The 37 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 37 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. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 03

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

    Other Events in Chelsea
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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.

  4. 04

    Spring Makers Market

    Other Events in Midtown Manhattan
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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.

  5. 05

    Enjoy Manhattanhenge (May 28 + 29)

    Other Events in Midtown Manhattan
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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)
  6. 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.

  7. 07

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

    Other Events in Bronx
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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.

  8. 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!

  9. 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!

  10. 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

  11. 11

    Visit the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum

    Museum in Hell's Kitchen
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    The Intrepid Sea Air & Space Museum is the only floating museum in NYC. You will find a wide array of 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. This is great for kids and adults alike as it discusses and shows a wide variety of artifacts regarding the US military and maritime history.

  12. 12

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

    Building in Midtown Manhattan
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    You know what’s really unique about New York? The view of the (most likely) snow-covered Central Park from one of the observation decks! With the Top of the Rock, The Edge Hudson Yards and the SUMMIT One Vanderbilt you have three to choose from!

    And then there’s the One World Observatory and the Empire State Building. No matter which observation deck you choose, you’ll have an amazing view over the city!

    My tip: if you are cold, you can go inside and enjoy the view from the inside. Because each of the observation decks (except for the Empire State Building) has additional floors with floor-to-ceiling windows.

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    Budget tip

    If you want to visit several observations 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.

  14. 13

    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!

  15. 14

    Watch the NBA Playoffs

    Sports Tickets in Midtown Manhattan
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    Do not miss a game of the NBA playoffs in one of the many bars in New York. Maybe you can even catch a game in the city if the Brooklyn Nets or the New York Knicks make it into the playoffs.

  16. 15

    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.

    The dates and movies for 2024 are yet to be announced.

    These were some of the movies in May 2023:

    • Puss in Boots: The Last Wish
    • American Psycho
    • The Notebook
    • The Great Gatsby
    • Pulp Fiction
    • The Lion King
  17. 16

    Five Boro Bike Tour (May 5, 2024)

    Other Events in Upper West Side
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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.

  18. 17

    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!

  19. 18

    Frieze New York (May 1 – 5, 2024)

    Other Art & Culture in Hudson Yards
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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

  20. 19

    Visit Little Island at Pier 54

    Other Attraction in Meatpacking District
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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!

  21. 20

    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

    Walk the High Line in Spring

    Park in Meatpacking District
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    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).There are many lovely cafés, galleries and great bars – and with Gallow Green one of my favorite rooftop bars in the city.

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

  23. 22

    Spend some time in Little Italy, SoHo and Chinatown

    Walking Tour in Hudson Square
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    Now known for their many excellent restaurants, shops and tourism, Manhattan’s SoHo, Little Italy and Chinatown neighborhoods offer the most varied stories of New York City. Take a 2-hour tour with a local guide and discover hidden gems and 19th century buildings.

  24. 23

    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.

  25. 24

    Visits Governors Island

    Other Attraction in Outside of New York City
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    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.

  26. 25

    Spend the day in one of the best museums of NYC

    Museum in Upper West Side
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    The season is perfect for a museum visit to New York, and the Big Apple really doesn’t lack choices. After the theatrical release of “The Night of Museum” series, (The first movie took place in the New York Museum of Natural History) you really feel like going to the place of the event? In the footsteps of dinosaurs, aborigines and many other historical creatures, the Natural History Museum on Central Park West is always a good idea for a museum outing.

    My tip: These are the 36 Best Museums in NYC

  27. 26

    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.

  28. 27

    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 from May to October. What is so special about it? It’s definitely an insider’s spot, which not only gives you a great view of Ellis Island and of course the Statue of Liberty – you can also enjoy the sunset from here.

  29. 28

    Finally open: Grand Banks

    Sea Food Restaurant in Tribeca
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    Water, a great view of Manhattan and a great atmosphere – the location is simply the best. You are sitting on a historic ship called F/V Sherman Zwicker on the Hudson River and can enjoy New York from the water when the weather is fine. The place also serves great drinks and seafood.

  30. 29

    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!

  31. 30

    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.

  32. 31

    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.

  33. 32

    Summer on the Hudson

    Other Events in Upper West Side
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    Summer on the Hudson is Riverside Park & West Harlem Piers Park’s annual outdoor arts and culture festival. Between 59th and 153rd Streets on the Hudson River, you can experience live DJs, exhibits, special shows for kids, and of course, the outdoor movies. And the best part? All the events are free!

  34. 33

    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.

  35. 34

    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 or take a trip to the Woodbury Common Outlet Center. You will not only find many famous brands at lower prices, but also a large food hall with a wide selection of different sweet and savory dishes.
    You can already save money on your way to the outlet, because the bus ride is included in some of the New York Sightseeing passes, for example the New York Pass.

  36. 35

    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.

  37. 36

    Plan a spring weekend getaway from NYC

    Day Trip in Outside of New York City
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    There are many wonderful destinations near New York City that are worth visiting in the spring. Looking for some inspiration? Check out my of the 21 best spring weekend getaways from NYC here!

  38. 37

    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

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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