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Summer Guide 2015

My Secret Summer

New Yorkers' insider tips on how to avoid the tourists at Grand Central, roller-skate with Paul Feig, get a free Mister Softee cone, and more.

Summer Tips  

Shop for Giraffe Décor on the Jersey Shore: “I have a house in Ocean Grove, and I love going to HomeGoods. It’s like a modern museum—the best home-goods store I’ve been in. They’ll have a 20-foot giraffe, or a replica of the Eiffel Tower. I mean what do you do with that?” —Ulli Rimkus, owner of Max Fish

Visit a Gallery on the Beach: “My friend Jenni Crain, who used to be the manager of Y Gallery on the Lower East Side, opened a gallery called Topless last summer in Rockaway Beach. It kind of feels like you’re in the foyer of a really nice beach bungalow, and the roof has a bunch of skylights; it’s three blocks from the beach, and you can actually see the water from the gallery.” —Paul “Taul” Halien, DJ

Shave Some Time off the Hamptons Drive: “Take the LIE and get off at Manorville, which will funnel to Route 27. I try to get off 27 as soon as possible, so I’ll exit north on David Whites Lane and follow the back roads—David Whites to Lower 7 Ponds to Head of Pond—until you reach Scuttle Hole Road. That bypasses Water Mill and loops around Bridgehampton through farm fields all the way to Sag Harbor Turnpike, which will put you on Route 114 to East Hampton.” —Eric Firestone, owner of the Eric Firestone Gallery in East Hampton

Sneak Onto a Rooftop in Chinatown: “Above the Cup & Saucer diner, on the third floor, there’s a billiards spot that stays open really late that my friends and I love. If you continue walking up the stairs, you’ll end up on the roof. It’s a great place to go when you want to be on a rooftop, drink a beer, and not be bothered.” —Brian Procell, owner of Procell

Drink a Nutcracker in Fort Greene Park: “I love going to Soul Summit—the free daytime dance party that happens every other Sunday in the summer—in Fort Greene Park. People are just dancing on top of each other. There’s also people who walk around selling their own drinks out of a cooler in plastic bottles for like $5. They call them ‘nutcrackers.’ It’s a combination of all the hardest liquors mixed with fruit punch.” —Kai Avent-deLeon, owner of Sincerely, Tommy

Stock Up on Obscure Croatian Wine: “Hudson Wine Merchants is run by a guy whose claim to fame is that his band used to open for the Butthole Surfers, and he has one of the greatest selections of little-known organic and biodynamic wines and ciders at really affordable prices; friends of mine in the city get their wine delivered from here. My favorite is this Croatian wine company Vinarija Dingac.” —Melissa Auf der Maur, musician and co-owner of Basilica Hudson

Roller-skate With Paul Feig: “I love going to Central Park and skating with the people on roller skates—quad skates, not Rollerblade. My wife will come with me, but she doesn’t skate, and in the middle there’s like a circle where you can dance. So I’ll just go over and dance with her, and she’ll stay dancing while I skate around. The people out there are such pure spirits. I’ve fallen down a lot there, too, but it’s fun.” —Paul Feig, filmmaker

Hit the Preferred Astroturf of Stay-At-Home Dads: “There’s a building on 71st between Second and Third with a little private AstroTurf area and lots of benches and space for kids to run around; me and my stay-at-home friends will often convene there. It’s all very enclosed and very safe. It’s great for when you don’t want to deal with Central Park.” —Jeff Goldis, stay-at-home dad

Make Your Own Cabana on the Beach: “When I’m in New York in the summer, I make it as tropical as possible. One summer, I was going to the Rockaways and thought, Why not bring a tent? People put umbrellas in the sand, so why not have something enclosed? I came out with two friends, we pitched it, brought some seafood, and had a great time. We stayed until the sun set.” —Shayna “Junglepussy” McHayle, rapper

Play Ping-Pong on a Tuesday in Tompkins Square Park “There’s a random cement Ping-Pong table right by the dog park. They have a net, but you need to bring your own paddles. Go during the week: On the weekends, it’s active with college-age crunchy kids.” —Ian Bradley, stylist

Light Up Under the GW: “Right under the bridge underpass is a dope skate spot that’s great for flat-ground skating, to practice anything that you don’t need ledges for. You could also smoke anything here, if you want.” —Eric “Sporting Life” Adiele, music producer

