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. 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!
Weather in New York for May
Monthly Avg DAY
Monthly Avg NIGHT
64°F / 18°C
52°F / 11°C
8 hours daily
1. May 1: Governors Island Opens for the Summer
After a long winter break, Governors Island re-opens on May 1st. This insider tip is still undiscovered terrain for many, even though the former military island has so much to offer. For just $2 you can take the ferry to the island that sits just a short distance from Lower Manhattan. Governors Island is the perfect retreat from the bustling city.
An excursion, even with small children, is definitely recommendable. The car-free island offers so much for young and old that you must have seen it for yourself. With everything from historical military buildings to awesome bike paths and even public hammocks, the island offers a variety of activities that are especially interesting when the weather becomes a little nicer! This is definitely one of the nicest things to do in May in NYC.
2. May 5: Five Boro Bike Tour
Have you always wanted to take a bike ride through Manhattan? On May 6th, 32,000 participants will 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. Driving on a bike that is!
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.
3. May 5 – Cinco De Mayo
New York City loves Cinco De Mayo since it’s a big party all over the city. Cinco De Mayo is a Mexican Holiday that commemorates the Mexican defeat of the French army at the Battle of Puebla in 1862. Make sure to check out the Cinco Da Mayo Parade that is hosted Uptown on Central Park West at 106th St to 97th St.
4. May 12: Celebrate Mother’s Day in NYC
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.
5. Japan Day May 2019
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 the 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?
6. Art in the Parks
In Washington Square Park, there is a special outdoor art exhibition every year. From May until September, the works of art from various exhibitors can be viewed. NYU students, as well as famous artists, exhibit their sculptures, paintings, and carvings in the park. It’s definitely worth a visit!
7. Shakespeare in the Park
Among the hundreds of great free summer events, Shakespeare in the Park is our absolute favorite. Imagine watching Hamlet, Cymbeline, or Romeo and Juliette performed under the night sky of New York in Central Park. It’s one of a kind and only takes place in New York. Shakespeare in the Park runs from the very last days of May through mid-to-late August. There are performances from Tuesday to Sunday at 8 pm. Check their schedule to find out show times.
8. Manhattanhenge 2020
Manhattanhenge is a totally fascinating and beautiful event that only occurs twice a year (May and July) when the sun sets and shines in a straight line through the streets of Manhattan. This event is largely dependent on the weather as it can only really be experienced in its full beauty on sunny days with no clouds in the sky. In 2020, Manhattanhenge will occur around the 29th (8:13 pm) and 30th of May (8:14 pm), however, this can change again closer to the date.
9. Walk the High Line
The green terrace in the middle of Manhattan is a great experience in fine weather. 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.
Walk from the Meatpacking District (Gansevoort Street) on the High Line towards Uptown and enjoy the beautiful spring weather. Since 2014, Manhattan has been enjoying this highlight and attracts countless visitors every day. The High Line in May is the ideal place to relax or a wonderful place to take a walk (1.5 kilometers). All the details of the High Line Park can be found here.
10. May 23-May 30: Fleet Week
For 29 years, Fleet Week has been celebrated annually in New York. This 7-day celebration in honor of the members of the US Navy, Coast Guard, and Marine Corps is a great time for families. The festivities begin with a hull on the Hudson River and include, among others, the Memorial Day – below. Many other activities are spread all over New York, for example at Pier 92 in Manhattan, Staten Island, and Eisenhower Park. Events will take place between May 23rd and May 30th, 2019.
11. May 27: Memorial Day in New York
On the last Monday in May, Memorial Day is celebrated in honor of the fallen who have fought during wars for the US. Memorial Day unofficially marks the start of summer. It will be lively in Manhattan on this day since most do not or will not go into the office. Many are looking for a cozy place in the sun in the park or relaxing at one of the many rooftop bars. All sights and shops are open this day, meaning that should you wish to go exploring or shopping, you can still do so!
