Like a lunch hour, this Memorial Day weekend is a good time to take a break, hook up with friends, or just pause to think about what you’d like to do this summer. Maybe you’ll pack a bag and hit the high road in search of a life-changing experience or hightail it out-of-town for some rest and relaxation. Whatever you’re in search of, don’t discount discovering it in destinations a little closer to home or on the East Coast. The areas that took a beating from Hurricane Sandy are ready to throw their arms wide open to visitors.
From Cape May to Montauk, Atlantic shorelines and state parks are working fast and furiously to welcome beach goers this weekend. For those of us who live in the region, these towns and beaches are paradise after a long and dreary winter. No car? No worries! Depending on your point of interest, you can easily hop a train, bus or ferry to visit. The New Jersey Shore is open for business—that’s the rallying cry up and down their coastline—and southern shore towns are absorbing visitors that traditionally travel to areas further north where it’s taking a bit longer to recover from the storm’s damage. Long Island beaches and state parks will re-open this weekend with limited access in some areas. In the borough of Staten Island, new modular units made in Pennsylvania will be transported to the beaches to replace the comfort stations destroyed by Sandy. They look pretty cool and New York City has invested a nice chunk of change for these units, which will pop up this summer in Coney Island and the Rockaways as well. This is all good news. These beaches may not all be 100% perfect but the point is, they’re working hard to make sure they’re ready for you.
The famous Rockaway boardwalk is gone but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the seashore. The damaged concession stands are being rebuilt but in their absence NYC food trucks will be out to serve the good grub they’ve become known for on the city’s streets. Sandy wiped out Rockaway Taco‘s boardwalk café but fingers crossed they’ll be up and running soon because these folks dish out some of the tastiest Mexican food this side of the Yucatán, especially their fish tacos. For anyone with plans to visit the area this weekend—or over the summer—you might want to check out their main location inland, until their beach site is back in service.
The surf’s been up with weekend lessons at the Rockaway Beach Surf Club, which welcomes all age groups. If you start now by the end of June they’ll be able to help plant you on a board any day of the week. Where there’s surfing, there’s yoga on the beach and nothing feels better than a seaside downward dog. If you’ve got it in your head to transform yourself, check out the Surf Club’s combined retreat. “A” train subway service to the Rockaways starts back up on May 30, which makes getting there a breeze.
And then there’s Red Hook, a Brooklyn neighborhood that took a massive hit by Sandy, but true to its tough reputation, is pretty much back in business. If you’re in NYC this weekend, or you’re a local without plans to get away, here are a few suggestions for a visit to that part of town. First, start out early. It’s a funky, waterfront neighborhood that gets great light. If you fancy a killer cocktail, pay a visit to Fort Defiance, a cafe-bar where owner St. John Frizell will shake up something special for you. If you can tear yourself away, head across the road to Dry Dock and grab a chilled bottle of whatever white wine wets your whistle, then bop over a few blocks to the Red Hook Lobster Pound for the plumpest and tastiest lobster rolls outside of Maine. This urban lobster shack is BYOB, so there’s no reason not to run there. For a more upscale dining experience, book a reservation at The Good Fork, where you’ll enjoy standout food and excellent drinks in a welcoming atmosphere. If you still have any steam left in you, shimmy on over to Hope & Anchor. This local diner serves up a few twists on a traditional menu and has a full bar but it’s the weekend karaoke that has this place pulsing and will get you to unleash your inner rock star.
The communities affected by Hurricane Sandy last Fall want you to know the welcome mat is out this summer. Memorial Day is about honoring our veterans but we can also take this time to acknowledge all the volunteers—both local and visiting—who dedicated their blood, sweat and tears, to help get these areas back on their feet. They’ve added new meaning to “summer of love.”
Whether you’re planning a stay-cation or vacation—relax, kick back, appreciate your surroundings and enjoy yourself. Happy trails!