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 25 Things to do in Summer in New York City
1. Enjoy the view at one of NYC’s many rooftop bars
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 Rooftop bar from W Downtown. Here you have an unobstructed view of the One World Trade Center and the 9/11 Memorial as well. 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. You will find our complete list here.
2. Take an NYC boat tour
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. Or, you can sail to the Statue of Liberty. For those that are curious, here are our best boat tours for the summer.
3. Visit Governors Island which is only open during the Summer
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.
4. Smorgasburg in Williamsburg
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.
5. Free Summer Movie Nights at Bryant Park
Yes, you read that right. Free. This outdoor cinema at Bryant Park is a real summer event which is held every Monday behind the Public Library in the summer. We have experienced this many times and have been thrilled every time. The atmosphere in Bryant Park is really beautiful. You sit in the meadow or on a blanket, the sun is setting, the skyscrapers around you will start to light up and then the movie starts. Here’s a quick tip: make sure to get to the park about an hour before the scheduled starting time. You need to pick your spot because it tends to get packed with people. It’s definitely a surreal NYC moment.
6. Rock yourself on a ship
Ok, so you don’t really go anywhere on this ship, but right on Chelsea Piers, 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. If you want to sit on the water, but don’t want to feel the water rocking, we recommend The Water Club on the East River (29th Street).
7. Head to the beach!
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. You can also take a look at Coney Island and Brighton Beach as well!
8. Off to the city’s parks: Brooklyn Bridge Park, Prospect Park & Central Park
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 on 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.
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
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. 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.
12. Relax in one of the restaurants overlooking the water
What could be better than sitting relaxed and eating and drinking right next to the water? This is definitely summer in NYC highlight for us and the selection of suitable spots is great. We have put together the best restaurants on the water for you here.
13. Marvel at the fireworks of the 4th of July
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.
14. Experience a very special event in NYC – 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.
15. Enjoy a game of baseball featuring The New York Yankees or the Mets
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!
16. Check out Shakespeare in the Park
For over 50 years the literature pieces of William Shakespeare have been performed in the Park. Joseph Papp had them in 1962 which launched into something popular and is still running to this day. Shakespeare in the Park is a free event and popular in summer. In the past, such greats as Meryl Streep, Al Pacino, Philip Seymour Hoffman, George C. Scott and Denzel Washington have participated.
17. End the evening at a wine bar
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. The bar is pretty discreet and is located in a small street in the West Village. It is small, cozy, pretty easy-going and definitely one of the best in the city.
18. Enjoy the best ice cream in the city
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.
19. 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.
20. Travel through New York City in the Summer via Jetski
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!
21. Makes New York Colorful: Gay Pride Parade
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.
22. Explore the city by bike
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!
23. Find a hotel with a pool
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.
24. Cool off at these indoor activities!
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.
25. 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.
Being a photographer and creative in general, New York City, I think is the perfect place to be. I moved to NYC from Boston in 2013 and never looked back. Loving New York has given me the opportunity to do what I love and share those images with you all.