The city was empty this weekend, but I stuck around. While everybody else was laying out at the beach, I was getting my nails done at the salon that was closing early. I was grocery shopping without waiting in line. I was doing laundry without fighting for a dryer.
But today, on the holiday, I got the chance to get out of Manhattan a bit and do some city exploring. First, we went to City Island - my first excursion there - for some fried seafood by the water at Johnny's Reef Restaurant, a counter service fish shack with outdoor picnic table dining and different lines for fried, steamed, and raw food selections. Like something you might see at Coney Island but much tastier, adding to the Reef's ambiance was a flock of seagulls and a cool breeze with the hot sun beating on our backs (giving me a burn despite only being out there for a half hour). The steamed clams were big and meaty - though no match for the giant mussels I'd had at Bar Jamon the night before - and the fried filet of sole rivaled the fried haddock I'd eaten at the Clam Bar in North Syracuse. With $3 cans of beer to wash everything down, it was a uniquely New England habor town by-way-of-the-Bronx experience.
City Island was founded in 1685 and has managed to fly under the radar for most New Yorkers, at least the imports into the city who think the only island in the metropolitan area is Manhattan. While Eric dreamed of buying a cottage there, we managed to walk down the main drag of the island without buying a yacht or taking sailboat lessons, but we did get some soft serve at Lickety Split which reminded me of the ice cream stands we all take for granted Upstate. Today, we only had to drive 20 minutes north to find a cool delicious treat that was just as good.
There is a beach nearby, but we skipped it and instead went island-hopping to Randall's Island for some miniature golf in the much-needed shade. With two different courses and only $6 per person to play, the Randall's Island golf center - which also has driving ranges next door to batting cages - is a great escape if you have a car, and not too hard to get to via public transportation or, better yet, car service. Plus like any good amusement park or miniature golf course, there are waterfalls, fountains, caves, Stonehenge-like rock formations, and trees that completely surround you and make you forget you're in the city. I scored the worst out of the three of us, but I didn't do too bad considering the last time I played was in blacklight at Palisades and, before that, in high school.
There's plenty of time for me to beach myself this summer, so I'm glad I got to take advantage of the nice weather this weekend and enjoy the city sights, especially since I've been away so much lately. And what islands are next? Rikers? Roosevelt? If I'm lucky, I'll avoid Wards Island, as long as I can avoid being diagnosed criminally insane.
Island Hopping: A Place Where Cape Cod Meets the Bronx - The New York Times
Miniature Golf Beckons - The New York Times