Smell Like You’ve Been in the Hamptons: “It’s hard to find a Clarins moisturizer or a Bobbi Brown lipstick in the Hamptons—everybody has to order online. But White’s pharmacy in East Hampton is a really local-feeling store that carries all of the top brands—I think of it as our version of Zitomer. And they’ve got the special Hampton Sun sunscreen that’s supposed to evoke what the Hamptons smell like.” —Ginger Thoerner, Corcoran real-estate broker

Do Yoga in a Montauk Gazebo: “My father-in-law has been doing t’ai chi and yoga there by himself for the past 30 years, and he introduced me to his special spot: It’s a wooden pier that’s hidden but easy to access off-road that looks out over a lake. It’s right by the center of town in Montauk, but it’s a couple of feet through some bushes. There’s a gazebo there, so you can have the sun or shade and there’s enough room for at least ten people to practice.” —Stefanie Eris, Exhale’s national yoga director

Climb a Tree Without Getting Caught: “There’s a tree that’s great to balance and jump on right on the corner of Columbus Park in Chinatown. It’s illegal to climb trees, but no cops have stopped us here. It’s actually across the street from a precinct, but I guess it works out.” —Sha Mualimm-Ak, parkour coach

Avoid the Tourists at Grand Central: “Use the hidden entrance on 48th between Park and Lex. You go down the escalator, and they have little TV monitors that show you the next few departing trains, and from there you can get to the tracks.”—Lisa Shenwick, banker

Catch a Breeze at the Union Square Subway Station: “There’s this spot we call ‘the back of the Q’—the platform at the back of the Q-train going toward Brooklyn. There’s a cool breeze from the trains coming in, but also from the street level, and it’s real wide toward the back. And if you’re looking for somebody to dance with, you can find somebody there.” —Randy “Kid the Wiz” Vargas of the Waffle dance crew

Sunbathe Topless in Central Park: “We like this boulder directly across from Strawberry Fields that’s not visible from most angles. In general, elevation is a way to get a little bit of privacy.” —Alethea Andrews, co-founder of the Outdoor Co-ed Topless Pulp Fiction Appreciation Society

Play Hide-and-Seek at the Met: “When I babysit in the summer, I’ll take the kids to the Luce Center Visible Storage room, which probably has the strongest AC at the Met. It’s this crazy room with rows of glass cases with all of the art that they don’t have a place for. It’s usually completely empty, so the kids’ll play hide and seek there for hours. It’s a maze.”—Rosy Brown, Barnard College student

Steal Away to a Midtown Waterfall: Greenacre Park on 51st Street is this lovely spot that’s open to the public and has a waterfall. It’s not that big, but it’s a pretty amazing thing to find in the middle of midtown.”—Simonez Wolf, stylist

Get a Free Mister Softee Cone: “People ask for free cones and I say, ‘I could get fired, my boss could find out.’ You give them the whole show. But I give out free cones all the time if you come around and start talking. I want repeat customers. If you come often and I start recognizing you, then I take care of you.—Jose Rivera, Mister Softee franchise

Trespass at a City Pool: “[In the ’80s,] David LaChapelle, Jean-Michel Basquiat, and I would sneak into any pool we could find at night. There was this hole in the wire by the pool on Carmine Street where we’d sneak in where the walls had been painted by Keith Haring. His murals are still there! But more security.” —Maripol, artist

Buy Produce From an 8-Year-Old: “Debbie from P.S. 11, on 21st Street, will buy like 20 CSA shares and then host a little farmers’ market every Wednesday morning. The kids count out the change. It’s really sweet.” —Joshua David, the High Line co-founder and president

Pack Your Picnic Basket at An Under-the-Radar Gourmet Grocery: “My favorite thing to do is to go to Barnyard on Avenue C. The sandwiches are delicious, but what’s really amazing are Victor’s empanadas. Then I get a bottle of rosé around the corner at its sister establishment, Brix, and shuffle across the street to the community garden La Plaza Cultural. There’s a pond with turtles and a sandbox for the kids and plenty of amazing cool areas to hide out in.” —Sara Jenkins, Porsena

Drink Good Beer on a Patio That Isn’t As Crowded as a Rush-Hour Subway:Upright Brew House on Hudson has a great patio that always has seats, an amazing beer list that constantly changes, a great happy hour, and Wi-Fi.” —Hillary Sterling, Vic’s

Discover Exceptional Upstate Pizza: “Go to Westwind Orchard in Accord for weekend pizza. It’s a small farm owned by Laura Ferrara and Fabio Chizzola. They make jam and maple syrup.” —April Bloomfield, The Spotted Pig

