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 in the month of August. Nearly 7 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.
Saturday Aug. 1, 8 and 15 – 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. Long Islanders can take the LIRR into Penn Station as well. It’s just a few blocks from the train station to Park Avenue.
There is so much to do and see at Summer Streets it can become overwhelming. So we’ve narrowed down a few of our favorite attractions.
Slide The City
Foley Square Rest Stop
It’s the dog days of summer and the streets of New York City are heating up. Cool down and have a blast at the Foley Square rest stop by taking a ride down a massive blow-up waterslide. Provided by Slide the City, residents will get one free ride down the 270-foot slide. But be aware you must register online for your ride first before you get to the slide. Click here to register for Aug. 8 and Aug. 15
Foley Square Rest Stop (on Leonard Street between Lafayette and Centre streets)
This year’s Summer Streets sees the return of the popular 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 165 feet of city streets in lower Manhattan near the start of the route. Attendees will truly get a new perspective of their city. The ride is first come, first serve and are encouraged to arrive at 8 a.m. to reserve a time slot.
Soho Rest Stop (at Spring and Lafayette streets)
Take advantage of free fitness classes from instructors at the popular Crunch gym. From 7 a.m. to 12 p.m. you can stretch, jump, kick and get your heart rate up with classes like Sunrise Salutations Yoga, Brazilian Burn n’Firm Pilates, Street Jazz, and Belly, But and Thighs Bootcamp.
Stops Along The Way
While Summer Streets has plenty of entertainment to offer, there are also some really great pit stops to check out while your walking or biking through the area.
Union Square Greenmarket
E 17th Street
New York, NY 10003
This market is all about exploring the city’s greenest offerings in the greenest ways, and nothing beats a good farmers’ market for that kind of fun. For over 30 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 artisan cheeses and hand-picked flowers, the abundance of options is seemingly endless. Plus, it puts a whole new spin on going green.
Grand Central Terminal
87 E. 42nd St.
New York, NY 10017
Open for more than 100 years, Grand Central Terminal is an iconic New York City landmark. Not only does it house trains that take New Yorkers from the city to Connecticut, upstate New York and beyond, it also offers a plethora of restaurants and specialty shops, including 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: $18 for adults/$12 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, and reptiles. 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.
All that moving and shaking on Summer Streets will sure work up an appetite. Thanksfully there are an array of dining options to choose along the way.
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.
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 activities of the Summer Streets, get romantic and sit inside the restaurant for lake-side dining. Watch the rowboats glide by as you enjoy a delicious meal with lunch options including Roasted Pork Tenderloin with arugula, balsamic glazed cippolini onions, peppadews, and cherry tomaotes and Sauteed Sea Scallops with nappa cabbage, scallions, ramen noodles, and oxtail broth.
Traci Tournoux is a freelance writer living in New York. She is covering Travel & Outdoors. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.