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The best spots to enjoy spring in NYC

Aly Walansky is a freelance writer and editor based in New York City. She lives with her two Shorkie-Tzus, Scarlette and Max, and a display of pink polka-dot-themed home decor -- not to mention a selection of flavored vodka. Check out he...

Spring fling time!

You may not believe it by looking out your window, but spring is here, at last! It's time for afternoons in the park, daytime cocktails and rooftop snuggles — here are some of our favorite New York City spots to enjoy all that spring has to offer!
Bryant Park in the spring
Photo credit: Lisa-Blue/iStockphoto

 

Afternoon in the park

Where better to grab an outdoor lunch or dinner than Bryant Park! Three outdoor dining choices: The Bryant Park GrillThe Bryant Park Cafe and the Southwest Porch.

Highline Park: With the flowers in bloom, this raised garden is such a treat of tranquility amid the bustling city. You can sun yourself on the lounge chairs, indulge in tacos from The Taco Truck and get cultured by the ever-changing art exhibits on display. It can get crowded up top, so try to plan your visit for off-peak hours! A breath away from the Highline at Hotel Gansevoort is Plunge Rooftop Bar & Lounge. Plunge features 360-degree views of the Hudson River and Manhattan, indoor and outdoor terrace seating and a fully landscaped garden. Hungry? Treat yourself to lobster BLT sandwiches and shrimp and mango grilled skewers courtesy of Plunge's outdoor grill service or sip on signature cocktails such as the refreshing Mango Lime Rickey and Grapefruit Cosmo.

 

Get fit

How about a workout on the Brooklyn Bridge? The Brooklyn Bridge Boot Camp is a fun and effective workout that takes participants across the bridge and back. During intermittent stops, you work the entire body using your own body weight, benches and resistance bands. The Manhattan and Brooklyn skylines can't be beat and you're outdoors catching the rays of the spring sun. Get your endorphins pumping with your best friends and get your body ready for short sleeves.

 

Enjoy the view

Enjoy a cocktail aboard the open air lounge deck of the Spirit of New York or Spirit of New Jersey and bask in the glorious weather! Complete with an outdoor bar and comfy lounge furniture, you'll have ever-changing views of the spectacular New York City skyline, including bountiful dining options and live entertainment!

Haven Rooftop at The Sanctuary Hotel NYC (132 W. 47th St.) in the heart of the city is perfect for after-work cocktails, pre- and post-theater dinners, a romantic date or a nightcap with friends. Striking a balance between after-hours sophistication and the classic style of New York with European influence, this hot hideaway is above the city but has a great view OF the city!

One of our newest favorite spots in the city, Sotto 13, has a gorgeous outdoor area, allowing patrons to enjoy delicious wood-fired pizzas while people-watching the streets of West Village. Their Italian tapas are are also must-try. The menu features traditional and rustic ingredients, with a variety of shareable plate options including the signature Chickpea Fries, Wood Oven Meatballs and Ricotta, Fennel Sausage with Polenta, as well as family-style pasta dishes.

Brooklyn icon Marco Polo Ristorante in Carroll Gardens has recently been updated for the 21st century and will celebrate its 30th anniversary this year. The restaurant, which caters to the city¹s top politicians and judges and has a strong neighborhood following, will soon debut its outdoor seating (as soon as that weather behaves!). Their charming sidewalk seating is the perfect spot to catch chef/owner Marco Chirico's new menu of traditional and contemporary interpretations of his native Italian cuisine like Salsicce and Forno, house-made Calabrese sausage that's nicely spicy, with a delicate char served with vegetable caponata, or tagliolino nero, black squid ink pasta with shrimp and bay scallops. Also perfect for spring is the new raw bar, featuring the freshest oysters, clams, shrimp and other seafood that Marco sources at the New Fulton Fish Market at Hunts Point.

Another great spot in Brooklyn to grab some outdoor dining is French American bistro Hill Cafe in Clinton Hill. Its secluded backyard garden, equipped with a fire pit (for those spring nights that still offer a slight chill), is the perfect spot to cozy up with captivating cocktails, prepared with seasonal ingredients, fresh fruit purees and house-made syrups and chef/owner Samuel Beket's comforting bistro fare. A perfect combination is the Mendoza, a dangerously drinkable concoction of fresh ginger juice, hibiscus iced tea and strawberry-infused vodka, complemented with Kataifi-Shrimp wrapped in a crisp phyllo-dough shell, topped with pineapple and avocado salsa.

We're also excited for The Ellington, a new restaurant and bar, which is scheduled to open mid-March 2013 and named in honor of renowned composer and a major figure in the history of jazz, Edward Kennedy "Duke" Ellington. When all the doors are folded open, guests will have great views and can enjoy the balmy summer evenings in great comfort. The Ellington will also feature seasonal outdoor seating! A selection of the signature cocktails are also named in honor of Duke Ellington including "A Slow Ride On The A Train" (Knob Creek Bourbon, Elderflower Liqueur, Fresh Fuji Apple Juice, Fresh Lime Juice); "A Sophisticated Lady" (Perry's Tot - Navy Strength Gin, Fresh Lime Juice, Simple Syrup, Cinnamon Syrup); and "A Prelude To A Kiss" (Absolut Citron, Combier Cherry Liqueur, Cinzano Extra Dry Vermouth). We can't wait.

Brunch more your thing? The quintessential Manhattan brunch spot is Sarabeth's Tribeca — but the bright daytime atmosphere transcends into an evening hot spot, with mouth-watering classic American cooking and fresh, locally-sourced fare made by a Colicchio & Sons' alum — a great spot for people-watching (and overeating!), and if you want something a little more meaty? They have that too, but so does MexiBBQ in Astoria, which serves Southern American fare with a Mexican twist. And during the spring and summer, the Astoria restaurant opens its glass doors and sets up a sidewalk cafe, complete with picnic tables and plenty of people-watching opportunities. It's Queens' go-to spot for craft beers and crave-worthy food such as BBQ Brisket Tacos!

Special for spring

Whether it's the passion fruit mojitos and avocados packed with succulent lobster at Havana Central, spring will be in the air (and the delicacies are light enough that there'll still be a spring in your step)! Ready for a picnic in the park? We live a stone's throw from Fletcher's Brooklyn Barbecue. Located a stone's throw from Prospect Park, Fletcher's offers a terrific lunch special that's available for takeout and therefore perfect for picnics: Get your choice of smoked pork ribs, a chopped pork sandwich or a chopped brisket sandwich with chips and a soda for just $10. Want to sink your teeth into something indulgent but healthy? BurgerFi's new Upper East Side outpost boasts indoor and outdoor seating -- and the best quinoa burger that's ever passed our lips. (The meaty kind is pretty fab as well!)

More spring to look forward to

Spring trend watch: Pastels
Spring trend watch: Neons rule
Spring roundup: 5 Sexy one-piece swimsuits

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