The 42 Best Things To Do In NYC In May 2024

What to do in New York in May? We've got you covered!

There are so many things to do in NYC in May! It’s a great time of year to visit – everything is blooming, the sun is shining, and the first outdoor events & concerts make their appearance. Spring in NYC is in full effect, while summer in New York is just around the corner. Below is a list of our favorite things to do in NYC in May to inspire you for your trip and make sure that you won’t be running out of unique and fun things to do!

May is one of the nicest months to visit NYC as temperatures are mild and spring is in full swing. It doesn’t get too hot throughout the day or too cold in the evenings making it the perfect weather for exploring the city and possibly even having brunch outside. If you are looking for the perfect month to discover NYC’s famous neighborhoods or experience some outdoor events in the Big Apple, May in NYC is definitely a good choice.

If you are looking for a shortcut: These are the 👉 most popular tours and activities in May.

My Highlights in May in NYC

My 42 Favorite Things To Do in NYC in May

Some of our favorite things to do in NYC in may are listed below, as always, NYC has something on offer for everyone and we are sure that you will find something that excites you!

  1. 42

    Washington Square Outdoor Art Exhibit

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    The Washington Square Outdoor Art Exhibit is a twice-yearly event that takes place in the spring and fall in Washington Square Park in Greenwich Village, New York City. The exhibit features a wide range of artwork from local and international artists, including paintings, sculptures, photography, and more.

    The event is organized by the Washington Square Outdoor Art Exhibit, Inc., a non-profit organization that promotes the work of emerging and established artists. It has been held every year since 1932, making it one of the oldest outdoor art exhibits in the country.

    The exhibit is open to the public and is free to attend. Visitors can browse and purchase artwork from over 300 artists, and there are also food vendors and live music performances. The exhibit is a great opportunity to see and support the work of talented artists and experience the vibrant culture of Greenwich Village.

    • When? yet to be announced
  2. 41

    Plan a spring weekend getaway from NYC

    Day Trip in Outside of New York City
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    The Best Niagara Falls Day Trips from New York by Bus
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    Many wonderful destinations near New York City are worth visiting in the spring. The Niagara Falls is only one of them! Looking for some inspiration? Check out one of the 21 best spring weekend getaways from NYC here!

  3. 40

    Join a Gospel Tour on Sunday

    Walking Tour in Harlem & Washington Heights
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    Harlem still proudly displays its African-American roots and vibrant culture, of which gospel is a large part. For a total of four hours this Harlem Gospel Tour will take you into the world of Gospel in Harlem. There will be a lot of history about the district of Harlem, a soul food lunch and of course a classic church service. The departure point is near Times Square on Eighth Avenue.

  4. 39

    Go shopping at Woodbury Common Outlet

    Day Trip in Outside of New York City
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    Shopping addicts will have their money’s worth in May too. You can either stroll the city’s streets and check out the malls or take a trip to the Woodbury Common Outlet Center. You will find many famous brands at lower prices and a large food hall with a wide selection of different dishes.

    My tip: Check out the New York Pass to save money on your trip to the outlet.

  5. 38

    Mother's Day (May 12, 2024)

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    It’s Mother’s Day and you’re arguably in the greatest city on earth. There are many things to do in NYC on this day. Just make sure to plan accordingly. Most likely, restaurants will be decorated and full. However, if you do manage to get a reservation, restaurants typically have great discounts on this special day.

    You can also consider going to a Broadway show or a dinner cruise. The options are limitless.

  6. 37

    Summer on the Hudson

    Other Events in Upper West Side
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    Summer on the Hudson is an annual outdoor arts and culture festival held at Riverside Park & West Harlem Piers Park. Spanning from 59th to 153rd Streets along the Hudson River, the festival offers live DJs, exhibits, kid-friendly shows, outdoor movies, and more—all free of charge!

  7. 36

    Fleet Week (May 23 - 28, 2024)

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    Though it’s only officially been a celebration since 1982, Fleet Week has been a beloved spring activity in New York for many years before that. The week is hosted by the United States Marine Corps, Navy, and Coast Guard each year and features active military ships that are deployed in overseas missions to dock in a variety of big cities for one week.

    After the ship is docked, the crew enters the city and visits tourist attractions. At scheduled times, the public can enjoy a guided tour of the ship, and demonstrations by the Blue Angels usually accompany this event.

