By Jimmy Mckenzie

All photos by Paul Clemence, courtesy of ARCHI-PHOTO

Since the pandemic began the city that never sleeps has been so near empty that many walking along the usually chaotic Times Square had plenty of sidewalks to enjoy all to themselves. Restaurants were soulless, and even usually lively Bryant Park was deserted. We all wondered where everybody went. There was a never felt before stillness in the city. 

Well, there is good news for all our New York City fans! The city is slowly coming back to life and the Big Apple is coming out of hibernation. For those of us that want to explore and still want to keep pandemic safe protocols, Paradise had a chance to experience some fun activities that can be enjoyed in the sunny days of Spring and Summer while keeping ourselves “socially distant” from the masses.  

Here are five “must-see” activities that can be enjoyed outdoors in the Big Apple with safe Covid protocols in place for these post-pandemic times:

The Edge

The Edge Outside Deck
The Edge Skydeck at Hudson Yards

Perked at 1,100 feet above the ground in one of Hudson Yards high rises is this new observation deck. Designed by renown architecture firm Kohn Pederson Fox, the Skydeck offers sprawling views of Manhattan and beyond and even below. The glass panels that surround the deck offer a 360-degrees magnificent view of the city giving the viewer a full perspective of the Big Apple. And if you brave enough there is even a glass outlook allowing the brave ones to stare straight down all the way to the streets below.

While at the Edge, take a moment to sip a glass of champagne with light bites at the bar located on the 100th floor to enjoy while admiring one of the best views in Manhattan.

The Edge in New York
“Outdoor sky deck at The Edge, Hudson Yards”
Sky Floor at the Edge seen from the street level
Sky floor at The Edge seen from the street level

Little Spain (Mercado)– 

“High ceilings, ample space at chef Jose Andre’s Spanish Diner”

 Mercado Little Spain is a Spanish market with small kiosks where one can select delicious Spanish cuisine from their restaurant counters. Mercado was inspired by the lively mercados of Spain, created by renowned Philanthropist and Chef Jose Andres to bring a taste of Spain to the Big Apple. Mercado also has a full-service restaurant, the Spanish Diner, if one prefers to be served a la carte. The Spanish Diner features open garage-like doors to the outside, is airy, and tables are spaced out for social distancing. If you decide to try the restaurant do not miss the Bocata de Jamon Serrano accompanied with a Sangria de Cava- made with cava, gin, and seasonal fruits. Mercado Little Spain is a market eatery that will satisfy your craving for Spanish food.

Sangria de Cava- made with cava, gin, and seasonal fruits at Spanish Diner

New York Botanical Garden-Yayoi Kusama

Ascension of Polka Dots on Trees installation by Yayoi Kusama

Head over to the New York Botanical Garden in the Bronx to see Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama’s “Cosmic Nature” exhibition, full of her extravagant and colorful polka dots. The exhibit is open to visitors until mid-October allowing the public to enjoy Kusama’s art and concepts in an open-aired space with lots of room in between visitors. One of the highlights of the exhibition is the octopus-like “Dancing Pumpkin” sculpture made of bronze and painted bright yellow with black polka dots. Not to be missed, head over to the Native Plant Garden area to check out Kusama’s permanent installation “Narcissus Garden”­- the pond is filled with hundreds of mirrored steel balls creating a soothing wave-like effect and hypnotic and hissing sounds. 

Dancing Pumpkins Kusama
“Dancing Pumpkins” by Yayoi Kusama
Narcissus Garden Installation by Kusama
“Narcissus Garden” permanent Installation by Yayoi Kusama

The High Line

“Brick House” Sculpture by Simone Leigh at the High Line

One of Manhattan’s most successful new urban planning renewal, the High Line quickly became one of the city’s most popular destinations. Now for the post-pandemic times the crowd control timed entries are making it again a pleasurable, and safe, experience. Climb up for a stroll and check out some of their cutting-edge art installations and some great new architecture being built along the elevated walkway.

Building at the High Line
520 West 28th Street- The only project in Manhattan by legendary architect Zara Hadid

Ferry cruising

Cruising the east river with the NYC ferry
Cruising the East river with the NYC ferry

Although exploring Manhattan by foot is a great way to experience the city, there is a more comfortable way to take in the Manhattan skyline: from a NYC Ferry. The city now offers a sprawling network of ferries cruising along the East River and even all the way to the Far Rockaway.

A New York ferry ticket costs only $2.75 and one gets to pass by some of the Big Apple greatest landmarks such as Lady Liberty, Lower Manhattan, Brooklyn Bridge, Long Island City, Roosevelt Island, and the United Nations.

Liberty Statue as seen from the ferry
Liberty Statue as seen from the Ferry
Manhattan skyline view from East River
Manhattan skyline view from East River
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