33 Things To Do this Summer in NYC

What is there to do in NYC in the summer?

NYC definitely comes to life during warmer weather. People are out and about and enjoying life. Summer in NYC is filled with events and activities that can go late into the night (or even into the early morning hours). Just be sure to keep yourself hydrated because NYC can get very hot and humid.

Our Absolute 33 Things to do in Summer in New York City

You’ll pretty much find things to do in the different neighborhoods such as Midtown, SoHo or DUMBO. With so many summer events in NYC, we’ve curated this list to the best 33. What is New York City like in the summer? Find out in this article!

Most popular tours & activities during summertime in New York

1. Enjoy the view at one of NYC’s many rooftop bars

rooftop bar at 1 hotel brooklyn bridge

For us, being at a rooftop bar in NYC in the summer is one of the best ways to enjoy the city. There’s a lot of them around this enormous metropolis. Our favorites are the Gallow Green Rooftop Bar, and because of the view of the Empire State Building, we also recommend the 230 Fifth Rooftop Bar. Another highlight is the Westlight NYC in Brooklyn and if you want to an amazing view of the Brooklyn Bridge, Manhattan Bridge, and the Manhattan skyline, then the rooftop bar at the 1 Hotel Brooklyn is an exceptional choice. You’re definitely flushed with options.

Here you can find the 43 Best Rooftop Bars in New York

2. Take an NYC boat tour

manhattan skyline from a boat

Living in NYC, we know how awesome it is to take a boat tour. With the hot summer weather, some summer activities can just be way too hot to move. Sometimes it’s just nice to hop onto a boat and feel the breeze while taking in the city views. Even though The East River, Hudson River, and the harbor are usually busy, it can also be very calming. Here, you’ll have many options.

You can either take the free Staten Island Ferry, or one of the many boat tours that are included in the sightseeing passes (this is an easy way to save up to 70% on tickets and tours, here you can compare all New York City Passes). Or,  you can sail to the Statue of Liberty.

And if you plan to visit the Statue of Liberty you should check out our 13 Best Statue of Liberty Cruises and the 5 Best Statue of Liberty Tours!

What is the Best Cruise in New York for you?

There are over 40 boat and sailing tours in New York and it’s not easy to choose the best one. That’s where our Cruise Finder comes in. It will help you find the best boat tour for you!

3. Bryant Park Film Festival and Bryant Park Picnic Performances

Bryant Park Film Festival New York

One of the best things to do in July in New York is visiting the free Bryant Park Film Festival and picnic performances in Bryant Park. In the heart of Manhattan, people gather in the summer months with blankets and chairs they’ve brought themselves to relax at the outdoor movie theater and concerts by the New York Philharmonics. Bryant Park is just under a 5 minute walk from Times Square, surrounded by tall trees, so it’s a bit secluded from the rest, but you’re still in the middle of it all: Awesome!

You can get a seat from 5pm, the films start around 8pm as darkness falls, and the Philharmonic concerts 7pm. You can find out more about the events and the free concerts here with us and on the Bryant Park website.

4. Visit Governors Island which is only open during the Summer

exploring governors island in the summer in nyc

It is still one of Sabrina’s favorite things to do in the summer in NYC. Governors Island only opens during the summer months and it’s super-cheap to reach by ferry. You and grab the ferry at the southern tip of Manhattan. Here you can enjoy the view of the Statue of Liberty among the New York locals and just watch the city of New York City in peace.

Here you can find our Best Things to do on Governors Island.

5. Smorgasburg in Williamsburg

food at smorgasburg during the summer in nyc

The Smorgasburg Food Market in Williamsburg is one of the best open-air food markets in New York City. It’s a place where people meet up in the warmer months to eat, drink and enjoy the view of the Manhattan skyline along the East River waterfront. If you can’t make it out to the Smorgasburg, no worries. There are other food markets that you can check out in NYC.

6. Rock yourself on a ship

Boat restaurant on the river in nyc

Ok, so you don’t really go anywhere on this ship, but right on Pier 25, you will find the Grand Banks. It’s a restaurant, that is also a boat. And yes, it rocks with the waves. With a glass of wine in hand and relaxing music, you can look down the Hudson River to the Statue of Liberty. Also, it’s new sister ship, Pilot Brooklyn is located in another spot, but is very similar to Grand Banks.

