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New York's River Playground

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The Skate Park at West 30th Street.   

Map by Jason Lee  

1. Hudson Beach Café
Riverside Park at 105th St.; 917-370-3448
A less-crowded alternative to the Boat Basin at West 79th Street, the bi-level bar and eatery screams summer with fruity drinks, greasy fish and chips, and views of beach-volleyball courts.

2. Hudson Warehouse Shakespeare
Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Monument, 89th St. and Riverside Dr.
Hudson Warehouse may not have the star power of Central Park’s Public Theater, but it’s easier to snag a seat—and, hey, river views! Shows start at 6:30 p.m., Thursday through Sunday.

3. Pier i Café
Hudson River at 70th St.
Gather a few friends for a cold pitcher of Corona at sunset—or, if they’re early risers, for 7 a.m. espressos—at the low-key, self-serve café on the water.

4. Clinton Cove Park
Piers 95 and 96, Hudson River bet. 55th and 57th Sts.
Poke around the relatively unknown midtown oasis, with its picnic-ready lawns, public boathouse, and Malcolm Cochran’s massive wine-bottle sculpture Private Passage.

5. Green Apple BBQ
362 E. 112th St, nr. First Ave.; 212-410-6915
Grab to-go ribs, wings, and blackened-catfish sandwiches, and carry your grub across the street to Thomas Jefferson Park. Get good and greasy beneath the towering London plane trees between the pool and baseball field.

6. Pier 107
East River at 107th St.
Cast a line into the East River (there’s bass, snapper, and flounder in there) or laze in the shade and watch the locals shadowbox Kung Fu.

7. Sportime at Randalls Island
One Randalls Island
The new tennis center at Randalls Island opens June 30, having just undergone a $16 million renovation that brought in twenty new courts. The newly revamped Golf Center across the street has 78 driving stalls and a 36-hole miniature-golf course.

8. Eli’s Vinegar Factory
431 E. 91st St., nr. First Ave.; 212-987-0885
Choose from a staggering array of prepared dishes, organic produce, and baked goods at Eli Zabar’s culinary complex, then walk two blocks back to the river to picnic.

9. Adventure Scuba
1737 York Ave., nr. 90th St.; 212-876-3483
A swimming pool adjacent to the East River may seem like an odd place to learn to dive, but Adventure Scuba’s 45-minute introductory course ($50), held at Asphalt Green, is a great deal. The outfitter also organizes field trips for certified divers to Dutch Springs, a wreck-filled quarry in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.

10. Yorkville Creperie
1586 York Ave., nr. 83rd St; 212-570-5445
After a jog along the greenway, refuel on ham-and-Swiss crêpes and coffee at the new Yorkville Creperie, two blocks west.

11. Tracy Stern SalonTea
501 E. 75th St., nr. York Ave.; no phone
Try the various estate teas served with madeleines and macaroons at this newly opened tearoom inspired by the French salons of the seventeenth century.

12. Roosevelt Island Tram
Second Ave. nr. 59th St.
It ain’t exactly the Cyclone, but the Roosevelt Island Tram is a fun and slightly unnerving ride that crosses 250 feet above the East River (ride with a MetroCard).

13. Sutton Place Park
Sutton Pl. bet. 53rd and 57th Sts.
The five parks along Sutton Place (best known as the spot where Woody Allen romanced Diane Keaton in Manhattan) are tailor-made for picnics, sunbathing, and soaking in views of the Queensboro Bridge.

14. The New York Milkshake Company
342 E. 47th St., nr. First Ave.; 917-880-2393
Grab a spot in the glass gazebo or outside by the grill, and listen to music (occasionally live) blaring from the overhead speakers while you suck down one of the stand’s tasty shakes or egg creams.

15. East 34th Street Ferry Landing
E. 34th St. at East River
Combine your ball-game commute with your tailgate party by taking the Yankee Clipper up the East River to the stadium. The ship stops here before and after each Yankees home game. Round-trip tickets are $22; a bar onboard serves booze, chips, and hot dogs.


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