A Summertime Guide to NYC’s Outer Boroughs

Twilight at The Brooklyn Barge near Greenpoint's Transmitter Park.

So you’ve got your Manhattan itinerary down, but have you taken the time to explore New York City’s outer boroughs? From surfing in Queens to crazy-indulgent dining in Brooklyn and the idyllic New York Botanical Gardens lit up at night in the Bronx, it’s time to expand your horizons.

The Bronx

The oft-overlooked Bronx made headlines earlier this year when the New York Times Travel Section included the borough in their annual 52 Places To Go in 2017 feature. Here’s our Bronx primer.

Chihuly’s Sol de Citron at the foot of New York Botanical Garden’s Haupt Conservatory.

Do: Spanning 250 acres of native forest, gardens and a beautiful Victorian glasshouse conservatory dedicated to tropical plants, the New York Botanical Garden is a true urban oasis in the Bronx. Now through October 29, Dale Chihuly’s glass sculptures are sighted throughout the garden for a dramatic interplay between the natural world and his organic creations.

Plan your visit around lunch at onsite Hudson Garden Grill where the soft shell crab club, a glass of Perrier Jouet and their signature monkey bread served with honey butter and fleur de sel makes for the perfect lunch.

On select weekend evenings throughout the exhibition, the gardens stay open for extended hours, until 10:30 p.m., for Chihuly Nights when his works are illuminated and the garden transforms into a festive atmosphere with live music and food trucks.

Egidio’s bakery is one of the oldest on Arthur Avenue and home to the most authentic canolis.

Do: Nearby, Arthur Avenue is considered the authentic Little Italy of New York City where you’ll still find multi-generational families and artisans who make ricotta, mozzarella, spicy soppressata and crusty-on-the outside, gooey-on-the-inside white chocolate bread (yes—you read that correctly, white chocolate bread!) by hand. Let husband-and-wife duo and Bronx natives Danielle Oteri and Christian Galliani of Arthur Avenue Food Tours introduce you to this fascinating and mouth-watering stretch of the Bronx.

Paul Ramirez and his brother Anthony founded The Bronx Beer Hall inside the historic Arthur Avenue Retail Market.

Drink: Situated inside the historic Arthur Avenue Retail Market, The Bronx Beer Hall, run by local brothers Paul and Anthony Ramirez, is breathing new life into the tried and true Italian market tradition. Come for the fresh produce and pasta. Stay for a flight of craft beer brewed in New York with a side of lizard chips (fried pickles) dipped in Bronx Hot Sauce made from serrano peppers grown in local community gardens. The spirit is convivial and laidback by day and attracts a rowdier crowd of locals and Fordham University students late night.

Eat: Still hungry? Head to Arthur Avenue’s Fiasco, a cozy, rustic Southern Italian trattoria by neighborhood vanguard Chef Roberto Paciullo. Dishing up cuisine from his native Salerno, it’s the perfect place to dive into a plate of linguine and clams with a bottle of Sicilian Nero d’Avola. 

Do: Jeter’s number 2 may have retired earlier this season, but an afternoon at Yankee Stadium cheering on the Bronx Bombers is always a classic New York City pastime.

Stay/Getting There: Book MTA Metro North’s “NYBG Getaway” package, which includes an All-Garden Pass and round-trip train fare from Grand Central Terminal for $36.50 for adults. You’ll arrive to the Botanical Garden Station in 20 minutes on the Harlem Line. Stay at Grand Hyatt New York located at Grand Central Terminal and receive 10 percent off nightly rates when using “NYBG” booking code.

 

Brooklyn

Get a taste of hipster-ville, from Greenpoint to DUMBO, with these tried-and-true and brand new spots in Brooklyn.

Labneh and dips anyone?

Eat: At Greenpoint’s Glasserie, indulge in a symphony of Mediterranean and Middle Eastern flavors inside what was once a glass factory built in 1860. Helmed by executive chef Eldad Shem Tov, don’t even think about skipping the griddled flatbread with labneh, the lamb tartare or the lavender chocolate mousse. The cocktails are just as masterfully conceived with standouts like the Sherry Garcia made with mezcal, Fino sherry, celery juice and lemon.