7. Honorable William Wall

Honorable William Wall

This is my discovery of the summer in New York – the floating boathouse from Manhattan Sailing Club! It is called Honorable William Wall and is located right next to Ellis Island. Especially in the evening, when you look at the illuminated Manhattan, it is just sensational here.

This is my review (AWESOME!) of the Honorable William Wall.

8. Discover New York from an observation deck

Views Edge Hudson Yards

This should be a part of any New York experience: visiting one of the world famous observation decks and observatories  in New York! You can choose between Empire State Building, The Edge Hudson Yards, Top of the Rock, One World Observatory and (from October 2021 on) One Vanderbilt.

Want to know more? Check out our article about the 8 Best Observation Desks New York!

Budget tip

If you want to visit several observations deck, attraction and tours in New York, check out the New York sightseeing passes. You can save up to 60% on the ticket price!

To find out which New York Pass is the best for you, check out my New York Pass Comparison.

9. Enjoy the New York Philharmonic Concerts in the Parks

Do you want to listen to relaxing classical music in the evening? That’s not a problem. Summer concerts in NYC of this kind are held in virtually every part of the city. If there are suitable concerts during your travel time, make sure to check them out.

10. Eat delicious BBQ in New York

eating bbq in nyc

Barbeques are usually known to be held in the summer. Those two things just belong together. Spending time with good friends, and enjoying some delicious beer is considered a great day. So, when you’re in NYC, where can you get the best BBQ? You can find all of that, here.

11. Visit the new Hall of Gems at the American Museum of Natural History

More than 5,000 new exhibits from 98 countries await you in this fascinating new exhibit, officially called the Allison and Roberto Mignone Halls of Gems and Minerals. Truly impressive!

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This is our article about the American Museum of Natural History.

12. Marvel at the fireworks of the 4th of July

Views of fireworks from a rooftop in nyc

July 4 is Independence Day is one of the most important events in the US. The fourth of July in NYC is a pretty big celebration. There are fireworks in different parts of the city. In our 4th of July article, you’ll find everything you need to know in regards to Independence Day.

Want to read more? This is our ultimate Guide to 4th of July in New York.

  1. July_4th_New_York_City_Fireworks_Cruise_with_Buffet_and_Live_DJ_

    01 July 4th New York City Fireworks Cruise with Buffet and Live DJ

    Celebrate July 4th on this New York City Fireworks Cruise. Depart for the evening to the beats of a live DJ. Enjoy a buffet style menu featuring pasta, finger foods, chicken, salad, desserts and more! Sip on an alcoholic beverage from our onboard cash bar. Grab the festive party favors provided as the firework show begins. Your cruise will return once the fireworks end. What’s Included:

    • July 4th New York City Fireworks Cruise 
    • Buffet Style Menu featuring pasta, chicken, salad, finger foods, dessert and more! 
    • Live DJ Music
  2. 4th_of_July_NYC_Fireworks_Cruise_Liberty_Bell

    02 4th of July NYC Fireworks Cruise

    Aboard Liberty Belle to celebrate this Independence Day in New York City. Celebrate sailing the waters and enjoy the Macy’s Spectacular Fireworks Show. All tickets include open bar and a delicious dinner. Live DJ playing top hits will keep you this Independence Day memorable along with your favorite drink. Enjoy the show of the July 4th fireworks. This is a NYC Dance Cruise. Aboard and sip your favorite drink, eat delicious food, dance and enjoy! You will get a 3-Hour premium open bar, food, and complimentary party favors. VIP Tickets include priority boarding and a reserved table at private lounge with a bottle of MOET to cheer this Independence Day. Enjoy the views of Statue of Liberty, Empire State Building, One World Trade Center and more! This is a great experience to celebrate in style. Treat yourself into this unforgettable experience.

  3. NYC_July_4th_Macy_s_Fireworks_Family_Friendly_Festive_Boat

    03 NYC July 4th Macy's Fireworks Family Friendly Festive Boat

    Your cruise will have a live DJ on 2 floors and 2 dance floors. There will be 4th of July giveaways, a light buffet, a cash bar, and fun toys for the children. While waiting for this spectacular show in the sky, you’ll see famous landmarks including the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, Freedom Tower, the Brooklyn Bridge, and the NYC skyline. As the boat docks getting ready for the show, the DJ will have music to dance to for full family fun. 

