Category: NYC

Shipwrecked NYC is an Amazing Mini Golf Interactive Pirate Adventure

Shipwrecked NYC is an Amazing Mini Golf Interactive Pirate Adventure

Shipwrecked NYC is an indoor miniature golf course located in Red Hook, Brooklyn, NY. Featuring a storyline, prop design, and a hill course, this mini golf experience is perfect for kids and adults.

Shipwrecked Miniature Golf (Interactive Pirate Adventure) in Red Hook Brooklyn NY
Shipwrecked Miniature Golf (Interactive Pirate Adventure) in Red Hook Brooklyn NY

Theater majors should always make miniature golf courses if this will be the end result.

I was at first skeptical of an indoor mini golf course. Mini golf is about waterfalls and being outside in the sweltering heat with zero shade and being able to laugh at all the other golfers and kids crying and mosquitoes that you can swat at with the club. Wouldn’t indoor mini golf lose all that? Well, yes. And in exchange we get an interactive adventure with a story and a plot and scenes! What a way to golf!

Think of this as a very small-scale children’s version of something like Sleep No More. As you golf, you are immersed into a story of a fellow pirate who sunk his ship while looking for treasure. On your golf-pirate-adventure journey, you travel underwater, then trek through a jungle, get lost in some caves, and finally find treasure. It is designed for both kids and adults because there are a lot of puns and dad jokes. We went as two adults and had a blast.

This is a traditional hills miniature golf course. The owners of Shipwrecked NYC bought a mini golf course in Maryland that was being torn down. They purchased everything then relocated all the holes to Brooklyn. The course is easy but still fun. You are definitely not losing anything with the added indoor experience.

I can’t find it now, but while reading up about the course and it’s owners, I found a fascinating interview with them. In it, they said that they just want to make people “smile, laugh, and have fun”. Shipwrecked NYC definitely accomplishes all of that!

Indoor Mini Golf Brooklyn Style

The four areas I describe above are designed as scenes. Each scene (underwater, jungle, caves, treasure) is in a separate room with four miniature golf holes set up.

First Scene: Jungle
First Scene: Jungle
Second Scene: Jungle
Second Scene: Jungle
Fourth Scene: Treasure
Fourth Scene: Treasure (Third scene was Caves but it was hard to take a photo)

The golfing part is traditional and fun. Everything is about a par 2-3. The rooms themselves are extremely immersive since they are all separate. Because the experience includes a story, the golf course is closed off from the main lobby. Where in traditional outdoors mini golf, you can see everyone on the course, here you can’t. We always had every room to ourselves. Not because it wasn’t busy, but because that boosted the experience. At 1pm on a Saturday we waited about 15-minutes to start. Not being able to see the course before starting also really adds to the excitement.

The story portion of Shipwrecked NYC is entirely optional and is at an extra charge. To hear the story features along the course, it is an extra $5 per game. This comes in the form of tokens ($1/token). You enter a token into certain set pieces along the course and get to hear more of the story. You have to do this! (figuratively, not literally). I cannot imagine going through this the first time without the story!

Getting to Red Hook

One of my favorite neighborhoods in Brooklyn is Red Hook and I have explored it several times already. Although Shipwrecked NYC is located closer to Gowanus than the main parts of Red Hook.

Shipwrecked NYC Hours & Location

You can take the F/G train and walk, or the B61 and walk, or take a car service (a cheap ride from most surrounding neighborhoods), or bike (a short ride from most areas in BK). It is located on Court St next to a lot of warehouses, apartment buildings, and an auto shop. Don’t worry, you’re in the right place. There is a sign out front though it might be hard to miss if you’re in a car or on a bike.

You will walk into what looks like a normal apartment building (and it is) where you have to take the elevator up to the second floor. There are signs all along the way pointing you in the direction of Pirate Adventure! There is an entrance area with lockers and I saw some scooters & strollers parked there. You might be able to leave your bike there, I’m not sure (there are not bike racks out front of the building).

While you’re in Red Hook, don’t forget to get a key lime pie and check out the pier!