  8. 35

    It's Japan Day (May 11, 2024)

    Other Events in Upper West Side
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    Every year, in New York, Japan Day is celebrated. Japan Day is a cultural festival that is one of the many highlights in spring. The event takes place in Central Park on the Rumsey Playfield and offers everything from Hello Kitty Mascots to workshops on Origami folding techniques and performances by Japanese musicians and dancers. Sounds like the perfect Sunday, right?

    From 1:00 pm to 3:30 pm there will be the Japan Parade, starting at 81st Street heading south towards 68th Street along Central Park.

  9. 34

    Visit the Ninth Avenue International Food Festival (May 18 & 19, 2024)

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    Every year in May, the Ninth Avenue International Food Festival takes place over one weekend. Local restaurants but also street food vendors are represented here. The Ninth Avenue International Food Festival ist the oldest and largest continuing food festival in New York City. You can try a lot of delicious things from BBQ to Ice Cream. So foodies, let’s go!

  10. 33

    The Banksy Museum

    Museum in Lower Manhattan
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    Step into the captivating world of Banksy at The Banksy Museum in New York City! This expansive 15,000-square-foot exhibition invites visitors to explore the enigmatic street artist’s most unique pieces of work in an immersive environment. Marvel at stunning projections of his artwork, delve into life-size recreations of iconic murals from around the globe and gain insight into Banksy’s elusive persona. Suitable for all ages, this unforgettable experience offers a comprehensive look at the genius behind some of the most thought-provoking art of our time. 

  11. 32

    Finally open: Grand Banks

    Sea Food Restaurant in Tribeca
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    Water, a great view of Manhattan, and a great atmosphere – what else do you need for a great time? You are sitting on a historic ship called F/V Sherman Zwicker on the Hudson River and you can enjoy New York City from the water while enjoying the sun. The place also serves great seafood and delicious drinks.

  12. 31

    Honorable William Wall

    Cruise in Lower Manhattan
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    The Honorable William Wall, affectionately called „Willy Wall“, is the floating clubhouse of the Manhattan Yacht Club. The clubhouse is anchored in New York Harbor north of Ellis Island an usually open from May to October. What makes it special? This is an insider’s spot, that not only gives you great views of Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty but you can also enjoy the sunset from here.

  13. 30

    Yummy: It's National Burger Day (May 28, 2024)

    Burger Spot in Midtown Manhattan
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    At the end of May, everything revolves around one of America’s favorite food. On National Burger Day, be sure to eat a burger in New York. Many restaurants celebrate this day with special discounts and promotions.

    You can check out our most popular burger restaurants here.

  14. 29

    The Great DUMBO Drop on May 31st, 2024!

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    The Great DUMBO Drop is an annual event in Brooklyn, which has become famous for flying elephants. Behind the street party is a fundraiser for the schools in the neighbourhood.

  15. 28

    Spend the day in one of the best museums of NYC

    Museum in Upper West Side
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    New York is perfect for a museum visit, and the Big Apple doesn’t lack choices. The Natural History Museum on Central Park West is always a good idea for a museum outing but there are many more awesome museums to visit in the city.

    My tip: These are the 36 Best Museums in NYC

  16. 27

    Visits Governors Island

    Other Attraction in Outside of New York City
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    Governors Island is one of my favorite getaways from the city’s hustle and bustle. There are no cars on this island and with adventurous playgrounds, awesome bike paths, and historical military buildings there’s a lot to explore for everyone.

  17. 26

    Enjoy the first warm weeks of the year at one of the rooftops of New York

    Rooftop Bar in Lower East Side
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    For me, the cloudM Rooftop Bar is one of the most beautiful rooftop bars not only in the Lower East Side, but in all of New York. It is located on the roof of the citizenM New York Bowery Hotel and offers everything that makes a good rooftop bar: a great view, beautiful design and relaxed atmosphere.

  18. 25

    Spend some time in Little Italy, SoHo and Chinatown

    Walking Tour in Hudson Square
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    Chinatown, SoHo, and Little Italy are known for their great restaurants and shops. Explore the neighborhoods on your own or take a 2-hour tour with a local guide who tells you interesting facts about this part of Manhattan.

  19. 24

    Summer Rosé Festival at Loreley Beer Garden (May 3 - June 30, 2024)

    Bar in Lower East Side
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    At Loreley Beer Garden, guests can enjoy a variety of rosés, including wine, cider, frosé, and cocktails, perfect for warm weather on the seasonally decorated garden terrace. The highlight is the Frosé Flamingo, served in an inflatable flamingo that guests get to keep! There are also daily happy hour deals from 5 pm on weekdays and from 12 pm on Fridays to Sundays.

