NEW YORK CITY — From stylish speakeasies to botanical garden mazes, DNAinfo New York has a handful of fun summer day-date ideas that are sure to please — even if your date doesn't.
For History Lovers
Start your date at the Battery Conservancy in Downtown Manhattan. Stroll through the gardens and check out Castle Clinton, the centuries-old fortress that served as the United States’ first immigration station (and which was nearly demolished by Robert Moses in 1941).
Once you arrive on Staten Island, catch the S40 bus to Snug Harbor, a cultural center and botanical garden. The 83-acre park is remarkably quiet, which will make it easier for you to fully take in Snug Harbor’s architecture, some of which dates back to the early 19th century. Buildings on the premises borrow from a variety of architectural styles, ranging from Greek Revival and Beaux Arts to Italianate and Victorian.
Get lost in the Connie Gretz’s Secret Garden maze, which was inspired by the 1911 children’s classic, “The Secret Garden.” Then meander over to the Chinese Scholar’s Garden, which features a bamboo forest path, waterfalls, a koi-filled pond and majestic rockery that resembles mountains said to have inspired the works of Confucian, Buddhist and Taoist monks and scholars throughout history.
Take the ferry back to Downtown Manhattan and end your historical day-date at the Black Hound, a swanky speakeasy just a few blocks away from the World Trade Center. There, cool off with summery cocktails inspired by the works of literary greats, like the Pygmalion ($13) — a gin, cointreau, absinthe and fruit-infused cocktail named after the 1913 play by George Bernard Shaw. If you’ve worked up an appetite, munch on a flatbread pizza, tuna tartare or a truffle mac and cheese.
Snug Harbor, 1000 Richmond Terrace in Staten Island, take the ferry to Staten Island, then the S40 bus at Gate D. Let the bus driver know that you want to get off at Snug Harbor. Open daily from dawn until dusk. The Black Hound, 301 South End Ave. in Manhattan, 212-945-0562. Opens at 4:30 p.m. nightly.
For Music Lovers
Whether “waiting for the man” at Lexington Avenue and 125th Street or hanging out at Andy Warhol’s Factory, influential '60s band the Velvet Underground was an essential part of New York at the time.
The folks at Flavorwire have pored over Velvet Underground’s discography to identify and map eight locations most associated with the iconic New York City band. Check out what has become of the Delmonico Hotel, Max’s Kansas City and the Chelsea Hotel since Velvet Underground’s heyday.
When hunger calls, head just east of Union Square — another Velvet Underground stomping ground — to Joe Jr. Restaurant for top-notch milkshakes, burgers and an old-school diner experience in a rapidly changing neighborhood.
For a reminder that there’s still “underground” talent in New York, head to 55 Bar in Greenwich Village or Arlene’s Grocery in the Lower East Side for cheap drinks and an early evening show.
Joe Jr. Restaurant, 167 3rd Ave. in Manhattan, 212-473-5150. Open daily from 6 a.m. to 12 a.m. The 55 Bar, 55 Christopher St. in Manhattan, 212-929-9883. Open daily from 2 p.m to 4 a.m. Arlene's Grocery, 95 Stanton St. in Manhattan, 212-358-1633. Open daily from 6 p.m. to 4 a.m.
For Nature Lovers
Head to Jamaica Bay to commune with wildlife during your daytime date. Take the Rockaway-bound A train to Broad Channel Station to explore the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge. If you want a little help navigating the 9,155 acres of diverse habitats that comprise the refuge, rangers offer numerous hiking tours, bird watching sessions and seining activities for visitors.
Afterward, take a cab or bus to Rockaway Beach for lunch with a view. Head to Rockaway Beach Surf Club to get acquainted with urban-meets-surfing culture over fish tacos ($3.50) and beer. If you’re looking to eat right on the beach, visit Caracas Arepas Bar and order frozen sangria ($12), taro fries ($4) and melt-in-your-mouth sweet plantain and avocado arepas ($7).
Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge, Broad Channel in Queens, take the Rockaway-bound A train to Broad Channel Station, then walk to the refuge or the Q52 or Q53 bus towards Limited Elmhurst Woodhaven and exit at the refuge stop. Trails open daily from dawn until dusk. Rockaway Beach Surf Club, 302 Beach 87th St. in Rockaway Beach. Open daily from noon until 12:30 a.m. Caracas Arepas Bar, 106-01 Shore Front Parkway in Queens. Open Monday through Thursday from 12 p.m. to 8 p.m., Friday through Sunday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.
For Art Lovers
It is possible to enjoy summer in New York without breaking a sweat. Start your date before noon at the Metropolitan Museum of Art to beat the crowds and take in the rich, summery hues in the museum’s “Sultans of Deccan India, 1500-1700: Opulence and Fantasy” exhibit.
Take the elevator to the top of the museum for picturesque views of the Manhattan skyline and Central Park — and maybe a quick bite and glass of cava ($13) at the Roof Garden Cafe and Martini Bar.
If large museums aren’t for you, stroll down Central Park's east side to visit the Museum of American Illustration instead. The five-story townhouse museum houses a comprehensive collection of nearly 2,000 works by some of the United States’ greatest illustrators, including Norman Rockwell, Howard Pyle, N.C. Wyeth and Bob Peak.
At the museum, guests can dine either inside or al fresco at the Hall of Fame Dining Room for $30, a price that includes the full buffet, coffee, dessert and a glass of wine — and the ability to ogle even more pieces of the museum’s permanent collection, such as Rockwell’s “Dover Coach,” situated just behind the dining room’s bar.
Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1000 5th Ave. in Manhattan, 212-535-7710. Open daily from 10 a.m. until 5:15 p.m. The Museum of American Illustration, 128 E. 63rd St. in Manhattan, 212-838-2560. Open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Tuesday; 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Wednesday through Friday; noon to 4 p.m. on Saturday.