You’re reading Summer in the City, our limited-edition newsletter that rounds up the best things to do in New York City during the hottest season of the year. Sign up here to get future editions delivered to your inbox.
The Game Plan
What to do
As the sun sets on the southeast corner of Prospect Park, the strollers and loungers filter out, replaced by a crop of party people in neon. They’re here for Lola Star’s Dreamland Roller Disco, a groovy adult-only skate night with a quirky local history.
In 2008, Lola Star, whose real name is Dianna Carlin, won a contest sponsored by Glamour magazine and Tommy Hilfiger that helped her establish Dreamland, a flamboyant roller rink on the Coney Island Boardwalk. The rink was a hit, but it closed just two years later.
Lola Star’s Dreamland has since found a summer home at the LeFrak Center at Lakeside. And on Friday nights, you’re invited to this vintage dance party on wheels.
The doors open at 7 p.m. Inside the pavilion, swap your shoes for skates (included in the price of the ticket) and hit the floor. I went on “’90s Hip Hop” night, but maybe you’ll go for “Spice Girls in Xanadu” or “Purple Rain.” Whichever you choose, you’re encouraged to come in costume. Other key brings include a stacked crew of friends and a high level of hype.
As you groove along to the D.J. under colorful lights, you’ll notice who’s been practicing their footwork, thanks, in part, to their light-up skates. When it’s time for dance breaks, make sure to join the circle around the regulars pulling spins, splits and jumps. But don’t worry. You don’t have to be a pro — plenty of folks are wobbly.
When you need a break, there’s a bar in the back where you can watch skaters or look out on the park. Consider saving your drinking for afterword, though. The line gets long, and of course, you’re on skates. Coordination is critical.
Pro tip: Buy tickets in advance for a discounted rate.
Get directions to Lola Star’s Dreamland Roller Disco at the LeFrak Center at Lakeside.
Where to eat
De Hot Pot is a sliver of a Trinidadian restaurant ideal for pre- or post-roller skate carbo loading. Doubles are the thing here: two palm-size discs of plush, chewy fried flatbread (bara) that sandwich a subtly spicy and velveteen-smooth chickpea curry (channa). The pliant bara softens on contact with the channa, so this is not a neat sandwich, but it’s a brilliant one, and it can be yours for all of $1.50. (Speaking of which, bring cash. This restaurant does not take credit cards.) If you’re still hungry, split a chicken roti with a friend to fill up.
Kulushkat’s pita and pilaf and perfectly spiced falafel, and its sweet, cozy vibe, will make you wish a similar joint existed below your apartment. You wouldn’t be wrong to order every mezze on the menu, but if you don’t, be sure at least to score the eggplant à la Yafa, which is fried into collapsing caramelized rings that schlump onto your plate.
See the restaurants on our Google Map.
Where to drink
Camillo is, to be honest, too nice a restaurant to eat in after sweating it out on roller skates. But it’s the perfect place to swing by for a fancy-feeling nightcap. The bar is open until 11:15 p.m. on Fridays, and it welcomes walk-ins. Camillo’s rosato spritz, made with rosé and more bitter Campari, should satisfy even the pickiest spritz snob. And with a $9 glass of Lambrusco on the drink list and cocktails topping out at $10, you don’t have to feel guilty about perhaps ordering a second nightcap.
Parkside is a more casual option for a drink in the neighborhood, and good for a snack or, hey, a pizza, if you need a late-night dose of energy. The cocktails rotate seasonally and generally go down easy, but the bar’s nonalcoholic options, homemade citrus and hibiscus sodas, really hit the spot on a summer night when you’re backing off from booze.
See the bars on our Google Map.
What to check out nearby
• Brooklyn Botanic Garden is practically attached to Prospect Park. If you go on a Saturday, stop and smell the flowers in the afternoon, break for dinner, then come back to skate.
3 Quick Things
Something free or cheap
Ferry over to Governors Island, which is open with extended Fridays and Saturdays through Labor Day, and where free activities abound. This year there are free theatrical performances from the Rising Sun Performance Company on weekends, and there is a free exhibition by Pioneer Works residents. Check Governors Island’s calendar for even more summer programming.
Something for the weeknight
Start outdoor movie season off small at Peephole Cinema in Bushwick. This dime-size peephole at 97 Wilson Avenue shows a series of short, looping films curated by the animation artist Laurie O’Brien. Each running just 10 to 20 seconds, the films won’t take long to watch, so make a night of it by grabbing a pizza or a taco and hanging till dark in nearby Maria Hernandez Park.
Something from a reader
Craft your own brewery crawl in Long Island City. “Start at LIC Beer Project, where you can down some flavorful I.P.A.s,” Ranu R., a Summer reader (and Times employee) writes. “Next, take a leisurely walk down to Big Alice Brewing Company and try some lighter sour beers and goses.” Finish up your crawl at Alewife Brewing Company, where you can dig into a hearty late lunch or early dinner, and “of course, more beer.”
Do you have a favorite thing to do in New York City during summer? (And are you willing to share your secret spots with us?) Send your idea or photo to [email protected], and we might feature it in our next newsletter.
Happening This Week (and Beyond)
Tonight and tomorrow: It’s Manhattanhenge! Here are the best places to watch.
Saturday: Take a walking tour of the Harlem Renaissance or of the Bronx’s historic jazz and hip-hop hot spots during New York Music Month. Both free.
Saturday: Watch artists paint a fresh crop of murals at the Bushwick Collective Block Party.
Saturday to Saturday: Hiking, surfing, paddleboarding, camping, forest bathing and more are on the OutdoorFest agenda.
Sunday: This is your chance to see inside some gorgeous homes. Snag tickets to the 49th annual Prospect Lefferts Gardens House and Garden Tour.
Tuesday: Free Bryant Park yoga is up and running for the season. Head to the upper terrace at 10 a.m.
Tuesday: The one and only Patti LaBelle will be kicking off BRIC’s annual Celebrate Brooklyn! Festival with a free concert in Prospect Park. See more noteworthy events, like this one, on our Culture Calendar.