  20. 23

    Walk the High Line in Spring

    Park in Meatpacking District
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    The High Line is the green terrace in the middle of Manhattan. The decommissioned freight rail track was once overgrown completely as it fell out of use. Based on the plants that grew there, a park was built in homage to the interesting plants that flourish in the city.

    Start your stroll in the Meatpacking District (Gansevoort Street) and walk towards the Hudson Yards to enjoy the beautiful spring weather. The High Line in May is the ideal place to relax or a wonderful place to take a walk (1.5 kilometers).There are many lovely cafés, galleries and great bars along the way.

    My tip: These are the best spots along the High Line for me.

  21. 22

    Celebrate the International Harry Potter Day (May 2, 2024)

    Other Shopping in Flatiron District
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    Harry Potter fans listen up! The opening of the Harry Potter store in New York’s Flatiron District was celebrated with a huge media hype. Taste the famous butter beer, fly through London with Hagrid, or solve the mystery of how to reach Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry after all (these are virtual reality tours).

    The Harry Potter Store has been designed with a lot of attention to detail and should therefore definitely be on your itinerary if you are as fascinated by the stories of Harry Potter, Hermione Granger and Ron Weasley as I am! Come to the store to celebrate the international Harry Potter Day!

  22. 21

    Visit Little Island at Pier 54

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    Close to the Meatpacking District and the High Line, you can find Little Island, a park on 132 beautiful tulip-shaped concrete stilts in the Hudson River! You’ll get an amazing view of New Jersey and Downtown Manhattan.

  23. 20

    Frieze New York (May 1 – 5, 2024)

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    For art enthusiasts, one of the best things to do in spring in NYC is attending Frieze New York. It’s hosted on The Shed at Hudson Yards and features works from over 1,000 artists and 200 international galleries.

    There are many other fun things to do at the festival as well, such as sitting in on one of the famous panel discussions, soaking in the breathtaking views of The Vessel, and most importantly – immersing yourself in many imaginative outdoor and indoor projects.

    My tip: Here you find the Best Art Exhibitions in New York City.

    Photo by Casey Kelbaugh. Courtesy of Casey Kelbaugh/Frieze

  24. 19

    New York Dance Parade (May 18, 2024)

    Parade in Flatiron District
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    The New York Dance Parade will be held for the 17th time in 2024 and will feature more than 10,00 dancers performing a variety of dance styles. The parade starts on Broadway at the corner of 21st Street not far from the Flatiron Building in Madison Square Park and takes you towards Union Square and University Place, then turns off at the height of 8th Street. The end of the parade is Tompkins Square Park in the East Village.

    A very special point is the so-called „Grandstand“ at 4th Avenue and 8th Street. Here, each group has exactly 40 seconds to showcase their dance skills and style. If you are looking for a parade that is perfect for families with children, the New York Dance Parade is a must!

  25. 18

    Five Boro Bike Tour (May 5, 2024)

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    Participants meet for the “Five Boro Bike Tour” to cycle through all 5 boroughs in New York. The riders will be riding 40 miles in total. Driving through the city without traffic is only possible once a year when America’s largest cycling event takes place. 

    The “Five Boro Bike Tour” can almost take an entire day and takes place throughout the Big Apple, including all five city districts. The 32,000 attendees are routed through the streets of Manhattan, through the green and blossoming Central Park, Ride across five big bridges, roll through the Brooklyn and Queens scene districts, and the Bronx to end up in the pedals and head for Staten Island. The atmosphere is similar to running events: Breathtaking.

  26. 17

    Celebrate Big Apple BBQ is back on May 20, 2024

    Food Market in Flatiron District
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    Celebrate Big Apple Barbecue is a food festival unlike any other. Regional chefs and grill masters will provide delicious barbecue in Madison Square Park. All proceeds from ticket sales benefit the Madison Square Park Conservancy. This organization cares for the preservation and programming of Madison Square Park.

    • When? Tuesday, May 20, 2024.
    • Where? Madison Square Park
  27. 16

    Rooftop Cinema Club Midtown

    Other Art & Culture in Midtown Manhattan
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    We love the Free Summer Movies, which are available at different places in New York. They are an absolute MUST DO in the summer, so you should definitely plan the Free Summer Movies for yourself. But you can also go one floor higher: with the cinema events on the roofs of hotels or bars. The Rooftop Film Club on top of the Skylawn Embassy Suites show films in lofty heights on several days during may.

