I know many people complain about the city in the summer, and I get it.

The city sometimes smells a bit, but the magic of summer in New York more than makes up for any strange scents in the air.

Summer in the city has always been my favorite time of year.

I don’t think I realized how much I loved it until after leaving.

I’ve spent the last two summers traveling and haven’t had a proper NYC summer since 2019.

There’s so much I miss about it.

I would give anything to roll out of my old bed in my old UES apartment with my cat, Zoey, on a hot New York morning.

Rolling out of bed, grabbing an iced coffee and taking a walk through Central Park, maybe even doing a bit of tanning or meeting friends for a picnic.

Or maybe even a performance of Shakespeare in the Park.

Then warm nights spent running around downtown laughing with friends.

Or better yet, the romantic dates on rooftops with stunning views and delicious cool drinks.

Instead of going on I’ll just make a list of all the best things to do in NYC in the summer so you can plan the perfect sunny day in the city!

Best Things to Do in NYC in the Summer


1. Hit Up SummerStage

SummerStage is an annual performing arts festival that takes place in parks across New York City.

It’s got a lineup of artists ranging from music to dance and theater.

Plus, most of the events are free, making it a great way to enjoy the city’s vibrant cultural scene.



2. Go Skating at Roller Oasis

For a nostalgic experience, head to Roller Oasis, a pop-up roller-skating rink in Central Park.

I wasn’t in town last summer when it began, so I’m really hoping I get to check it out this year.

After all, who doesn’t enjoy gliding along to upbeat tunes in a picturesque outdoor setting?



3. Attend Shakespeare in the Park

One of my favorite free things to do in the city is Shakespeare in the Park.

I go pretty much every summer. You can either line for tickets outside the theater or play the online lottery.

The Public Theater always puts on a fabulous show in the beautiful open air Delacorte Theater across from Belvedere Castle.



4. See a Concert

New York has so many amazing concert venues, these are some of my favorite ones to catch concerts at:

  • MSG
  • Forest Hills Stadium
  • Elsewhere
  • Sofar Sounds
  • Kings Theater
  • Beacon Theater
  • Radio City Music hall
  • Barclay Center
  • Webster Hall
  • Rockwood Music Hall

Sofar Sounds

Each concert features three mystery performers in a surprise location. Book early to guarantee entry!

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5. Go to Tribeca Film Festival

The Tribeca Film Festival is an annual event in Lower Manhattan that showcases various independent films, documentaries, and shorts.

I’ve been a few times, and it’s a ton of fun.

You can watch upcoming films, join panel discussions, and interact with filmmakers.



6. Listen to the NY Philharmonic in the Park

The New York Philharmonic offers free outdoor concerts in various parks around the city.

What could be better than enjoying the sounds of this world-class orchestra while relaxing on a blanket under the stars?



7. Plan a Rooftop Movie Night

Take your movie-watching experience to new heights with rooftop screenings hosted by Rooftop Cinema Club.

It’s such a fun summer date night, enjoying views of the skyline while watching your favorite films under the stars.



8. Party at Lincoln Center

Lincoln Center’s Summer for the City Festival celebrates New York City’s culture with free performances.

This year the festival runs from June 14th until August 12, 2023.



9. Hit Up Free Movie Night in the Park

Pack a picnic and enjoy an outdoor movie night at one of the popular parks across the city.

The summer line-up always offers a variety of film genres with something for everyone.

Check out the official schedule for more.



11. Picnic in Central Park

Central-Park

New York City offers plenty of idyllic picnic spots, including the popular Central Park.

Pack your favorite treats and enjoy a leisurely lunch while taking in the stunning views of the city skyline.



12. Go to Brunch

From trendy sidewalk cafes to charming patios, there are plenty of amazing brunch destinations in the city.

These are some of my favorites during the summer:



13. Go Mini Golfing

Embrace your inner child at mini golfing. It’s a fun activity after a few drinks with friends, or if you’re spending the day with your family.

Hudson River Park’s Pier 25 is fun with family and Swingers Golf Club is more fun with friends.



