For most people, summer is the time to get out, be adventurous, explore your surroundings, take time to smell the flowers, etc. But if you live in New York City, it becomes near impossible to enjoy popular attractions in the summer. Even though the city is swollen with tourists in just about every corner of Manhattan, there are still plenty of lesser known spots to enjoy in the warmer months. So, for those of you looking for fun that doesn’t require a line, here are 10 Alternatives to NYC Tourist Traps.
Outdoor Movies at McCarren Park
Instead of heading to the city-central location of Bryant Park this summer for movies on the lawn, we suggest going to Williamsburg for a less packed, more casual setting. Though McCarren Park’s “SummerScreen” takes place on a blacktop instead of a comfy lawn, but with a blanket and a few beers (which they serve, in addition to Brooklyn food fare) it’s hardly noticeable. The crowd is generally millenial, so if you’re bringing kids, we suggest getting there early for a spot near the front. Check out the SummerScreen schedule for movies through mid-August!
If you’re entertaining children, we think it’s worth it to brave the Coney Island crowds, because Rockaway Beach is not outfitted with rides. But, if you’re looking for a beach with an older crowd and a hopping food/drink scene, we think Rockaway Beach is the perfect respite, ESPECIALLY since this year marks the return of Rockaway Taco. But if you’re over the Rockaways, which have become much more popular in the past few years, you can take a 35 min bus ride down to Jacob Riis Park, an even more secluded and low-key beach for a crowd free afternoon.
Outdoor Concerts at Prospect Park Bandshell
Not many people realize that the Prospect Park Bandshell is also a contributing venue for the SummerStage concert series. Though Central Park holds many of the bigger summer concerts, the Prospect Park Bandshell, a smaller and less packed venue, has its fair share of music offerings this season, including Neko Case, Beirut, and The Lumineers. With the same rules and good vibes, the Bandshell is definitely worth the trip into Brooklyn. We suggest checking out the full SummerStage schedule for more details.
The Cloisters and Fort Tryon Park
Sure, Central Park and The Met have been NYC staples for decades now, and both are typically great experiences, unless you have to battle lines and clusters of people in order to view your favorite painting, or circle Sheep’s Meadow four or five times in order to find an open spot. At least for the summer, we think it’s completely appropriate to head uptown, way uptown, to The Cloisters and Fort Tryon Park. The Cloisters’ medieval collections are truly fascinating, and offer a unique experience to its sister museum. Fort Tyron Park, in and out of season, provides a quiet and beautiful luxury from Manhattan’s busy season.
Prospect Park Smorgasburg
By now, Williamsburg’s Smorgasburg food festival has made it to plenty of “Must See in NYC” lists, so we can cross it off of ours. But what tourists don’t know is that every Sunday in Prospect Park, the same food festival promoters bring Smorgasburg to another, less busy part of Brooklyn. No longer will patrons have to wait in half an hour lines for a cone of fries, or face the harsh realization they’ve run out of ramen burgers. Sundays at Prospect Park have never tasted this good.
It hasn’t been long since Yankee Stadium received its beautiful transformation, which included whole new additions for food and drink offerings, but with a price. If you’re just looking to watch the game, it may not be worth it to attend Yankee Stadium this summer, which is not only filled with its usual crowd of zealous fans, but of tourists as well. Citi Field is definitely a cheaper and more relaxed alternative if you aren’t diehard Yankee fans. For those of you looking to just hit the ballpark this summer, here is the full New York Mets schedule.
Grand Army Plaza Green Market
Second largest to the Union Square Market but with far less crowds, the more spacious Grand Army Plaza Market takes place every Saturday in the northwestern entrance of Prospect Park. Not only does the Grand Army Plaza have stranger and better produce and seed options, but it is also conveniently located near the Brooklyn Public Library and Brooklyn Museum. Though the Grand Army Plaza Market may attract a huge crowd, patrons never feel it due to the navigable rows of vendors in a more airy setting.
The Brooklyn Brewery was the place to go a few years ago due to its accessible location and affordable tasting and tour deals. But now, with every tourist and visiting beer connoisseur wanting to tour Williamsburg’s only brewery, we suggest heading uptown to the Bronx Brewery, open seven days a week. Located near Yankees stadium, this would be a great spot to hit up pre or post game. You likely won’t have to book anything in advance, and did we mention they have a dog park in the back?
After living in Williamsburg for three years, I have seen the popularity of the dine-in movie theater Nitehawk Cinema grow by tenfold. Now, if you’re wanting to attend the small and hip theater, you will need to decide at least five hours ahead of time, purchase tickets then, and hope you make it in time to snag a good seat. Instead, we suggest heading to Syndicated, a new eat-in movie theater in Bushwick that offers tickets from $3-5 in addition to offering an amazing food menu. The venue opened just this year, so we suggest checking it out before word spreads!
Macbeth at Marcus Garvey park
Even though The Public’s annual Shakespeare in the Park is a free event, the chances of snagging tickets in their highly competitive lottery are slim. Instead of betting against the odds, we think the SummerStage festival production of Macbeth is an amazing alternative to the risky lottery and big crowds. Not to mention, there’s no cost to witness the incredible cast from the Classical Theatre of Harlem. The show will run for the majority of July and take place in Harlem’s Marcus Garvey Park.