    These are some of the movies for May 2024:

    • May 1: When Harry Met Sally
    • May 7: Tuesday Social Hour (Free Drink & Live Music) | The Notebook | Anyone But You
    • May 8: The Devil Wears Prada | Dumb and Dumber
    • May 12: Mamma Mia! (Brunch w/ Mimosa & Muffins) | Mean Girls |Serial Mom
    • May 14: Tuesday Social Hour (Free Drink & Live Music) | Pride & Prejudice | Love & Basketball
    • May 18: The Lion King (1994) | The Mask | Parasite | Scream (1996)
    • May 21: Tuesday Social Hour (Free Drink & Live Music) | About Time | Interstellar
    • May 22: Crazy, Stupid, Love | Poetic Justice
    • May 31: Lilo & Stitch | Forrest Gump | A Low Down Dirty Shame

    For the full list of movies and the exact times check out the official Rooftop Cinema Club website here.

  28. 15

    Watch the NBA Playoffs

    Sports Tickets in Midtown Manhattan
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    Watching the NBA playoffs in NYC in May offers an electrifying experience for basketball fans. From iconic sports bars to lively viewing parties, the city buzzes with excitement as fans come together to cheer on their favorite teams. Whether you’re catching the action at Madison Square Garden or soaking up the atmosphere in one of the city’s vibrant neighborhoods, the playoffs in NYC promise unforgettable moments and thrilling matchups. Maybe you can even catch a game in the city if the Brooklyn Nets or the New York Knicks make it into the playoffs.

  29. 14

    Memorial Day (May 27th, 2024)

    Other Events in Midtown Manhattan
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    Memorial Day is a U.S holiday that was created to honor those who lost their lives while serving in the armed forces. It was known as Decoration Day prior to the new name. Memorial Day became a federal holiday in 1971 and is always celebrated on the last Monday in May!

  30. Steffen Kneist Loving New York

    Budget tip

    If you want to visit several observation decks, attractions, 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.

  31. 13

    Enjoy breath-taking views from one of the amazing observation decks

    Building in Midtown Manhattan
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    What sets New York apart? The breathtaking sight of beautiful Central Park from one of its observation decks! Whether it’s the Top of the Rock, The Edge at Hudson Yards, or the SUMMIT at One Vanderbilt, you have three options to choose from. And let’s not forget the One World Observatory and the Empire State Building—whichever you pick, you’re guaranteed an awe-inspiring view of the city skyline!

  32. 12

    Celebrate Spring Fest at Black Forest Brooklyn

    German Restaurant in Boerum Hill
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    On Saturday, May 18, 2024, a spring festival will take place at Black Forest Brooklyn! The “Frühlingsfest” in Munich is basically like the famous Oktoberfest, only in spring and a little smaller! Come by and party with a live German oompah band, enjoy German beer and enter the stein-holding contest for a chance to win great prizes.

    Tickets are $15, with an optional 3-hour unlimited beer package available for $45. Springfest runs from 3-6 p.m. at the Smith Street location and 6-9 p.m. at the Fort Greene location.

  33. 11

    Visit the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum for a FREE Movie Night

    Museum in Hell's Kitchen
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    The Intrepid Sea Air & Space Museum is great for kids and adults alike as it discusses and shows a wide variety of artifacts regarding the US military and maritime history and it’s the only floating museum in NYC. You will find historically significant military and maritime vehicles as well as a collection of museum ships on this aircraft carrier which is docked on the Hudson River between 45th and 47th Street.

    • On May 24, 2024, you can watch Top Gun: Maverick for free at the Intrepid Museum!
  34. 10

    The MLB is on in May!

    Sport Events in Concourse
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    Baseball is New York. Whether it’s a game of the New York Yankees or the Mets, both baseball teams are definitely worth checking out.

    Here you find the best New York Yankees Tickets and New York Mets Tickets

  35. 09

    The Best Broadway Shows in May 2024 in New York

    Broadway Show in Theatre District
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    The answer to whether you should or should not see a Broadway show when visiting New York in May is crystal clear: YES, it absolutely belongs on your bucket list! What is not always as clear, however, is which show to pick.

    In order to help you out, we’ve created an overview of the absolute best Broadway shows in NYC in May!

  36. 08

    Check out the Cherry Blossoms

    Other Events in Park Slope
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    Especially in the month of May, the cherry blossoms in New York are so beautiful. There are many options to admire the cherry blossoms in New York. You can check them out at Central Park, Washington Square Park, or maybe even The New York Botanical Garden. You have many choices to choose from!

