Families still in town come Memorial Day Weekend are either seriously bummed out or running willy-nilly through the empty streets, enjoying what raising kids here must have been like back when people used to flee to the suburbs. Commemorate the day by shoveling in a little history lesson between meals at the places that suddenly have reservations available. First up, from May 22 to May 25, walk over the Brooklyn Bridge in honor of its 125th anniversary. “There will be tons of great activities for kids,” says Nancy Webster, deputy director of the Brooklyn Bridge Park Conservancy. Highlights include “a concert by the Brooklyn Philharmonic in the Empire–Fulton Ferry State Park section of the future Brooklyn Bridge Park, special lighting of the bridge, and fireworks on Thursday evening.” Over the weekend, volunteers from the American Society of Civil Engineers will man the bridge to answer questions. For Memorial Day–themed history, take the birthday bridge to the South Street Seaport Museum for two themed events. On May 24, take a Revolutionary War walking tour of lower Manhattan, where you’ll visit sights like Federal Hall and the Liberty Pole, and learn about the conflict that defined America’s freedom. On May 25, set sail on the impressive schooner Pioneer and find out about the port’s role in the military history of America. On May 26 (the holiday), rally the troops and head to Queens for its 81st Memorial Day Parade, billed as the largest in the nation. Bonus: free nutritionally questionable Americana food (hot dogs, White Castle) and drinks at St. Anastasia’s school yard throughout the day. Take that, Hamptons traffic.
5/22–5/25, event times vary. Brooklyn Bridge’s 125th Birthday, see full schedule on Website (718-802-0603 or brooklynbridgepark.org); free. 5/24, noon–2 p.m. Memorial Day Revolutionary War Walking Tour, meet at City Hall Park, Broadway and Park Place. 5/25, 1–3 p.m. The Military Might of New York Harbor Memorial Day sail, Pier 16 Visitor Center, Fulton St. nr. South St. (212-748-8786 or southstseaport.org); walking tour, free with museum admission; sail, adults $30, children (12 and under) $20. 5/26, 2 p.m. Little Neck-Douglaston Memorial Day Parade, along Northern Blvd. from Jayson Ave. to St. Anastasia’s courtyard at Alameda Ave. (memorialdayparade.org); free.