    Macy’s has been hosting a 4th of July fireworks show in NYC since 1958. The Brooklyn Bridge and the East River are the new stars of the Macy’s 4th of July Fireworks, the largest fireworks show in the United States. You’ll have front-row seats to the fireworks show, as special firing platforms will be set up along the span and about 50,000 pounds of fireworks are set to launch!

  4. 4th of July Brunch Cruise

    04 NYC 4th of July Brunch Cruise

    This 4th of July brunch cruise is one of the newest boat tours where you can celebrate the Independence Day of the USA in a wonderfully relaxed way. The ship has three different decks where you can combine sightseeing with brunch. The icing on the cake is the live DJ on board who will entertain you on this tour from George Washington Bridge to Brooklyn Bridge.

  5. New_York_City_Fourth_of_July_Fireworks_Cruise_with_Lobster_Dinner

    05 New York City Fourth of July Fireworks Cruise with Lobster Dinner

    UPDATE: No tickets available anymore!

    Grab a front row seat for New York City’s fireworks display on this Fourth of July cruise with lobster dinner. Get an up-close look at the Manhattan skyline while digging into a buffet-style dinner with an open bar. A DJ will spin tunes on board to keep the party mood going.

    • New York City Fourth of July fireworks cruise with lobster dinner
    • Delight in superior views of the fireworks display on this fun, casual cruise
    • Enjoy an open bar and gorgeous vistas of the Manhattan skyline
    • Dance the night away as DJs spin the latest hits and quintessential party songs
  6. 4th_of_July_Fireworks_on_Clipper_City_Tall_Ship

    06 4th of July Fireworks on Clipper City Tall Ship

    UPDATE: No tickets available anymore!

    See New York City’s 4th of July Fireworks from the deck of a tall ship for the ultimate visibility and photo ops. Help the crew raise the sails and navigate the ship, or just sit back and enjoy the show. Each year’s fireworks show consists of more than 40,000 shells exploding above the East River for a brilliant display celebrating the nation’s birth. Buy tickets in advance to avoid the last-minute scramble for 4th of July plans!

    • Food and beverages included
    • Best possible vantage point for fireworks show
    • See the NYC skyline from the water
    • Open bar throughout the cruise
  7. Bateaux_New_York_4th_of_July_Fireworks_Dinner_Cruise-1

    07 Bateaux New York 4th of July Fireworks Dinner Cruise

    UPDATE: No tickets available anymore

    Come aboard the Bateaux New York, a fully glass-enclosed, luxury dining cruise for your Fourth of July celebrations! A five-hour upscale dining cruise on the Hudson River includes a delicious three-course plated dinner with attentive table side service. Take in the panoramic, breathtaking views of the infamous New York City skyline and the Fireworks Display (weather permitting). Sit back, relax, enjoy your spectacular meal and the live acoustic quartet musical entertainment, and celebrate the United States of America!

    • Live Music
    • Dinner
    • Alcoholic Beverages
  8. Circle_Line___4th_of_July_Fireworks_Cruise

    08 Circle Line 4th of July Evening Cruise

    UPDATE: No tickets available anymore!

    Circle Line is a very well-known sightseeing cruise operator in New York and also offers one of the best 4th of July cruises. The cruise includes a light dinner with classic summer dishes and great drinks. Most importantly, however, you will enjoy guaranteed views of the fireworks, particularly from the outdoor deck space.

    What you’ll get:

    • light dinner
    • drinks
    • live DJ
    • guaranteed views of the 4th of July fireworks

13. Experience a very special event in NYC – Manhattanhenge

The sun sets during manhattanhenge

Twice a year, the sun sets at a specific angle. The streets and avenues of New York are set up as a grid. During this time, the sun will align perfectly in between the skyscrapers. This phenomenon is called Manhattanhenge and can be observed in May and July. Do not miss out on this one. What’s even just as astonishing is how many people show up and take pictures of this special occasion.

14. Restart Stages am Lincoln Center for the Performer Arts

Lincoln Center for Performing Arts New York THE GREEN Event
Photo by Chris Lee

The Lincoln Center Festival is one of the most celebrated and popular festivals of the year. The extraordinary festival usually shows works and performances of the most renowned artists from all over the world in three weeks. Now, since June, there are the so-called Restart Stages with 10 different art installations and live performances.

15. Free Kayaking on the Hudson River & East River

This is a really cool event that can be booked several times a month: discover New York from the water – and even better: from a kayak! You can start at the Manhattan Community Boathouse (Pier 96 at the Hudson River) or at the Brooklyn Bridge Park between Pier 1 and Pier 2 (every Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday until the end of August).

