The 54 Best FREE Things To Do This Summer in NYC

Find the 53 BEST Summer Activities in NYC for FREE

Ah, summertime in New York City—there’s really nothing quite like it. Sure, the Big Apple has a rep for being kind of pricey, but don’t let that scare you away! The city is absolutely bursting with incredible, wallet-friendly adventures just waiting to be discovered.

And the best part is that we’ve got you covered with a list of 54 free things to do in NYC this summer. So, gather your friends and gear to explore the exciting and budget-friendly side of New York City this summer!

Outdoor Activities

Discover the great outdoors with these fantastic free things to do in NYC this summer, perfect for soaking up the sun and enjoying nature in the city.

  1. 01

    Staten Island Ferry

    Cruise in Staten Island
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    All aboard the famous Staten Island Ferry, the best way to appreciate New York City’s stunning harbor views without spending a dime. Set sail on a 25-minute, leisurely cruise across the glistening waters and catch unparalleled sights of the Manhattan skyline, the majestic Statue of Liberty, and historic Ellis Island.

    This must-try experience operates 24/7, offering both locals and tourists an opportunity to revel in the city’s beauty from a unique perspective—ideal for snapping those envy-inducing photos for your social media feed.

  2. 02

    Bryant Park Events

    Park in Midtown Manhattan
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    Nestled in the heart of Midtown Manhattan, Bryant Park is a verdant urban oasis that hosts a plethora of free events throughout the summer months. From outdoor movie nights under the stars to live music performances that get your toes tapping, there’s never a dull moment at this bustling city park.

    You’ll also find activities like yoga classes, juggling lessons, and dance parties to keep you entertained all summer long. Grab a blanket, pack a picnic, and immerse yourself in the lively atmosphere of this quintessential NYC hotspot.

  3. 03

    Central Park Activities

    Park in Midtown Manhattan
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    Central Park, the crown jewel of Manhattan, offers a treasure trove of free activities to make your summer in NYC unforgettable. With over 840 acres of lush greenery, winding paths, and picturesque spots, the park is a haven for nature lovers and city dwellers alike.

    Join a complimentary walking tour to learn about the park’s rich history, enjoy open-air theater performances, or attend a variety of cultural festivals throughout the season. If you’re feeling more active, lace up your running shoes and hit the scenic trails, or simply bask in the sun on the Great Lawn, watching the world go by in this magical urban sanctuary.

  4. 04

    Sunset Viewing at The High Line

    Park in Meatpacking District
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    Experience the transformative beauty of a golden New York City sunset from the elevated vantage point of The High Line. This innovative public park, built on a historic freight rail line, offers sweeping views of the city and the Hudson River, making it the ideal spot for a sunset stroll.

    As the sky turns into a canvas of vibrant colors, you’ll be mesmerized by the fusion of nature and urban architecture in this beautiful, repurposed green space. Grab your camera and your friends, and watch as the sun’s last rays set the city aglow from The High Line.

  5. 05

    Pier 54 - Little Island

    Other Attraction in Meatpacking District
    Little Island New York
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    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!

  6. 06

    Stroll through the Conservatory Garden

    Park in Harlem & Washington Heights
    Walkway and flowers at the Conservatory Garden, in Central Park, Manhattan, New York City.
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    Escape the city’s hustle and bustle with a leisurely walk around the enchanting Conservatory Garden, situated on Central Park’s east side at 1233 5th Ave. This six-acre horticultural gem boasts three distinct areas, each inspired by a different European style: the elegant French-themed North Garden, the captivating Italianate Center Garden, and the charming English-style South Garden. 

    With its exquisite landscapes, the garden is a sought-after backdrop for photoshoots and even intimate weddings. Keep in mind that this serene haven is a designated quiet zone, so leave the bikes, running shoes, and sports gear at home for a truly tranquil experience.

  7. 07

    Bask in Nature at Heather Garden

    Park in Harlem & Washington Heights
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    Add a touch of color to your list of free things to do in NYC this summer by visiting the enchanting Heather Garden, nestled within Fort Tryon Park. A paradise for plant and flower enthusiasts, the garden bursts into a vibrant display of blooms during the spring. 

    Throughout the summer and other seasons, you’ll find ample beauty in the over 500 varieties of plants, trees, and shrubs that call this garden home. Lose yourself in the kaleidoscope of colors and scents, and let the breathtaking flora ignite your senses as you explore this delightful oasis.

