Friday, July 1, 2011

Summer Fun in the Parks

I have mentioned before that one thing I really love about New York is the park space. I think park space is especially cherished here in the "concrete jungle," and I always find the parks to be a great place to feel a little less like you're surrounded by skyscrapers, dirt, noise, and so, so many people. The parks are relaxing and beautiful, and a welcome break from the city's hustle and bustle.

In the summer, the parks really step up their game and host tons of fun things to do. Now that we live in Hoboken, not only do we get to enjoy summer fun in the New York City parks, but Hoboken has some pretty nice parks with some pretty nice activities, too. Since the weather has finally warmed up, we have been taking full advantage of all the park fun at our disposal.

I snapped this bad boy as I relaxed under a tree with my Kindle in Pier A Park a few weeks ago. Not a bad place to spend an afternoon, eh?

One very cool thing we have done recently is attend Shakespeare in the Park at the Delacorte Theater in Central Park. This was on my NYC To-Do List, so I'm glad to have crossed that off! Each summer the Public Theater puts on two different Shakespeare plays. Tickets are free, but to get them you either have to sign up for a virtual lottery online, or camp out in line at the theater. We tried in vain to get tickets all last summer, as last year's shows featured great actors such as Al Pacino (maybe you've heard of him?), Jesse Tyler Ferguson ("Mitchell" from Modern Family, which is a great show you should be watching if you're not), and Jesse L. Martin (original "Collins" from Rent, now on Law & Order). But, with such a star-studded cast, people were camping out for over 12 hours to get seats. I was not up for that, and the virtual lottery did not seem to like me, so we never did make it there last year.

This year, however, we got tickets to both shows through the virtual lottery! We first saw All's Well That Ends Well last week, then Measure for Measure this week. I have to say, Shakespeare in the Park is one of the cooler things we've done in the city. Both times, Eric and I met up for a picnic dinner before finding our seats in the outdoor amphitheater, where we enjoyed wonderful Shakespeare with red wine and chocolates to snack on. Both plays were fabulous, although I think I liked Measure for Measure the best. I just love Shakespeare, don't you? What beautiful use of language.

Shakespeare in the Park sign as you approach the Delacorte Theater

Chipotle picnic before All's Well That Ends Well! (We had sushi before Measure for Measure, because we like to mix it up.)

The Delacorte Theater

We finally have tickets in hand!

They are very strict about no photography in the theater, but Eric is a rebel and snuck this one with his Blackberry.

Tell me this picture doesn't just put you right in the mood for Shakespeare, red wine and chocolate. I dare you!

And really, Shakespeare aside, Central Park is just so beautiful during the summer as it is. It's a great place to spend an afternoon.

Shakespeare Garden

Can you believe this is in the middle of Manhattan?

Taken from the Belvedere Castle

New York isn't the only host to free outdoor Shakespeare, however. Hoboken also puts on a little Shakespeare in the Park of its own, held in Frank Sinatra Park along the Hudson River. Sinatra Park is just outside our door, so of course we had to grab our lawn chairs and check it out. This past Monday we saw A Midsummer Night's Dream, beautifully set against the river and the downtown NYC skyline. They will do two more Shakespeare plays as the summer goes on.

Hoboken's Shakespeare in Frank Sinatra Park

The end of the show!

Oh, but there is way more than Shakespeare to be experienced in the parks, my friends. I have mentioned in the past that Bryant Park is my favorite park in NYC. I love the Christmas shops and skating in the winter, and I love all their activities in the summer. This year, I let Bryant Park help me cross something off my bucket list: learn how to knit! Every Tuesday Bryant Park and Knitty City team up to offer free beginning knitting classes; all you have to do is call to sign up. I went to last Tuesday's class, and it was great! They taught us how to cast on and do the knit stitch, then we were able to sit and practice for an hour and a half. They are collecting all the squares their students knit over the summer, and at the end of the summer they will stitch them together to make blankets to donate to nursing homes and animal shelters. I caught on right away, and now I'm hooked! I'm a knitting machine and can't wait to keep learning more and more. And, to add to the fun afternoon, there was a pianist playing in the park as we knit. Live music and a knitting lesson in a beautiful park? What a lovely relaxing afternoon!

Bryant Park posted this photo online - that's my arm on the far left!

Please ignore my shamefully un-manicured thumbnail and just look at my knitting.

Even the Gertrude Stein statue was psyched about knitting!

But once again, New York parks can't have all the fun. The past two nights, we have taken advantage of more great offerings at Hoboken parks.

Two nights ago, after my Tom Hanks day, Eric and I went to Pier A Park for their "Movies Under the Stars." They were showing Breakfast at Tiffany's, which I had never seen. So, we gathered up our lawn chairs and blankets, stopped to pick up a pizza from Grimaldi's, then found a great spot on the lawn. The view from Pier A Park is just spectacular - there is nothing like watching a movie under the stars with the Empire State Building off in the distance. Beautiful.

Crowds gathering for the movie at Pier A Park

Eric is ready to chow down on some awesome pizza.

Eh, so we're a little blurry, but we're happy!

Pier A Park hosts movies every Wednesday night, and they have a great line-up so we'll definitely be doing that again!

Every Thursday, Hoboken hosts music concerts of varying types in Sinatra Park. Last Night was the 63rd Army Band, and Eric and I spent some time out there enjoying the beautiful night and lovely music. Achilles joined us, too!

63rd Army Band at Sinatra Park

They played lots of festive tunes for the Fourth of July!

VIDEO: 63rd Army Band plays "The Stars and Stripes Forever" at Sinatra Park. Get it, piccolos!
(Note: If you are reading this through email subscription, click the video link to view it!)

Top all that off with a gorgeous sunset sky reflected in the New York City skyline, and I am one happy girl.

Sunset in Manhattan

My boys enjoying the evening!

Ah, summer - never leave me again!


Molly said...

That knitting idea is great!

KT @ KT's Refinishing School said...

I love Shakespeare in the Park events. We used to go all the time when we lived in Omaha. St. Louis has a large outdoor theater called The Muny that puts on Broadway plays every summer. Taking in a play there is definitely on our St. Louis to-do list before we move in a few weeks!

Walter Tully said...

Heh, that's so true! It's hard to part with summer when there are so many fun things you can still do. The Shakespeare at the park seems like a fun little event.