Seats are limited, so be quick to secure your preferred date – here for the Manhattan Community Boathouse and here for the Brooklyn Bridge Park Boathouse.

16. Enjoy a game of baseball featuring The New York Yankees or the Mets

Yankee Game in New York

We’ve been pretty lucky three times when it comes to baseball games. Compared to many other sporting events in New York, the tickets for baseball games are relatively cheap and therefore also for families which is a great thing. You may even experience some inner-city rivalry when the New York Yankees play against the New York Mets!

Here you get Tickets for New York Yankees or for the New York Mets.

17. Visit Little Island

Little Island New York
Photo credit Michael Grimm

Not far from the Meatpacking District and the High Line, Little Island is one of the newest attractions in New York and is something very special: a park on 132 beautiful tulip-shaped concrete stilts in the Hudson River.

Besides the view, you can visit various events and art exhibitions (every day except Tuesday). Click here for the Little Island event calendar.

18. Shakespeare in the Park

Delacorte Theater Central Park New York

At the Delacorte Theater you can see one of the most famous plays in the world in Central Park. Sounds crazy? Well, it is in New York! In recent years, some stars have made it to the stage as well. Stop by and you might see Meryl Streep, Kevin Kline, Al Pacino, Blythe Danner, George C. Scott or Denzel Washington.

Find out more about the Shakespeare in the Park event in New York and the current dates here.

19. End the evening at a wine bar

Bottles of wine being poured

Having a fresh glass of white wine in one of the city’s many wine bars (many have small tables outside, kind of like Paris) is something we really enjoy doing. It is easy to start a conversation with anyone since you’ll most likely be surrounded by New Yorkers. Even though it is late in the evening, it’s still nice and warm out. The experience is simply terrific.  Our favorite wine bars are La Compagnie des Vins Surnaturels in SoHo, Corkbuzz in Union Square and The Four Horsemen in Williamsburg. These are just some of the many little spots we love the city for. Another highlight is the wine bar, Upholstery Food & Wine. 

20. Take a trip to the Hamptons

 The Hamptons are a very popular destination to take a day trip from New York and has a very special flair. We’ve seen the Hamptons already in the winter and in the summer. It’s truly a total counterpart to the hustle and bustle of New York City. Especially Sag Harbor, it exudes a relaxed calming environment that is extremely contagious. The small town is almost 300 years old and is surrounded by greenery, the sea, and great beaches. The Hamptons are so worth the trip in the summer and high on my list of things to do in the summer in NYC.

Day trip to the Hamptons

21. Enjoy the best ice cream in the city

an ice cream cone in nyc

Unfortunately, the Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory right next to the Brooklyn Bridge, what was, which we thought was the best ice cream in NYC, is not there anymore. However, there are still some creative and tasty spots in New York where you can get your hands on some amazing ice cream. Our favorites are Big Gay Ice Cream Shop in the East Village and West Village, Ice & Vice and Morgenstern’s Finest Ice Cream in the Lower East Side. Also, make sure to check out Van Leeuwen, which has multiple locations throughout the city.

22. Attend the Museum Mile Festival

 The annual Museum Mile Festival gives you free admission to the most popular museums in New York City. The museums stay open longer as well. The section of Fifth Avenue, known as the Museum Mile, houses nine participating museums. They are El Museo del Barrio, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Cooper-Hewitt, the Jewish Museum, the National Academy Museum, the New Gallery, the Museum of the City of New York and the Africa Center.

Visitors can enjoy countless outdoor activities to the exciting art in the museums. In addition, to live music and artistic highlights, there is always something for everyone. The Museum Mile Festival is a real highlight for culture enthusiasts and perfect for families with children.

Here you find our 36 Absolute Best Museums in NYC.

23. Jazz at Pier 84

Every second Wednesday in July, the concert series “Jazz at Pier 84” takes place – New York and jazz are a combination that I personally like a lot. You sit at the Hudson River and the best part? It’s even free because it’s a project of Hudson River Park and the Jazz Foundation of America.

To see exactly which act will be at Pier 84 in New York at the time of your trip, check out the event calendar.