  8. 08

    Capture Memories at the Brooklyn Bridge

    Building in Dumbo
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    No outdoor adventure in NYC would be complete without a visit to the city’s most emblematic landmark—the Brooklyn Bridge. This awe-inspiring, 137-year-old architectural marvel spans the East River, connecting Manhattan and Brooklyn.

    Take a leisurely stroll or bike ride across the 1.1-mile-long pedestrian walkway while soaking in the breathtaking views of the skyline and the river below. Just don’t forget to bring your camera, as the bridge’s unique design and stunning vistas provide the perfect backdrop for those quintessential NYC photos that you’ll treasure for years to come.

  9. 09

    Discover the charm of SoHo

    Walking Tour in Hudson Square
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    Shopping in Soho NYC The best shops and stores
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    Delve into the vibrant streets of SoHo, a Downtown Manhattan neighborhood renowned for its iconic cast-iron architecture. Among its many notable structures, the Haughwout Building at 488 Broadway is a must-see.

    As you wander the area, keep an eye out for the intriguing art galleries that dot the neighborhood, such as the Color Factory at 251 Spring St. Don’t miss the chance to explore specialty museums like the Ice Cream Factory at 558 Broadway, adding a sweet twist to your SoHo adventure. Immerse yourself in the rich history and creative energy that make this neighborhood a true NYC gem.

  10. 10

    Uncover History at Brooklyn Navy Yard

    Other Attraction in Brooklyn Navy Yard
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    Embark on a fascinating journey through New York’s industrial past as you stroll along the Brooklyn Navy Yard. This historic shipbuilding site showcases a collection of classic industrial structures that played a crucial role in shaping the city we know today. 

    Take advantage of this unique opportunity to learn about history in an engaging, immersive manner while uncovering a lesser-known side of the city. As you meander through the park, let your imagination transport you back in time, offering you a glimpse into the intriguing stories that lie beneath the surface of modern-day NYC.

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    Relax at City Island

    Other Attraction in Bronx
    Coastal houses of City Island on a cloudy day viewed from a nearby white wooden pier. Pier with fence partially in view - New York City
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    Venture to the serene City Island, an idyllic haven tucked away just off the coast of New York, for a blissful retreat from the bustling city life. This charming island offers a host of free things to do in NYC this summer that are perfect for the whole family, from picturesque parks to exploring the quaint harbor. 

    While you’re there, don’t miss the chance to savor some of the freshest seafood at one of the island’s many mouthwatering dining options. With its tranquil ambiance and delightful attractions, City Island promises a lovely day of fun and relaxation for everyone.

  12. Cultural Events

    Immerse yourself in the rich tapestry of New York City’s diverse cultural scene with these captivating and free events that celebrate art, music, and more.

  13. 12

    Catch Shakespeare in the Park

    Other Art & Culture in Upper West Side
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    Experience the magic of live theater under the stars with the iconic Shakespeare in the Park, a cherished NYC summer tradition. This annual series of free performances, presented by The Public Theater at the open-air Delacorte Theater in Central Park, brings Shakespeare’s timeless works to life for audiences of all ages.

    With its exceptional production values and talented casts, Shakespeare in the Park has become a sought-after event, so be sure to plan ahead and secure your free tickets for a night of unforgettable drama amidst nature’s splendor.

  14. 13

    Enjoy Philharmonic in the Park

    Other Events in Upper West Side
    Our Highlight
    NY Philharmonic Concerts in the Parks
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    Treat your ears to the sweet sounds of the New York Philharmonic as they perform a series of enchanting open-air concerts during their annual Philharmonic in the Park event. Taking place in various parks across the city, these free performances showcase the orchestra’s extraordinary talent while fostering a sense of community among music lovers.
    Gather your friends and family, pack a picnic, and indulge in a delightful evening of classical music under the summer sky as the melodies weave together to create an unforgettable symphony of experiences.

  15. 14

    Check Out the Metropolitan Opera Summer Recital Series

    Other Art & Culture in Upper West Side
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    For opera aficionados and newcomers alike, the Metropolitan Opera Summer Recital Series is a must-add to your list of free things to do in NYC this summer. This captivating outdoor event features a selection of stunning performances by the Met’s rising stars and established artists.

