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8 NYC Staycation Ideas for Labor Day Weekend

Labor Day weekend might seem like eons away, but the end of summer’s lazy days will be here in no time. If you'd rather not escape the city on the final weekend before the school year starts as the rat race returns, you have a diverse list of activities to choose from within New York's five boroughs. From beautiful beaches to sprawling green spaces, here's a selection of some excellent staycation ideas for Labor Day weekend in the Big Apple.

1. Bring Fido to Fort Tyron

fall foliage in Fort Tyron Park in NYC
Image via NYC Parks

With eight miles of pathways, Manhattan's largest dog park, and epic views of the Hudson River, Fort Tryon is a destination unto itself. Few tourists make it up to this neck of the woods, but this stunning parcel nestled in the Washington Heights neighborhood is worth the 30-minute subway ride from midtown and will make you feel as if you've escaped the city for an area upstate. Don't forget to spend some time at the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Cloisters.

2. Stroll Through South Street Seaport

bird's eye view of the South Street Seaport in NYC
Image via Prayitno/Flickr

So, you’ve headed north to Fort Tryon, but at the other end of Manhattan lies The Seaport, one of New York's oldest neighborhoods. Since Superstorm Sandy wreaked havoc on Lower Manhattan, the South Street Seaport has been revitalized and taken on new life, and there's more than enough to do. From browsing and tasting street food at Smorgasburg to dining at spots like Fresh Salt, Barbalu, and the Paris Café, you won't go hungry, that's for sure. Shop until you drop on Fulton and Front Streets or stroll through this historic neighborhood –– loved for its cobblestone streets–– and admire the restored 19th-century buildings.

3. Relax at Brighton Beach

Hop on the Q train to soak up Russian culture in Brooklyn's "Little Odessa" and catch a few hours of sun and sand too. If you're hungry, opt for the meat vareniki or borscht soup at Oceanview Café, or try the blitzes and beef stroganoff at Skvorodka, one of New York's most authentic restaurants for Russian cuisine. Be sure to stroll down Brighton Avenue to browse the myriad local businesses before or after beach time.

4. Have Fun at Brooklyn Bridge Park

Spanning 85 acres of waterfront and divided into 11 sections, this riverfront park in Brooklyn Heights and Dumbo boasts plenty of places to romp and relax. Play shuffleboard, volleyball, basketball, or bocce; catch some rays on one of the beautifully landscaped lawns, or if you're up for an adventure, go kayaking in the East River. You won't run out of things to do or get tired of the panoramic views at Brooklyn Bridge Park.

5. Get a Tan on Rockaway Beach

people sitting on Rockaway Beach on a sunny day
Image via Oscar R./Flickr

This Queens seaside community on the south shore of Long Island is a favorite among surfers. With miles of boardwalk, a skate park, and overall a laid-back beach scene, Rockaway remains the beach of choice for New Yorkers and visitors alike. Take the A Train to Beach 67th St, Beach 90th, or Beach 98th, and walk from there, or opt for the ferry, which departs from Pier 11 in Lower Manhattan.

6. Chill Out at Gantry Plaza State Park

Situated on the East River in Long Island City, this waterfront oasis is an excellent spot to picnic, jog, or just chill out. The promenade promises stunning views of the United Nations Building and the Midtown Manhattan skyline to boot. Perfect for a romantic date or spending time solo, Gantry Plaza State Park provides an optimal place to disconnect from the madness of Gotham without leaving town.

7. Meet the Animals at The Bronx Zoo

view of a tiger through two tree trunks
Image via Peter M./Flickr

Did you know that the Bronx Zoo is the largest city zoo in the country? Since kids of all ages love to walk and talk with the animals, you'll stumble upon plenty of adults at this Bronx attraction. Choose from the general admission price in which you get to see the free exhibits (Baboons, Birds of Prey, Tiger Mountain and more), or purchase the "Total Experience," which includes the premium exhibits (Children's Zoo, Butterfly Garden, Wild Asia Monorail, and others). Either way, you're in for a treat at this award-winning zoo.

8. Visit St. George, Staten Island

Minutes from the Staten Island Ferry lies quaint St.George overlooking the New York Harbor. The historic neighborhood offers far more than the Staten Island Ferry Terminal. The Esplanade provides stellar views of Manhattan and is only a short distance away from the September 11th Memorial. Explore the National Lighthouse Museum, dine at Beso or Chang Noi Thai, and finish your St. George excursion with a Staten Island Yankees baseball game. Tickets and concession are much more affordable than, say, a New York Yankees or Mets game, and you’ll have just as much fun.

Whatever you choose to do on your Labor Day staycation in NYC, have a fantastic final weekend of summer!

About the author

Tracy Kaler

Tracy Kaler is a ballet dancer turned interior designer turned lifestyle and travel writer who blogs at tracysnewyorklife.com. A former Atlantan, you can now find her byline in The Telegraph, IN New York Magazine, TravelMag, National Geographic, Mabuhay Magazine, am New York and others. When she's not glued to her laptop, you'll find her wandering the streets of New York City or off discovering another part of the planet.

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