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 the 25 best fun 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
Do the Edge City Climb NYCBuilding in Hudson YardsOur HighlightAdd to myNY added
The Hudson Yards observation deck called Edge is New York’s newest and highest open observation deck. It opened in March 2020 and we were there – the view from up here is just sensational, and through the glass floor you can see over 100 floors straight down!
And if that’s not enough thrill for you, you should try the City Climb! Secured by a climbing rope, you climb even higher from the viewing platform and have a unique view of the city. But beware: this is only for people with a head for heights! Get your tickets here.
Empire State BuildingBuilding in Midtown ManhattanAdd to myNY added
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.
Visit New York's Newest Observation DeckBuilding in Midtown ManhattanAdd to myNY added
The New York City skyline is one of the most famous and recognizable skylines in the world. It’s a city filled with skyscrapers and tall buildings. In most recent years, it has been expanding which made way for new observation decks. The newest observation deck is located at the top of the One Vanderbilt Building. It is called “The Summit”. This deck will be the second-highest outdoor deck in NYC which follows the Edge and has been open since October 2021.
The Broadway Shows are back!Broadway Show in Theatre DistrictAdd to myNY added
The answer to whether you should or should not see a Broadway show when visiting New York 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 right now!
Radio City Christmas SpectacularBroadway Show in Midtown ManhattanAdd to myNY added
Radio City Music Hall is a distinguished concert and event hall located on Sixth Avenue and can be recognized from a distance by its striking exterior lighting. Throughout the year, concerts and events take place here such as the popular Radio City Christmas Spectacular starring the Rockettes. It is the most famous Christmas Show you can watch in New York!
Central Park in WinterPark in Midtown ManhattanOur HighlightAdd to myNY added
Central Park should not be missing from any Things to Do in New York in winter! The green lung of the city turns into a true winter wonderland during the cold season. It is therefore also a popular destination for New Yorkers. Stroll through the park under snow-covered trees and let yourself be enchanted by the play of lights on the frozen water surfaces in the evening.
Walking through Central Park in the cold is magical! If there’s snow, it’s even more amazing.
If you want to be more adventurous, start in Harlem and walk down Central Park towards Midtown. Too often we catch ourselves starting on Fifth Avenue at the Plaza Hotel in Central Park. There is so much more to explore than just that part of Central Park.
230 Fifth Rooftop BarRooftop Bar in Midtown ManhattanAdd to myNY added
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.
Union Square Holiday MarketChristmas Market in GramercyAdd to myNY added
Union Square is proud to host over 25 years of holiday markets and this year will be no exception. The market’s layout was initially modeled after European Christmas markets and despite some changes since its original inception, the Union Square Holiday Market still mirrors its cousins across the Atlantic pretty closely. It is one of the largest Christmas markets in New York and a holiday tradition for any visitor.
ENJOY A MULLED WINE HERE – IT’S A GERMAN STAPLE!
At Union Square, you can browse through winding rows of stalls with live music playing in the background. A total of 100 red-and-wite-striped booths display their unique wares and artisanal foods at this Christmas market in NYC. The Union Square Market boats more than 150 registered vendors, both local and international, that are carefully selected. That’s not all, however. Union Square Holiday Market has grown significantly over the years and now also features a kid’s art studio and a warming station for the frostbitten among you. There’s no way you will leave this holiday market without a full belly and a happy smile.
New York City Cocoa & Carols Holiday CruiseCruise in ChelseaOur HighlightAdd to myNY added
Why not spending time on a Christmas Holiday Cruise during Christmas in New York? Both locals and NYC visitors love the amazing Christmas Cruises New York City has to offer.
My favorite holiday cruise is the New York City Cocoa and Carols Holiday Cruise. The Jazz Band on board is fun and so talented which makes the New York City Cocoa and Carols Holiday Cruise even more entertaining. Relax in the heated main observation cabin, join in the caroling, and admire the city through the glassed-in observatory on the 1920s style yacht.