Drink: Call it Greenpoint’s answer to Grand Banks or just call it a kick-ass seasonal bar floating on a barge rafted to the banks of the East River near Transmitter Park. The Brooklyn Barge is definitely where you’ll want to sip some suds while soaking up the chill vibes and summer sunshine. Serving a menu of craft beers and house cocktails alongside a menu that includes tugboat nachos and peel ‘n eat shrimp, what’s not to love? They’ve even got recreational programming ranging from kayaking to fishing, all in an effort to build community around river conservation.

Lilia’s malfadini pasta with pink peppercorn and parmigiano is a real crowd pleaser. Photo by Evan Sung.

Eat: A 2010 Food & Wine magazine Best New Chef, Missy Robbins struck out from Manhattan’s A Voce in 2015 to open Lilia. It swiftly solidified into one of Williamsburg’s hottest eateries with her simple, yet elegant dishes like cacio e pepe fritelle, malfadini pasta with pink peppercorn and parmigiano reggiano and agnolotti filled with sheeps milk cheese,  saffron, honey and dried tomato. Also to be enjoyed, the killer Italian wine list, sinfully moist olive oil cake for dessert and a capable staff who will deftly guide you to the perfect digestif.

Rooftop delights at Greenpoint’s Northern Territory.

Drink: How about a chill Australian rooftop bar in the heart of Greenpoint? Scale the stairs at sunset and enjoy Northern Territory’s laidback perch with a Spicy Paloma or a frozen libation. Hungry? They’ve got everything from a classic Aussie meat pie to fish ‘n chips.

Do: It’s time to balance out all of that eating and drinking with a little downward dogg-ing and Namaste-ing at Yoga to the People, a donation-based yoga collective with a location in Williamsburg offering a full lineup of both vinyasa flow and hot yoga classes in a second story loft space.

A view of the iconic Brooklyn Bridge through a guest room at the new 1 Hotel Brooklyn Bridge.

Stay: Check into the newly opened Williamsburg Hotel on Wythe Avenue for its central location and stylish Brooklyn loft vibes or become one with the East River at 1 Hotel Brooklyn Bridge’s eco-lux digs.

Want a deeper dive into the newest 1 Hotel? Check out our story on New York City’s 1 Hotels.

Queens

From shredding the gnarl in Rockaway Beach to yucking it up in Long Island City, a few things to do in Queens.

Surf’s up with the bros at Rockaway Beach’s Locals Surf.

Do: Surf’s up in Rockaway Beach and the best way to tap into local waves is with local bros Mike Kololyan and Mike Reinhardt of Locals Surf. Book a group or private lesson and you’ll be shredding in no time. Want to make a surf weekend out of your voyage to the Rockaways? Check out their Kook House vacation rental, a four-bedroom surf shack with an outdoor deck right on the break.

The perfect post-surf hang in Rockaway Beach.

Eat: Post-surf sess it’s time to hit up Rockaway Beach Surf Club for fish tacos and margs in this chilled out canteen beneath the A Train. Inside, surfboards hang from the ceiling and you can glean the history of Rockaway’s surf culture through framed photos that date back to the ‘60s. An outdoor patio offers shady lounging at picnic tables amidst colorful, surf-inspired murals. In the evening, the vibe turns up with weekly live music, movies and dance parties.

Laugh: With Brooklyn’s hip factor spilling across Newton Creek into Long Island City, there’s more to see and do in Queens than ever before. Take, Creek & Cave: part-comedy club, part-dive bar and part-SoCal-style Mexican restaurant. It’s an oddity that can only be borne out of Long Island City. Check out their calendar for a full performance lineup ranging from improv to standup.

The spacious guest rooms of Long Island City’s Paper Factory.

Stay: Anchored by the 2016 Michelin Recommended Mundo restaurant serving innovative global cuisine, Paper Factory is a hip new design hotel in the heart of Long Island City with a steampunk-chic aesthetic and spacious, sun-filled rooms thanks to original factory windows.

Want more hotel options? Check out our story on NYC’s hippest new hotels.

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