Head outdoors for a breath of Brooklyn - Brooklyn Paper

Head outdoors for a breath of Brooklyn

Teeing up some fun: Enjoy an afternoon of America’s pasttime — wiffle ball — on one of the Brooklyn Bridge Park’s lawns.
File photo by Andy Campbell

It’s time to explore the land beyond your stoop, with summer in full swing. Sure, the borough is mostly concrete, and averages 36,732 people per square mile, but there are plenty of places to spread out, get a breath of fresh air, and enjoy some outdoor fun without feeling like a canned sardine.


There’s nothing like the smell of salt air and the sound of waves lapping on a hull, and with 13 launches, you won’t have to travel far to make a splash. The truly adventurous can even paddle the Gowanus Canal and Newtown Creek — just don’t fall in.

Brooklyn Bridge Park

Explore the East River and soak in some stunning views of lower Manhattan at this prime launch. The Brooklyn Bridge Park Boathouse even offers a free public kayaking program on Thursdays and Saturdays from June 7 to Aug. 31.

(Brooklyn Bridge Park between Piers 1 and 2 near Furman and Cranberry streets, www.bbpboathouse.org).

Salt Marsh Nature Center

Get a glimpse of untouched Brooklyn paddling through the Gerritsen inlet in Marine Park. You can even rent a boat from Wheel Fun Rentals just across Avenue U.

(Launch at the corner of Burnett Street and Avenue U in Marine Park, www.wheelfunrentals.com/).

Louis Valentino Jr. Pier Park

Explore the protected cove in Louis Valentino Jr. Pier Park. Red Hook Boaters will set you up with a boat, paddles, and life vest — for free!

(At the end of Coffey Street in Red Hook, www.redhookboaters.org).


This is ground control to major fun — can you hear me up there? Southern Brooklyn is home to two parks where model aircraft fanatics can take flight. Two groups of model aircraft fanatics offer insight and support for neophytes and experienced pilots.

Calvert Vaux Park

This Gravesend park is home to the Seaview Rotary Wings, a collective of model helicopter enthusiasts from across the city. For insurance reasons, you’ll have to join the Rotary Wings and the Academy of Model Aeronautics to fly at the field.

(Park entrance at 26th Avenue & Cropsey Avenue in Gravesend, www.flysrw.com).

Marine Park

Model airplanes take flight in Brooklyn’s largest park, and you can bring your miniature war bird and spend a sunny afternoon doing loop-the-loops. The Radio Control Society of Marine Park asks that all flyers be members of the Academy of Model Aeronautics.

(Gerritsen Avenue between Seba and Lois avenues, behind the Seba Playground, www.rcsmp.com).


Follow Brooklyn’s coastal greenways on a roughly 30-mile tour of the borough’s waterfront and adjacent neighborhoods. Most of the path includes protected bicycle lanes that will keep you out of cars’ way and set you up for the best views.

Waterfront Greenway

See the East River waterfront from two wheels as you cycle from Greenpoint to Sunset Park, passing under three bridges as you tour the iconic Brooklyn Navy yard, a bustling Downtown, and serene Red Hook — among other locales.

(Runs between Manhattan and Bay Ridge avenues, www.brooklyngreenway.org).

Shore Parkway Greenway

When the Belt and Gowanus parkways split, head west to the Shore Parkway Greenway, which will take you south around Bay Ridge, under the Verrazano–Narrows Bridge, and into Bensonhurst. When you hit Cropsey Avenue, go south for a couple of blocks and head east on Neptune Avenue. Keep on truckin’ until Neptune turns into Emmons Avenue and drops you at the foot of the Jamaica Bay Greenway.

Jamaica Bay Greenway

The last leg of your coastal tour of Brooklyn will take you all the way to borough line, and the ride is wonderful. You’ll pass through Marine Park and the Gateway National Recreation Area and cross over Gerritsen Inlet, Mill Basin, and Paerdegat Basin before hitting the Canarsie Pier. You can hop on the L train and head back nearly to where you started, or press on through East New York to the borough line at Spring Creek.



Show your sweetheart the sights on a balmy summer afternoon — there are plenty of fun places to woo your boo.

Green-Wood Cemetery

If you and your paramour are not the types to get spooked by hanging out around old bones, Green-Wood Cemetery could be your perfect date spot. It’s as green and lush as Prospect Park and not nearly as crowded — with the living anyway. And it’s got some of the most beautiful headstones in the country.

Green-Wood Cemetery [500 25th St. at Fifth Avenue in Greenwood, (718) 768–7300, www.green-wood.com]. $35.

Brooklyn Bridge Park

In summer, there’s always some kind of activity to watch or participate in, including summer movies, evening concerts, a stacked soccer schedule, and more. You can’t go wrong, especially if you take your date for some ice cream afterwards at the Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory.

Brooklyn Bridge Park [Pier 1 entrance at Furman and Old Fulton streets. (718) 222–9939. www.brooklynbridgepark.org].

Brooklyn Crab

If you want to mix your foodie and outdoor sides, there’s few better places than Brooklyn Crab. This joint is like a mini New England getaway, without all the traffic and tolls.

Brooklyn Crab [24 Reed St. at Van Brunt Street in Red Hook, (718) 643–2722].


The wind isn’t just for plastic bags! When tempers flare in the mid-summer heat and someone tells you to “go fly a kite,” tell them you know all the best spots.

Shore Parkway

The strong breezes along the promenade under the Belt Parkway have made it a favorite of aerial enthusiasts.

(Between 20th Avenue and Bay 19th Street in Bath Beach).

Brooklyn Bridge Park

This increasingly hot greenspace gets great breezes, and offers spectacular views of the bridge and beyond.

(Between Atlantic Avenue and Joralemon Street in Dumbo).

Plumb Beach

However you spell it, this isolated spot on the Rockaway Inlet is the perfect place to throw kites and caution to the wind.

(Off Exit Nine on the Belt Parkway on Plumb Island).

Floats your boat: Boaters can launch kayaks from Marine Park to enjoy a paddle around Jamaica Bay and its various inlets.
File photo by Steve Solomonson

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