14. Read in the Park

One of my favorite activities in NYC during the summer to grab a book and a cozy spot to read in the park.

I normally head to either Central Park or Bryant Park when I want to read, but obviously there are plenty of parks to choose from.



15. Walk the High Line

Stretching 1.45 miles along Manhattan’s west side, this popular park built along an old railway track is worth checking out.

The park has stunning views, great people watching, plus public art installations.

Walking along the High Line with an iced coffee and a friend or date is perfect on a sunny afternoon.

Bonus points if you include a visit to the nearby Whitney Museum on your itinerary.



16. Wander Around Brooklyn Botanic Garden

The Brooklyn Botanic Garden is a gorgeous place to spend a few hours on a sunny afternoon.

Spend the day exploring the Japanese Hill-and-Pond Garden with us, serene ponds, roses, and exotic plants.



17. Go Kayaking for Free

Experience the city from a whole new perspective by kayaking on the Hudson or East River.

Brooklyn Bridge Park, Pier 26, or Manhattan Community Boathouse all offer free kayak rentals.



18. Spend the Day at Coney Island

Ally-and-friends-at-Coney-Island

Spend the day running around the classic boardwalk food, scream at the amusement park, or take a dip in the ocean.

Coney Island is about an hour outside of the city that’s perfect for a day of fun in the sun.



19. Hit Up a Rooftop Pool

Take a refreshing swim while enjoying breathtaking skyline views, by taking a dip in one of NYC’s gorgeous rooftop pools.

Fair warning, most rooftop pools are tough to get into because they belong to hotels or members only clubs.



20. Go to Governor’s Island

A short ferry ride from Manhattan, you’ll find Governor’s Island.

This spot has 172 acres of parkland and historic sites, and picturesque views.

Plus, they host lots of summer events such as jazz concerts and art installations.



21. Go Glamping

Reserve a spot at Collective Governor’s Island for the ultimate glamping experience.

You’ll be able to relax just outside the city with delicious food, morning yoga, bike rides, and sunset cocktails.



22. See a Broadway Show

PRIMA-FACIE-BROADWAY-PLAY-MAY-2023

Experience the magic of Broadway by catching one of the season’s hottest shows.

Being a Broadway fanatic, I’ve seen almost everything playing, and have lots recommendations!

Shoot me an email if you need help to narrow down what to see.

With a wide variety of plays and musicals running this season, there is truly something to entertain everyone.



23. Head to the Beach

Who doesn’t love hitting up a beach on a sizzling summer day?

In NYC that normally means committing to at least an hour on the train (depending on where you’re living).

These are the beaches I’m always happy to check out despite the long train journey:



24. Take a Day Trip

If you really want to commit to the beach vibe, commit to a day trip or weekend away in the Hamptons.

Montauk is the perfect spot to hit up for a day or two during the summer.

There’s amazing nightlife, fun social vibes at the beach during the day, and it’s easy to get to by train.

Just make sure you book your hotel room super early (like months ahead), or risk sky-high prices or sold out rooms.



25. Hang at a Public Pool

New York City boasts an impressive lineup of public pools to suit anyone’s preferences.

Options range from the historic Astoria Pool to the smaller but more intimate John Jay Pool on the Upper East Side.



26. Hang at a Book Store

One of my favorite ways to get out of the heat is to pop into a bookstore for an hour.

I know everyone’s obsessed with Kindle; I get it because I have one, but there’s something so nice about browsing actual books.

These are some of my favorite NYC bookstores:



27. Sign Up for a Boat Tour

Take a break from the hot sidewalks of the city by hopping on a scenic boat tour.

You’ll be able to enjoy the breeze from the water while taking in gorgeous views of the city’s skyline.

Depending on your vibe, you can book a sightseeing cruise, a sunset cruise, or even a dinner cruise.



28. Cool Off in a Museum

The-Met-Museum-UES-NYC

NYC has some of the most iconic museums in the world.

