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Low-Key NYC Spots To Spend Time Outside On Memorial Day

Patch logo Patch 5/25/2020 Kathleen Culliton
a group of football players on a field: People sit in circles meant to encourage social distancing in Domino Park along the East River on May 18, 2020. © Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images People sit in circles meant to encourage social distancing in Domino Park along the East River on May 18, 2020.

NEW YORK CITY — City beaches are closed. NYPD cops will be roaming the streets to crack down on large gatherings. Everyone outside should be wearing a mask.

Happy Memorial Day!

Look. Just because the world is facing a global pandemic unlike any it's ever seen before, and you've been locked in your apartment with some rando roommate who won't cut your hair no matter how much you beg, and Long Island is apparently complaining about our behavior in their public spaces (er, SantaCon ringing any bells, guys?) doesn't mean you can't celebrate!

Right? Yeah...

Hotspots such as Central Park and the Brooklyn Promenade will likely be mobbed, making it tricky to maintain that safe social distance. So, to help you not spread the COVID or go insane in your apartment, Patch compiled a list of low-key places to enjoy the outdoors this Memorial Day.

MANHATTAN

Didn't flee to the Hamptons? Here's what you get to have instead:

Carl Schurz Park Open Street

Take the opportunity to wave at the Mayor (assuming he's not strolling through Prospect Park) by enjoying this stretch of East River Park near Gracie Mansion. A stretch of East End Avenue between East 83rd and East 89th street will be open to pedestrians, easing some of the crowding on the East River Esplanade.

Jackson Square Park

One of the city's oldest parks, Jackson Square Park offers a quiet green space nestled in the picturesque Greenwich Village between Eighth Avenue, Horatio Street and Greenwich Avenue. There is a Citi Bike station found right outside its gates for those that would like to stop by on a weekend bike ride.

Columbia University Campus

Columbia University will likely be a peaceful and picturesque spot to find some fresh air this Memorial Day. It also sits between Morningside Park and Riverside Park if you're looking for somewhere that's a short walk to other, though possibly more crowded, green spaces.

Andrew Haswell Green Park

If you're weary of crowds, you should probably stay off the East River Esplanade. The one exception may be Andrew Haswell Green Park, which can be easily accessed from the street at East 60th Street and York Avenue. The park's lawn isn't huge, but it features some of the best views of the Queensboro Bridge.

Richard Tucker Park

Lincoln Center might be closed, but its public spaces remain open, so why not go sit and reminisce about the first time you saw "The Nutcracker" at the David H. Koch Theater, or which opera you'll weep with first, once all of this ends.

Sutton Place

This quaint neighborhood located directly south of East 60th Street on the shores of the East River is pretty sleepy compared to most of Manhattan, making it a good place for a stroll. The neighborhood features a number of cul-de-sac side streets that lead to some sort of pocket park or green space by the river.

Inwood Hill Park Woods

While some park areas get crowded, there are plenty of spaces in its 196.4 acres where New Yorkers can find some peace and quiet. Of those spaces are the forested areas of the park, which readers said have been largely empty even during this time of staying at home.

BROOKLYN

Pick a stoop. Any stoop. Sit. People watch. Maybe a bagel is present. Enjoy. Or:

Anywhere In Prospect Park Except The Long Meadow

Pick the picnic basket up and walk away from the meadow! Prospect Park is full of smaller nooks and crannies where you can stroll, lounge and feast on basketed goods.

Check out the park's Nethermead and Peninsula meadows or Nellie's Lawn. They're usually significantly less crowded than the Long Meadow.

Maybe try Breeze Hill, where once stood Smorgasburg. Don't think about how much you miss Smorgasburg.

Or set up camp in the pagoda, a Grecian temple of sorts where last summer a Daily Show alum produced "Nicholas Cage In The Park."

(Remember when we did things together? In places? That was nice.)

Ditmas Park's Quiet Tree-Lined Streets

Locals have taken to picnicking and getting some sun on Albemarle Road's grassy median. It's a prime spot in a neighborhood that often feels like an escape from the rest of New York City. So take a walk and pretend you're in a century when social distancing wasn't a thing.

Bush Terminals Pier Park

This secluded waterfront park has a couple of added bonuses: it allows for a bike ride through the eerily quiet Industry City and you won't have to elbow away any maskless Brooklyn Promenade walkers to enjoy the glorious vista of Staten Island.

Gowanus Canal

Take a big deep breath, that's the smell of social distancing right there. (Try to get a crowd to gather near the most polluted waterway in the country. Just try.) Enjoy the canal by walking over its utilitarian bridges or claim a bench in the Whole Foods parking lot to take in where Sludgie the Whale drew his last breathes.

Oh Sludgie, you were too good for this world.

QUEENS

Honestly, just walk to a Long Island beach (and if you want to dress like Santa that would be hilarious revenge). But if that doesn't do it for you, try these other spots:

Forest Park

This central Queens park is filled with great spots to stay away from your fellow New Yorkers, and cyclists love to ride through it. One reader suggests checking out the abandoned railroad tracks inside the park. Bonus: It's close enough to Brooklyn that residents of Ridgewood and Bushwick can hop on a bike and head over.

Vanderbilt/Long Island Motor Parkway

The Vanderbilt Motor Parkway, or Long Island Motor Parkway, was built in 1908 by railroad mogul and financier William K. Vanderbilt Jr. as America's first all-elevated road for cars. Now the greenway running from Cunningham Park to Alley Pond Park is popular among joggers and cyclists, some of whom are pushing the state to extend the trail to meet its Long Island counterpart.

Flushing Meadows-Corona Park

This park is bound to be packed over Memorial Day weekend, but Patch readers suggest heading to the Pat Dolan Trail for a more low-key spot. Another idea? A 1.5-mile stretch of Meadow Lake Drive, which encircles Meadow Lake inside the park, is open only to pedestrians and cyclists.

Malba's Winding Streets

If you love to spend your time outdoors looking at fancy houses, head to the small northeastern Queens enclave of Malba, sandwiched in between College Point and Whitestone. Smell that? That's the scent of fresh air — and million-dollar homes.

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