NEW YORK CITY — Catch some air in the city this summer — with a kite.
Old-fashioned kite flying offers both kids and adults a break from the electronic world and a chance to feel the wind in your hair.
DNAinfo New York talked with local kite guru Charles Stewart about his favorite kite-flying spots in the area and what people should know before they head out for some sky time.
"It gets you outside, it's exercise and it's fun," said Stewart, a 74-year-old East Elmhurst resident who picked up his hobby in 1996 after he attended a kite festival.
New York City no longer has any shops solely dedicated to kites, but multiple models can be found at toy stores, including the Battery Park City, TriBeCa and Staten Island locations of Boomerang Toys ($20 to $30 each).
For an even larger selection, kite diehards can trek out to Cobra Kites, in Toms River, N.J., which is about 90 minutes from Manhattan by car.
Beginners and children should stick with basic, lightweight, single-line kites instead of opting for heavier kites that take more wind to fly or for more complicated dual-line models, Stewart said.
Make sure your kite is properly balanced by holding it upside down where the kite connects to the line and confirming that it hangs level, Stewart said.
Before you head out with your kite, you may want to check the wind speed. Most kites fare best in winds 8 to 16 mph, said Stewart, who has amassed a collection of more than 200 kites.
As you launch your kite, try to maintain a sense for the direction and strength of the wind, holding the kite so it's supported by the breeze. Then, gradually let out the line.
"The main thing is you're trying to keep some tension on the line so you can feel the kite. The feeling is what keeps the flight angle," Stewart said. "If there's no tension on the line, you're not controlling the wind."
While kite flying is technically prohibited by the city Parks Department except during designated events, the brightly colored fliers are a common sight in the city's parks, especially the beaches.
Stewart, who teaches workshops on how it's all done, recommended these spots for kite flying:
Coney Island Beach
This classic Brooklyn beach is a good kite-flying option early in the morning, when few people are out sunning.
Lower East Side resident Jose Priego, 46, recently tried his hand at flying a hummingbird-shaped kite he bought for $20 on the boardwalk.
"It's cool that it just stays up there," he said, adding that he might buy an even bigger kite next time.
Liberty State Park, Jersey City, N.J.
Located about a mile from the entrance to the Holland Tunnel, Stewart said this is New Yorkers' best option, with ample wind coming off the Hudson River.
"It's great because it's built along miles of riverbank," he said.
The park also offers a spectacular view of the Manhattan skyline.
Northern Meadow and Great Lawn in Central Park
Manhattan's biggest green space is a popular spot for kite flying, but Stewart said that while Central Park is OK for kites, it's not ideal.
"Because of all the tall buildings around the park you see a lot of what we call wind bounce," he said, describing turbulent wind conditions.
Long Meadow in Prospect Park
This Brooklyn park is another kite-flying option if Jersey City is too far out of the way, but the "tricky" wind conditions are similar to those in Central Park, Stewart said.
Jones Beach State Park, Long Island
For kite fliers heading to Long Island, Stewart recommends this breezy stretch, which is about an hour from Midtown by car.
Kite fans and wannabe kite fliers can buy new equipment and practice their skills at the Summer on the Hudson FlyNYC event Saturday, Aug. 17. The Parks Department event will take place in Riverside Park off West 70th Street from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Kite-making workshops will be offered for kids.