There’s really no better way to get a healthy jump start on the season, support local farmers, meet your neighbors and take advantage of delicious farm-fresh bounty than by joining a Community Supported Agriculture farm share. Registration is happening now, so I encourage you to check out CSA groups in your ‘hood. Last week, I signed up for Harvest Astoria, which partners with Norwich Meadows Farm in Chenango County to bring fresh, sustainable produce, dairy, fruit, grains and even treats like maple syrup and honey right into my kitchen every week from June to November, and I can’t wait to taste everything in store. (Not sure where to go? Visit www.justfood.org.)
One of the best places to enjoy a sunny afternoon is at Belmont Park in Elmont- and not just for the racing! While I tend to steer clear of the track on Stakes race day, the 430-acre facility is lovely (and surprisingly family-friendly) when the more raucous betting crowds aren’t around. In addition to rooting on the beautiful thoroughbreds, there are big shade trees and lush grass lawns in the gorgeous “backyard” and paddock area behind the grandstand, which are always clean and ideal for picnicking and, well, some of the best people watching this side of Times Square. It’s also surprisingly easy on the pocketbook. Admission is only $2 (and you can bring your own cooler!). The park opens on April 30. (For more info, check www.belmontpark.com.)
There’s nothing I adore more than hopping on my bicycle and exploring my beloved borough. Spring is the perfect time (not too hot; not too cold) for an easy, familiar ride through Flushing Meadows-Corona Park. The bike lanes in and around the park are always well maintained. Take a stroll around the 93-acre Meadows Lake and stop for a delectable snack at the Knish Nosh kiosk near the promenade. Then, park it for a few fun detours at the New York Hall of Science and the Queens Wildlife Center. If you’re really feeling adventurous, join fellow cyclists on Saturday, April 17 at the park for a beautiful guided Bike The Greenway ride to Fort Totten Park and visit the old Civil War fortress. (Visit www.nycgovparks.org for details.)
You don’t have to travel all the way to Brooklyn to see Cherry blossoms. The Queens Botanical Garden in Flushing is another amazing (and often overlooked) spring hot spot. The thematic gardens, from roses to herbs, are the perfect place to relax, unwind and take in some incredible scenery. Need a little aromatherapy? Take the Fragrance Walk, which features several plants and flowers that have aromatic essential oils. Be sure to check out the amazing Cherry trees, which bloom in April along with Daffodils, Magnolia and Quince. For a more hands-on experience, partake in one of the many spring and summer workshops, including an instructional guide to indoor and backyard composting. (Visit www.queensbotanical.org for more information.)
Finally, warmer temperatures signal the long-awaited opening of the gigantic outdoor garden at the beloved Bohemian Hall and Beer Garden, which celebrates 100 years this season. From movies to music to brats and, of course, beer, it’s a sure sign that summer is right around the corner. So, get out there and put a little spring in your step!