The Kids Are Antsy, But It’s Broiling Outside
SOLUTION: The Federal Reserve’s aggressively air-conditioned gold vault, 50 feet below sea level, houses about a third of the world’s total gold reserves: nearly $200 billion, all melted into 28-pound bars of 99.5 percent–pure precious metal. Free weekday tours amble through cool cement corridors and a 90-ton revolving steel cylinder door to the holding cells, where 7,000 tons of glowy gold are locked up. There’s an impressive coin exhibit on the equally freezing main floor. Federal Reserve Bank of New York, 33 Liberty St., at Nassau St.; 212-720-6130.
My Out-of-Town Guests Are Too Jaded for the Usual
SOLUTION: Two Chinatown clairvoyants will analyze your visitors’ physical, mental, and emotional energy by peering at a photo taken by a ColorVision Aura Imaging Camera (it’s basically a Polaroid). A green-yellow halo above the head indicates thinking about a work issue; darkness near the lower back is stored unhealthy energy. The $15 analysis is predictably vague, and the prescription for cleansing your aura often involves buying crystals. But as souvenirs go, it’s more interesting than another postcard of the skyline. Magic Jewelry, 238 Canal St., at Centre St.; 212-343-0663.
I Want a DIY Outdoor Project With Immediate Payoff
SOLUTION: Since 2003, John Mejias, publisher of the comic ’zine Paping, has encouraged creative daredevils to build their own gravity-powered soapbox-derby racers using baby carriages, bureau drawers, and, once, a discarded NordicTrack. Mejias is making plans to return to the derby’s original location: the steep “Suicide Hill” of Vine Street in Brooklyn Heights. But even if that falls through, there will definitely be a race on August 23 at Fort Tryon Park. All are welcome; show up at 3 p.m. with your creation and a helmet. Papingsoapboxderby.org.
I’ve Already Seen Every Shark Show on the Discovery Channel
SOLUTION: Sea Turtle Dive Charters runs shark dives 15 to 25 miles south of Montauk, where the warm Gulf Stream attracts lots of toothy predators (from $200). Of course, it’s three hours minimum by train, jitney, or car to Montauk, which means this is an overnight activity. First, you’ll chug out onto the ocean on the 36-foot Sea Turtle; then you’ll climb into a cage with a partner and be dropped a half-dozen feet behind the boat (watch your hands!). Breathing through mounted tanks, you’ll see twelve-foot mako, thresher, blue, and sometimes basking sharks on the prowl. BYO wetsuit, mask, and snacks. 631-335-6323 or seaturtlecharters.com.
We’re Not Wasting One More Afternoon on Guitar Hero
SOLUTION: At the nonprofit Mariachi Academy of New York, boys and girls (ages 7 to 18) learn to sing and play beautiful ranchera songs on trumpets, guitars, violins, and other instruments (from $30). No prior musical training is required, and though the lyrics are in Spanish, knowing the language is not a prerequisite. The net effect: Your kids will be able to play an actual instrument, and perhaps serenade you. El Faro Beacon Community Center, 2351 First Ave., at 120th St.; 917-673-7101.
Motocross Is My Thrill
SOLUTION: As awesome as it looks, popping a wheelie on New York streets is illegal. But on Campus Drive in Florham Park, New Jersey (about 30 miles from the Holland Tunnel), you can wheelie all you want, as long as you have at least 10,000 motorcycle miles or a year of experience under your belt. On One Wheel, a school that coaches riders all the way to the freestyle-competition circuit, has one-day classes (from $525). They’ll teach you how to pop and bring it down without bending your rims or your arm. (An EMT is on call, just in case.) 877-661-9452 or ononewheel.com.
I Work on Wall Street. It’s Been Kind of Stressful Lately.
SOLUTION: Become a volunteer bee-watcher for the American Museum of Natural History and the Parks Department. You’ll be given seven plants in need of sunlight and supervision, and told to sit and observe them for 30 minutes every other week. It’s a little science, a little Zen. You count the fuzzy guys as they do their thing, then submit the data. The study should reveal whether bees are distributed unequally throughout the city, and your data may be used to bolster the case for more green spaces. Orientation is July 1, and space is limited. RSVP to email@example.com.
I Want to Try a Nude Beach, Just Once
SOLUTION: Take it all off during Nude Recreation Week (July 7 to 12), when first-time naturists are encouraged to skip boring old “textile” beaches in favor of clothing-optional ones like Gunnison Beach in Sandy Hook, New Jersey (see “Get Wet,” here). The largest nudist beach on the East Coast draws nearly 5,000 during hot weekends. Board the appropriately named SeaStreak Ferry from Pier 11 in Manhattan and you’ll be on the sand (well, your towel) in less than an hour. Remember naturist etiquette: Leave the camera at home; lay a towel before sitting down; and keep your gaze at eye level when chatting with your fellow unclothed. 800-262-8743 or seastreak.com.
Running Around the Reservoir Is Monotonous
SOLUTION: Leap off some buildings. New York Parkour’s weekly training sessions (held underneath the exit ramps on the Manhattan side of the Brooklyn Bridge) are a crazily athletic workout. Mono-named instructors Exo and Oasis show basic maneuvers that “traceurs” use to scale walls and flip off roofs. The focus is on conditioning exercises like push-ups and squats to get beginners into shape for leaping, landing, and rolling without hurting themselves. A series of “QM,” or quadrupedal movements, improve balance, help prevent shoulder-socket injuries, and teach trainees to use their arms like an extra set of legs ($15 in advance, $20 in person; every Sunday through July). Brooklyn Banks, Rose St. at Avenue of the Finest; nyparkour.com.
I’d Like Something Else to Do on My Bike Than Just Pedal
SOLUTION: You can join (or just watch) the weekly three-on-three pickup bicycle-polo games organized by NYC Bike Polo every Sunday at Roosevelt Park on the Lower East Side. Show up with a bike (shorter handlebars and working brakes recommended), a handmade mallet (usually a ski pole doctored with a bolted-on piece of plastic as the slapper), and some padding (shin guards and a helmet should suffice). The rules aren’t complicated and can be explained on-site. Games last eight to fifteen minutes. Roosevelt Park, Christie and Broome Sts.; nycbikepolo.com.