Comedy CellarOther Art & Culture in Greenwich VillageAdd to myNY added
The Comedy Cellar is a Manhattan comedy club where many of New York’s top comedians perform. It was founded in 1982 by the then stand-up comedian and the current TV writer and producer, Bill Grundfest. A show consists of five to seven comics, each lasting about 20 minutes. The club isn’t just exclusive to two New Yorkers. Notable comedians have also performed here such as Chris Rock, Dave Chapelle, Kevin Hart and Aziz Ansari.
On the weekends, it can get pretty busy. A visit to the Comedy Cellar is an insider tip for anyone who wants to feel like a true New Yorker and is one of the best things to do in Greenwich Village.
Bryant Park Winter VillageChristmas Market in Midtown ManhattanOur HighlightAdd to myNY added
Starting in October (and running through March), it is time once again for the best winter market in New York City to open its doors. The Winter Village in Bryant Park is not only the largest Christmas market in the city but also by far the nicest on account of its adjacent ice rink and places to shop and eat. This along with its amazing location among all the skyscrapers makes for an amazing Christmas experience.
Seamore'sSea Food Restaurant in Battery Park CityAdd to myNY added
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.
High LinePark in Meatpacking DistrictOur HighlightAdd to myNY added
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 ParkPark in Outside of New York CityAdd to myNY added
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 IslandOther Attraction in Outside of New York City
Domino ParkPark in WilliamsburgAdd to myNY added
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.
Bronx ZooOther Attraction in BronxAdd to myNY added
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 RockBuilding in Midtown ManhattanAdd to myNY added
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 CreamMuseum in SoHoAdd to myNY added
The Museum of Ice Cream in New York City features imaginative, multi-sensory installations that bring to life your most delightful dreams and is a perfect idea for an afternoon well-spent.
Feast on a spread of the sweetest treats in the Oh Yeah Room, take a ride in the NY Celestial Subway, soak in the colors of the Rainbow Tunnel, go on an adventure on the 3-story slide and finally make a splash in our iconic Sprinkle Pool. Let your imagination run free in a world where anything is possible.
Six Flag Great AdventureOther Attraction in Outside of New York CityAdd to myNY added
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.
9/11 MemorialBuilding in Financial DistrictAdd to myNY added
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.
Make sure to also check out the annual Tribute in Light: The two beams of vertical light, evoking the Twin Towers, have traditionally been set up in Lower Manhattan in the days leading up to the anniversary of the attacks on the World Trade Center. After some initial health concerns, the city decided to move forward with the tribute in 2020 as planned.
Statue of LibertyBuilding in Lower ManhattanAdd to myNY added
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.
9/11 Memorial and MuseumMuseum in Financial DistrictOur HighlightAdd to myNY added
The 9/11 Memorial Museum is located at the 9/11 National Memorial and is probably one of the most emotional museums in New York. It is mostly located underground and displays debris from the former Twin Towers in addition to many of the personal belongings of those buried. Among them are fire trucks deformed by heat, a part of the antenna of the North Tower, a scorched elevator motor, the saving stone staircase (Survivor’s Staircase) as well as remains of sidewalks, street signs, bicycles and baby carriages that were in front of the World Trade Center.
Metropolitan Museum of Art (The MET)Museum in Upper East SideOur HighlightAdd to myNY added
The Metropolitan Museum of Art is the largest museum in the United States and offers more than two million works of art curated from Europe, Asia, Africa, and the Middle East. Comprehensive safety procedures, following guidelines issued by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), New York State, and New York City for increased health and safety procedures, will take place.
Visit one of New York's Amazing Art Exhibitions at MoMa PS1Museum in Midtown ManhattanOur HighlightAdd to myNY added
Check out the local art scene in the MoMa Ps1 art exhibit, featuring work from 47 local, contemporary artists. This exhibit explores art-making in New York history, the resilience of artists, and the feelings connected with art. You’ll see a huge emphasis on foreign-born artists, their work full of Egyptian, Iranian, Tunisian, Nigerian, Mexican, Argentinian, and Indian influences. There is also an abundance of Native American artists to enjoy.
My tip: Here you find the Best Art Exhibitions in New York City.
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I'm a true New York fan! Not only have I visited the city over 20 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!