Fun, cheap places you haven’t been

Waterfront Barge, photo by Timothy Vogel.

You’ve been to Prospect Park 271 times already, done the once-a-year loop of Coney Island and Brighton Beach and spent way too many Sundays at Fairway. Another summer weekend is just four days away (Monday’s kinda fun when you think of it like that). So where’s that dang list of all those wonderful Brooklyn places you said you were going to visit this year, for real? We found it for you.

Enjoy the views from Waterfront Museum Barge (pay what you wish) and enjoy a chat and possibly a juggling lesson with owner/captain David Sharps. Then picnic at Pier 44 next to the Barge or a few blocks away at romantic Valentino Pier. Don’t forget to bring $5 for a Swingle, a chocolate covered key lime pie on a stick from Steve’s Key Lime Pies. Barge is at 290 Conover St., at Pier 44, 718-624-4719.

Go to the Brooklyn Brewery happy hour. Fridays from 6 to 11, you can bring in your own chow and unwind in a working brewery with fresh draft beer, $4 per 14-ounce compostable cup. That’s five for $20; the sixth beer is free, God help you. The Brewery offers free half-hour brewery tours on Saturdays and Sundays, from noon to 6, on the hour. 1 Brewers Row, 70 N. 11th St., Williamsburg, 718-486-7422.

Go canoeing in Canarsie at the Sebago Canoe Club. On Wednesdays at 5:30 p.m. and Saturdays at 9:30 a.m., they offer free tw0-and-a-half-hour guided rides on a first-come basis. Participants must pay a $10 insurance fee and be at least 16. Be on time. 1400 Paerdegat Ave. North, 718-241-3683.

NYC Water Taxi, photo by J. Nordberg.
NYC Water Taxi, photo by J. Nordberg.

Get a yogurt and go on a mini-cruise for $1. The water taxi to Manhattan is free for Ikea shoppers with receipts—even if all you buy is a $1 frozen yogurt. The taxi runs every 40 minutes between 1 Beard St. (Red Hook) and South Street Seaport, Pier 11.  Weekdays, it leaves Brooklyn between 2:20 p.m. and 7 p.m., and returns from Manhattan between 2 p.m.  and 7:20 p.m. On weekends, it leaves Brooklyn between 11:20 a.m. and 8 p.m. and from Manhattan, 11 a.m. to 8:20 p.m.

Visit the Wyckoff House Museum in Canarsie. It’s the oldest structure in NYC and it’s worth a visit. They even have the original corn cobs from the 1600s that were used to insulate the home. Tuesday-Sunday, 10-4. Tours are Tuesday to Friday at 1 and 3, Saturday and Sunday at 11, 1 and 3. 5816 Clarendon Rd., 718- 629-3125.

Visit the Narrows Garden, a 4-and-half acre escape—a “rambling parkland” staffed by volunteer gardeners. With a story circle for children, the mystical Moon Garden for romantics, two kinds of rose gardens, willow and linden groves, the garden’s sights and smells go on and on. And its annual pleasures are augmented by the Art in the Park promenade, every other Sunday this summer. Shore Rd. between Bay Ridge Ave. and 72nd St., 718-748-4083.

Marine Park, photo by Timothy Vogel

Pitch a tent in a Brooklyn park. On Friday and Saturday nights in July and August, the Urban Park Rangers (just like the Yellowstone kind but they work in NYC)  host free campouts at various parks within the five boroughs. Brooklyn’s featured spot this summer is Marine Park, which has 530 acres of mostly salt marsh that are home to more than 325 species of birds, 50 species of butterflies, and 100 species of finfish. Campouts are on July 31, August 14, and August 21. The evening starts with a cookout, followed by stargazing, night hikes and the like. Everything is included—all you have to bring is a sleeping bag. Check here for pre-registration info (usually at least 10 days before). Spots fill up fast, so if you’re even slightly interested, check the signup dates. And when they say register online at 9 a.m., they mean it.

Alison Lowenstein is the author of City Weekends: the Greatest Escapes and Weekend Getaways in and Around NYC.


  1. Jeff G

    This is cool stuff. I am so bored of doing the same old things so it is good to see something new. You have somehow made Ikea into a fun weekend activity!

  2. From B'klyn

    As a native Brooklynite I say
    Go to the beach!
    Brooklyn has some awesome beaches, Manhattan beach is a quiet inlet that is well maintained, or there is always Coney Island or Brighton beach.

    the nature preserve at Floyd Bennett field.

    If you’re adventuresome and don’t mind entering Queens, ride your bike to the end of Flatbush avenue and over the marine park bridge into Queens and you’re at Breezy Point, Neponsit / Belle Harbor these are the best kept secret pristine beaches.

  3. Rebecca

    Hi, just wanted to let you know I went to the free water taxi because I saw this list of free things to do and it is not for anyone with an IKEA receipt. You must have at least a $10 purchase (I had purchased a few items for $5 and they informed me that wasn’t enough and I would need to buy a ticket for the water taxi). Luckily, a woman behind me showed her receipt for over $20 and said I was with her but I wanted to let you know so you could update the list. Either way, getting $10 of stuff at IKEA and a free ride back is convenient but this way people who read your article will know that you need to buy a few more purchases rather than just a “$1 frozen yogurt.” Thanks!

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