With the city slowly reopening and many New Yorkers planning a staycation instead of traveling out of town we came up with some really fun things you can actually do in NYC right now. From our favorite outdoor dining spots to the best attractions you should check out and super exciting tours in the city. Yes, now is the time to become a tourist in your own city.
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What is there to do in NYC right now?
While many large events, parades, and even Broadway shows have been canceled altogether this year, there are still lots of outdoor activities and attractions to enjoy in NYC right now. Of course, safety measures are in place wherever you go so you can still enjoy yourself even in a socially-distanced capacity. Here is a list of 18 things you can do in New York City right now with fun tips on how to explore your own town like a tourist:
Things you can actually do right now
Empire State Building
Staycation is a real thing this summer, so why not visiting one of the most iconic skyscrapers in New York? Let me guess, you’ve probably never been to the top of the Empire State Building before? It’s a must-do not only for tourists and especially now with a reduced capacity and lack of tourists from out of town will it will create a unique ‘New York for New Yorkers’ experience
And if you think about it, no building has connected more with New York City, New York State, the United States, or the world during the past months.
ESB’s lights and social media engagement have internationally celebrated the enduring New York spirit. From their famous “Pandemic Siren”; to their fundraiser that featured Billy Joel, ESB has generated more than 33.2 billion media impressions in the United States, Australia, India, and China alone. For us another reason to show love for one of the best attractions in the city.
Manhattan By Sail - Clipper City Jazz Cruise
Have you ever noticed the beautiful sailing boat on New York Harbor? It’s a summer tradition for me to enjoy a sailing tour in NYC every year which is why we’re thrilled that our favorite sailing tour is back with safety measures of course.
Take a cruise through the New York Harbor onboard this historic sailing vessel and enjoy beautiful views of the Big Apple during the day, at dusk, or at night. You will have exceptional views of the Manhattan skyline, the Statue of Liberty, Brooklyn Bridge, Ellis Island, as well as other sights in the harbor from the deck of the only tall ship in New York. While you are soaking in the sights, enjoy a cocktail or other drinks available onboard.
If you really like to socially distance but still want to experience the city feels head to Central Park with a blanket and some snacks.
If you go a little away from popular areas like Sheep Meadows, you’ll find peaceful places without too many people around you. You can literally spend hours relaxing in the sun, reading a book or chat with your friends.
230 Fifth Rooftop Bar
Yes, it’s rooftop bar season and we almost felt like we won’t get to enjoy them this summer. Slowly but steady our favorite rooftop bars in NYC are opening back up for relaxing summer nights in the city.
The one with the best view of the Empire State Building is clearly 230 Fifth Avenue. A spot that can be full of tourists is now a really cool place to have a drink in a not too crowded environment. 230 Fift offers stunning views of surrounding Manhattan, cute tropical palm trees, really comfy seating, and of course, excellent summer drinks.
Circle Line: Best of NYC Cruise
Another thing you’ve probably never done in your life: Hop on a sightseeing boat from our friends from Circle Line and explore your city by water. You will be surprised by how nice and educating this sightseeing cruise is.
Especially now, during the warmer months, it’s so much fun to just sit, relax, and enjoy the view. Tourism got hit really hard during the past months of being shut down. So why not go support a local business and pretend you’re from out of down glancing at the city like it’s your first time?
Outdoor dining is back and so are many of our favorite restaurants in NYC. We already went to say hi to a few including our friends from Seamore’s. One of the things you can actually do in New York City right now is to enjoy lunch, brunch, dinner (or all of it) at one of your local restaurants.
There are some changes that we all have to get used to, but after many months of take-out only I’m excited to finally being able to go out to eat again.
The Edge Observation Deck
Edge NYC will reopen on July 20 and visiting New York City’s newest observation deck should be on your list for this summer. When Edge opened back in March at Hudson Yards there were only a few days where visitors were able to take the elevators up to the famous glass floor that stretches 1,131 feet above the ground.
Edge is one of the best things to do in New York City right now and will blow your mind with impressive views, a champagne bar hovering over Manhattan, and a guarantee for the best shots of the city.
Our favorite floating Oyster Bar Grand Banks is open for business and probably the best date spot in the city this summer. If you’ve ever wondered if the beautiful wooden schooner that is docked at Pier 25 is worth a visit, now is the time to find out.
Grand Banks is currently accepting a limited amount of reservations for parties of up to 10 guests in the restaurant aboard the vessel, and on the Pier Deck overlooking the boat. The new setup sure is a little different compared to the infamously packed deck, but better safe than sorry, right? We actually love the idea to finally have more room to enjoy our glass of wine and yummy oysters.