    Set against the backdrop of New York’s picturesque parks, these concerts provide a unique opportunity to indulge in the beauty of opera in a relaxed, open-air setting. Bring your loved ones and prepare to be mesmerized by the soaring voices and unforgettable melodies that fill the summer air.

  16. 15

    Mingle at the River to River Festival

    Other Events in Battery Park City
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    Immerse yourself in the vibrant world of art, music, dance, and performance at the annual River to River Festival. This multidisciplinary event showcases an array of creative talents and projects, turning the downtown waterfront and Lower Manhattan into a canvas for artistic expression.

    With an exciting lineup of free performances, installations, and interactive experiences, the River to River Festival invites you to explore the creative spirit that pulses through the city’s veins. Be prepared to be inspired and captivated by the imaginative works and unforgettable moments that make this festival a highlight of NYC’s cultural calendar.

  17. 16

    Experience the Museum Mile Festival on June 13, 2023

    Other Events in Upper East Side
    Museum Mile Festival
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    Venture into a world of art and culture during the Museum Mile Festival, an annual event that transforms a stretch of Fifth Avenue into a vibrant showcase for some of New York City’s finest cultural institutions.

    With free access to participating museums and special programming, this one-day extravaganza invites art lovers and curious minds alike to immerse themselves in the rich tapestry of history, creativity, and innovation. As you explore the various exhibits, performances, and activities, be prepared to encounter a wealth of inspiring stories and thought-provoking ideas that span generations and continents.

  18. 17

    Explore the Washington Square Outdoor Art Exhibit

    Other Events in Greenwich Village
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    Add a splash of creativity to your list of free things to do in NYC this summer by visiting the Washington Square Outdoor Art Exhibit. This biannual open-air showcase brings together an eclectic mix of talented artists, photographers, and craftsmen from around the world, transforming the streets around Washington Square Park into a vibrant hub of artistic expression.

    Browse the colorful displays, meet the artists behind the works, and get inspired by the passion and craftsmanship that make this exhibit a must-see event for art enthusiasts and casual admirers alike.

  19. 18

    Uncover the Urban Spirit at the Bronx Museum of the Arts

    Museum in Bronx
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    Immerse yourself in the creative energy of the Bronx at the always-free Bronx Museum of the Arts, where an array of captivating pieces celebrate the borough’s unique urban experience. With a dynamic rotation of exhibits and collections, each visit promises a fresh, stimulating encounter with thought-provoking art and inspiring stories.

    Discover the diverse voices and rich cultural history that define the Bronx, and let your imagination soar as you explore the many layers of creativity that make this museum an essential stop on any NYC art tour.

  20. 19

    Wander Through MoMA's Sculpture Garden

    Museum in Midtown Manhattan
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    Museum of Modern Art MoMA in NYC
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    Experience the captivating fusion of art and nature at the Museum of Modern Art’s recently reopened Sculpture Garden. Described as a “roofless room,” this tranquil outdoor space presents an array of stunning sculptures and installations that invite visitors to explore and appreciate the beauty of contemporary art.

    As you meander through the garden, let the thought-provoking structures and serene ambiance whisk you away to a world where creativity flourishes amid the vibrant foliage. This enchanting outdoor space is a must-visit destination for any art lover visiting NYC.

  21. 20

    Discover Urban Art at The Bushwick Collective

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    Add more color to your list of free things to do in NYC this summer with a visit to The Bushwick Collective, an extraordinary graffiti and street art project nestled in the heart of Brooklyn. Showcasing the talent of artists from around the globe, this vibrant outdoor gallery turns the neighborhood’s walls into a canvas for stunning murals and eye-catching creations. 

    Snap some photos, marvel at the intricate details, and get inspired by the boundless creativity on display as you explore this unique and ever-evolving aspect of New York City’s artistic landscape.

  22. 21

    Celebrate Verse at the New York City Poetry Festival (July 29 + 30, 2023)

    Other Events in Governors Island
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    Add a touch of lyrical beauty to your list of free things to do in NYC this summer by attending the New York City Poetry Festival. Held annually on the last weekend of July, this remarkable event unites the nation’s largest assembly of poets, who come together to revel in the beauty and power of the written and spoken word. With diverse groups showcasing their unique styles and perspectives, this free weekend festival promises a captivating and inspiring experience for all who attend.

  23. Free Outdoor Movies and Concerts

    Dive into the magic of summertime entertainment as you explore a variety of free outdoor movies and concerts throughout New York City’s bustling neighborhoods and parks.

