The unofficial start of summer comes this weekend with the celebration of Memorial Day! Observed on the last Monday of May, Memorial Day is a time to honor those who have lost their lives in military service. The weekend is usually commemorated with barbecues and trips to the beach, but here are 10 alternative ways to enjoy the three-day weekend in New York City from parties, to tours, to creating your own military-themed visits.
1. Watch a Movie on the Deck of an Aircraft Carrier
Courtesy of the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum, by Reist Photography
The Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum will kick of its summer outdoor movie series this weekend with a screening of the Tom Cruise flick Top Gun, right on top of the ship’s flight deck. The film screening is free and open to the public with access to the flight deck starting at 5:00pm. The film is part of a series of free events at the museum offered to the public during Fleet Week.
Throughout Fleet Week, the museum will host free live performances, have interactive displays, and throw special events honoring service men and women. You can see their full schedule of Fleet Week events here.
2. Discover Remnants of the World’s Fairs in Queens
See what remains from the 1939-1940 and 1964-1965 World’s Fairs which took place in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, from the massive New York State Pavilion, which has sat abandoned for over sixty years, to the time capsule buried beneath the park and set to be open thousands of years from now. Led by Untapped Cities Chief Experience Officer Justin Rivers, this tour will provide guests with a comprehensive history of the past, present, and future of Flushing Meadow-Corona Park, with insider information from our partners involved with the preservation of the New York State Pavilion.
Untapped Cities’ Remnants of the World’s Fairs tour is one of our most popular, and some of the dates this summer are already sold out! At the end of the tour, each guest will receive reproductions of World’s Fair Maps from both 1939 and 1964. Get your tickets here:
3. Navy Dive Tank in Times Square
U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Charles Oki/Released
It’s Fleet Week! There will be a dive tank right in Times Square from the U.S. Navy – the public can’t take a dip but you’ll see U.S. Navy divers jumping in. You can check out their gear, make faces, even play tic-tac-toe with them, and draw on the glass tank. Thursday, Friday and Saturday May 23, 24, and 25 from 10 AM to 5 PM.
You can also discover Times Square in a slightly different way by taking our Tour of the Remnants of Gritty Old Times Square, also this weekend.
4. Take Part in Fleet Week
Fleet Week is New York City’s annual celebration of sea services. For the past thirty years, the city has honored sailors, Marines and Coast Guardsmen with a week of festivities in all five boroughs. Throughout the week, New York City citizens have the opportunity to meet those in the sea services and learn more about their work and equipment.
A popular behind-the-scenes attraction during Fleet Week are the ship tours. This year, ship tours will be help at Pier 88 and Pier 86 in Manhattan, Homeport Pier in Staten Island, and Brooklyn Cruise Terminal in the Red Hook Community of Brooklyn. These tours are free an open to the public. Follow Untapped Cities on Instagram @untappedcities as we go behind-the-scenes on the USS New York, a San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock starting today as we take a helicopter out to the boat and bring the ship into Pier 88 on Wednesday, May 22nd. We’ll be arriving at 10:30 AM – comes say hi!
5. Memorial Day Concert at Green Wood Cemetery
This Memorial Day, grab a blanket and head to Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn for a free Memorial Day Concert. From 2:00 to 5:00pm The New York City Symphonic Band at Third Street will perform songs from Green-Wood’s famous musical interments like Leonard Bernstein, Fred Ebb, Louis Moreaui Gottschalk and more.
The concert is held in front of Green-Wood’s iconic Gothic entrance gates. There will be local food vendors on hand to serve food and beverages throughout the afternoon, RSVPs are recommended and you have the option to leave a donation when your respond online. Donations help Green-Wood continue to offer public events like the Memorial Day Concert free of charge.
6. Uncover the Secrets of the Brooklyn Bridge
The Brooklyn Bridge is an iconic symbol of American hard work and perseverance. A modern marvel at the time it was built, the bridge has stood strong for over one hundred years. On this weekend’s Secrets of the Brooklyn Bride Walking Tour with Untapped Cities, uncover the the origin story of the bridge, from the allegedly cursed family of designers who built it to the hidden rooms within in.
