along the Brooklyn Waterfront Greenway. It’s not the most beautiful corner of the world, but the park, which was once the site of a cemetery for the Naval Hospital (the remains were relocated to Cypress Hills), is devoted to native plants, and once you step through the gate it really is an oasis, despite the proximity to the BQE. Head to yoga on Wednesday nights from 6:30 to 7:30pm and then follow class with a drink at Rooftop Reds or Kings County Distillery (yes, you can have a cocktail after yoga). Free, with RSVP. (more…)

06/13/16 12:09pm
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Eat tacos and sip rose for a good cause this summer. Photo: Regina Mogilevskaya

Be honest–when was the last time your good deed for the day was purchasing and devouring tacos? Never? That’s about to change. For the rest of the summer you’ll be able to pop by the backyard at Greenpoint’s San Damiano Mission, fill up on some seriously delicious tacos, and know that your money is going toward a noble cause–the repair and restoration of the church’s 104-year-old pipe organ.

“Josh Cohen, my partner over at Extra Fancy, does a lot of outreach and support in the neighborhood, and that’s how he befriended the Sam Damiano Mission,” explains Extra Fancy co-owner Mark Rancourt. “They asked if [we] wanted to use their yard for the summer as a food and event space, and we went for it.” Rancourt says that figuring out the menu was easy enough–who doesn’t love tacos?

Currently, Holy Smoke (the punny name of the summer pop-up) offers beer, rosé, chips, and a choice of three tacos: chicken mole, hickory-smoked pork, and portobello, and all three are pretty flawless as far as tacos go. All of the profits from the pop-up will be donated to the organ restoration project. (more…)

05/31/16 11:07am
A row of hammocks at the ready at Rooftop Reds, for their "Hammock Happy Hour". Photo: Nicole Davis

A row of hammocks at the ready for happy hour at Rooftop Reds. Photo: Nicole Davis

The Brooklyn Navy Yard has been getting a lot of attention lately, with Fly by Night, the recent announcement that Brooklyn Brewery will open a new facility there in 2018 and a whole summer’s worth of events (including sunset yoga and dinners) underway at the Brooklyn Grange.

What may have flown under your radar are two new Navy Yard spots for outdoor drinking, Rooftop Reds and the new tasting room at Kings County Distillery, The Gatehouses. The latter has been open for cocktails on Friday and Saturday nights for several weeks now, and, as of yesterday, will be serving whiskey pours ($8-16), flights ($16 for three whiskeys, $30 for five), and cocktails ($8-14, and if you think that whiskey is too heavy for summer, remember the mint julep, $12) Monday to Saturday all summer long. Snacks from Vinegar Hill House and Crown Finish Caves and whiskey popsicles made in collaboration with People’s Pops round out the menu.

The real clincher on Kings County is the location. The tasting room is in the gatehouse at the Sands Street entrance to the Navy Yard (where Flushing meets Navy–glamorously close to the NYPD vehicle impound lot). Basically, it looks like a castle. This is the type of weird old building that is just such a pleasure to gawk at, amidst all the murderously boring glass and steel towers rising around the city right now. Also, you will definitely know that you are in the right place when you arrive, which is a slightly more challenging proposition when it comes to King’s County’s neighbor, Rooftop Reds. (more…)

05/27/16 11:24am
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As if you needed another reason to visit Industry City. How about a dance party? Photo: Industry City

This weekend marks the unofficial start to summer, which means trips upstate, free movie screenings, and a lot of al fresco dining, drinking, and dancing. Here are just a few of the newest spaces for all your outdoor frolicking needs.

Courtyard at The Landing It seems like every week, Industry City finds a new reason to get us down to Sunset Park. The latest addition to the multi-faceted site is Courtyard at The Landing, a new outdoor space co-founded by the people behind Gowanus’ Bell House that’s fit for all your summer-y needs. Throughout the season, locals are invited to grab food prepared by executive chef Adam Shepard (Tavern On The Green, Union Pacific) and enjoy a full bar plus a slew of special events, including a brand new Saturday night dance party hosted by Freedom Party. The inaugural 80s versus 90s fête kicks off on June 4. (more…)

05/06/16 12:25pm

Governors Island doesn’t open until May 28, but in the midst of a monsoon-like spring, we need something to look forward to. This 172-acre pocket of parkland will be unveiling some impressive new features this summer, along with its usual lineup of great events. If you always read about the fun things happening on Governors Island, but never actually end up making it there (or haven’t since Governors Ball was actually on Governors Island all those years ago), this is the year to remedy the situation. As usual, there will be ferries from Brooklyn Bridge Park and along the Brooklyn waterfront via the East River Ferry. And if you fund this Kickstarter, you could actually walk there one day–it’s only 1400 feet away.

Here’s what you can expect on NYC’s fun island this summer:

#1 Governors Island is getting enviable vistas

The view from Outlook Hill as of April 2016. Photo: The Trust For Governors Island

The view from Outlook Hill as of April 2016. Photo: The Trust For Governors Island

Unlike San Francisco, New York City is delightfully flat, which is why you’re able to see for miles on a clear day. But one of the great and let’s be honest, extremely Instagrammable features coming to Governors Island this summer will be the Hills, a series of man-made ridges and slopes that have been under construction since 2013. Each of the new, little mounds are designed around a theme and include Slide Hill, where kids and adults alike are invited to ride from top to bottom on a three story tall, 48.5 feet long slide–NYC’s longest; Outlook Hill, which at 70 feet will boast a gorgeous view of the city and the Statue of Liberty; Grassy Hill, a picnic perfect spot overlooking a baseball diamond; and Discovery Hill, a wooded hill that will feature Cabin, a sculpture by famed English artist Rachel Whiteread at the top. While there’s no opening date as of yet, locals are invited to explore the new area during free hardhat tours until the Hills officially open later this summer. (Curbed got a sneak peek.) (more…)