Harry’s at Water Taxi Beach
2-03 Borden Ave., at 2nd St., Long Island City; 212-742-1969
If you thought Long Island City was the antithesis of the Hamptons, the folks behind Schnack and New York Water Taxi would like you to reconsider. They’ve trucked in Jersey sand and two dozen picnic tables to create a man-made beach, complete with a tiki hut, $2 Schaefers during happy hour, and a grill serving elk burgers, occasionally fish tacos, and Black Angus hot dogs. Until October 10, you’ll find extended families and P.S. 1 defectors playing volleyball to a thumping sound system or simply taking in the best view of midtown Manhattan this side of the Donald’s chopper.
• Getting There: The easiest way is by water taxi (schedule permitting), but if you’re coming from the Jackson/Vernon Ave. 7 stop, walk along Jackson Avenue to Borden Avenue, turn right, and then enter the beach driveway.
Maritime Café at Pier I
Pier I, at W. 70th St. and Hudson River
Last year, the folks behind Pier 63 launched a new bar and grill on Riverside Park South’s modernist Thomas Balsley-designed esplanade. You can either sit at one of the few dozen tables overlooking the water and the derelict float bridge to enjoy the southwestern chicken wrap, hamburgers, and turkey burgers, or sip a tropical rum drink on the grass or on one of the scenic overlooks. Acoustic musicians lend a Margaritaville vibe, and there’s salsa on Sunday nights.
• Getting There: The bar is a block to the right of the stairs at the end of 70th Street.
Pier 63 Maritime
Pier 63, at W. 23rd St. at West Side Hwy.; 212-989-6363
Hudson River Park has gotten an extensive face-lift, but this pier (actually a railroad-car float) remains a stalwart of decrepit fun. Built in 1929, the historic Lightship Frying Pan spent three years underwater before being restored as a barnacle-encrusted party space. Fridays, Turntables on the Hudson holds court inside the boat’s sinister hull or on the pier, where a tiki bar and burger grill are open daily from noon to midnight. A cafe serves up specialties like seared tuna to tables. Grab a seat on the breezy sixteen-foot observation deck, and if you’re lucky, you’ll get to see the John J. Harvey fireboat, also docked here, go out for a sunset spray.
• Getting There: Arrive on the water taxi, or walk (or take the M-23) to the end of 23rd St. The entrance to the pier is behind Basketball City’s parking lot, to the right.
Hudson Beach Café
Riverside Park, Riverside Dr. at 105th St.; 917-370-3448
It’s not as grand a production as its sister, the 79th St. Boat Basin Café, but this humble bar on a concrete terrace next to Riverside Park’s jogging path is a great place to watch the sun set over the Hudson. At least, the stroller-pushing moms who come here for a burger and a glass of chardonnay think so. There’s no beach, but the homegrown taps (kegs hooked up to coolers), the occasional balladeer, and the sand volleyball courts a level below (where there is additional seating) add whatever atmosphere the roll of the expressway takes away.
• Getting There: Walk to the end of 103rd Street until you hit Riverside Park. Follow the path and then descend the stairs until you see the bar across from the jogging path.
The Crow’s Nest at the Water Club
500 E. 30th St., at East River; 212-683-3333
There’s a frayed, Yankee charm to this geriatric piano bar, and after a few rounds of Gershwin, the place for a romantic nightcap is on the rooftop, which feels exactly like the upper deck of a modest ship. A small bar serves up tumblers of Johnny Walker Black, the perfect complement to a close-up view of Midtown East’s skyline, the glimmering 59th Street bridge, and Queens across the way.
• Getting There: If walking or driving north, go to the end of 34th Street. If driving south, you’ll have to take 23rd Street, and make a lefthand U-turn onto the service road that will put you in front of the restaurant.
348 Dyckman St., at the Hudson River; 212-567-1800
This is the place to salsa under the stars. Most days, La Marina, formerly the Tubby Hook Café, is a chilled-out spot to enjoy the water breeze and the postcard views of the George Washington Bridge and the adjacent Cloisters while boats pull up to the dock. Sundays, there’s a $10 cover for Latin performers and reggaeton D.J.’s. The tube-top-and-jeans crowd enjoys budget bottle service ($185 for a bottle of Patron) at dozens of tables on the grass (call ahead to reserve a seat in the VIP section closer to the stage), periodically getting up to cut a rug on the wood-plank dance platform or to visit the cruisy tiki bar. A modest kitchen serves up short-order Latin food, sandwiches, and ceviche.
• Getting There: Take the A train to Dyckman Street and walk west past all the car-stereo parties until you hit the water.
1213 Boardwalk, between W. 12th St. and Stillwell Ave.; 718-372-9079
The photos of old-time Coney Island that hang behind the 45-foot bar aren’t gratuitous: They were collected by the late Rubin Jacobs, who went from peddling knishes on the beach as a kid to presiding over a place where countless boozers sucked down clams and enjoyed the boardwalk scene that Jacobs called “the elixir of life.” From March to October, when Ruby’s is open, octogenarian regulars sing along with Sinatra and Perry Como on the jukebox and shoot the sea-breeze with the gruff porters, some of whom have filled plastic cups here for more than half a century, as curious tourists and refugees from the Mermaid Parade look on.
A Booze Cruise for Everyone
Even if party cruises usually turn your stomach, these might float your boat.
If you like it Latin…
The Copacabana’s Boat Ride, featuring D.J.’s spinning a mix of reggaeton and traditional Latin music, leaves every Thursday from Pier 40 at Houston Street and Twelfth Avenue. (Boarding is from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.) Tickets are $10 to $30, and there’s a cash buffet. When the boat docks around 10:30 p.m., passengers get in free at the Copa.
If you want to rock while the waves roll…
The Rocks Off Concert Cruise Series hosts everything from experimental jazz to power-chord punk on one of two bi-level ships: The Half Moon leaves from 23rd Street and FDR Drive and passes under three bridges before circling the Statue of Liberty. The luxurious Temptress leaves from 41st Street on the West Side.
If you like blues with your cruise…
Yes, it’s a Circle Line cruise, but Blue Water Music’s NYC Blues Cruise keeps it real with acts like Buckwheat Zydeco, the Smithereens, and the Hot House Flowers. Tickets are $35 to $45.
For a smooth ride…
Say what you will about smooth jazz, it’s fairly appropriate for rolling on the river. Every Saturday at 6 p.m. and 9 p.m. the CD101.9 Smooth Cruise boards at 23rd Street and the Hudson River. And on August 16, it’s instrumental legends Spyro Gyra.
For a religious experience…
Or just to cleanse yourself after a wild Friday night, join Spirit of New York’s gospel cruise, departing certain Saturday afternoons from Manhattan. Chapter Six provides the worshipful song while diners enjoy a buffet of salad, chicken wings, and pasta.
If you really want to cruise…
The Queen of Hearts riverboat’s weekly Sea Tea departs from Pier 40 (near Christopher Street) every Sunday at 7:30 p.m. and returns at 10 p.m. Every cruise caters to a different crowd (leather-lovers, rent boys, etc.) but there are always drag queens, half-naked waiters, and men who are hungry for more than the free buffet.