5 Memorial Day Weekend Ideas: Memorial Day Activities Across NYC

Rockaway Beach in NYC packed with New Yorkers soaking up the sun and swimming.

Staying local in NYC this weekend? Same here! And while we love heading out to points east every once in a while (especially: Ditch Plains, Montauk), there's also something extremely satisfying about hanging city-side on these big, summer holiday weekends – and Memorial Day weekend starts it all off. Basically: there are more fun things going on, and far fewer people waiting on line to do them. So, in addition to our usual weekend movie-going (we can personally recommend The Avengers, Polisse, What To Expect When You're Expecting, and The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, depending on your mood; we'll be seeing the new Wes Anderson, Moonrise Kingdom, opening tomorrow), we have plans to embark upon five NYC memorial Day adventures, and three full days to get it all done! 


New Yorkers at Rockaway Beach in NYC.

1. Rockaway Beach NYC 

Memorial Day weekend marks the official opening of all NYC beaches, but no question, we're heading out to Rockaway Beach NY. One, it's the nicest subway beach in town–just three blocks from the A-train to the Rockaway Park Shuttle station–with soft sand, good waves (sometimes), and clear water. True, it gets more crowded out there every year, but still, it's our favorite. And, two: Rockaway Taco! It's been eight months since we've had one (or three) of these beauties, the best tacos in NYC, and we're not going to wait any longer. 

Storefront of Rockaway Taco at Rockaway Beach in NYC.



Mark di Suvero exhibition of huge climbable sculptures at NYC's Governors Island.

2. Governors Island 

This weekend is also the opening of Governors Island, and, during this redesign/renovation year (check out all of the plans here), weekends are the only time the island will be open. Hop on the free Governors Island Ferry in Manhattan (at downtown's Battery Maritime building) or Brooklyn (at Pier 6, at the end of Atlantic Avenue), rent a bike, bring your own, picnic, nap, goof around, stroll, take in the lovely views, play free Figment mini-golf, and enjoy this amazing NYC treasure. By the way, the excellent Mark di Suvero exhibition of huge, sometimes climbable sculptures, scattered through the island, is back again this summer, with the addition of a new pierce, never before seen. For all Governors Island details, click here.  

Having fun playing mini golf at Governors Island in NYC.



View into Brooklyn's Littleneck clam shack through the windows.

3. The Littleneck "clam shack" in Gowanus 

Littleneck in Gowanus, Brooklyn, opened last fall, and we've heard lots of great things about the New England Clam Chowder, and the Full Belly Ipswich Clam Roll, and the kind-of-random but delicious-sounding Glazed Polish Bacon, but we've been waiting for the right time to go check it out. Like for instance: Memorial Day weekend! Note, the place looks cute but is small and gets super-crowded, so go early or be prepared to stand around drinking for a bit. It's on 3rd Avenue near Carroll Street. For more info and a look at the Littleneck menu, click here.

Clam dish at Littleneck clam shack in Gowanus, Brooklyn.



Guests relaxing and enjoying the view at the Standard Hotel's Le Bain rooftop bar.

4. Le Bain rooftop bar at the Standard AND a new mega-mural by JR! 

The Standard Hotel rooftop bar, called Le Bain, gets a bit too scene-y for our tastes once the sun goes down and the club kids start pouring in, but in the afternoon or early evening, this is a spectacular spot to have a drink and a snack of the crepe variety, either sweet or savory. It's also a terrific place for refueling after Memorial Day activities such as walking the length of The High Line, which we plan on doing for the thousandth or so time this weekend in order to see the huge new mural by the great JR, up near the northern end of the park, and pictured below (photo by Benjamin Sutton).  More Le Bain info, here.

Huge mural by JR at the High Line train in NYC.

5. Play "Find the Cool Little Statues" on The High Line

And if you haven't seen the High Line's Lilliput exhibition yet–small sculptures slightly hidden away throughout the park–well, you should, because it's pretty cool. More High Line Lilliput info, here.

Small statue next to the walkway at High Line's Lilliput exhibition in Manhattan.



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