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New York's River Playground


Fulton Stall Market.   

Map by Jason Lee  

1. Skate Park at West 30th Street
Hudson River at 30th St.
Silently pray that nobody eats asphalt while you’re watching the action on the mini-half-pipe. For skaters, the park is a breezy, picturesque place to ride that’s less challenging than the one at Riverside Park on 108th Street.

2. New York Kayak Polo
Pier 66, Hudson River at 26th St.
Like water polo, but without all that swimming, kayak polo is slowly gaining followers. To try it, contact the league’s organizers (, who will set you up with a kayak, paddle, life vest, and helmet.

3. Pier 66 Maritime
Pier 66, Hudson River at 26th St.
The barge-restaurant otherwise known as the Frying Pan relocated here last summer, having been booted off Pier 63 three blocks south. It’s still insanely popular—the best spots on the upper deck are usually occupied before 6 p.m. on Fridays.

4. North Chelsea Cove
Pier 64, Hudson River at 24th St.
The newly opened, lushly lawned Pier 64 takes advantage of its river-bend location to give lookout points both north and south.

5. The Village Community Boathouse
South side of Pier 40, West St. at W. Houston St.
Take a sit-on-top kayak for a free spin at this volunteer-run boating operation, with outposts on 56th and 72nd Streets. If you want to learn more-serious paddling skills, consider the free on-site training—volunteers swap hours for complimentary boat storage.

6. Tribeca Basketball Courts
Hudson River at Canal St.
Play some pickup at what may be the most scenic (and the windiest) basketball courts in the city. They opened last summer as part of the newly renovated stretch of waterfront between Houston and Laight Streets.

7. The Park House
Nelson A. Rockefeller Park, River Terr. nr. Murray St.; 212-267-9700
Swap your photo ID for Ping-Pong paddles or a table-hockey puck and stick at this alfresco rec center.

8. Manhattan Sailing Club
North Cove Marina, 385 South End Ave., at Liberty St.; 212-786-3323
It isn’t cheap ($250 for initiation, $1,340 annual dues, with half off for those 25 and under and 65 and up), but members get access to a fleet of J/24s and a private clubhouse barge anchored just north of Ellis Island. Intro-to-sailing lessons are offered through the Manhattan Sailing School (212-786-0400) for $99.

9. South Cove
Battery Park City Esplanade bet. 1st and 3rd Pl.
Walk the cove’s wooden-planked promenade like you’re Captain Jack Sparrow. Two lookout points (one atop a black metal staircase shaped like Lady Liberty’s crown) open onto the New York Harbor and the Jersey City skyline.

10. Wagner Pavilion/Gigino
20 Battery Pl., at West St.; 212-528-2228
Take out-of-towners up to the pavilion’s roof deck for frame-worthy views of the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, then dine downstairs at Gigino—the West Side’s only white-tablecloth-dining option right on the river.

11. Battery Gardens
Battery Park, enter at State St. at Pearl St.
One of the best sunsets in the city: Watch the nightly event from the beer garden at the southern tip of Battery Park, and follow up with seared-tuna sandwiches from the Picnick kiosk in the Battery Bosque.

12. Elevated Acre
55 Water St., at Coenties Slip
Bring a lawn chair or blanket and some picnic provisions, and watch one of the River to River Festival’s outdoor movies beneath the 50-foot Beacon of Light lantern. July 13 brings The Taking of Pelham One Two Three; West Side Story screens on July 20.

13. Bike and Roll Kiosk
South St. nr. Fulton St.
Swoop through the financial district on a free bicycle courtesy of the Downtown Alliance. Sign up in advance at downtownny .com to reserve wheels for a two-and-a-half-hour session. A credit card is required for deposit.

14. Water Taxi Beach
North side of Pier 17, South St. nr. Fulton St.
Scarf down burgers, wings, oysters, and fish tacos under electric-lit fake palm trees on an 18,000-square-foot beach bar on the East River. The unlikely scene includes 300 tons of sand, a nine-hole mini-golf course, Skee-Ball, and table tennis.

15. Fulton Stall Market
South St. nr. Beekman St.
Where you once could buy only fish, now you can bag Flora Perfecta flowers, Yummy Coffee lattes, and New York State wines. The new Fulton Stall Market, stocked with all manner of local products, is open on Fridays and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

16. Front Street
Bet. Beekman St. and Peck Slip
Front Street has quietly become something of a restaurant row. There are tapas and Cuban jazz (Salud! Restaurant & Bar), Italian seafood (Carmine’s) and antipasti (Barbarini Alimentari), brick-oven pizzas (Il Brigante), New Zealand mussels and lamb (Nelson Blue), and a new outpost of the Village’s beloved Jack’s Coffee. Plus Jeremy’s Ale House, home of 32-ounce Styrofoam cups of beer, recently migrated from its old location down the block.

17. Paris Café
119 South St., at Peck Slip; 212-240-9797
Throw back a few expertly drawn Guinnesses (much of the waitstaff is Irish) and a terrific plate of calamari at one of the oldest bars in town, born in 1873.

18. East River Park Band Shell
East River nr. Grand St.
The small, underutilized bandshell hosts just three shows this summer, but they’re all good ones: The manic “Gypsy jazz-rock” artists Man Man perform July 16, followed by Bronx hip-hop legend Slick Rick on July 23, and the “Pretty Boy of Salsa,” Ismael Miranda, on July 30.


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