24. Head to the beach!

a beach in coney island

Where is the beach in New York? New York City and beaches? Yes exactly! It’s pretty awesome to wake up early in the city, spend the whole day on the beach and be back in the middle of the busy metropolis in the evening. To get to the beach is super-relaxed and not expensive at all. With the new New York Ferry, you can go to Long Island for only $3. You start at the East River (Pier 15), past Governors Island and then straight to the beach. Coney Island is also worth checking out.

 Coney Island and Brighton Beach

25. Travel through New York City in the Summer via Jetski

take a jet ski tour in the summer

If you take a jet ski tour, you will be guided along many of New York’s famous landmarks. A guide is always there and brings you to the spots where you have the best view. The jet skis can go really fast (up to 55 mph) and you just cruise through the water. It’s fun, and action is definitely guaranteed. Just make sure to be careful. There are several providers of these tours, take a look at Jetty Jumpers or Rockaway Jetski!

26. Makes New York Colorful: Gay Pride Parade

The gay pride parade in the summer in nyc

Once a year, the Gay Pride Parade takes place in New York and is the most popular LGBT event (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender). New York shines in the colors of the rainbow during almost the entire month of June, and every corner (especially in areas around Chelsea and the West Village) dons the rainbow flag.

Gay Pride in NYC

27. Explore the city by bike

Citi Bikes stationed in NYC

New York has always been a true bicycle city. The city bike program, Citi Bike makes it easier for people to access a bike. There are many bike paths within the city and designated bike lanes as well. Just grab a bike at one of the many stations (there are over 800) and ride along the Hudson River, for example. It only takes about 30 minutes from Central Park to Battery Park – and if you need a break or stop, the Hudson River Park is perfect for that! Also, our friends from Unlimited Biking offer great deals on bike rentals in Manhattan and Brooklyn.

Rent a bike

28. Find a hotel with a pool

a hotel with a rooftop pool in new york city

Lying by the pool during the summer in NYC while looking at the city skyline is an absolute luxury. If you have the budget, make sure to stay at the Gansevoort Hotel in the Meatpacking District, The Dominick in SoHo or even the new 1 Hotel Brooklyn Bridge in DUMBO. The latter even has a rooftop bar.

Hotels with a pool

29. Cool off at these indoor activities!

nyc museum

Is it too hot? During the summer in New York, most buildings are air-conditioned which can be a nice change from the heat. That’s what one of the many museums in New York is all about! Also very popular are the Escape Rooms, where you’re “trapped” inside a room, and must work with your team members to solve clues in order to get out. Another great thing to do when it’s too hot is to go shopping! Of course, we have also prepared a suitable shopping guide for New York.

30. Go attend and party at the many festivals in NYC

 Summer is the season for festivals and you have a lot of choices. There’s Pinknic, Governor’s Ball, Electric Zoo, Summer Jam, and The Meadows Music and Arts Festival.

31. Head down the shore

Things-to-do-Jersey-Shore Beach areaDon’t miss out on the amazing things to do down the Jersey Shore in the summer. A little over an hour away by car, the Jersey Shore offers beautiful beaches, great restaurants by the water, adventures, fun boardwalks, nightlife and stunning state parks such as the Island Beach State Park. One of our favorite areas to spend time in is Asbury Park. The vibrant crowds, the history of the town and the many really cool bars are making the trip down the shore even more worth it.

Things to do at the Jersey Shore

32. Off to the city’s parks: Brooklyn Bridge Park, Prospect Park & Central Park

view of the skyline from dumbo

Just below the Brooklyn Bridge is the infamous Brooklyn Bridge Park. Just like Brooklyn Heights, it offers a stunning view of the Manhattan skyline. It also offers tons of green space, fields, and courts. At Central Park, you can either walk around, just relax in the many green spaces or you can rent a boat and go around the lake. Prospect Park is pretty much Brooklyn’s version of Central Park. There’s a lot of green space and many things to do there in the summer.

Parks in NYC

33. Summer Stage Festival

At this event you can visit over 100 concerts & shows for free in many parks all over New York. It’s one of the most popular summer events in New York and a MUST DO for locals. If you’re in New York this summer, be sure to check out one of the shows – the exact dates and hours can be found here.

Our TOP 8 tours & activities during summertime in New York

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About the author
Steffen

I'm a true New York fan! Not only have I visited the city over 20 times but also have I spent several months here at a time. On this blog, I want to share everything I have learned and discovered, so you can have the best time in the greatest city in the world. By the way: Did you like my article? Then think about becoming a supporter of us on Patreon!

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