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Things to do in New York, New Jersey for Memorial Day weekend

Virus Outbreak New York
Posted at 1:24 PM, May 23, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-25 10:04:04-04

NEW YORK — The unofficial start to summer has arrived, although it’s unlike any Memorial Day weekend folks have experienced before.

The coronavirus pandemic has changed the way people can enjoy the three-day weekend, from no swimming at city beaches to gatherings limited to 10 or 25 people depending on where you live.

Rather than focusing on what you can’t do, here are some things you can do — inside and outdoors — in New York and New Jersey this weekend.

Walk along the city’s ‘Open Streets’
New York City’s Open Streets program now offers 45 miles of car-free roads for pedestrians to take advantage of. For a full list and interactive map of Open Streets locations, click here.

Head to a park
Parks in New York and New Jersey are open this weekend. Go for a hike, take a stroll or bring a blanket for some relaxation and fresh air. Fore more information visit, NJS Parks, NYS Parks, or NYC Parks.

Catch a drive-in movie in New York
Drive-in theaters across New York have reopened for the summer season. There is even a pop-up theater at a diner in Queens showing three films this weekend. For more information, click here.

Go camping in New Jersey
New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy announced on Friday all public and private recreational campgrounds could reopen effectively immediately. For more information, click here.

Go to the beach, but be aware of restrictions
Many beaches across New York and New Jersey are open this weekend but with new restrictions because of the coronavirus pandemic. New York State and New Jersey State beaches are open, but the governors of both states have left the fate of county and local beaches to those localities. New York City’s beaches are open but there are bans on swimming and gathering in groups.

Go virtual with your MDW barbecue
Put a new twist on your next virtual hangout by giving it a Memorial Day weekend barbecue theme. Dress in your best holiday weekend loungewear, encourage friends and family to cook up some classic barbecue snacks to enjoy while chatting and BYOB, of course.

Host a virtual happy hour that gives back
If you’re used to spending Memorial Day weekend enjoying some of New York City’s choice nightlife, try organizing a Virtual Cheers event. The website allows you to download the virtual background of participating bars and donate to help their staff via a funding link. Then set up your next Zoom session with the background and a round of drinks. For more information, click here.

Rock out to an online concert
For many, Memorial Day weekend also means the unofficial start to music festival season. If you’re missing live music, many artists are using Facebook and other social media platforms to livestream performances. A group of New Jersey artists went as far as organizing a Memorial Day weekend festival — all livestreamed on Facebook.

Get a bird's eye view of the Bethpage Air Show: Saturday and Sunday
The air show typically draws massive crowds to Jones Beach every Memorial Day weekend, but this year the organizers have moved the aerial aerobatics show online. The 2020 Bethpage Virtual Air Show is streaming on Youtube for free from 10 a.m. to 3 pm. Saturday and Sunday. For more information, click here.

Take a virtual trip to ‘Jim Henson's World’: Saturday only
The Museum of the Moving Image is hosting a digital discussion with the creators of “Fraggle Rock: Rock On!” The spinoff show, which airs on Apple TV+, delves into the world of Fraggle Rock as they find ways of staying connected amid social distancing rules. For more information about the livestream, click here.

Catch an online comedy show: Saturday only
The New York Comedy Club is hosting a virtual Memorial Day picnic, so you don’t need to bother with putting on jeans. For $15, you can laugh along with comedians Leah Bonnema, Christian Finnegan and more. For more information, click here.

Commemorating Memorial Day
Donate flowers for soldiers' graves
If you would like to pay your respects to fallen troops, you can donate to Memorial Day Flowers, a national foundation that places flowers on a grave of a fallen soldier. For example, if you give $5, the foundation will put a red rose in front of the headstone of five military members. For more information, click here.

PBS' Memorial Day Concert: Sunday only
A star-studded lineup of actors and musicians, including Trace Adkins and the National Symphony Orchestra, will honor the military and the sacrifices of the country's men and women in uniform. For more information, click here.

Parade of Heroes: Monday only
The virtual event, organized by the family history site Ancestry and hosted by Kathie Lee Gifford, will feature performances by country music star Tori Kelly, as well as interviews with veterans, Memorial Day tributes, and more. For more information, click here.

Virtual Intrepid Sea, Air, & Space Museum ceremony: Monday only
The annual Memorial Day ceremony aboard the Intrepid Sea, Air, & Space Museum in Manhattan has gone virtual this year. The event, which honors the men and women of the Armed Forces who have made the ultimate sacrifice, starts at 2 p.m. For more information, click here.