Sample a Trout Cake in Sullivan County:Henning’s Local in Cochecton has a solid farm-to-table menu and aspires to source as locally as possible. I know most of the farmers who supply them. Must try: the trout cakes.” —Jim Lahey, Sullivan St Bakery

Borrow Mrs. Carbone’s Secret Grilling Technique: “Marinate everything and anything in Italian salad dressing! My mom prefers Wish-Bone. “ —Mario Carbone, Santina

Cook a Fluke Like Andrew Carmellini: “Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut 1 potato and 1 lemon into thick ˝-inch slices. Place on the bottom of a baking sheet. Set a nice fluke (scaled, gutted, with the fins trimmed) on top with the brown side up. Bake until the skin starts to break and the flesh pulls away from the bones at the thickest part, about 12 minutes per pound. I present it whole in the middle of the table and serve a brown-butter-lemon sauce on the side with some North Fork Sea Salt. Add some vegetables from Sang Lee Farms and a Croteaux rosé, and you have a perfect North Fork summer supper.” —Andrew Carmellini, Little Park

Find the Best Soft Serve in Orange County:Weir’s is an off-road ice-cream hut, like an unfranchised Dairy Queen. It’s decidedly not gourmet, and it’s only open from Memorial Day to Labor Day. I love the vanilla soft serve with candied peanuts and sprinkles.” —Alex Raij, La Vara

Take a Trip to Sicily Via the Staten Island Ferry:Pasticceria Bruno is the finest Sicilian bakery I know for brioche con gelato (make mine nocciola, please). I bike to the ferry, see the harbor, and bike to Hylan Boulevard, with a side trip to Clove Lake.” —Michael Lomonaco, Porter House New York

Eat at a Great Sheepshead Bay Seafood Shack That Isn’t Randazzo’s: “I love Clemente’s Maryland Crab House. I know this is heresy, but I prefer it to Randazzo’s. The classics are just as good, and when you sit on the back deck with an order of lobster cocktail (which is really just a pound and a half of cold lobster, tail split and claws cracked) looking out at a bunchof dudes on Jet Skis and families parking their boats, everything is right with the world. And the crab chowder rules.” —Tyler Kord, No. 7

And If You're Getting Out of Town …

Get Special Sauce on Your Wings in Windham: “Order the amazing chicken wings at the Lodge. They have five or six different sauces—my mouth is salivating at the mention of it. It’s very homey in there, too, and they have a fire pit where you can sit and drink beers.” —Brett Hogan, owner of, a vacation-rental company.

Swim With the Beavers in Tannersville: “Colgate Lake is a gorgeous place that hasn’t really changed in 15 years. In winter, it’s frozen over and my dogs run out and cross the lake. And in the summertime, it’s the perfect place to decompress. You can walk all around the lake. There’s a pine forest, and there’s a spot with a dozen trees where beavers have taken over. It’s off Route 23C, and isn’t really on the map.” —Michael Koegel, owner of Mama’s Boy in Hunter

Sneak a Pickle in Jim Thorpe: “I always send everyone to the Country Cottage on Race Street, which isn’t a main street, so not everyone knows about it. She makes her own pickles right there and all of her own jams and rubs that I use all the time in my cooking.” —Marianne Monteleone, owner of MM Design and proprietor of Suites on Broadway, both in Jim Thorpe

Find Warren Falls in Waitsfield: “We always go to Warren Falls off Route 100. It’s a tiny bit of a hike, and the water’s a little cold—it’s water from melted snow—but it’s really natural and feels very Vermont.” — Joanna Usher Silver, Upper West Side mom with a house in Waitsfield.

Tuck Into a Waterside Park in Stroudsburg: “Down off Ann Street at Broad Street is a cute little park. It’s just a tiny little spot, and there’s a waterfall. You go down the ramp toward the water, and there are benches and baskets of flowers. It’s a hidden jewel.” —Lisa Diemer, owner of Stroudsburg’s Kitchen Chemistry and Pocono Soap,

See Jazz in a Library in Hillsdale: “The Roeliff Jansen Community Library has incredible entertainment programs on the weekends. I like going to their Sunday music events—they’ve had classical and jazz musicians—but they also have poetry readings and yoga classes.” —Vicki Sander, Manhattan singer whose family has owned a house in Hillsdale for 50 years