Best Of Sports & Recreation
Best Best Park for a Barbecue
Picnic Peninsula, Pier 5
Picnic Peninsula kind of sounds like the sandy section of a water park where barefoot kids with Gatorade-stained mouths eat crustless sandwiches, but that's OK, because if anything, its unfortunate name keeps the ugly hordes away from this idyllic waterfront stretch of Brooklyn Bridge Park's Pier 5. The barbecues at...
Best Public Park
Franklin D. Roosevelt Four Freedoms Park
Nestled in the East River between the Pepsi-Cola sign in Queens and the United Nations building in Manhattan, Franklin D. Roosevelt Four Freedoms Park honors the president who guided America out of the Depression and on to victory in World War II. Against spectacular skyline views, an allée of linden...
It may be an old standby, but with breathtaking views of the city skyline all around, and a 15-acre expanse of grass studded with sunbathers, it's hard to find a better picnic spot than Sheep Meadow in Central Park. Taking its name from the actual sheep that once grazed there,...
Fort Tilden Beach
Yes, hipsters have invaded the Rockaways, and most weekends during the summer they're arriving literally by the busload. But there's something about the perfect sand dunes, the walkable (and fishable!) beach, the maritime forest, and the art that keeps us coming back to Fort Tilden anyway. It's still secluded enough...
Best Day Trip
Storm King State Park and Storm King Art Center
A pleasant hour's drive north of the city, Storm King State Park is named for Storm King Mountain — which was itself named by the writer Nathaniel Parker Willis, a contemporary of Poe and Longfellow who never quite achieved the same level of fame. The mountain is the tallest around,...
Best Dog Park
Msgr. McGolrick Park Dog Run
"Meatball! Meatball! Get the hot dog!" Yes, you're at the dog park (and Meatball doesn't understand you). While it's unclear how the multicolored lawn chairs ended up in Greenpoint's Msgr. McGolrick Park Dog Run, they do a lot for the DIY character of this community park that's perfect for watching...
Best Place to Walk Your Dog
Though intended for humans, Joseph Beuys's outdoor artwork 7000 Oaks offers Chelsea pooches unending opportunities for a sniff and a whiz. Begun in 1982 with an extensive tree-planting in the German city of Kassel during Documenta 7, the German performance artist's project went global several years later when the Dia...
Best Place to BirdWatch
Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge
New York City is home to some excellent bird-watching, but Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge in Queens boasts the best to be found. Part of the U.S. National Park Service since the early 1970s, Jamaica Bay has recorded sightings of at least 330 bird species, a number that translates to nearly...
Best Place to Get Lost in the Woods
Inwood Hill Park
There really aren't a lot of places to get lost in the woods in New York City. In fact, there's really only one. Inwood Hill Park has woods — by which we mean, like, there's-a-Sasquatch-in-there-somewhere woods. In this nearly 200-acre oasis, you'll find miles of trails, not to mention cliffs,...
Best Bowling Lanes
We live in an age in which the bowling alley, as an institution, functions as a jazzy nightclub for teens, most featuring TV screens above every lane and something called "laser bowl night." The Gutter, on the other hand, truthfully touts that "we never turn the lights off so you...
Best Place to Play Bocce
There's no better way to work off your pasta — while eating your pasta! — than with a round of bocce in the casual dining room of Il Vagabondo. An Upper East Side staple since 1968, the restaurant offers the sort of old-school Italian-American menu you see a lot of,...
Best Miniature Golf
Flushing Meadows might not have the fanciest miniature golf course in the city, but it offers 18 holes of landscaped play — waterfalls, windmills, and streams included — for downright cheap: $8.25 buys you a round, including putter and ball. Families fill the greens during the day, but at night...
Best Boot Camp
Body Space Fitness
Kelvin Gary's vision for Body Space Fitness included economic alternatives to personal training, which makes this bright, well-equipped studio attractive to the city's cash-strapped workout-minded population who'd like a little help achieving athletic goals. The boutique gym offers three levels of small group classes, most capped at 10 students, that...
Best Fitness Deal
Until this year, boutique fitness studios have been accessible only to city denizens with deep pockets — each individual class, be it spinning, boot camp, Pilates, or yoga, will set you back at least $20, and some far more than that. Unlimited access, you say? Not unless you can afford...
Best Yoga Studio
Loom Yoga Center
Most of this city's yoga studios purport to have created an engaged community, but at Loom Yoga Center you'll know this is true before you set foot or forehead on a mat — just see the regulars chatting with each other and instructors as they strip off shoes and socks...