Another thing you can actually do in the city right now is taking a walk on the High Line. As of now, you can only enter the famous park in New York City near Gansevoort Street and walk into one direction only towards 23rd Street where the High Line now ends. While visiting the High Line you can walk through the gardens, view art, experience a performance, enjoy food or beverage or connect with friends and neighbors. All while enjoying a unique perspective of New York City.
Important to know is that starting mid-July you’ll need a (free) ticket beforehand to secure your time slot. That way, the High Line is trying to keep the capacity low and makes it possible for its visitors to maintain social distancing.
Island Beach State Park
It’s always a good idea to get away from the city and mute the hustle and bustle for a day. One of my favorite beaches to go to in the summer is Island Beach State Park. You do need a car to get there since public transportation won’t take you all the way into the park.
You can bring everything you’ll need for your beach day including your fussy friends and enjoy a nice breeze down the shore.
Governors Island NYC is a great destination to be in during the summer. If the weather is nice in New York City and you want to escape the noise of the New York City atmosphere, then head down to Governors Island NYC which now reopens for the season.
This year, the Governors Island Ferry will take you across the East River from July 2020 with the Governors Island Ferry until the end of September 2020. We are so excited that Governors Island will reopen to the public on July 15th, about two months after they would typically open for the season. The great thing about Governors Island ist that it does not feel like New York City at all, which is probably one of the reasons why many locals come here.
Domino Park which is in Williamsburg, Brooklyn was created in the former area of the Domino Sugar Refinery. If you’ve ever taken a boat tour along the East River, you will probably have noticed a large empty factory building in the distance shortly after passing the Manhattan Bridge. This is where you will find one of the most interesting parks in the city.
To avoid overcrowding the social-distancing circle will remind people to stay 6ft away from each other. Come early to reserve your human parking spot.
I’m a huge fan of the Bronx Zoo and super thrilled that the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) announced that the Bronx Zoo will reopen on Friday, July 24, after being closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic since March 16. I really missed a Sunday at the Zoo in the Bronx and cannot wait to go back. There are actually a few animals who gave birth during the pandemic so get ready to see sea lion pups and a bison calf.
You will notice some changes. There are hand sanitizer stations, signs reminding them to stand at least six feet apart, and no one will be allowed into the 265-acre park without a face mask. Get your ticket beforehand because only a limited number of tickets will be sold for each day to keep attendance to no more than a third of capacity. Those tickets will only be available online.
Top of the Rock
Another great idea to check out in New York City is Top of the Rock. From here you’ll have great views of the Empire State Building, Midtown Manhattan, and our beautiful Central Park. While there is no set date yet when Top of the Rock is going to reopen, tickets are on sale starting August now.
The 360-degree views from the observation deck are simply stunning. Again, this is probably not on your list when lots of visitors are in town, but now with the city being less crowded, this can be the perfect date idea or just a friendly reminder of how stunning NYC looks from above.
Museum of Ice Cream
The museum of Ice Cream is still closed but you can now go and grab a scoop of really delicious ice cream at their location in SoHo. They are open for business from 11:00 am – 5:00 pm from Wednesday to Sunday. Masks are required when entering the retail and cafe area.
Six Flag Great Adventure
If you want to get out of town but don’t want to go too far head to Jackson, NJ to have some fun at Six Flags Great Adventure. At reduced capacity and with many safety precautions Six Flags opened in July for this year’s season. Six Flags Great Adventure and Hurricane Harbor are beloved outdoor destinations for so many in the Northeast and I’m super excited for it to be back open.
To avoid lines and overcrowding the park will work with an online reservation system to manage attendance, schedule guests for entry by day, and to stagger arrival times to minimize proximity exposure.
Since 4th of July, the 9/11 Memorial Site is back open to the public. It is usually a very crowded area to visit in the city so now is the time to pay your respect and explore the location where you used to see the Twin Towers in Lower Manhattan.
The reopening of the 9/11 Memorial symbolizes how the United States as a country can endure, persevere, come together, and rebuild even after living through dark and uncertain times.
Statue of Liberty
Have you ever been to the Statue of Liberty? Probably not, right? I personally never went until last year and it was an absolute fun experience. Being so close to Miss Liberty is not only impressive but also breathtaking. While indoor access to the Statue of Liberty is not expected to reopen just yet you can walk around Liberty Island, take photos and enjoy the view.
It is a must-do in New York City. Also, you can take a sixty-minute boat tour with Statue Cruises to learn about the history of Lady Liberty and enjoy stunning views. During that cruise, you will cruise along the New York Harbor without entering Ellis Island.
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Calling New York City home is still pretty surreal. After moving here 5 years ago, I still see it as my dream life. Ever since I’ve been exploring this amazing city for Loving New York I’ve grown to love it even more. I love hooking all of you up with the inside scoop, top attractions, events and everything in between. I'm your go-to person for the hidden gems, best restaurants and the absolute best things to do in the city that never sleeps.