  24. 22

    Central Park Summer Movie Nights

    Other Events in Midtown Manhattan
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    Embrace the magic of open-air cinema in the lush surroundings of Central Park during their Summer Movie Nights. With an exciting lineup of films that cater to diverse tastes, these screenings offer a perfect way to unwind with family and friends in the iconic park. Check the Central Park website for schedules and featured films, and prepare for a one-of-a-kind movie night that captures the essence of summer in the city.

  25. 23

    The Seaport Cinema

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    The Seaport Cinema is back! Between June and September you can watch exciting movies once a month in a great location. While watching the movie on a big screen, you can enjoy snacks and drinks. There are popcorn, pretzels and sweets, but also tater tots and chicken fingers to satisfy your small appetite. Beer and cocktails will quench your thirst.

    Doors open at 6:30 p.m. and you should arrive early to get the best seats. The motto is: first come, first served! The best thing about this event? It is FREE of charge!


    • Monday, June 12, 2023: Air Bud
    • Tuesday, July 25, 2023: Jaws
    • Wednesday, August 16, 2023: Step Up
    • Thursday, September 21, 2023: Pitch Perfect


    • The Rooftop at Pier 17, 89 South Street
  26. 24

    Intrepid Museum Movie Series

    Museum in Hell's Kitchen
    Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum
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    Set your sights on the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum for a unique and memorable movie experience aboard the historic aircraft carrier. Their outdoor film series features a variety of films, ranging from family favorites to thrilling classics. Visit the Intrepid Museum website for additional information about this truly distinctive cinematic adventure.

    2023 dates:

    • Friday, June 30: Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl
    • Friday, July 28: Crimson Tide
    • Friday, August 25: Top Gun: Maverick
  27. 25

    Watch movies & big sporting events in the Hudson Yards

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    From May to October, major international sporting events are shown on the big screen at The Big Screen at The Backyard at Hudson Yards. Sports enthusiasts can watch soccer, Formula 1, golf, tennis tournaments, baseball playoffs, women’s soccer and more on the approximately 30-foot screen.

    Starting in September, there will be additional Movie Nights here again, where you can watch big blockbusters. Which movies will be shown this year is yet to be announced.

  28. 26

    Summer Concerts at Wells Fargo Stage

    Other Events in Hudson Yards
    Audience with hands in the air at a music festival
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    This summer, there are also free live outdoor concerts at Hudson Yards! Every Wednesday from June through August, the events take place at Public Square & Gardens on the Wells Fargo Stage (by The Bowery Presents).

    Following each concert, you’ll find various after-hour events at a few select bars and restaurants in The Shops & Restaurants at Hudson Yards. There will be special food & drinks and live DJs will provide you with cool music.

    For more information and the full line-up, check out the official website.


    • June 19-August 7, 2024; doors open at 5:00 p.m.
  29. 27

    Bryant Park Film Festival

    Other Attraction in Midtown Manhattan
    Bryant Park Picnic Performances
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    Discover the joy of catching a flick under the stars in the heart of Manhattan at the annual Bryant Park Film Festival. With an impressive lineup of movies that spans genres and eras, this popular summer event provides a magical way to relax and unwind in the bustling city. Check the Bryant Park website for screening schedules, and get ready to indulge in enchanting evenings of cinematic bliss.

  30. 28

    Set Sail with Bargemusic

    Building in Brooklyn Heights
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    Add a unique twist to your musical adventures in New York City by attending a concert at Bargemusic, the city’s beloved floating concert hall. With a diverse lineup of performances scheduled throughout the summer, you’re sure to find something that strikes the perfect chord. 

    Revel in the intimate setting as talented local artists take center stage, delivering a captivating night of live music on the water. To stay informed about upcoming shows and events, be sure to visit the Bargemusic website and prepare to embark on an unforgettable sonic journey.

  31. 29

    Groove with Summer Stage

    Other Events in Midtown Manhattan
    Our Highlight
    Summer Stage Festival NYC
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    Get ready to dance the summer away as SummerStage brings live, in-person events back to various locations throughout the city. Featuring an array of performances celebrating music and the performing arts, these free events make for perfect family outings as you explore more free things to do in NYC this summer.

    Keep an eye on their website for upcoming dates and locations, and prepare to be swept away by the infectious rhythms and captivating talents that make SummerStage a much-anticipated highlight of the season.

