What To Do in NYC this Memorial Weekend

Memorial Day Weekend in NYCSo, Memorial Day weekend is approaching and it seems like you’re the only who doesn’t have plans to leave town or have a backyard barbecue. Consider yourself lucky, since you’ll either be saving on gas, airfare or a catch-up session in the gym. At least that’s what I’m telling myself..

As usual, my plans are tenuous. I never think about three-day weekends until it’s way too late. If you’re also stuck in NYC this weekend, here are some ways to make the most of the holiday weekend.


Saturday: Mostly sunny. High 80s. Break out the sunscreen and spend as much time outside as possible.

1. First beach trip of the season?

Let’s face it. If you’ve ever been to the Caribbean or any remotely tropical place, New York City beaches are kind of a letdown. But we city-dwelling folk have to take what we can get.

Brighton Beach in Brooklyn and Rockaway Beach in Queens have been my best options when I’m desperately in need sun and somewhat clean water. But if – like me – you’re still hanging on to the idea of getting out of the city (even for half a day), why not take the LIRR to Fire Island or Jones Beach? 

2. Find an oasis in your local park.

One of the secret pleasures of living in Manhattan is the way the city empties out on holiday weekend. There’s a sense of camaraderie among those left behind and we all seem to be drawn to the park.

At Central Park, my go-to activities are rowing on the lake and settling in for a picnic on the Great Lawn, both of which are great beach alternatives for those mythical creatures who don’t like sand or seawater. Governors Island also opens up this weekend, so you can hop on the ferry to create the feeling of a getaway without leaving the city.

3. Pig out at Smorgasburg.

This might be my favorite summer activity and one of the few things that get me to trek to Brooklyn. The food festival takes place every Saturday in Williamsburg and Sunday in Prospect Park during spring and summer and features a ton of food and drink vendors. As it becomes more popular each year, the crowds get bigger, but that’s a small price to pay for all the food you can dream of, amiright?

For a less crowded experience, you could try Seaport Smorgasburg, a smaller offshoot with a pared-down menu from 6 vendors at South Street Seaport.

Met-2Photo: Jean-Christophe Benoist

Sunday: Scattered showers. Enjoy a long (bottomless) brunch then find your escape indoors. 

4. Spend the day at the museums.

One of the quintessential rainy day activities in NYC is to hang out at the museum. Imagine how cool it must be to watch the rain through the huge windows near The Met’s Temple of Dendur or through the windows of the Frick’s moody drawing rooms or garden courtyard? Plus, due to weather and the fact that half the city is traveling, you’ll have all the cool art pretty much to yourself!

5. Go see a movie. 

My mom and I might go see “The Nice Guys” for a bit of silly humor and I’m cautiously curious about “The Lobster” and “A Bigger Splash.” Since we’re making a thing of it, you might as well embrace the indie vibe by catching the last two at an indie theater like Angelika Film Center in Lower Manhattan or Nitehawk Cinema in Williamsburg.

Memorial Day-1
Monday: Mild temps. Honor the true meaning of Memorial Day.

6. Watch the Memorial Day Parade in person.

Of course, the true purpose of the holiday is to remember the sacrifice of the veterans who gave their lives for our country. The Kings County Memorial Day Parade in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn is the oldest of several parades taking place in New York City on Monday, but if you’re not in Brooklyn, you can catch one in Manhattan, the Bronx or Staten Island.

7. Tour military ships (and see sailors!) as part of Fleet Week.

Every year New Yorkers welcome sailors, Marines and Coast Guardsmen to the city during Fleet Week, which runs this year from May 25-31. You can tour military ships at piers in Manhattan, Brooklyn and Staten Island until Tuesday when they depart. And if you run into a sailor in the city, be sure to say thank you.

I’d love to know, what are your plans for the Memorial Day weekend?



  1. May 28, 2016 / 3:25 am

    Would LOVE to visit one day ( we are in London, UK) I know where to refer to should we make it over! Fantastic itinerary!

  2. May 25, 2016 / 2:18 pm

    This is a cool itinerary! I would probably taken it up if I was in town. Did you read about the secret part of Central Park that has been open and getting a lot of attention? I have a three day weekend planned in Northern California and I am very excited about it 🙂

    • May 25, 2016 / 3:16 pm

      I did hear about it but have yet to check it out – maybe some time in the next week or two.. Have a wonderful time in California!

      • May 25, 2016 / 4:45 pm

        Cool! Thanks so much 🙂

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