The long Memorial Day weekend is nearly upon us, and if you’re not planning to take a trip out of town—and if you haven’t already left, you might want to just stick around—don’t fret. There’s plenty to do in New York City over the next three days—below, you’ll find five great options, most of which will get you outside to enjoy the possibly-decent weather we’ll be having in the five boroughs.
Looking for more places to go? Check out our pocket guide to New York City, which has all the suggestions you need for great architecture, parks, museums, and more.
Go on an island getaway
You don’t have to leave New York to feel like you’re on a island vacation—you just have to take a ferry to Governors Island. Sure, it’s not a tropical paradise, but it does have the benefit of being within city limits, yet far enough away from Manhattan to seem downright tranquil. Check out the island’s Hills, which offer stellar views of the Manhattan skyline, or simply chill out in a hammock for a while.
Hitch a ride to Rockaway Beach—or another beach
New York City’s beaches open to the public on Saturday, and at least one of them—Rockaway Beach—will have something of a new look, thanks to the completion of the 5.5-mile boardwalk near the Queens waterfront. Plus, you can grab the new NYC Ferry out to the beach if you don’t feel like spending an hour (or, given the subway’s problems lately, more) underground.
But Rockaway is bound to be crowded, and there are nearly a dozen other beaches throughout the five boroughs that you could check out should you feel like relaxing on the sand is in the cards this weekend.
Visit one of New York’s underrated memorials
New York City is home to more than 1,000 memorials that commemorate events and individuals who helped to shape history in this country and abroad. And what better day than, well, Memorial Day to check out a few that are off the beaten path? Among the more underrated memorials in the city, by our estimation, are the Irish Hunger Memorial in Battery Park, and Staten Island’s serene September 11 memorial.
Check out one of the city’s oldest parades
There are a few different Memorial Day parades throughout the city, including a huge one (the self-proclaimed largest parade in the nation, which turns 90 this year) that travels through Douglaston, Queens on Monday. But the oldest one is the Brooklyn Memorial Day Parade, which also happens on Monday, and celebrates its 150th anniversary this year. It kicks off in Bay Ridge at 11 a.m. on Monday.
Learn about the city’s history on a walking tour
Memorial Day weekend is also a good time to brush up on New York’s history, and there are a plethora of walking tours around the city that are both fact-filled and, y’know, not super dry. Big Onion’s walking tours are always an excellent bet—a good mix of history and quirky details—and they have plenty of tours happening this weekend, including ones devoted to the Revolutionary War in NYC and the role of immigrants in shaping the city’s history.