  32. 30

    Uniting Through Art and Music at Rise Up NYC

    Other Events in Theatre District
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    Celebrate the resilience and strength of New York City at Rise Up NYC, an inspiring event that showcases the indomitable spirit of the city and its people. With an array of live performances, art installations, and community-driven activities, this gathering honors the perseverance and togetherness that define NYC in the face of adversity. 

    Join your fellow New Yorkers, take part in the uplifting festivities, and let the contagious energy of Rise Up NYC remind you of the powerful bond that unites the city’s diverse and vibrant communities.

  33. 31

    Delight in Summer on the Hudson Pier I Picture Show

    Other Events in Upper West Side
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    Experience the perfect blend of contemporary blockbusters and timeless classics at the Summer on the Hudson Pier I Picture Show. Set against the stunning backdrop of the Hudson River, this outdoor movie series invites film buffs and casual viewers alike to gather and enjoy a cinematic treat under the stars.
    With a diverse selection of movies, the Pier I Picture Show promises a delightful evening for all ages. Check their website for more information, and get ready for an unforgettable summer night of film and fun by the water’s edge.

    This year’s movies:

    • July 6 – Sullivan’s Travels
    • July 13 – The Artist
    • July 20 – State and Main
    • July 27 – Singin’ in the Rain
    • August 3 – Hail, Caesar!
    • August 10 – Sunset Boulevard
    • August 17 – La La Land
  34. 32

    Movies With A View

    Other Events in Brooklyn Heights
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    Movies With A View in Brooklyn Bridge Park
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    This year marks the 23nd year of the Movie With A View and is part of the Free Summer Movies that take place throughout New York. It’s a free event organized by the Brooklyn Bridge Park Conservancy with a new theme each year. For 2023, it’s “We Are Family”

    This year’s movies are:

    • July 6: E.T. Extra Terrestrial
    • July 13: Smoke Signals
    • July 20: Top Gun
    • July 27: Psycho
    • August 3: GoodFellas
    • August 10: Despicable Me
    • August 17: Everything Everywhere All At Once
    • August 24: Public Choice: The Addams Family, Greta Gerwig’s Little Women, or Romeo + Juliet (1996)
  35. 33

    Lincoln Center's Summer for the City Festival (June 14 - August 12, 2023)

    Building in Upper West Side
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    Add a touch of sophistication and culture to your list of free things to do in NYC this summer with a visit to Lincoln Center’s Summer for the City Festival. This exceptional event features a wide range of artistic performances, including live music, dance, and theater, all presented on the iconic Lincoln Center Plaza.

    From emerging talents to established artists, this festival offers a vibrant showcase of the city’s diverse creative scene. Keep an eye on Lincoln Center’s website for schedules and details, and prepare to be captivated by the world-class talent on display at this dazzling celebration of the arts.

  36. 34

    Savor the Rhythms and Flavors at Blues BBQ Festival

    Other Events in Hudson Yards
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    Get ready for a feast for the senses at the much-loved Blues BBQ Festival hosted at Pier 76 in Hudson River Park. Uniting New Yorkers’ passion for soulful tunes and mouth watering barbecue, this free summer festival promises an unforgettable experience for music enthusiasts and foodies alike.

    Lose yourself in the electrifying live blues performances while indulging in delectable BBQ offerings from some of the city’s finest establishments. With a perfect blend of tantalizing flavors and toe-tapping beats, the Blues BBQ Festival is sure to leave you craving more.

  37. Parks and Playgrounds

    Get ready to embrace the great outdoors and dive into a world of greenery and fun with this fantastic list of free things to do in NYC this summer, featuring the city’s best parks and playgrounds.

  38. 35

    Unleash Your Imagination at Ancient Playground, Central Park

    Other Attraction in Upper East Side
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    Treat your little ones to a memorable afternoon of play and exploration at Central Park’s Ancient Playground. This recently-renovated brutalist play space boasts a fascinating complex of pyramids, bridges, and other structures designed to inspire creativity and imaginative play.

    The unique view of the Met Museum adds a touch of culture, while the pristine restrooms provide modern conveniences. Don’t forget to admire the intricate sculptures adorning the entrance gate, which depict scenes from Aesop’s fables. An absolute must-visit for every NYC kid and family this summer.

