Row Your Boat Gently Across Central Park
Typically, I associate most goings-on in Central Park with tacky tourists, but who's to say I myself am not tacky?! It was with great gusto and old New York romantic notions that I rented a row boat with my friends on the Lake in Central Park.
For $12 an hour (with a $20 deposit) you can paddle your way across the green sludge, and experience a spectacular new view of the Upper West Side. Make sure you bring a strong rower with you, because the bridge you must row under is booby trapped with renegade pigeons, waiting to drop bombs on your head.
Once you've passed the pigeon guarded entrance, the Lake opens up and the view becomes magical. Sludgey water aside, (just look ACROSS the Lake, instead of DOWN!) the weeping willow lined shore with castle-like buildings emerging from the treetops transported me to a European vision.
Just as I was getting lost in my thoughts, my daydream was interrupted by a loud Italian tenor- a gondolier?! (what!!!?) Yes, in New York City, you can rent a gondola, complete with a singing, stripes-wearing gondolier, who I'm sure is an aspiring actor, waiting to be discovered (aren't they all?)
After an hour of being rowed around, I was ready to return to shore (being a passenger is just so taxing sometimes.) I got off the boat feeling refreshed somehow, like I'd just taken a mini vacation. After getting our $20 deposit back, we stopped by The Boathouse Restaurant next door. It's pretty overpriced, but they have an outdoor bar right on the Lake.
In regards to a serene outdoor bar on the water, I think any drink is affordable, as long as you just have one. So, continue your vacation feeling, and sip an $11 merlot, before "heading back to the city."