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Horseback Riding on the Beach, in Brooklyn. Seriously.




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What to do

Imagine riding a horse through a corridor of towering reeds, past splashes of blossoms glowing purple and orange. A beach lies beyond, unpopulated save for a legion of fiddler crabs skittering sideways.

It sounds like a scene from a travel magazine, but this beach and this horse are well within reach. In the southeast corner of Brooklyn, the Jamaica Bay Riding Academy is home to about 70 horses on 450 acres and is open every day for 50-minute guided rides through the Gateway National Wildlife Refuge.

Rides, which cost $65 per person in cash or $75 by card, are first come first served and accommodate two to six riders. When you arrive, you’ll be asked to give your name and skill level, sign a waiver and pick out a helmet for your ride. Other equipment you should don: long pants and closed-toed shoes (required), and sunscreen and bug spray (highly recommended).

When it’s your turn, the guides will pick a horse — perhaps Spice, Comet or Ranger — and help you mount. Then you’ll be on your way through outdoor paths, walking if you’re a beginner or trotting if you’ve got some experience. At any pace, the ride is deeply meditative, rocking you back and forth with each four-hooved step through blades of tall grass and matte sand.

You’ll have the trails to yourself, since guided rides are staggered, but back at the barn, you might observe kids taking lessons or professionals drilling jumps in the paddocks. It’s enough to make you forget that you’re right off the Belt Parkway and its six lanes of traffic. But a break from the action is just why you’re here. Your steed awaits.

Pro tip: Scroll to the bottom of this page to get directions to Jamaica Bay Riding Academy. You’ll note that all public transportation options will end with a requisite 10-minute taxi ride; it’s worth it.

Where to eat

Mill Basin Kosher Deli does a sandwich so good it’s shonda —Yiddish for “shame” or “disgrace” — you can’t get it everywhere. It’s called the P.L.T. To make it, pastrami trimmings get cooked on the griddle until they sizzle like crispy bacon, then join shredded iceberg, a thick tomato slice and a swipe of mayo on sturdy, fragrant rye. This and an order of “latke chips” — craggly potato pancakes halved into wafers on the deli slicer — are a beautiful taste of Brooklyn deli innovation. Once you’re done wolfing that down, be sure to peep the wall art, an in-deli painting exhibition (yes, you read that right), courtesy of NYMuseum.

Mill Basin Bagel Cafe is a place that bagel fanatics whisper about to each other late at night, when they’re sure no one else is listening. It’s also a reminder that these days, many of the city’s best bagels are born in its peripheries, closer to the burbs than Downtown Brooklyn. The good news: You’re here now, and you’re in luck because these crackly-skinned beauties are sublime: faintly sweet with just the right amount of chew. Snag one for breakfast and a dozen more to take home.

Mansoura, a renowned bakery in Gravesend, Brooklyn, may make the flakiest, most buttery baklava that you will ever eat. From its slim storefront, the family business with a 200-year-old baking lineage specializes in Middle Eastern desserts abundant with nuts, phyllo and honey. The pistachio-stuffed spiral knafeh, tangy apricot candies and custardy semolina basbousa are all fitting rewards after you ride ’til you “can’t no more.”

See the restaurants on our Google Map.

Where to drink

Nick’s Lobster House is far and away your best drinking bet in a community low on bars. It’s a ritzy seafood restaurant just across the Mill Basin from the riding academy, and the back patio view of the water will wipe the week’s sweaty subway rides from your memory. Go for the house brew, a crisp, refreshing lager perfect for this weather, or take advantage of the newly installed slushy machine for a pitch-perfect piña colada.

See the bars on our Google Map.

What to check out nearby


Hangar B is the unassuming home to a dazzling collection of vintage aircraft, restored and maintained by the Historic Aircraft Restoration Project, or Harp. Inside this vast garage are brightly painted Navy and Air Force fliers from World War II, a Wright plane model and even a flying New York City police boat. Note: The hangar is tucked into a particularly desolate corner of Floyd Bennett Field, but don’t be deterred. This little-known wonder is open to the public, for free, on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sundays from 2 to 4 p.m.

Manhattan Beach is the spot to spend the rest of your day. About a 20-minute walk from either the Brighton Beach or Sheepshead Bay subway stops, it’s an extraordinarily chill sort of pocket beach, with about five blocks’ worth of sand stretching in an arc between two stone breakwaters. Here you can find semi-shaded picnic tables set back from the sand that are perfect for lunch or dinner, or a respite from the sun. But the real chef’s kiss: knowing the crowds are next door at Brighton and Coney.

Something free or cheap

The Intrepid Museum is holding a series of select Free Fridays through October. This month, on Aug. 16, the museum-slash-aircraft-carrier will open for free starting at 5 p.m. and offer plenty of programming to keep the night moving. At 7 p.m., there’s an inspiring talk about emerging space technologies at the Space Shuttle Pavilion, and at sunset, an unrelated screening of “Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory” on the flight deck. Bring a pal and a blanket.

Something for the weeknight

Go to the Kings County Distillery in Brooklyn for a $16 tour of its stillhouse. The session starts in the upstairs “Boozeum” with a captivating crash course on the history of distilling in America, New York and the Brooklyn Navy Yard, where the current facility sits in the old Paymaster Building. You’ll then progress through cooking and fermenting rooms, and cap off your learning with a whiskey-tasting. It’s worth leaving work early for, but sessions are held on weekends too.

Something from a reader

Pay a visit to an under-the-radar park. Mike G., a Summer reader from Midtown East, recommends Andrew Haswell Green Park in Manhattan’s East 60s. The park, named for the unsung 19th-century urban planner, “looks out to Roosevelt Island and has a really nice little grassy area with tables and chairs overlooking the East River and the promenade,” Mike writes. “As much as I love a well-kept secret, it should definitely be published as a place to go when the weather is nice.”

Share your favorite seasonal thing to do at, and your idea might be featured in our next newsletter.

Tonight: Head to the roof of the Williamsburg Hotel for Reggae Night! From 7 p.m. to 11 p.m., it’s all views, no cover.

Thursday: Take a free West African dance class with Nafisa Sharriff in Marcus Garvey Park.

Friday: See the drummer and producer Makaya McCraven perform with the experimental noise artist L’Rain in Courtyard 1/2 at Industry City.

Saturday: Watch comedians swipe and discuss at Tinder Live!, a longstanding show at Littlefield that never gets old.

Saturday: Bring your dog to the Riverhead “Pup-Up” Reading Room (see what they did there?) and browse the community’s collection of dog-themed books.

Saturday: Hit the 21st Annual Pull Up Park Jam in Brooklyn’s Lincoln Terrace Park. This legendary neighborhood event is free to watch or costs $25 to compete.

Sunday: It’s Harlem Day! Visit West 135th Street between Fifth and St. Nicholas Avenues from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. for live salsa, Latin, gospel, R&B, reggae, jazz, hip-hop, rock, blues, soca and calypso, as well as an auto show and a back-to-school fashion show.

Monday: Wake up with free Sunrise Yoga at Pier 6 in Brooklyn Bridge Park.

Tuesday: See “The Hottest August” for free in Liberty Park in Lower Manhattan, courtesy of Rooftop Films.

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