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The Very Best of New York: Play

Best Place to Suntan, Best Post-Holiday Rescue, Best Way to Find Peace in the City...
Best Reason to Love the MTA
MTA Getaways mta.info. OK, there’s a lot to loathe about our public transportation system: fare increases. Weekend service cuts. Rats. But the MTA’s Deals & Getaways can whisk you from the city to an upstate apple farm, Fire Island beach or Gold Coast mansion for the day, as well as throw in a hayride or museum admission, all for a discounted package price. Car not included—or needed!

Best Not-So-Creepy Cemetery

Green-Wood Cemetery 500 25th St, Brooklyn, green-wood.com. The final resting place of Louis Comfort Tiffany, Jean-Michel Basquiat and Boss Tweed is also Brooklyn’s best picnic spot, with sightlines to New York harbor and beyond, plus tranquil pools, fountains and shady groves.

Best Subway Line

The M Local stops from Metropolitan Ave/Middle Village, Queens, through Manhattan, to 71st/Forest Hills, Queens, weekdays. New, clean cars; sparse crowds any time of day; and a direct line through the hot gayborhoods of Bushwick, Williamsburg, the Lower East Side, Chelsea and Jackson Heights!

Best Formerly Overlooked Park

Zuccotti Park Between Broadway, Trinity Pl, Liberty St and Cedar St.  It used to be just a place for downtown office workers to eat their lunches; a simple, grass-free spot with granite benches, virtually nameless. Once the 99% moved in, Zuccotti Park hit headlines as the site of Occupy Wall Street, and the Brookfield Properties-owned space will never be the same.

Best Dog Park

Washington Square Park Dog Run 1 Washington Sq East, nycgovparks.org/parks/washington squarepark/facilities/dogruns. Ignore the NYU preppies and street theater—this dog run is great place to cruise well-groomed girls walking their cute pups. Forgot your biodegradable poop bag? The park has you covered.

Best Tennis Court

USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center Flushing Meadows–Corona Park, Queens, ntc.usta.com. You don’t need a U.S. Open ticket to check out the city’s premier tennis facility, smack in the middle of Corona Park. With 46 courts and all levels of skill welcome, you could play opposite the next Venus Williams.

Best Ice

Rockefeller Center Ice Skating Rink Rockefeller Center, 5th Ave between 49th and 50th Sts, rockefellercenter.com. It’s the obvious choice. What’s a more iconic New York scene than skaters cruising past the gilded Prometheus and the city’s unofficial Christmas tree? Skating here should be on anyone’s bucket list.

Best Place to Suntan

Fort Tilden Rockaway peninsula south of Marine Parkway Bridge, Queens, nyharborparks/ visit/foti.html. This site of a decommissioned military fort, surrounded on two sides by serene beaches, is a surprisingly apt place to catch a tan, hike or fish. Not to mention it’s a secret dyke destination! When Brooklyn girls feel the need for some sand between their toes, Fort Tilden is the only place to go.

Best Cheap Date

Brooklyn Cyclones Home Games MCU Park, 1904 Surf Ave, Brooklyn, brooklyncyclones.com. You gotta love a hometown teamed named after Coney Island’s beloved roller coaster. Take her out to the ball game during the 2012 season (beginning next June) with tickets starting at only $8. The gorgeous views of the Atlantic Ocean from the stands are free.

Best Park-itecture

Central Park centralparknyc.org. Architects Calvert Vaux and Frederick Law Olmstead wanted to mimic nature with their 1850s plan for New York’s iconic park. Fittingly, its rustic structures—bridges, gates, stables, castles and winding paths—follow the natural form of the landscape, adding to the beauty of Manhattan’s crown jewel.

Best Place to Ride a Bicycle Built for Two

Governor’s Island govisland.com. The free ferries from downtown Brooklyn and lower Manhattan begin running to this ex-military base in May 2012, so get ready to rent your tandem bikes for a car-free cruise on the park-like island. In the summer, enjoy cocktails in the adult sandbox, catch a concert or bring a picnic.

Best Post-Holiday Rescue

New Body Boot Camp newbodybootcampnyc .com. Trainer Aja Davis and her crew of impeccably fit ladies will whip your sorry butt into shape. They’ll fast-track your recovery from the holidays and give you the figure you always wanted, along with positive support.

Best Tassel Twirling

Gotham Burlesque Monthly at the Triad Theater, 158 W. 72nd St, gothamburlesque.com. Gary Beeber’s spectacular showcase of the best burlesque beauties and vaudeville acts wows audiences every month at the intimate Triad Theater.

Best Way to Be a Tourist in Your Own City

Hush Hip-Hop Tours hushtours.com. Polish your street cred on a tour—led by legends like Kurtis Blow, Raheim and others—through the NYC neighborhoods that bred Biggie, Lil Kim, Jay-Z, Mos Def, Run-D.M.C and other hip-hop royalty. See what they had before they had everything.

Best Free View of the City
Staten Island Ferry Whitehall Ferry Terminal, 4 South St, nyc.gov/html/dot/html/ferrybus/      statfery.shtml. What other way is there to watch the sun rise (or set) over Lower Manhattan from the deck of a boat and pay zero dollars? Take a girl here for a date and she’ll feel like she’s in her favorite rom-com.

Best Merry-Go-Round

Jane’s Carousel Empire Fulton Ferry State Park, Brooklyn, janescarousel.com. The wooden horses, the music, the crowds—ah, childhood. This 1922 carousel, fully restored to its original splendor by artist Jane Walentas, is as elegant as the era from which it comes. Recapture the feeling of riding the wind for only $2 a pop.

Best Booze Cruise
Kings County Distillery Tour 35 Meadow St at Bogart St, Brooklyn, kingscountydistillery.com. Check the website for tour times, because they don’t have a phone! KCD is the borough’s oldest operating whiskey distillery since before Prohibition. Their whiskey and moonshine is hand-crafted and bottled in simple flasks, and tours are informal but informative.

Best Way to Find Peace in the City
New York Botanical Garden 2900 Southern Blvd, Bronx, nybg.org. The largest urban botanical garden in the U.S. beckons busy New Yorkers to its bucolic acres. Old-growth forests and waterways encircle glass greenhouses packed with mysterious orchids, ferns, bonsai and water lilies. It’s easy to let your cares slip away as you meditate on the whorls of a chrysanthemum.

Best Repurposed Public Space
The High Line Adjacent to Tenth Avenue from Gansevoort to W 20th Sts, thehighline.org. All of the hype and fanfare over this recycled train trestle-turned-urban greenway is richly deserved. NYC’s most modern park splices cutting-edge architecture with native plants in varied environments to brilliant effect.
Rachael Sage
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