Best Spin Class
Any spinning studio that can put together solid bike intervals and a good playlist is bound to lead you through a decent workout, but it's still not going to be as good as Flywheel. Why? In part because Flywheel's instructors are better at what they do, each choreographing a tight...
Best Urban Bike Ride
Jamaica Bay Bike Unit
The Jamaica Bay Bike Unit is a 19mile parallelogram that knits together stretches of the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge and Rockaway Beach. Cobbled together from Jamaica Bay Greenway routes, protected bicycle paths, and on-street bike lanes, the route circumnavigates the bay, offering cardio bird-watching (See "Best Place to Bird-Watch," elsewhere...
Best Event for Cyclists
NYC Century Bike Tour
When the nonprofit group Transportation Alternatives inaugurated the NYC Century Bike Tour in 1990, New York City was short on the bike lanes and paths that make it so rider-friendly today. TA's goal was to show cyclists how to navigate the city on two wheels. Today you don't need a...
Best Place to Jog
Battery Park City Esplanade
The Battery Park City Esplanade starts where the Hudson River Greenway stops: at Nelson A. Rockefeller Park, that large, sunny wedge of well-tended grass where Chambers Street hits the Hudson River. From there, the wide paver path hews to the outer edge of the island, hovering just above the water,...
Best Ice Rink
LeFrak Center at Lakeside Prospect Park
For years, would-be ice skaters in New York have suffered from a bit of a Goldilocks problem: Rockefeller Center's rink is lovely but incredibly crowded, with throngs of tourists stumping their way in circles across the ice from October to February. Other skating rinks, like the ones at the South...
Best Public Tennis Courts
Lincoln Terrace Park
The challenge of playing tennis in New York City, of course, is finding a court. Many prospective tennis players have lingered impatiently along a chain-link fence, ice-grilling the two amateurs — who don't even know how to play! — taking their sweet time banging ball after ball into the net...
Best Shuffleboard Club
Royal Palms Shuffleboard Club
In the Portlandia pilot, Fred Armisen jokes that the Oregon hipster mecca is where "young people go to retire." That pretty much sums up the sense we get about Brooklyn from the Royal Palms Shuffleboard Club. It doesn't take much effort to imagine the Golden Girls at their leisure here...
Best Sports Bar
Croxley's Abbey isn't reinventing the sports bar — it's just doing it better than anyone else (and so is its sibling, Croxley's Ales, at 28 Avenue B in Manhattan and four other locations on Long Island). Grab a spot at the bar or commandeer a booth; every seat in the...
Best Sports Beer Garden
Brooklyn Tap House
Space and TVs and beer: the necessary ingredients of a quality sports bar. A $5 pint means little when you can't move your arms in the scrum of bodies jockeying for a sightline to the 24-inch flat-screen behind the bar. At the Brooklyn Tap House, there is bountiful space and...
Best Soccer Bar
We know New York is the best city in which to experience the World Cup. Nearly every bar with a functioning television will show the game and try to outdo each other with drink specials. But what about watching soccer during the 47 months between World Cups? There are club...
Best Sports Bargain
Watching baseball is never about just watching baseball. It is about conversations with friends between pitches and roaming the concourse when the legs are stiff in the fifth inning. It's also about lots and lots of beer and hot dogs. A Brooklyn Cyclones game is built for these indulgences. Tickets...
Best Major League Sports Venue
You sometimes have to remind yourself that the Barclays Center is a sports venue. It's not just a flashpoint for the Brooklyn gentrification debate, or the place that has overtaken the hallowed Garden to become the most desired music venue in the city for most major touring acts. It's not...
Best High School Athlete
People have said that Curtis Samuel's highlight reel looks like a video game, but that's not really true. Not even the most dedicated Madden gamers could make their virtual running backs do what Samuel did for Erasmus Hall High last season, when he averaged an eye-popping 16 yards-per-carry. He is...
Best College Athlete
During George Beamon's first two years at Manhattan College, the men's basketball team won a total of 17 games. Then Beamon began to take over the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference. In his third year, the Jaspers won 21 games. This past season, his senior year, Beamon was the team's top...
Best Sports Broadcast Personality
Paulie Malignaggi has never had much punching power, or even much speed. The "Magic Man" became a welterweight world champion through guile and craftsmanship. He learned to understand the "sweet science" like few fighters have because he had no choice. And so it should be no surprise that the Bensonhurst,...
