In its fifth year, Summer Streets, a combination of a walking tour, bike tour and block party that celebrates New York City’s streets, promises three Saturdays of free summer fun. Nearly seven miles along Park Avenue from the Brooklyn Bridge to Central Park will be opened to cyclists, walkers and people watchers without interruption from traffic. The program aims to get New Yorkers to go green and get thinking about other ways to use the streets besides driving. In addition to getting some fresh air and exercise, don’t miss out on the top events this year.
Brooklyn Bridge to Central Park along Park Ave.
New York, NY
Saturday Aug. 4, 11 and 18 – 7 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Click here for complete route
Because parking will be restricted starting the night before the event through 2 p.m. after the event, the easiest way to get to Summer Streets is by subway. The 4, 5 and 6 lines will take you close to a number of points along the way, including the Brooklyn Bridge stop which starts the route. If you’re coming from Connecticut or upstate, take Metro North to Grand Central, which is near the center of the route. If you’re coming from New Jersey, take New Jersey Transit into Penn Station. It’s just a few blocks from the train station to Park Avenue.
Bike and Roll
Rest stops along Summer Streets route
If you don’t own a bike, don’t worry. Bike and Roll NYC is providing free one-hour bicycle rentals at each of the five rest stops along the Summer Street route. Renting is easy; all you have to do is check in, leave your license and you’re free to explore the complete route on two wheels. After the hour is up, return the bike at the location where you rented it.
Related: The 5 Best Cycling Shops in New York
Helmet Fittings and Giveaway
Uptown Rest Stop (at Park and 51st street)
To date, Summer Streets has provided more than 50,000 helmets to area cyclists. In addition to providing fittings this year, more than 1,000 helmets will be given away each Saturday during Summer Streets. The helmets have been completely redesigned with a new sleek, urban color scheme. The fittings are for everyone – adults and children alike.
Foley Square Rest Stop (at Chambers and Centre streets)
This year’s Summer Streets will feature a first ever for New York City: a zip line. For all three Saturdays, New Yorkers and visitors alike will be able to overlook the sites from 28 feet up in the air. The zip line runs along runs along 160 feet of city streets in lower Manhattan near the start of the route. Summer street goers will truly get a new perspective of their city.
Soho Rest Stop (at Spring and Lafayette streets)
One of the most popular activities during Summer Streets is the rock climbing wall. It is returning this year, so visitors may once again reach for new heights. The rock wall is 25 feet tall, and is made possible with REI’s support.
Stops Along the Way
Union Square Greenmarket
North and West Sides of Union Square Park
New York, NY 10003
This festival is all about exploring the city’s greenest offerings the greenest ways, and nothing beats a good farmers’ market for that kind of fun. For 35 years farmers, bakers and fisherman have gathered in Union Square to sell their wares alongside nearly 60,000 shoppers. From the freshest fruit and veggies, to free-range poultry and grass-fed beef to artisanal cheeses and hand-picked flowers, the abundance of options is seemingly endless. Plus, it puts a whole new spin on going green.
Opened for nearly 100 years, Grand Central Terminal is a staple in New York City. Not only does it house trains that take New Yorkers from the city to Connecticut, upstate New York and more, it also offers a plethora of restaurants and specialty shops, including the newest Apple store in Manhattan or the renowned Grand Central Oyster Bar. Once you’re tired of eating and shopping, take a walk to the main concourse and look up. You’ll see stars. The ceiling boasts a huge mural portraying more than 2,500 stars and constellations.
Central Park Zoo
64th St. and Fifth Ave.
New York, NY 10021
Price: $12 for adults/$7 for children age 3 to 12
Click here to learn more about the animals and exhibits you can see
Just like the scenes from the cartoon movie, Madagascar, a little zoo sits at the entrance of Central Park, housing more than 150 species of animals. The sea lion exhibit sits in the heart of the zoo, so even if you don’t have a ticket, you can watch the acrobatics during feeding time. Other animals include red pandas, penguins, snow leopards, snow monkeys, birds, reptiles and even polar bears. The best thing about the zoo is its size. It is small, but that means you get an up close view of all the animals.
Southeast corner of Madison Square Park (Near Madison Ave and 23rd St.)
New York, NY 10010
After a morning of walking, jogging and biking, nothing is better than a juicy, messy, scrumptious all beef-patty smothered in cheese and special sauce stuffed in a potato bun at the Shake Shack. Add a side of crispy, crinkle fries and wash it all down with a thick, chocolate shake, and you’ll be able to make it the through the second half of the Summer Streets route … that is if you can overcome the food coma.
Related: NYC’s 12 Best Burgers
The Central Park Boathouse
East 72nd St. and Park Drive North
New York, NY 10021
The Central Park Boathouse is a hidden gem nestled in the heart of Central Park by the tip of the lake. Sit outside at the bar and grill overlooking the lake to take a break, catch some rays, nibble on an artisinal cheese plate and enjoy a glass of wine. Or if you’re done exploring the events and activites of the Summer Streets, get romantic and sit inside the restaurant for lake-side dining. Watch the rowboats glide by as you enjoy a decadent meal with options including burrata, roasted beet and poached pear salad, and Muscovoy duck breast with basil polenta.
Traci Tournoux is a freelance writer living in New York. She is covering Travel & Outdoors. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.