Step out of the head and into the air conditioning by immersing yourself in an afternoon of culture at one of these spots:



29. Grab a Drink on the Roof of The Met

The Met has always been my favorite museum in NYC, and once you see the view from their rooftop, it will become yours too.

The museum offers a special exhibition, along with impressive views of 5th Avenue and Central Park.

Plus a bar that serves coffee, snacks, and cocktails during the summer on their rooftop.



30. Do Some Retail Therapy

Spend the day sipping cold drinks and checking out the shopping scene in New York with its designer boutiques, local shops, and classic vintage stores.

These are some of the most popular spots to shop in NYC:



31. Go Out Dancing

Feel the rhythm of the city as you dance the night away in one of New York’s many clubs and dance venues.

These are some of the most popular spots to go dancing in NYC this summer:



32. Hit Up a Jazz Show

Jazz Player NYC

There’s nothing like wandering into a jazz bar on a warm summer night with a date after an amazing dinner date.

These are some of my favorite spots to hit up:



33. Head to a Rooftop Bar

There’s nothing like drinking on a rooftop in NYC, especially if you’ve found a bar that has a killer view and craft cocktails.

Here are some of my favorite rooftop bars to grab a drink at:



34. Laugh at a Comedy Show

Comedy-NYC

Laughter is the best medicine, so why not indulge in some of the finest stand-up comedy that New York City has to offer?

These are my favorite places to head for a laugh in the city:



35. Hang at a Beer Garden

I may not not into drinking beer, but a lot of my friends are, and they always say summer in NYC is the best because all the beer gardens are open.

If you want to spend the afternoon drinking a cold one, make your way to one of these popular beer gardens:



36. See if There’s a Food Festival Happening

One of my favorite things about NYC is its diverse dining scene.

There’s almost always a food festival or pop up going on.

I like to follow Eater to find out the latest pop-ups and festivals happening.



37. Dine Al Fresco

One of the best things about summer is the option to eat outdoors.

NYC has plenty of fabulous options, but these are some of my favorites:



38. Perk Up with Something Sweet

What would summer be without an indulgence in something sweet?

Since I’m naturally drawn to dessert, I’ve got some great recommendations if you need an afternoon pick-me-up.



39. Have Drinks on a Boat

For a unique experience, try sipping your favorite cocktail on a boat as you take in the sights and sounds of the city’s waterfront while slurping oysters.

I’m taking about one of my favorite floating summer bars, Grand Banks.

This place is a classic summer stop amongst New Yorkers, especially during summer sunsets.



41. Eat Your Way Through Smorgasburg

This weekly summer event is a must-visit destination for any foodies.

If you haven’t already heard of it, Smorgasburg is an iconic New York food market featuring a stunning selection of local food vendors.

It’s tons of fun, and perfect for a date, group hang, or solo afternoon.



42. Sign Up for a Food Tour

DEVOUR-FOOD-TOURS-ALLY-AND-MARC-EATING-PIZZA-2

If variety is the spice of life, NYC food tours provide the perfect chance to sample the city’s eclectic food offerings.

My favorite tour company, Devour, has a great one through the village.

You’ll experience the rich flavors of authentic cuisine and learn some history on a culinary adventure.


Devour Tours

I was shocked by how many hidden gems I was introduced to while on Devour Tour's food tour. I can't recommend this enough for tourists and even locals!

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43. Get Tickets to a Yankees Game

I’ll be honest, I don’t really get baseball, and have never been to a game.

But I’m told attending a game at Yankee Stadium is an essential summer activity for any sports fan.



44. How About the Mets?

Apparently there’s also a baseball team called The Mets and they also have games during the summer.

So if you can’t get Yankee’s tickets, I guess try for The Mets?



45. Make a Reservation Somewhere Nice

I love going out to eat during the summer in NYC because you can dress up without having to worry too much about the elements.

Plus, with most locals traveling more during the summer, it can be easier to snag reservations at local hot spots like:



46. Cool Off at a Movie

Heading to the movie theater is one of my favorite lazy day activities in NYC when it was just too hot to do anything.