Guests on this tour will walk across the bridge to take in amazing views of the New York City skyline. Along the way, you will learn about the bridge’s old Cold War fall out shelter, hidden champagne vaults, see an abandoned park near the Manhattan side Anchorage and so much more.
7. Visit a Military Memorial
New York City is full of statues and memorials dedicated to those who have served. Untapped Cities has rounded up 10 Memorials to Visit on Memorial Day and 10 Maritime Memorials so you can create your own walking tour and visit multiple sites.
From massive bronze statues like the 107th Infantry Memorial designed by sculptor Karl Illava, to soaring columns like the Stanford White designed Prison Ship Martyrs Monument, memorials in the city not only help us to remember lives lost in the line of duty, but are also often works of art.
8. House of Yes Memorial Day Party
Brooklyn’s House of Yes is not throwing your typical Memorial Day barbecue. The House of Yes Memorial Day Party on Monday will feature live music from Eli Escobar and The Duchess, classic BBQ fare along with veggie options will be available for purchase and dancing inside and in the outdoor courtyard.
You’ll be accepted no matter what color you are wearing, but red, white and blue attire is encouraged. You may even be awarded a free drink if your costume or dance moves impress the staff! House of Yes is a Brooklyn venue created “as a temple of expression, dedicated to connection, creativity and celebrating life.”
9. Go Behind-the-Scenes of the United Palace Theater
Photograph by Emmanuel Abreu Courtesy of United Palace
Join a behind-the-scenes tour of the United Palace theater in Washington Heights to peek behind the curtain of one of New York City’s oldest and most spectacular movie theaters. Originally known as the Loew’s 175th Street Theatre, the United Palace has long served as a cultural hotspot for residents of the north Manhattan community. Designed by architect Thomas Lamb (Cort Theatre, the former Ziegfeld Theatre) and styled by Harold Rambausch (Waldorf Astoria, Radio City Music Hall), the landmarked theater looks almost identical to its original form thanks to various restoration projects throughout the years.
Today, the United Palace is a transformational venue that fuses culture, spirituality and entertainment. You can attend this free tour if you are an Untapped Cities Insider. Not an Insider yet? Become a member today to gain free access to behind-the-scenes tours and special events all year long!
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10. Track Down NYC’s Former Military Buildings
Uncover the remnants of New York City’s former military establishments by finding former forts and armories. Untapped Cities has compiled list of the city’s former forts and armory buildings along with what they are used for today. Many forts and armories have been adapted for different uses like school buildings, apartments, shelters, and sport complexes, while others, like Castle Clinton, have been made into museum and memorials.
This June, you can also gain exclusive access into the abandoned Fort Totten and the Endicott Battery in Queens to preview a brand new art installation before it opens to the public, and learn about the former civil war fort that is now a public park. You can attend this free tour if you are an Untapped Cities Insider. Not an Insider yet? Become a member today to gain free access to behind-the-scenes tours and special events all year long!
11. Revisit Gritty Old Times Square
Memorial Day in Times Square might conjure up images of the famous V-Day Kiss photograph, but this weekend, revisit the Times Square of a couple decades later, the 1970s, on Untapped Cities Tour of the Remnants of Gritty Old Times Square. On this tour, our expert guide will take you back to when 42nd Street was the Deuce and the Great White Way was a red light district.
You’ll discover what Times Square was like when it was overrun by peepshows, grindhouses, adult book stores, dive bars, hotsheet hotels, sex clubs, porno theaters, and massage parlors and meet a cast of characters like the King of the Peeps; the reclusive genius behind the McDonalds of Sex; the woman who built a gay and S&M porn empire; and the slumlord with two suitcases filled with gold and five wives. While Times Square may be seen as nothing more than a tourist trap, there are still remnants of its seedy past hidden in plain sight.