Last weekend we were #blessed with unseasonably warm weather here in the Big Apple. I’m talking temperatures in the mid-80s, breezy, sunny, and warm – it was like Spring in all of her splendor was welcoming us with open arms!
Alas, like a lover scorned, she turned away too soon and shed her tears – in the form of constant drizzle, wind, and temperatures in the 50s. It was a short-lived blissful reminder that summer is just around the corner.
This weekend we can expect a hybrid of the two, a salty-sweet combo of sun and rain, cold and warm, the last dredges of winter and the first buds of spring. Given the unpredictable nature of NYC weather and the wrench it can throw into weekend plans, I wanted to share a couple of fun indoor AND outdoor activities to pass away this upcoming April weekend.
If you find yourself in Queens…
Make your way to Queen’s Comfort in Astoria for hands-down one of the best brunches I’ve ever had.
Not only is the doorman, James Avatar, a class-act entertainer who makes the wait in line actually fun (who would’ve thought, a cliche NYC line, FUN?), but their food is UH-MAZING. Thanks in large part to the Donut Diva’s ever-changing list of outrageous sweet concoctions to tempt even the most avid dieter. Our particular treat that weekend was a New York Classic with a sinful twist: Rainbow Cookie Crumb Cake. OH. MY. GOD. I would come back just for this, and wait in lines twice as long, to enjoy the dense, moist (I know, *cringe*), colorful cake separated into layers by raspberry and apricot (?) jam and a light layer of chocolate, capped off with a decadent and thick crumb topping…absolutely to die for!
Not only were their desserts delicious, but so was the rest of their cardiac-arrest-inducing menu. We shared some of their famous “Atomic Fireballs” – deep-fried macaroni and cheese balls topped with sriracha drizzle and a ranch dressing. For my meal, I opted for a twist on the classic Eggs Benedict: Pecan-crusted bacon and a poached egg on top of house-made butter biscuits and a creamy hollandaise sauce, topped with a slight drizzle of honey…again, heaven on a plate. Also, the coffee is legit Cafe Grumpy coffee and that is a side of REAL cream. REAL CREAM. Not skim or whole milk or even half and half. The coffee lover/addict in me was in heaven.
I had a hard time choosing what I wanted, so I will definitely be returning. We split the coffee cake and I could only eat one of my Eggs Benedict, yet I was still grateful that the rest of the day’s activities included much walking around. I think my heart and cholesterol levels were pretty happy about that, too.
To try Queen’s Comfort for yourself, I recommend getting in line a few minutes before it opens (at 10am) on weekends. You’ll get seated right away. Otherwise I’ve heard tales of the dreaded two-hour wait, which is enough to make anybody #hangry enough to not enjoy the experience. It will definitely be worth it!
From there, I would suggest a visit to the nearby Museum of the Moving Image, or, if the weather is nice, a trip to Long Island City’s beautiful waterfront Gantry Plaza State Park, which offers fantastic views of the Manhattan Skyline!
And of course, the iconic Pepsi Cola sign:
If you find yourself in Brooklyn…
Spend a day outdoors at the beautiful Brooklyn Botanic Garden! While their most famous event of the year – Sakura Matsuri 2017, or the festival of the Cherry Blossom Tree – doesn’t take place officially until April 29, many of the garden’s hundreds of cherry trees are already in bloom. Plus, you’ll beat the inevitable crowds that show up for the two days of the weekend festival (it was already crowded enough when we went in the early afternoon, with lines pouring out onto the streets just to buy tickets as we were leaving!).
It was hard to do their beauty justice on my phone’s camera, and I expect on a sunnier day they would have been absolutely brilliant. Nevertheless, it was wonderful to be fully enveloped by pink and white and rosy flowering trees, where the petals drifting through the wind felt like giant snow flakes falling softly onto hair and coats before blanketing the grass.
Even more photogenic were the eye-popping tulips – my personal favorite.
The bright red “Emperor tulips” in this picture are absolutely unfiltered and sans Photoshop. They really were that bright and beautiful, reminding me of Andy Warhol who, on admiring a certain work of art, said “I like it; it makes my eyes hurt.”
After spending a few hours like Alice among the flowerbed, make an afternoon of it and head over to Black Brick Coffee in Williamsburg for a delicious Iced Chai or Flat White. The no-screens policy in the front room of this dimly lit dive with exposed brick walls and wooden tables and chairs makes it a pleasant spot to catch up with friends and family without the distraction of someone (bloggers, perhaps?) clicking away on keyboards.
If you find yourself in Manhattan…
Grab a friend (or four ) and visit my personal favorite part of town – Greenwich Village near Washington Square Park/MacDougal Street – to play some games at “Manhattan’s Only Board Game Cafe,” The Uncommons! A group of four friends and I made a reservation in advance (they only take reservations for five or more, so plan ahead and invite a crew) and what I thought would be a couple of hours playing Cards Against Humanity turned into an epic 5-hour long Sunday playing an assortment of different, original, never-heard-of-before-in-my-life board games. There were a ton to choose from and we made several trips to the game wall.
We landed on this pile for our first round:
…and ended up playing Telestrations (an awesome cross between Pictionary and Telephone) for nearly half the time because it was so much fun.
If the weather is nice and the sun is still up, take a stroll through Washington Square Park (MORE cherry blossoms!) before grabbing dinner at a nearby restaurant or, in my case, catching the train back to Queens.
As for me, this weekend I’ll be checking out the Whitney’s “Paintings from the 1980s” exhibition going on until May 14.
Stay warm, stay dry, and have a wonderful weekend, New York!