Let’s not beat around the bush: New York City in the summer means unbearable heat, an influx of tourists sweating in their $10 I Love NY shirts, and overcrowding on public transportation.
Yet, it also means outdoor dining, long walks in Central Park, and a list of ways to spend an afternoon that could span the length of the Brooklyn Bridge. After nine months spent primarily studying for classes and involved in extracurriculars, why do Columbia students choose to stay in the city during their three months of academic freedom?
Even native New Yorkers find themselves charmed by the city all over again in the summer. As Kelly Huang, BC ’15, said, “I love the way the sun rises in the morning and you hear the birds chirping, kind of naturalistic, but then under all of that you’ll hear the whizzing of car tires on the pavement.” Indeed, winter afternoons wiled away in libraries are replaced by warm days full of sunlight that last into the evening hours. “I’ve spent essentially all my summers in Brooklyn and NYC, and I find myself occupied with things I like to do—bike riding, painting, eating, just taking it all in,” Huang said. “I don’t want to sound like a tourist brochure, but the opportunities are literally endless.”
For some, summer vacation provides a chance to take advantage of the prevalent internship and job prospects that New York offers students, whether off- or on-campus. Jaclyn Horowitz, BC ’15, plans to stay close to her home away from home as an assistant in Barnard’s library, where she will read, abstract, and organize their extensive collection of zines. “It’s easy to forget that the center of the universe is just a mere 10 minutes away when you are so immersed in your immediate surroundings,” she said.
Others, such as Chris Pecaro, CC ’15, choose to head downtown once finals end. When he is not working at The Hole, an art gallery on the Bowery, he plans to check out the various free concerts held throughout May to August. “It’s like a whole other world,” Pecaro said. “There’s this lawless vibe that I really like. In the summer you have time to explore the city and get to know it better.”
Whether it be starting the morning with a jog through Riverside, returning to a favorite café, or exploring a new neighborhood, a summer in New York caters to the whims of any Columbia student looking to forget those all-nighters in Butler, if only for a few blissful months.
Your Summer Bucket List
—Visit the Metropolitan Museum of Art to take in the Costume Institute’s latest sartorial exhibition, “Schiaparelli and Prada: Impossible Conversations.”
—Stop to smell the roses and other beautiful blooms at the New York Botanical Garden.
—Relive your childhood with a ride on the 1922 merry-go-round at Brooklyn Bridge Park.
—Arrive fashionably late to the Veuve Clicquot Polo Classic on Governors Island equipped with sun hat or bowler, and take in an afternoon polo match while munching gourmet snacks and sipping champagne in one of two new lounges.
—Indulge in dessert D.C. style at the newly opened Georgetown Cupcake in SoHo (111 Mercer St.).
—Grab a mat and celebrate the summer solstice on June 20 with some downward dogs and deep breathing in the middle of Times Square at Mind over Madness, an all-day yoga fest.
—Sip an iced coffee in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, brewed for 20 hours by the baristas at Blue Bottle Coffee (160 Berry St. between North Fourth and Fifth streets).
—Spot the peacocks that strut around the Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine, the fourth-largest cathedral in the world, and then take a vertical tour up to the roof for a breathtaking view of Morningside Heights.
—Embrace your inner Parisian with French music, wine, and sweets at Bastille Day on Sunday, July 15 (60th Street between Fifth and Lexington avenues).
—Spend an evening stargazing on the High Line, or scope out the best and brightest with one of three telescopes provided on the Pier 1 promenade in Brooklyn Bridge Park.
A&E editors Stefan Countryman, Alison Herman, Lesley Thulin, Charlotte Murtishaw, and Jade Bonacolta give their picks for summer.
Nothing is nicer than enjoying a balmy evening outside watching a movie. Central Park and Bryant Park both probably have the most famous summer series, but there are dozens of smaller, more specialized outdoor venues for those willing to look.
Blockbusters may have a stranglehold on big cinemas during the summer, but independent theaters like Anthology Film Archives, Film Forum, Lincoln Center, IFC Center, BAMcinematek are constantly playing independent or classic films.
The Public: Shakespeare in the Park
The 50th anniversary season of Shakespeare in the Park will feature “As You Like It” (June 5 to June 30) and “Into the Woods” (July 23 to August 25). Tickets are available at the Delacorte Theater in Central Park.
“All New People” play by Zach Braff (June 28 to August 14)
Zach Braff stars in a new self-written comedy that opens with a suicide interrupted by a real estate agent. The property agent, a fireman, and a prostitute assemble to cheer up the suicide in a darkly comic work at the Second Stage Theater.
“In One Person” a novel by John Irving (released May 8)
John Irving, the critically acclaimed author behind the novel “The Cider House Rules,” will release his latest novel. Told from the point of view of a bisexual man who struggles with his identity.
The Half King Reading Series
(Monday at 7 p.m.)
Join the neighborhood crowd of literary types at this downtown pub (505 W. 23rd St.) that serves up fresh pints and homestyle dishes during readings of poetry, fiction, and non-fiction. One Monday each month is devoted exclusively to magazine journalism.
Food & Drink
LuckyRice Festival 2012 (May 1-6)
This annual festival brings the world’s top culinary talent to shine a spotlight on Asian cuisine. Enjoy both an Epicurean Cocktail Feast hosted by Dave Arnold and Momofuku and Asian Street Market.
Smorgasburg (Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.)
Smorgasbord + Williamsburg is the Brooklyn Flea’s all-food counterpart. You eat standing up, and everything is priced between $1 and $10. Try Shorty Tang’s Cold Sesame Noodles with a yuzu, lime leaf, and honey lemonade from 4πr2.
Yoga in Bryant Park (Starting May 1)
Healthy, relaxing, and comes with free Lululemon yoga mats—what’s not to love? Bryant Park will be hosting free hour-long classes Tuesdays at 10 a.m. and Thursdays at 6 p.m.
The Antiques Garage (Saturday and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.)
A Chelsea institution, this flea will relocate any month now—browse the city’s best vintage and while you still can. After you’ve scored the best finds, check out the rest of the area: There are other fashion must-sees like the Hell’s Kitchen Flea or Manhattan Vintage.
“True Blood” (June 10)
Everyone’s favorite campy, sexy, and supernatural show, returns. Whether or not the vampire trend is dying down—in books, film, or TV—this series still has bite worth tuning in for.
“Game of Thrones” (June 3)
Get ready for the “Game of Thrones” finale. This season of HBO’s hit sword-and-sorcery drama is already packed with surprises.
“Breaking Bad” (July)
When the new season premieres, catch a high-school chemistry teacher turned meth tycoon continue on his downward spiral.
Tomás Saraceno on the Roof: Cloud City (May 15-November)
Tending toward the conceptual, Saraceno attaches clusters of transparent cells to construct a highbrow version of those things that were so much fun to crawl around in at Chuck E. Cheese’s—this time on the Met’s roof.
The High Line
Clichéd? Maybe. But it’s worth the reminder that the perennially popular park includes art installations. Catch public art during a stroll through the greenery, as exhibits like “Lilliput” aim to surprise the viewer with micro-installations in unlikely places.
Governors Ball NYC (June 23—June 24)
This two-day, two-stage festival is held on Randall’s Island and features groups like Passion Pit. Enjoy gourmet fare from some of the city’s best food trucks while listening and dancing the night away wearing wireless headphones and blaring crystal clear music from live DJs.
Harlem Jazz Shrines Festival (May 7-13)
During this week-long festival, celebrate the epicenter of the jazz world in New York by attending performances from today’s up-and-coming artists at an array of the neighborhood’s classic music clubs.