  39. 36

    Discover the Charm of Prospect Park

    Park in Park Slope
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    Venture into the picturesque oasis of Prospect Park, designed by urban visionaries Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux, the masterminds behind Central Park. This serene haven offers plenty of space for leisurely strolls, picnics, and people-watching, making it one of the top free things to do in NYC this summer.

    Marvel at the towering forest of the Ravine, and don’t miss the architectural gems like the Endale Arch and Concert Grove Pavilion. Embrace the park’s kid-friendly attractions, such as the zoo and Wollman Rink, which hosts decade-themed skating parties throughout the season, and create unforgettable summer memories.

  40. 37

    Splash Around at Beach 30th St, The Rockaways

    Day Trip in Queens
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    For an action-packed day of sun, sand, and water, head to Beach 30th St in The Rockaways. Young adventurers will adore the chance to splash beneath the refreshing blue arches and engage in thrilling aquatic battles aboard the ship playscape, armed with water-shooting cannons.

    When it’s time to dry off, the nearby playground’s jungle gym awaits to provide endless hours of fun and excitement. With its delightful combination of beachside recreation and imaginative play, Beach 30th St is a summer destination no child will want to miss.

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    Escape to the Serenity of Snug Harbor

    Park in Staten Island
    Staten Island, New York: Pond in the New York Chinese Scholars Garden, a walled garden built in 1998 at the Snug Harbor Cultural Center and Botanical Garden.
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    Set sail for a tranquil retreat at Staten Island’s hidden gem, Snug Harbor—a former residence for retired sailors just a ferry ride away from Manhattan’s hustle and bustle. Spread across 83 picturesque acres, Snug Harbor features a vast botanical garden and cultural center nestled among charming cobblestone streets and quaint Victorian and Tudor homes.

    A must-visit attraction is the mesmerizing Chinese Scholar’s Garden, complete with awe-inspiring rock formations resembling mountains, a serene bamboo forest path, and a Koi-filled pond. Let your senses be captivated by the peaceful beauty of this idyllic haven.

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    Slide into Fun at Slide Hill, Governors Island

    Playground in Governors Island
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    Experience the exhilaration of Slide Hill on Governors Island, a family-favorite destination boasting the longest slide in the Big Apple. With an impressive three-story drop, this epic ride promises thrills and excitement that kids will want to relive time and time again.

    Slide Hill also caters to younger children with smaller slides, ensuring a fun-filled adventure for everyone. Don’t forget to revel in the breathtaking views of New York Harbor and the iconic Statue of Liberty, adding a scenic touch to this memorable outing.

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    Bask in Nature at Pelham Bay Park

    Park in Bronx
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    Discover a slice of natural paradise within the city at Pelham Bay Park, a stunning destination reminiscent of Maine, nestled in the heart of the Bronx. As the largest park in New York City, spanning 2,766 acres, it offers an expansive haven for hours of exploration. 

    Delight in the park’s myriad attractions, including the picturesque Orchard Beach, the historic Bartow-Pell Mansion Museum, and the scenic Pelham Bay Golf Course. Experience the diverse beauty and tranquility of this vast urban oasis, perfect for a summer escape.

  44. 41

    Experience Whimsy at Tom Otterness Playground

    Playground in Chelsea
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    When it comes to unique and whimsical playgrounds, Tom Otterness Playground in Chelsea rises above the rest as one of the most captivating free things to do in NYC this summer. This creative play structure, shaped like a sitting man, offers endless opportunities for climbing, swinging, and sliding, delighting children and adults alike. 

    Don’t miss the chance to snap memorable photos amidst this one-of-a-kind backdrop. Craving more of Tom Otterness’s iconic artwork? Visit the 14th St. Subway Station to admire “Life Underground,” a collection of enchanting bronze sculptures.

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    People-Watch at Washington Square Park

    Park in Greenwich Village
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    While Washington Square Park may be less verdant than others on the list, it remains an undeniable NYC staple. Its vibrant atmosphere, rich with history and diverse visitors, makes it a top destination for people-watching. Surrounded by NYU students, musicians, and street artists, the park buzzes with activity during warmer months.

    Witness skateboarders gliding near the iconic 1895 Washington Arch, a nod to the Arc de Triomphe, and watch children splashing in the fountain on hot summer days. This lively park guarantees an unforgettable urban experience that you do not want to miss!