My favorite theaters to check showings at are:



47. Do an Outdoor Fitness Class



48. Hit the Spa

Does anyone really need an excuse to take some timeout of their day for the spa?

Make yourself an appointment at one of these relaxing spots:



49. Check Out the US Open

For tennis aficionados, the US Open is a must-attend event (according to my friends who like sports).

Each year, the top-ranked players compete at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center for the championship title.

I’m told the two-week event features not only thrilling matches but also an array of food offerings, shopping, and entertainment options.



50. Celebrate All the Big Summer Holidays

NYC is one of the best cities in the world, so it’s not a surprise they do pretty much every holiday well.

These are the classic American summer holidays and events you should keep an eye out on the calendar for:

  • Pride March
  • Memorial Day
  • Macy’s 4th of July Fireworks
  • Labor Day
  • Juneteenth


51. Cool Off by “Sneaking” Into Some Speakeasies

Everyone loves a speakeasy, not matter what time of year.

There’s something so satisfying about “sneaking” into a spot while other pedestrians unknowingly pass by.

These are some of my favorite not so “secret” speakeasies:



52. Catch Broadway in Bryant Park

If you can’t afford to see a Broadway show, or aren’t show about committing to seeing an entire production, head to Broadway in Bryant Park.

You’ll get to see casts from a different Broadway show each week before a few numbers on stage in Bryant Park.



53. Catch Broadway Barks

If you’re a big Broadway fan and love animals, you need to check out Mary Tyler Moore and Bernadette Peter’s adoption event, Broadway Barks.

Every year Broadway celebrities come out to help raise money for the animals all while finding some cuties their forever homes.



54. Catch a Drag Show

Depending on where you live, you may have never been to a drag show before.

Change that by hitting up a show at one of these popular spots:



55. Broadway Bares

I’ve been dying to go to Broadway Bares ever since I learned about it a few years ago.

Basically Broadway dancers and stars put on a burlesque show to raise money for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights Aids.

Broadway Bares is a show that sells out quickly once it’s announced.

Each year it has a different fun theme, amazing choreography, performances, and costumes.



56. Jazz Age Lawn Party

Another event that’s been on my NYC bucket list for ages is the annual Jazz Age Lawn Party.

It’s thrown every year on Govenor’s Island and you go dressed up like you’re from the 20s.

There’s a jazz band that plays, lots of cute photo ops, and of course a picnic.



57. Hit Up a Music Festival

Both Governor’s Ball and Electric Zoo are popular summer music festivals.

Like any festival, you’ll need to snag tickets early or risk paying a ton later.

I haven’t been to either, but I’ve heard they’re both a ton of fun!

But I did see Phoebe Bridgers last year as part of BRIC Celebrate Brooklyn Festival and it was so much fun.



58. Coney Island Mermaid Parade

Every year my friend Olivia goes all out with sparkles, seashells, and hair dye to transform into a mermaid for the day.

She and lots of others join a giant parade of mermaid people through Coney Island.

The Mermaid Parade is always held around the end of June and is a popular day drinking activity for most mermaids involved.



59. Wear White to Le Dîner en Blanc

Imagine you’re dressed in white, attending a party where the color theme is white.

This is another bucket list activity that I’m dying to cross off one day soon.

Le Dîner en Blanc is meant to be incredibly chic, super elegant, and let’s face it, very romantic with the right person.

This year it’s set to take place September 19th.



60. Chill at a Rooftop Vineyard

I only just found out recently that NYC had its own rooftop vineyard, thanks to Rooftop Reds in Brooklyn Navy Yard.

Besides having amazing wine and pizza, they also offer movie nights, yoga, and other fun events during the summer.


Wrapping It Up

ALLY-WASHINGTON-SQUARE-PARK-HOW-TO-DRESS-LIKE-A-NEW-YORKER

Now that this list is done, I’m one-hundred percent ready to get back to NYC next month.

I have a feeling that saying about it being “the city that never sleeps” will ring true for me with so many things to do and see coming up.

Let me know in the comments below what you’re most looking forward to doing this summer in New York.

 

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