  37. 07

    Celebrate Cinco De Mayo in NYC (May 5, 2024)

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    What St. Patrick’s Day is to the Irish, Cinco De Mayo is to the Mexicans. El Cinco de Mayo (Spanish for “May 5”) is a commemoration of the victory of the Mexican army led by General Ignacio Zaragoza during the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862 against the clearly superior French Expeditionary Force. 

    In New York, that means one thing above all: tequila, margaritas and a lot of partying with the locals. Both in the countless Mexican restaurants and bars in New York is celebrated big, but also during the Cinco De Mayo Parade in Manhattan, which stretches from Central Park West 106th Street to 96th Street.

  38. 06

    Experience New York in May quite relaxed with a cruise

    Cruise in Chelsea
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    New York in the May is amazing and there are lots of things to do outside. For me, there’s nothing better than experiencing the first signs of green from the river – and you can do that with 👉  these 9 best cruises in spring.

  39. 05

    Enjoy Manhattanhenge (May 28 + 29)

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    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.

    According to the American Museum of Natural History these are the exact dates:

    • Tuesday, May 28, 2024: 8:13 pm (half sun)
    • Wednesday, May 29, 2024: 8:14 pm (full sun)
  40. 04

    Spring Makers Market

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    The Spring Makers Market will take place at Bryant Park on three weekends in May. 116 local vendors will set up their booths at the market and offer their products for sale. The requirement is that the products are 100% self-designed and locally produced in New York (and surrounding areas). This spring market will allow you to buy unique and handmade products each day.

    When? The 2024 dates are yet to be announced.

  41. 03

    African Film Festival (May 10 - June 3, 2024)

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    The New York African Film Festival is back! This festival has been around for 30 years and this year’s motto is “Freeforms”. More than 50 films from over 25 countries will be screened at three venues in total.

    The NYAFF was founded in 1993 so that African filmmakers could give Africans a voice through moving images. The goal is to tell the stories of the people.

  42. 02

    Picnicking in Central Park

    Other Events in Upper West Side
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    Picnicking in Central Park is always a must-do activity during the summer. There are countless large and small lawns that invite you to relax, making for quite a few spots that are suitable for picnicking in the park, not just the popular Sheep Meadow.

    The largest lawn in Central Park is the Great Lawn, where the popular Central Park Concerts are held. The Great Lawn is a large, green space and is a wonderful spot to relax and have a picnic in the park after a long walk. For the athletes among you, there are even some baseball fields on the green, oval area. You’ll find the Great Lawn in the middle of the park at the 79th to 86th street level.

    Another picnic option is East Green. Here you can sit on a blanket between the trees and enjoy your meal. The East Green is located on 5th Avenue between 69th and 72nd Street.

    The most romantic picnic spot in Central Park is definitely Cherry Hill by the Bow Bridge. It has been the backdrop for many Hollywood movies, such as You’ve got Mail. You can make yourself comfortable on a small slope and enjoy the beautiful view of the lake and the bridge. The bridge is located in the middle of the park around 72nd Street.

  43. 01

    Celebrate the Empire State Building's Birthday

    Building in Midtown Manhattan
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    The Empire State Building is the most famous attraction in New York City. When most people think of NYC, this landmark is usually the first thing that pops into their head. It’s an iconic skyscraper and has been arguably the face of the city. It should definitely be a part of every trip to the city since it features two observation decks! Here’s a fun fact: The Empire State Building even has its own zip code! (NY 10118)

    On May 1st, 2024, the Empire State Building is celebrating its 93rd birthday. If you want to visit the observation deck you have to reserve a timed ticked in advance. You can find more information in our guide about the Empire State Building.

TOP Events in May in NYC

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FAQ

Is it better to go to New York in April or May?

In New York there are so many things to do both in April and May. The weather is very similar in both months although the temperatures can get a little higher in May already. Both months are great to visit New York because in spring everything in the parks starts to bloom and you can do a lot outside because the weather starts to get better.

What to see in New York May 2024?

There is so much to see in New York in May 2024! The cherry blossoms start to bloom, the Rooftop Cinema Club in Midtown starts showing movies again and the Summer on the Hudson Festival starts. At the end of the month you’ll have the chance to see Manhattanhenge. These are only some examples.

What season is it in New York in May?

New York has a continental climate, which means that there are four seasons. From March to May it is spring in New York, although the temperatures in May can sometimes become summery. Summer officially starts in June and autumn in September. Winter in New York is officially from December to February.

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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