It’s officially September, Cheapos, and that means summer’s over. But summer fun doesn’t have to be. There are a couple months of nice weather left—with more comfortable temperatures than the scorching last few months. And we in Cheapoland (New York, that is) intend to cram in as many (free) out of doors activities as we can before the cold winter roars in.
1. The High Line
L, A, C or E Train to 14th Street & 8th Avenue (see Web site for other access points)
The High Line is a true New York success story. The elevated train tracks, a 1930′s answer to freight train accidents, were under threat of demolition until the non-profit group Friends of the High Line turned them into an oasis in the sky in 2009. Its wild patches of green are overgrown on purpose, spilling out onto concrete walkways and, of course, the rails themselves. Enjoy views of the Hudson River and the Meatpacking District, or check out one of their free events.
2. Fort Tryon Park
A Train to 190th Street
If the High Line is an urban playground, Fort Tryon Park at Manhattan’s northern tip is anything but. In fact, if it weren’t for views of the George Washington Bridge, you might even forget you were in New York City. Picture massive boulders, lush vegetation and one of the largest heather gardens on the East Coast. Oh, and then there’s that museum that looks like a French monastery…
3. Governors Island
Free ferry from Battery Maritime Building (10 South Street;adjacent to Staten Island Ferry)
This little island is a Cheapo happy place. The blissful feeling starts on the free ferry ride over and builds when you’re welcomed by historic buildings (including a castle), unbelievable views of the Statue of Liberty and, um, a “beach.”
4. Coney Island
D, Q, N or F Train to Stillwell Avenue
Once the playground of New York’s elite, then later an entertainment destination for the masses, today this boardwalk/beach at Brooklyn’s southern edge is trying to fight its way off the list of New York’s endangered treasures. We advise visiting Coney Island while you still can. Take in its beach, its historic, rickety (and exhilarating!) Cyclone and the amazing (and disturbing) Shoot the Freak carnival game.
5. Conservatory Garden in Central Park
4 or 6 Train to 103rd Street (Enter at Fifth Avenue and 105th Street)
We know, we know! Central Park is a terribly obvious pick for New York’s best outdoor spaces, but the idyllic Conservatory Garden at its northeastern end is all too often overlooked. And its manicured hedges, fragrant flowerbeds and Secret Garden-esque fountains will not disappoint.
6. Sunset Park
N or R Train to 45th Street, Brooklyn
The neighborhood of Sunset Park, Brooklyn is a miniature United Nations built up around its namesake park, which offers views that rival those from the top of the Empire State Building. Only here you can also see said building—and the views are free. While you’re in the area, stop at Greenwood Cemetery, a Civil War battle site and final resting place of Boss Tweed, Samuel Morse and other New York elite.
Believe it or not, it’s possible to see stars from the city. And no, we’re not talking about the artificial kind. The Amateur Astronomy Association of New York hosts “observing sessions” at parks throughout the city. Try Inwood Hill Park at the northern tip of Manhattan, said to be the best place see stars since it has no streetlamps. The AAA takes groups there every Saturday. Bring comfortable shoes, a flashlight and your sense of wonder.