Somehow we've made it out of an easy winter and it's spring again. Long Island is a favorite spot for many New Yorkers during the warmer months, but New York has a way of coming alive as well. It's now that we can dine outside, enjoy some of the best parks in the world, and browse farmer's markets filled with anything you could imagine. This is spring in New York City.
Nothing makes city-dwellers feel like they're getting the best of both worlds more than the farmer's market – a huge outdoor display on our streets and in our parks of fruit, vegetables, food, jam, and plants. Perhaps one of the most well-known farmer's markets is the Union Square Greenmarket, located on the North and West sides of Union Square Park. This amazing location houses over 100 regional farmers, bakers, and even fisherman. There are also artists selling their work and clothing along the park as well. In a way, the Greenmarket has become an event, and a great way to spend an afternoon with someone.
One of my favorite things to do once it gets warm enough is to head to the Hudson Hotel in Hell's Kitchen, where you'll see their private park behind the glass in the lobby. It's an ideal place to grab some food or have a drink with friends. A beautiful spot that's filled with garden furniture for you to lounge on, it even has a glass roof and heaters for those unseasonably chilly nights. The best part is, unlike the Sky Terrace on the 15th floor, you don't have to be a guest at the hotel to enjoy this special little spot downstairs.
Another hotel that knows how to do the warm-weather right is the Standard Hotel in the trendy Meatpacking district. Next door to the building, under the High Line, you'll find their Biergarten. This gem has a traditional German menu that includes sausages, pretzels, and, of course, a variety of flavorful beers. It's one of the best ways to spend a casual night outside, particularly if you can get a game going on one of their Ping-Pong tables. However, if you're down there and decide you want to do a nice meal outside instead, you're connected to The Standard Grill. This place has a great outdoor patio that's perfect for a candlelit dinner for two.
If you're looking for a great pizza in a casual outdoor paradise, you'd be foolish not to swing by La Bottega in Chelsea. You can hear the people talking from the street as you walk up one flight of stairs to this great Italian restaurant. You almost feel like you're in a garden, as there are trees towering all around you with lovely round lights hanging from them. It's reasonably priced with exceptional food, the small pizzas are perfect to share with drinks, and the staff is always accommodating,
It's no surprise the parks really come alive once it gets warm here, but you may not know you can also take advantage of some extraordinary outdoor theatre. The Hudson Warehouse Theatre Company is a free Upper West Side theatre company that puts on productions in Riverside Park. It was founded in 2004, and has since put on such classics as Hamlet, The Seagull, The Tempest, and many more. You don't have to wait in line or grab a ticket, you simply show up 15 minutes before show time and sit on the stairs by the Soldiers' and Sailors' Monument at W. 89th street. Make sure not to show up too late, because these shows get crowded fast.
While you're dining and shopping outside in the city, you'll be happy to notice one other sight to make your outing a bit more enjoyable - sailors! From May 23-30 it's officially Fleet Week in New York. This is that magical time where handsome men in uniform are strolling in the streets. For the entire week there will be an array of events, including ship tours, Broadway performances, and pier displays. Most of this takes place at the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum. You'll find sailors posing for pictures kindly most of the time, and if you're feeling silly, they may even let you try on their hat.
Of course, there isn't a doubt in this author's mind that you won't want to enjoy the sweet ocean air of Montauk or taste wines in Long Island Wine Country. But it's also exciting to remember what's happening back west, too. Play some baseball in Central Park and eat a hot dog with someone you love. The cold has officially left New York, and I don't know about you, but I plan on spending every moment I can outside.