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    Embrace Seaside Fun at Seaside Nature Wildlife Park Playground

    Playground in Staten Island
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    Dive into an unforgettable adventure with one of the most imaginative free things to do in NYC this summer – the Seaside Nature Wildlife Park Playground on Staten Island. Envision an oceanfront fishing cove with rustic paths meandering through salt marsh vegetation and leading to the beach. 

    This playground fully embraces its seaside theme, featuring two boat-like play structures, a fierce dragon ship head, a jaw-dropping shark jungle gym, a mini lighthouse, and a gleaming brass horseshoe crab. The sprawling sandy area completes the charming coastal experience, immersing kids and adults alike in the magic of the ocean.

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    Discover a World of Adventure at Flushing Meadows Corona Park

    Park in Flushing
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    Venture into the second-largest park in NYC, where you’ll find iconic landmarks and diverse activities to suit everyone. Flushing Meadows Corona Park’s most enduring symbol is the Unisphere, a massive steel globe created for the 1964 World’s Fair.

    However, the park also offers a range of cultural experiences and sports venues, including the New York Hall of Science, Arthur Ashe Stadium, and Citi Field. Its vast green fields house a zoo, a boating lake, a skate park, a barbecue area, playfields, and a state-of-the-art aquatic and hockey center. The park’s improved wetland plants provide fantastic catch-and-release fishing opportunities in Meadow Lake.

  48. Free Attractions and Tours

    Discover a treasure trove of excitement with our list of free attractions and tours, perfect for those looking to enjoy free things to do in NYC this summer!

  49. 45

    Explore the Flatiron-Nomad Neighborhoods

    Building in Flatiron District
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    Join a captivating walking tour every Sunday at 11 am, rain or shine, and immerse yourself in the rich history of the Flatiron-Nomad neighborhoods. Let expert guides lead you through iconic streets, unveiling architectural wonders and sharing scandalous stories along the way.

    This fantastic adventure is one of the free things to do in NYC this summer, with no RSVP required. Simply meet your guide at the tip of the Flatiron Building on 23rd Street, just east of 5th Avenue, and enjoy the journey.

  50. 46

    Find Your Way Through Green-Wood Cemetery

    Other Attraction in Park Slope
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    Embark on a self-guided walk through Green-Wood Cemetery, a historical site filled with Victorian mausoleums, cherubs, and gargoyles. As the final resting place of over half a million New Yorkers, including Jean-Michel Basquiat, Leonard Bernstein, and Boss Tweed, there’s much to explore in this fascinating location.

    Beyond grave-spotting, you can admire the impressive Gothic arch at the main entrance or climb to the top of Battle Hill – one of the highest points in Kings County and a key location during the Battle of Brooklyn in 1776.

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    Discover Brooklyn's Rich Literary History: Self-Guided Walking Tour

    Walking Tour in Bushwick
    Central Brooklyn Public Library by Grand Army Plaza.
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    Immerse yourself in the world of Brooklyn’s literary legends with a self-guided walking tour that explores the lives of renowned characters and authors who have called this borough their home. Curated by the Brooklyn Public Library, the audio tour delves into the lives of notable writers like Patti Smith, Biggie Smalls, Howard Zinn, and Tanwi Nandini Islam. 

    The eight-mile journey features 16 writers in total and includes visits to significant public libraries such as Washington Irving and Clinton Hill, which played crucial roles in the lives of these celebrated authors. Starting virtually from anywhere in Brooklyn, this engaging tour will take at least two hours to complete, depending on how many stops you decide to make along the way, and it’s definitely one of the best free things to do in NYC this summer.

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    Explore The Vessel at Hudson Yards

    Building in Hudson Yards
    The Vessel
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    Experience one of NYC’s newest attractions, The Vessel, located in the vibrant Hudson Yards neighborhood. As one of the best free things to do in NYC this summer, it’s a must-visit destination. Surrounding The Vessel, you’ll find an upscale shopping mall, delectable food options, the famous Edge SkyDeck, and a convenient connection to the High Line, making it an ideal spot for a memorable outing.

    Unfortunately, The Vessel is still closed at the moment, so you can’t go upstairs. But you can go inside the building and of course take as many photos from the outside as you like!

  53. 49

    Discover Grand Central Terminal

    Other Attraction in Midtown Manhattan
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    Step into the stunning Grand Central Terminal, one of NYC’s most exquisite subway stations, and find yourself immersed in history and architectural beauty. This iconic location has been featured in countless movies and boasts a mesmerizing ceiling adorned with celestial art.

