Have you ever been happy to have a vacation canceled? Sure, my family was excited to stay in the barn loft of a Catskills alpaca farm for the long weekend (the alpacas’ fuzzy halos are so cuuute), but when a scheduling snafu caused us to postpone, I was relieved. The idea of three whole days in NYC with no plans feels like a luxurious gift—and the perfect opportunity to check out some of those “been meaning to check out forever” spots. First up, weather willing: Socrates Sculpture Park for a picnic.
Set Sail for Queens
This bucolic waterfront park has always looked like an ideal place to get some outdoor time along with a quick culture fix—but it has also always felt intimidatingly difficult to get to from my south Brooklyn nabe. But! I recently discovered the NYC Ferry by Hornblower (it has been around since last year, but really expanded this summer), which runs routes from all along Manhattan’s East Side to waterfront spots in Brooklyn and Queens, plus Governors Island, Soundview in the Bronx, and Rockaway Beach. We can set sail from Sunset Park to Wall Street, then hop on another ferry straight to Astoria Landing, just a five-minute walk from Socrates. An adventure in itself! And a chance for my adolescent sons to crack jokes about being “seamen.”
Sammies and a Circus
There’s no food for sale in the park, so we might pick up some coffee, salads, and sandwiches just a half block away at Chateau Le Woof, which is mainly a café for dogs but serves human chow, too (a chance to pet pups is always a bonus on our family outings). Every Saturday, Socrates hosts sculpture workshops with visiting artists from noon to 3 p.m., and this weekend you can make dream catchers and journals with Karina Robledo.
My kids aren’t much for organized crafts, though, so after our picnic, we will likely wander the grounds and take photos with the interactive art, including a giant swing, movable 3-D-printed concrete seats, and a pickup truck that artist Virginia Overton has transformed into a lily pad pond.
We’ll definitely stick around until 3 p.m. for a special performance from Circus Amok, a political spectacle complete with jugglers, stilt walkers, drag queens and kings, and acrobats.
If we have time and energy, we might try to convince the boys (have I mentioned they’d rather visit their dentist—hi, Dr. Adam!—than go to another museum?) to stop in at the neighboring Noguchi Museum. But who am I kidding? We’ll just have to save it for another Family Saturday.
5 More Things to Do in NYC This Saturday If You’re Staycationing Like Us
- Explore the American Museum of Natural History before it opens to the public on an autism-friendly Discovery Squad tour , 9–10 a.m.
- Learn to ride a unicycle—how hard could it be?—at the NYC Unicycle Festival on Governors Island.
- Kayak while you still can! (And if you’re meeting me for the picnic at the sculpture park, there is free kayaking off its Hallets Cove beach!)
- Shop for funky school supplies at these non–big box shops.
- We know: Every place claims to be the new Brooklyn. But the maritime village of Greenport, Long Island, makes a compelling case! Down oysters and pick fresh lavender on this one-day vacay.