Pier 1 at 70th Street is a block or two from where I live in Manhattan. It’s a modern complex, within Riverside Park, that juts out into the Hudson River. It’s one of those places that embraces the harshness of the concrete jungle, softens it a bit with landscaping and some well-placed, over-sized sculptural art, and spits it out as a family destination. There’s a boardwalk that runs the entire west-side of the city, and a few years ago a cafe was added with the prerequisite umbrella tables, pitchers of sangria, tasty but over-priced burgers, and a DJ on the weekends.
If you can’t get away to real nature, the pier is a great place to unwind. NYC Parks, as part of their Summer on the Hudson program offers free yoga classes, movie nights under the twinkling lights of the massive skyscrapers, family dances, various themed festivals, free kayaking and the like.
I prefer to visit at night. The unpleasant aspects of the city are cloaked in the dark and only the magic remains. During the week it’s subdued and the evenings are more about couples and quiet walks than family chaos. Sailboats and barges glide by in silhouette, and even the New Jersey skyline looks pretty, if you don’t look too hard.
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