1. Night Of Joy
Where: 667 Lorimer Street. Williamsburg, Brooklyn
What: A bar
Why: At first glance, this place looks like just another hipster nightmare haven in Williamsburg and I guess in some ways it is. But it saves itself from being a complete parody by having legitimately delicious cocktails AND a huge rooftop bar. On balmy summer nights, nothing feels better than sipping jalapeño infused tequila outside and being surrounded by a bunch of people who will never ever make out with you. (Seriously, the babe-watching here is intense. Get ready to stare stealthily and feel inadequate.)
Where: 331 5th Avenue. Park Slope, Brooklyn.
Why: I never really go to Park Slope because it’s always full of annoying rich pregnant people but Culture is worth the trek. When I first went here, I thought it was a joke because it said stuff like: “We manufacture fresh and frozen yogurt in house. Our yogurt is made from specially selected live probiotic cultures and the freshest local milk, nothing more.” BLAH, BLAH BLAH, WELCOME TO FOOD FOR WEALTHY PEOPLE, BLAH BLAH BLAH. Then, when I went to order my strawberry-flavored frozen yogurt, the lady at the counter was like, “Okay, but it’ll be a dollar extra because it’s organic.” And I was like, “Can I just have it not organic?” And then she looked at me like I was some kind of monster and said, “No.” Also, all of their toppings are designed by a pastry chef and feature bourgie creations like “crystalized ginger” and something called “wheat germ”. Basically this place was the exact representation of everything I hated about pretentious foodie culture. As I went to eat my first bite, I fully expected it to taste like privilege and live free-floating bacteria but I was wrong. This fro yo was AMAZING. Like, the best I’ve ever had (and I’ve had a lot of fro yo). The texture is so smooth and the taste is so delightful. OMG, I’m obsessed with it. I just went for the first time last week and I’ve already gone back twice. Seriously, you guys need to try it. Its whole vibe is sort of ridiculous but they’ve earned that right since their product is so good.
3. Sheep Meadow
Where: Starts at Central Park West & 66th Street. Upper West Side.
What: A PARK!
Why: Usually people who live below 14th street have an attitude about coming uptown but trust me when I say that Sheep Meadow is EVERYTHING AND MORE. I spent almost every day here the summer after I graduated college instead of, you know, applying for jobs. It’s an amazing meadow nestled within Central Park and basically you just lay and read a book or hang out with your friends and tan. I’m usually pretty gay and bring a picnic. It’s hard to find places in New York that really feel detached from the hectic rhythms of the city but Sheep Meadow manages to be a bit of an oasis. Bonuses: A man walks around carrying a cooler and will make you a Mojito for seven bucks if you’re of legal drinking age. There’s also a Shake Shack a few blocks away that you can walk to after you’re sufficiently sun-fried and starving.
4. One Girl Cookies
Where: 33 Main St. DUMBO, Brooklyn. There’s also one in Cobble Hill but zzzzzz.
Why: Do you ever go to DUMBO? Do you even know what it is? It’s okay if you don’t. It took me three years of living in New York before I understood that DUMBO was an actual neighborhood with restaurants and shops instead of a barren wasteland underneath a bridge. The first time I went there it was for a book release party at Powerhouse and I was instantly smitten with the cobblestone streets and places like Brooklyn Bridge Park and Galapagos Art Space. One Girl Cookies is a dessert shop that makes the neighborhood even sweeter. It sells this extraordinary treat called a Sicilian Float, which is peach iced tea and two scoops of lemon sorbet. It tastes exactly like summer, it’s soooooo tart and refreshing. I’ve Googled to see if a Sicilian Float is an actual thing or just something made up by the owners of a posh cookie store and unfortunately it’s the latter. No one else sells it. So get your butt to DUMBO ASAP and get it. Then walk around and marvel at a neighborhood that’s only off one subway line and still too expensive for most people to live in.
5. El Camion
Where: 194 Avenue A. East Village.
What: A Mexican restaurant with killer margaritas
Why: I’ve lived a few blocks away from El Camion for the past two years and had never gone in because the outside looked bleak and depressing. Finally, my friend was like, “You need to go there because the margaritas are the most delicious and strong thing I’ve ever tasted!” So I went and ordered one margarita at the bar, drank it, and almost fell down. My friend wasn’t kidding. These suckers packed a punch. Anyone on a budget knows that a strong margarita is something to be thankful for. The next time I went, I actually ordered food and was pleasantly surprised by how delicious it was. It’s rare to find a place with awesome margaritas and food. It feels like you’re constantly sacrificing one for the other but at El Camion you can have it all!
6. The James Hotel
Where: 27 Grand Street. Soho.
What: A free swimming pool that’s not filled with someone’s diarrhea
Why: In the summer, us New Yorkers have no choice but to seek refuge from the heat in public pools. Unfortunately, most of the time they’re so over-populated and dripping with germs that you can’t ever really enjoy yourself without worrying that you’ve contracted pink eye. Enter the solution to all of your public pool problems; The James Hotel. Located in Soho, The James’ pool is open to the public and, most importantly, FREE from noon to 5pm! And there’s also a rooftop bar where you can sip cocktails and feel expensive.
Where: Changes every time
What: An insane warehouse party
Why: Rubulad is a long-standing party in New York that’s difficult to describe. For one thing, it changes locations with every party. It used to be held in the same warehouse space on Flushing Avenue in Brooklyn but now it hops around. The last time I went, it was held in an old schoolhouse in Greenpoint and the theme was Rock n’ Roll High School. The interiors were unchanged from when it was an actual school so you would literally be dancing in a classroom with a chalkboard and everything. There is no stereotype to the kind of person who goes to Rubulad. All kinds of people attend these parties with the sole intention of having fun and dancing their ass off. For information on their future events, check their Facebook page.
8. Brooklyn Botanic Garden
Where: 990 Washington Avenue. Prospect Heights, Brooklyn.
What: NATURE (sort of)
Why: Unless the humidity is insane, the summer is a great time for strolling and what better place to do that than an actual garden?! My sister is a member here and has brought me many times. I usually dread it because I worry that I’m going to get bored staring at a bunch of flowers but I end up loving it. The mood is super relaxing and romantic. I’ve always wanted to bring a date here because it’s one of the few places in the city where you can actually hear someone talk.
Where: 559 Lorimer Street. Williamsburg, Brooklyn.
What: Gay bar, gay bar!
Why: Metropolitan is a gay dive bar that has somehow become my version of Cheers (Queers?), except that no one actually knows my name here. Still, the mood is laid back, there’s a great outdoor patio, drinks are cheap, and when it’s the weekend, this place is one of the few places you can go to actually dance. If you’re straight and feel like making out with someone, walk a few blocks to Union Pool. There’s always someone to make out with there.
10. Governor’s Island
Where: On an island. IDK, you take a ferry to get there.
What: An island where things sometimes happen during the summer
Why: I didn’t get the concept of Governor’s Island. It’s like a semi-abandoned military base that only comes alive during the weekends in the summer? What’s going on here? What IS the East Coast? It’s most famous for its Governor’s Ball, which is a musical festival I’ve never been to but I’ve heard it’s fun. (Also, I think it’s moved to Randall’s Island.) I like to go to Governor’s Island when it has more low-key events. Like this weekend, for example, I’m going there to see my sister in a hula hoop performance?! Obsessed. Sure, why not? To see if there’s anything going on this summer that piques your interest, go here.