Cooling off in NYC

Getting away from the Summer's heat is not always easy. You find yourself wishing you could just go to some island, sit in the ocean's breeze and go for a relaxing, cooling swim.
Do you know about Rockaway Beach? It's free and is a subway ride away, located in Southern Queens.

Rockaway, like much of New York City, has a very rich and interesting history but I won't bore you too much: Rockaway was originally inhabited by the Canarsie Indian tribe until the 1600s. In the 1800s Rockaway was a getaway for New York's rich and famous, including such notables as the Vanderbilts, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, and Washington Irving. Hotels lined the shore for miles, and Rockaway was known as the "The Playground of New York".

Through the next century, Rockaway remained a place where a good time was to be had and a place to just enjoy the summer and cool down. Lined with many bars and restaurants, Rockaway was soon to be inhabited by mostly Irish immigrants instead of just a vacation spot.

After WWII, Rockaway started to become more of a neighborhood, but we still had our beach and one last amusement park: Rockaway's Playland, providing enjoyment for the community and all of New York City until the 1980s. I run into people all over the city and to this day when I tell them I was born and raised in Rockaway, most of them had spent a summer or two in Rockaway and went to Playland. A really short personal history: my grandfather and grandmother (maybe the only Italians in Rockaway at the time) settled there around the 1940s. They had a house on 80th Street and a huge garden; they also owned a fruit, vegetable and meat store there. They moved to 69th street after the city decided to build a school on their property.

(not our house just an example of a typical old style Rockaway house)

Fast Forward to today: Rockaway is still a place for playing and relaxing (just a lot fewer bars and resaurants). Take the "A" train to the end, get off at the Broad Channel Station and switch to the Shuttle. As soon as you get off the train you can see and smell the ocean air and amazingly it will be at least 10 degrees cooler than wherever you were when you got on the train. If you get off at 90th street, you can watch the surfers, head to Boarders Surf Shop on 92nd street, and maybe hook up with some lessons. There is a new taco stand on 96th street for a nice bite to eat. Bring your bike and ride along the boardwalk. If you keep riding uptown you will head directly into Riis Park and Fort Tilden (a retired WWII army base). Of course, the main attraction for me is to just relax on the beach and swim all day long. Don't forget your sunblock.

photo credits: and


Socrates Sculpture Park

Socrates Sculpture Park

On the far west side of Queens, overlooking Roosevelt Island and Manhattan, is a very special, and dare I say, magical place, located in my very backyard of Long Island City/Astoria.

It’s called Socrates Sculpture Park and it is one of the best spring and summer destinations in NYC for families, couples or to wander around on your own.

Once upon a time, Socrates Sculpture Park was an abandoned riverside landfill. In the 1980’s it was transformed into an outdoor exhibit space and studio by a group of artists and members of the community. Today it serves as a world renowned outdoor museum and artistic workspace, as well as a multifaceted activity park.

The best part about the activities on offer is that they are all free of charge and available several times a week during the spring and summer, with some continuing into the fall.

There are educational art workshops, a film series, and a weekend fitness program including yoga, capoeira, pilates and more!

It’s all just a short hop from Manhattan on the N or W subway lines to Broadway, and then a 10 minute walk.

For more information on all the Socrates Sculpture Park has to offer, please visit:

At a Glance:

PARK HOURS: Socrates is open 365 days a year from 10am until sunset. Click here for sunset times



ADDRESS: 32-01 Vernon Boulevard at Broadway, Long Island City (Queens), NY 11106

by Lorina Pellach-Ladrillono of The Original Beadscarf &