We've reached the last week of August, the doldrums of summer, and it seems like the whole city is on vacation. All of the Hudson River crossings are crowded with people getting out of town, and it's even tougher to get a rental car than usual.
An easy way to beat the crowds for vacation is...don't go anywhere. Let those other guys head off to the Hamptons, bike off to the Berkshires, or mosey on down to Martha's Vineyard. There's plenty to do right here and, with a relative lack of crowds, it's a good time to check out some of the amazing cultural and architectural riches that NY has to offer.
Here are a few of my favorite things to do with your family while on an end-of-summer staycation. They are listed in no particular order, and all of them are accessible by public transport.
Visit Governor's Island. It's a free 10 minute ferry ride away, but it seems like it's miles from Manhattan, and is open Saturdays and Sundays through September 29. There’s a lot to do on the Island, including biking and picnicking, and also a lot of great art events going on. The full schedule is available online; of particular note coming up:
Vintage baseball game on August 31 at the Parade Grounds: See baseball played the way it used to be played. The Gotham Baseball Club of NY has home field advantage.
NYC Unicycle Festival, Saturday and Sunday, August 31 and September 1, 12pm to 5pm, South Battery Parking Lot: The 2013 NYC Unicycle Festival rolls onto Governors Island on Labor Day weekend. Activities include races, competitions, exhibitions, a variety of unicycle sports including unicycle basketball and hockey, world-famous riders will display their skills, and members of the public have the opportunity to try one—wheel riding.
Fête Paradiso: A Festival of Vintage Carousels and Carnival Rides, All Season (Starting July 13), All Day, Nolan Park: Fête Paradiso, the world’s first festival of vintage French carnival rides and carousels, makes its American debut on Governors Island. The rare, museum-quality collection, which includes a diverse array of attractions from the late 19th and early 20th centuries, such as carousels, flying swings and a pipe organ, will be available for the public to ride and enjoy every weekend. Admission to the Festival is free; rides and games cost $3 each.
Be a tourist, visit the TKTS Booth. Sadly, the New Victory isn't open right now, but there are still a lot of things going on in the city for kids. You can find discounted tickets at the TKTS booth, or better yet, check their app for daily updates.
The Art of the Brick: This is an exhibit featuring amazing Lego artworks by Nathan Sawaya. He really can amaze you with the amount of versatility and emotion he is able to convey using the plastic Lego toys. He's got an exhibit of his work at the Discovery Center in Times Square.
The Lower East Side Tenement Museum: A great museum that brings to life the immigrants that made NY such a culturally diverse place in the 1920's. Historical interpreters play the residents of 97 Orchard Street, an actual former tenement. After your tour of the museum, go down and visit the Pickle Guys on Essex Street.
The Empire State Building: It sounds trite, but there are some great views from the Empire State Building…views that are worth every penny of the admission charge.
Visit Central Park: There's Shakespeare in the Park, and softball tournaments and the duck boats, and the Central Park Zoo, and the Great Lawn, and ... well, yes, there are other parks in the city, but this one seems to have it all.
Adam Gertsacov is the co-founder and co-organizer of Digital Family Summit., a conference for teen and tween bloggers and their families.
He wears many hats, including those of a professional clown, an author and publisher, an artist/educator, a non-profit administrator, a P.T. Barnum impersonator, a flea circus impresario, and the esteemed hat of the Clown Laureate of Greenbelt, Maryland.
In his copious freetime, he blogs at http://www.clownlink.com and http://www.dadapalooza.com, as well as a few other places. He is also the cultural coordinator for the NYC Dads Group. You can find out more about his clown work at http://www.acmeclown.com