    Engage in some people-watching, or explore the array of restaurants, shops, the whispering walls, and a farmers market within the terminal. Afterward, conveniently hop on the S line to Times Square for more excitement. As a bustling hub with around 750,000 visitors a day, Grand Central Terminal is truly an unmissable NYC landmark that offers free things to do in NYC this summer. If you’re eager to learn more about its rich history, consider taking a guided tour.

  54. 50

    Explore Soho, Little Italy, and Chinatown on Foot

    Walking Tour in Hudson Square
    Our Highlight
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    Embark on a fascinating journey through three of New York City’s most iconic neighborhoods – Soho, Little Italy, and Chinatown – with Free Tours by Foot. Admire the fashion-forward crowd and cast-iron buildings of Soho, visit the city’s first pizzeria, and explore infamous mafia locations in Little Italy.

    Test your bargaining skills with street vendors in the vibrant Chinatown, where cultural experiences abound. This diverse excursion showcases some of the best free things to do in NYC this summer, providing an opportunity to immerse yourself in the rich tapestry of these historic neighborhoods.

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    A Walking Tour Through Harlem's Musical Past

    Walking Tour in Harlem & Washington Heights
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    Set out on a captivating two-hour tour of Harlem, the iconic neighborhood where legends like Ella Fitzgerald and Duke Ellington emerged during the groundbreaking Harlem Renaissance. Stroll the streets that paved the way for American music to gain global recognition and immerse yourself in the history of the influential artists who called this neighborhood home. As you explore Harlem on this engaging tour, you’ll gain a deeper understanding of the rich cultural legacy that shaped the music we know and love today.

  56. 52

    Take a Seaside Stroll on the Historic Coney Island Boardwalk

    Other Attraction in Coney Island & Brighton Beach
    Coney Island Beach best summer day trips from nyc
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    Embrace the timeless charm of the Coney Island Boardwalk as you wander along this iconic seaside promenade. Rich in history and entertainment, this lively destination offers the perfect blend of nostalgia and excitement. From the vintage amusement park attractions to the bustling beach scene, the Coney Island Boardwalk invites visitors of all ages to take a step back in time and savor the enduring allure of this New York City treasure.

  57. 53

    Journey Through Time in the Financial District

    Other Attraction in Financial District
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    Take a leisurely stroll through the storied streets of Lower Manhattan’s Financial District and immerse yourself in New York City’s rich history. From its humble beginnings as a Dutch trading post to its meteoric rise as a global financial powerhouse, every corner of this remarkable neighborhood tells a unique tale. As you explore the winding alleys and historical landmarks, you’ll discover the compelling narrative that has shaped this world-renowned district and laid the foundation for the city we know today.

  58. 54

    Pay Tribute at the 9/11 Memorial Pools

    Building in Financial District
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    If you find yourself at a loss for what to do, visiting the 9/11 Memorial Pools is a poignant and meaningful way to honor the memories of those who perished during the attack on the Twin Towers. Although the 9/11 Museum no longer offers free Tuesdays, the two awe-inspiring Memorial Pools, spanning roughly an acre each, are open to the public. As you stand beside the largest man-made waterfalls in North America, take a moment to reflect on the tragic events that unfolded and the resilience of the city that has persevered through it all.



What to do for free in NYC summer?

There are countless free events and activities in New York in the summer. You can attend free festivals held throughout the city over the summer or catch a movie at the Bryant Park Film Festival. You can also enjoy the breathtaking view of the Manhattan skyline by taking the free Staten Island Ferry.

How can I enjoy summer in NYC?

You can enjoy summer in New York City in so many ways, depending on what you like! You can enjoy a nice picnic in one of the parks or get some drinks to cool down in one of the many rooftop bars. Another thing we love doing in summer is taking a cruise and marvel at the beautiful NYC skyline.

Is Times Square free?

Yes, Times Square is free. This place is famous for the many colorful billboards. In countless movies and series you can see Times Square brightly lit at all times. Times Square itself is free, but the restaurants are quite often a bit more expensive due to their location.

Profilbild Steffen Kneist
About the author

I'm a true New York fan! Not only have I visited the city over 25 times but also have I spent several months here at a time. On my blog I show you the best and most beautiful spots of the city, so that you have a really good time! You can also find lots of insider tips in our New York travel guide. Also check out my hotel finder for New York!

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