Best Local Boxer
Brooklyn has emerged as the middleweight-boxing capital of America. Claiming the borough as home are arguably the country's three top fighters from that division: Peter Quillin, who has an undefeated record and the WBO championship belt, has strung together several impressive title defenses. Curtis Stevens, who has the biggest name,...
Best Boxing Match
Miguel Cotto vs. Sergio Martinez
When the Miguel Cotto vs. Sergio Martinez bout was announced, Martinez was a 3-1 betting favorite against Cotto. Martinez would be too big to be bothered by Cotto's punches. He would have too much power for Cotto to withstand. On the eve of the Puerto Rican Day Parade, the heavily...
Best Giants Player
Antrel Rolle is the kind of guy coaches like to call, simply, "a football player." As in: "That Antrel Rolle, he's a football player." Don't get it twisted: This is the highest form of praise in the sport. Rolle is not exceptionally fast, exceptionally strong, or exceptionally big. He is...
Best Jets Player
The New York Jets offense last season featured a rookie quarterback and two new starting offensive linemen, one of whom was also a rookie. It did not feature anyone you'd particularly want to draft for your fantasy football team. Yet the offense did not completely collapse, and the team clawed...
Best Liberty Player
There were high expectations when the New York Liberty traded for Tina Charles in April. But Charles is used to high expectations — and she is used to exceeding them. The Jamaica, Queens, native was a McDonald's All-American in high school and in 2006 was named New York's "Miss Basketball."...
Best Nets Player
The Brooklyn Nets are a flashy franchise. Billionaire Russian tycoon owner. Coach who spills soda on the floor because he's out of timeouts. Jay-Z and Beyoncé courtside. Arena with a 40/40 club and a barbershop inside. Kevin Garnett yelling and trash-talking. When the game's on the line, though, the Nets...
Best Knicks Player
Few things went right for the New York Knicks last season. To most fans, it was the culmination of years of poor decision-making by the front office. Though Carmelo Anthony has not been spared blame, he represents perhaps the best personnel decision the Knicks have made in recent years. The...
Best Local Basketball Player Made Good
New York City was once the world's most prolific producer of elite basketball talent. But over the past quarter-century, as the sport's popularity has spread and grown, New York's pipeline to the NBA has shrunk. To many, the Mecca of Hoops is now better known for churning out overhyped busts...
Phil Jackson to the Knicks
The New York Knicks missed the playoffs in a weak conference, had no first-round draft pick this year, are $30 million over the salary cap, and are universally considered the most dysfunctional basketball franchise of the decade. Under normal circumstances, a Knicks fan would have nothing to look forward to...
Best Islanders Player
For the immediate future, anyway, 24-year-old John Tavares is the New York Islanders. So Isles fans will be happy to see him back on the ice this season, after being laid up by an MCL and meniscus tear in his left knee, suffered during the Olympic Games in Sochi. The...
Best Rangers Player
Picking a "best" Ranger not named Henrik Lundqvist may seem like picking a "best" Chicago Bull of the 1990s not named Michael Jordan. But after last year's run to the Stanley Cup finals, defenseman Ryan McDonagh has a legitimate claim to the throne. His numbers speak for themselves. Last year,...
Best NYC FC Player
Of the half-dozen or so players signed to new American superclub NYC FC, David Villa, the 32-year-old from a little city in northern Spain, is the one to watch. Sure, the team hasn't played a game yet, but Villa will be the best modern footballing import since the Red Bulls'...
Best Red Bulls Player
Whenever he scores a goal, Bradley Wright-Phillips performs a sweet little celebration. He jogs to the corner like most players do — but on his way, he kicks up his heels a few times as if he's dancing along to a joyful little ditty. Yes, it's silly, very Dorothy-in–The Wizard...
Best Mets Player
He plays in New York City and, through late August, he led the National League in hits. And yet, somehow, Daniel Murphy was one of the most inconspicuous All-Stars in baseball this season. It is not altogether surprising. He plays an under-the-radar game. He batted second in the lineup and...
Best Yankees Player
There were times when the Derek Jeter Farewell Tour seemed...a bit over the top. The time the Cleveland Indians gave him that portrait of himself crafted from Lego bricks. The time Nike released a 100-second, hyper-sentimental commercial of various celebrities and working folks (and even Red Sox fans) tipping their...
Best Athlete's Butt
What better way to acknowledge the departure of New York Yankees legend Derek Jeter than by paying re2pect to old No. 2's phenomenal backside? Thank you, Derek Jeter, for 20 great seasons in the Bronx sun, and thank you, Derek Jeter's butt, for making the game fascinating even to those...