Not-Your-Average NYC Adventures

Screw the Empire State Building, it’s windy as all heck up there (buh-bye blowout)! If we want a birds-eye view, we can get it on Google earth for free-ninety-nine, and we don’t even have to worry about messing up our lovely locks. Here at R29, we like to think of ourselves as "real" New Yorkers and, let’s face it, sometimes, when it comes to weekend activities or touristy suggestions, we feel like we've seen it all. So, in the spirit of really exploring our city, we've dug a little deeper to find out where the true sightseeing gems are hidden. Whether you have been a city dweller since your past life, or you just flew in on the red-eye for a Big Apple quickie, we’ve put together an unusual guide to the city and its surrounding nabes (believe it or not, all the boroughs are filled with buried treasures). Next time someone asks "What should I do this weekend?", don't you dare think of keeping your mouth shut.
Click through to see peep six rather different weekend itineraries!
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Madagascar+ Italy= BRONX

If you liked the movie Madagascar as much as we did, you’ll definitely love the real thing. Well, actually, not the real thing, but almost! Visit the “Madagascar!” exhibit at the Bronx Zoo and get up close and personal with adorable little lemurs and their enemies: the fearsome fossa. Just a ten minute walk from the zoo, take a stroll, shop, and eat, eat, eat on Arthur Avenue —the Bronx’s answer to Little Italy, packed with divine goodies to consume right there, or take home as souvenirs.

Bronx Zoo, 2300 Southern Boulevard (between East 183rd Street and East 185th Street), Bronx; 718-367-1010.
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All That Jazz

If you’re into Jazz, don’t miss these quintessential smooth spots. Start out with a Gospel Brunch at the historic Cotton Club, where Jazz legends Ray Charles and Duke Ellington played regularly. Eat well, and then head out to Queens to visit the Louis Armstrong House Museum, where you can tour Armstrong’s longtime home. Finally, head back to Manhattan for some live Jazz at Lincoln Center, where there’ s always something swinging going on. If you still want more, St. Nick's Pub is a total jazz treasure. Make the trek if you’ re looking for a late night dance party—Saturday is African Jazz night and it’s well worth the weeklong wait.

The Cotton Club, 656 West 125th Street (at St Clair Place); 212-663-7980. Louis Armstrong House Museum, 
34-56 107th Street
 (between 34th Avenue and 37th Avenue), Queens; 718-478-8274. Jazz At Lincoln Center, 10 Columbus Circle (at 60th Street); 212-258-9800. St. Nick’s Pub, 773 St Nicholas Avenue (between West 148th Street and West 149th Street); 212-283-9728.
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Do The Rockaway

It’s almost Spring (we’ve said it a hundred times, but maybe this time it will be true)! At the first sign of sun and warmth, we’ll be taking an alternative beach trip to Far Rockaway. First, we’ll stop off at the bizarre Dead Horse Bay to collect some sea-glass and shells, and quite possibly lots of other weird sh*t… This eerie beach has been home to landfills and all kinds of kooky factories, apparently none of which adhered to the phrase “ reduce, reuse, recycle” . The beach is littered with remnants of the past, which lend it a gnarly, post-apocalyptic feel. Afterwards, we’ ll do some snacking at rockin’ Rockaway taqueria, Rockaway Taco, and slip on our wetsuits for some surfing.

Rockaway Taco, 95-19 Rockaway Beach Boulevard (at Beach 96th Street), Queens; 347-213-7466.
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Life Aquatic

Sometimes we just don’t have the energy or enthusiasm to leave the island but that doesn’t mean we can’t find an escape. Let the sound of falling water wash away all your city-induced stress at the Zen waterfall in Paley Park. Or, if you need to stretch your sea legs, The Downtown Boathouse offers free kayaking from three different Manhattan Piers: 72nd street, Pier 90 at 56th Street and Pier 40 near Houston. Rowing our very own boat (for a little while) on the Hudson almost makes us feel like we’re in the Hamptons, minus the Jitney. On a lucky day, we might even spot the Science Barge, a prototype of a sustainable urban farm, where we might pop in and ask any number of questions about this curious floating farm.

Paley Park, 3 East 53rd Street (between 5th Avenue & Madison Avenue).
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Brooklyn Daycation

Obviously, you must walk the Brooklyn Bridge but make sure you’re Brooklyn bound. Once you’ve crossed the river into DUMBO, you may sigh with relief; Manhattan is behind you and glorious things await. Do not miss the Brooklyn Bridge Park—no matter what! Seriously, it’s a long awaited and absolutely stunning gift from BK to all of us craving open space and waterfront views, and it is BEYOND satisfying. Let your mind wander as you walk along the waterfront with a scoop of creamy cold deliciousness from the Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory. Then, switch gears and sharpen up with a class at the Brooklyn Brainery. Choose from creative options like Ice Cream Making (you just ate it, after all), The Sociology of Food, and even a workshop on how to shop in Chinatown! End your day with free art and a dance party at Brooklyn Museum’s “First Saturdays” which happen on the first Saturday (duh) of every month!

Brooklyn Brainery, 515 Court Street (between Huntington Street and West 9th Street) Brooklyn; 347-292-7246. Brooklyn Museum, 200 Eastern Parkway (at Washington Avenue); Brooklyn; 718-638-5000.
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Beer and Chocolate

If you’ve got a sweet tooth and a taste for hops, head to Williamsburg for behind-the-scenes tours and tastings at two of our favorite BK factories: The Brooklyn Brewery and Mast Brothers Chocolate Factory. For a, uh, different kind of behind-the scenes experience (and some more beer), head to 3rd Ward in Bushwick on a Wednesday night for live nude figure drawing. Bring a friend to reap the benefits of $10 unlimited PBR, and, unless you want to look like a total creeper, don’ t forget your drawing supplies.

Brooklyn Brewery, 79 North 11th Street (between Berry Street and Wythe Avenue), Brooklyn; 718-486-7422. Mast Brothers Chocolate Factory, 105 North 3rd Street (between Berry Street and Wythe Avenue), Brooklyn; 718-388-2625. 3rd Ward, 195 Morgan Avenue (between Meadow Street and Stagg Street), Brooklyn; 718-715-4961.