Just a note, they sell some snacks and sodas but currently not alcohol.

shipwrecked_elevator

Shipwrecked NYC Details
Address: 621 Court St. , 2nd Fl. Red Hook, Brooklyn, NY
Hours: Mon-Thurs Noon-9pm; Fri noon-11pm; Sat 11am-11pm; Sun 11am-9pm
Price: Adults $14; Kids $10

New Way to Get to Rockaway Beach

New Way to Get to Rockaway Beach

rockaway-beach-queens

If you live in NYC and still haven’t made it out to the Rockaways, I highly recommend it. The beaches are beautiful and there is lots of access to the ocean. Plus, it is all free. Rockaway Beach is in the outskirts of Queens so getting there can be a trek. But thankfully the MTA does have train service directly to the beach access points. And that’s all included with a swipe of the metrocard!

The beaches have gained popularity since Hurricane Sandy wiped out all of the boardwalk and almost everything there. Some growth in food pop-ups and for-pay buses that go directly to Jacob Riis State Park have helped bring new visitors to the Rockaways. Thankfully, the MTA has noticed this too and increased train service as of June 2016.

rockaway-beach-shuttle-service

Extended Shuttle Service to Rockaway Beaches

According to the MTA, Rockaway Park Shuttle service has been extended to reach both A trains at Rockaway Blvd.

Old Way (pre-2016): Take a Far Rockaway bound A train to Broad Channel and transfer to the Rockaway Park Shuttle (S) train.

New Way (as of June 2016): Take either a Far Rockaway or Lefferts Blvd A train to Rockaway Blvd and transfer to the Rockaway Park Shuttle (S) train.

It is still a same platform transfer from the S to the A. The Shuttle extension to Rockaway Blvd is on weekends only until at least labor day. It is making regular A stops between Rockaway Blvd and Broad Channel. If you find yourself on a Far Rockaway train, you can still stay on it and transfer at Broad Channel if you’d prefer.

On their site, the MTA alluded to keeping the extra shuttle service on after Labor Day. Hopefully it will continue while all the NYC public beaches are still open. Remember, the water finally warms up in August so late summer is the perfect time for a beach trip.

rockaway-beach-sand

Full Directions to Rockaway Beaches

Once you’re on the Shuttle, the rest of the trip is the same. From Broad Channel onwards all stops have direct beach access. You will be about two blocks away from the beach. And the ocean will be visible from the train platform. There are several different parts of the beaches here. I am mostly familiar with the beach access around Beach 105th st. I haven’t been to Riis Park Beach in several years.

Swimming/Sunbathing: The Shuttle train will take you from Beach 90th st to Beach 116th st. There is now a boardwalk for most of this. There are some food places. There are public bathrooms. The beach is nice for sunbathing, playing, generally relaxing. And the water is great for swimming.

Surfing/Hanging Out: The Far Rockaway A train will take you from Beach 67th st to Far Rockaway/Mott Ave. I have never been down this way so I do not have first-hand experience. There are more food & drink options here. And this part of the beach is great for surfing. I’ve heard good things about taking surf lessons here as well.

Riis Beach: The Riis Park Beach is accessible by bus & car only. The Q35 stops here. And there are lots of pay options now for bus services that go directly from neighborhoods in Brooklyn to this beach. There is a Beach Bazaar now too. There are definitely more food/drink options than when I was there a while back. There is also a part of the beach that is very lgbtq-friendly.

How To Legally Change Your Name in New York State

How To Legally Change Your Name in New York State

Order for Individual Adult Change of Name - Kings County (Brooklyn) New York
Order for Individual Adult Change of Name – Kings County (Brooklyn) New York

Since grade school I’ve wanted to change my name. My last name was not a family name but my mom’s last name out of marriage. It was a name that had no meaning to me. Then my first name, was actually a hyphenation of two names. It was really long. Later on, they hyphen symbol became an issue with computers, credit cards, and IDs. Having two first names, plus a middle name, is a lot for one person.

Once away from high school bullies, I really grew to love my first name. Well, the first part of it at least. I never used the second half except in legal dealings. Most people even now didn’t know I had a hyphenated name.

The first part of my first name was then, and is now the entirety of my first name, is Leslie. I am quite proud that my namesake is my grandfather. The original hyphenation was my mother’s way to feminize her father’s name. Leslie is still commonly used as a unisex name today. Have you ever met a Les? He was probably a Leslie.

Starting in high school, I had the thought of changing my last name to my dad’s last name, O’Connor. Whenever I looked into legally changing my name, I was immediately discouraged by hearing that it was expensive, required a lawyer, or I was too young and would regret it. And so I waited until I was 33.