12. The Popular Brooklyn Half Marathon
For the runners in New York, the infamous Brooklyn Half is one of the highlights in the month of May. In addition to the NYC Half in March, this is the biggest half-marathon you can experience in New York. Registration usually takes place in January and usually sells out within an hour.
But, if you still want to get a bit of the New York running feeling, you should go to Prospect Park or Coney Island and cheer on the runners.
13. May 5: Summer on the Hudson
on May 5th, the popular event series, Summer on the Hudson right next to the Hudson River, kicks off again. The adjoining piers offer a wide variety of events with concerts, karaoke, food festivals and attractions for the little ones. These events last into October, so there’s plenty of time to check this out. More information can be found here.
14. Tribeca Film Festival until May 5th
Until May 5th, you can be enchanted by the magic of the Tribeca Film Festival in New York. Robert De Niro campaigns, for free, filmmakers every year, fighting for their freedom of expression and creativity in the film industry. The Tribeca Film Festival is highly regarded worldwide. Here is more information about the event.
15. Visit one of the many rooftop bars in New York
Finally, the days are getting longer and the evenings are warmer again. It’s a perfect time to visit one of New York City’s most sought out rooftop bars. Click here for our list.
16. Watch a baseball game in New York
Baseball is part of summer in New York. Whether it’s a game of the New York Yankees or the Mets, both baseball teams are definitely worth checking out. Just imagine, a nice cold beer in Yankee Stadium while the sun rays hit you. It makes you feel like a real New Yorker, right?
17. May 30: Opening of the 9/11 Memorial Glade
The official opening of the new monument is scheduled for May 30, 2019. The new Memorial Glade is dedicated to all of the victims suffering from the consequences of the 9/11 attacks.
The 9/11 Memorial Glade dedicates the area to first responders, rescue workers and all other people affected by the 9/11 attacks. Many of them have died already and others are still suffering from the health consequences today. Several thousand people were exposed to the resulting toxins in the air, including people who lived, worked and studied nearby. These people are as much a part of the story as the almost 3,000 people who lost their lives as a direct result of the attacks.
18. Beer Fest on May 4th
In the famous Citi Field, the Beer Fest takes place for the second time in May in New York. All the local breweries, DJ’s and food trucks come together to host a colorful, fun party in Flushing, Queens. If you’re a beer fan, this event is definitely for you. Go get your tickets here.
19. Explore New York in a Bike
New York City is great for exploring by bike. You can cycle along the West Side Highway right by the Hudson River, or even on Governors Island. Of course, a bike ride over the Brooklyn Bridge is also very popular. For this, we recommend you either rent from Unlimited Biking in NYC, where bike rentals are pocket-friendly, or you use the typical New York option, the blue Citi Bikes.
20. Watch the NBA Playoffs
Do not miss a game of NBA playoffs in one of the many bars in New York, or maybe even live in the city, if the Brooklyn Nets, or the New York Knicks make it into the playoffs. The second option is looking very likely as the Brooklyn Nets are projected to make the playoffs this season. Keep your fingers crossed!
21. Check out the Cherry Blossoms
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!
22. Take a Dinner cruise
We have already tested many Dinner Cruises in New York for you. One of the best ones and which we really like is the Bateaux Dinner Cruise. With a glass roof, the ship heads for the Brooklyn Bridge. Especially in warm weather in May, the wine or Prosecco tastes particularly amazing when you’re outside on the deck of the boat. Enjoy the sunset and experience an unforgettable time.
23. The Intrepid Summer Movie Series
The Intrepid Museum in New York is worth a visit. Starting May 24, you can even watch the best blockbusters on board. Enjoy the view of the city and the fact that you are watching a movie on board an aircraft carrier in the open air in the most exciting city in the world. Tickets and more information can be found here.
24. Watch the NHL Playoffs
In May you still have the opportunity to follow the playoffs of the NHL, either in one of the many bars in New York or possibly even live. Here is all the information you’ll need in regards to sporting events.
25. National Burger Day on May 28th
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 view our most popular burger restaurants here in advance.