It’s been officially one year since the paperwork has been signed. Perhaps I could have continued going by my nickname and never using my last name. Although I do enjoy the moniker Leslie Beslie, part of me felt silly handing out business cards with the name.

When my father passed away in 2014, I waited a year then went with my gut and finally, legally, took his last name. I figured that while I was changing my last name, I might as well change my first name too. Mainly to remove the hyphenated appended portion.

One of the biggest issues after changing my name was telling people. I understand it is rather rare to change your name without getting married. And that is the number one assumption. So, when asked, I would respond with, “No, I did not get married but I appreciate your optimism.”

My official work announcement was, “I recently changed my name to a family name for personal reasons.” My more personal announcement was, “My dad passed away last year so I wanted to take his name to have his memory with me.” No one in legal departments asked for a reason.

I tried to make the announcement at work as soon as possible to thwart the “Did you get married?” questions. But I was still bombarded by them. (Especially that conference call when I asked does anyone have any questions about this project? and someone, being light-hearted, asked what was with the name change is a congratulations in order and I had to awkwardly laugh then say No and I couldn’t end that call fast enough.)

The actual steps I took to legally change my name in New York State are below. The court-house process was quicker than I expected. Once the newspaper announcement had been published, I could then legally go by the new name. It didn’t feel official to me until I received my new Social Security Card and my new driver’s license.

The name change process varies a lot state by state. This is specific to New York State. And my court house dealings are specific to King’s County, Brooklyn, NYC.

If you subscribe to my newsletter, you’ve known for a while that I am now, officially legally, Leslie O’Connor. After a year, I have fully embraced this name. For the first time, I feel like me. I feel comfortable having a name that matches who I am.


Name Change Application

I changed my first and last name, leaving the middle name the same. Thankfully I did not need a lawyer for any of this. I completed a form online that was pretty standard but did require I give a reason for wanting to change my name. No proof was required that these reasons were valid. I was changing my name to serious names, nothing silly. There is a fee to file a name change in New York state which came to roughly $200 (cash only at the courthouse).

County Clerk’s Office

I then brought this form, a copy of my driver’s license, and a copy of my social security card to the County Clerk’s office at the King’s County Courthouse. (This is the same court house you will likely go to for Jury Duty. The County Clerk’s office is in the basement.)

A person there took everything, stamped a few things, stapled a few things, then gave me everything back and told me to go upstairs to submit to the judge. A New York judge has to approve all name changes in the state. This is to ensure that you’re not changing your name for malicious reasons; like avoiding paying debts or running from a warrant. I submitted all the paperwork plus my original birth certificate to the judge’s office. Three weeks later I went back to the judge’s office to pick up my approved name change letter.

Note: I filed for a public name change. You can file for a private name change, which will not be on public record or published in the newspaper. You will probably want to use a lawyer for this. (An example of a need to file privately is when victims of domestic violence are trying to leave their abusive partner.)

Public Newspaper Announcement

All public name changes in New York state are mandated to be announced in a newspaper. Information about which newspaper to use was included in the letter from the judge. I contacted the newspaper via email, then sent them a pdf of my name change (the file was provided by the courts in their system), with some personal information. It cost $130 to have this published.

They have a “legal notices” section in the paper, so they published it the following week. The announcement was only included in the paper copy, not their online version. I then went to the newspaper to pick up the clipping they provided, which proved it was publicly announced. The newspaper that was recommended to me was directly across from the court house, which really made this part quite easy.

Official Notarization

I went back to the County Clerk’s office with the newspaper announcement. They notarized my name change. And it was then, finally, legal. I could legally use my new name!

Social Security Office

I took my notarized name change document to the Social Security office, along with a form I filled out there, and applied for a new social security card. I did not have to provide any form of ID to prove it was me. This was free.

Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV)

I took my new social security card and name change document to the DMV to apply for a new NY license. This cost $14.

Everything Else

Everything else is tedious but I’m handling it as it comes. Work was super easy as my HR department changed everything in payroll, health insurance, and my 401K. Credit cards and bank accounts are annoying but fine. I’ve noticed that it is much easier to change your name with companies due to marriage rather than a legal name change for other reasons. I sent my landlord a copy of the court order but did not have to re-sign the lease.

Total Cost of Legal Name Change

Filing Application: $200
Newspaper Announcement: $130
DMV: $14
Total: $344


The name change process was easier than I expected but it varies greatly by state. Be sure to look up your specific state requirements before starting the process.