New York City is a world-renowned vacation destination constantly evolving with new attractions. The city welcomes more than 50 million visitors each year with the finest selection of entertainment, architectural treasures, museums, galleries, and historic sites. But there are also plenty of natural attractions in the city with beautiful surroundings to explore.
Gorgeous parks, glorious beaches, recreational attractions, and spectacular scenery make the summer season a perfect time of year to enjoy New York City’s balmy charms. More reasons to love the Big Apple: Things to do in New York City in the summer are budget-friendly! Here are some highlights to help you plan your vacation and have some unforgettable summer fun in NYC.
As a frequent visitor to New York City, there’s simply nothing more beautiful than catching the sunrise before breakfast (about 5:40 a.m.) from somewhere near the middle of the Brooklyn Bridge. It connects the island of Manhattan to Brooklyn and is just a 10-minute casual walk from the City-Hall-Brooklyn Bridge subway stop.
Get your summer fun in NYC started off right with a delicious breakfast. Most restaurants that are open at 7 a.m. for breakfast in the city are big chains—Starbucks and McDonald’s, for example. But, there are some exceptions. The Balthazar, located at 80 Spring Street between Broadway and Crosby Street, is one of my favorites. This brunch powerhouse has a great takeout bakery that opens at 7:30 a.m. Breakfast starts at 8 a.m., making its block of Spring Street the most active stretch of sidewalk for that half-hour. For the first two hours, the menu is limited to continental breakfast. The eggs benedict on buttermilk pancakes are wonderful, and the atmosphere is fantastic. Plus there’s no wait for a table. Brunch is the traditional start to the New York weekday and gets off to a start at 10 a.m.
Afterward, you can entertain yourself with views of the city: the Midtown skyline, the downtown skyline, and of course, the icon of freedom worldwide, the Statue of Liberty. Built in 1886, Lady Liberty stands high atop a pedestal on Liberty Island in the New York Harbor. These views are truly astonishing in their splendor, and never cease to amaze me. For more stunning vistas of the harbor that’s the heart of the city, hop on the Staten Island Ferry. Bonus: it’s free of charge.
Your trip to New York City isn’t complete without a visit to the new One World Trade Center Observatory. Now the tallest building in New York, you’ll marvel at the city’s skyline from 1,250 feet above. The view is awesome.
From there slip on some comfy sandals and spend a pleasant few hours strolling the trendy East Village for even more summer fun in NYC. Here you can browse boutiques, art galleries, and cafes away from the crowds on Broadway.
For a unique experience, visit the historic Essex Street Market. With over 20 independent vendors there are lots of shopping options to choose from with great prices, including delicious Artisan breads, rare cheeses, and fresh produce. Select a smoothie at Tra-La-La-Juice Bar, where beautiful delights such as Cake Balls, which are hard to find, still abound. If you’re a “kid at heart,” check out Economy Candy on Rivington St., where you’re sure to find a variety of childhood favorites. Then catch a show at August’s month-long New York Fringe Festival. It’s the largest multi-arts festival in North America and sees more than 200 international theater groups come to town.
When lunchtime rolls around, The Sea Grill at 19 West 49th Street, just steps from Times Square at Rockefeller Center, is an ideal lunch spot with a diverse menu of fresh seafood that changes frequently. The Summer Lobster Pot is fantastic, appetizers are great, service is wonderful, and the atmosphere bright. There are also impressive year-round views overlooking the ice skating rink. In the summer, I especially enjoy the stunning flower gardens.
Ready for the beach? (Of course you are!) Nothing says summer fun in NYC like an afternoon at Coney Island.
Take the N-Train to historic Coney Island for some old-fashioned sea-side fun. It starts at the shoreline. Slather on the sunscreen and lounge beneath a beach umbrella, ride the ocean waves, and then hit the boardwalk for ice cold lemonade or soft serve ice cream.
Chow down on Nathan’s famous hot dogs; and take a ride on the historic Cyclone rollercoaster and Wonderwheel Ferris Wheel. This world-famous amusement park attracts millions of sun-loving vacationers each year. And no wonder. With its wide beach and awesome seaside attractions, it’s a great place to make a big summer splash!
How about a little siesta before dinner? “Metronaps” is located in the Empire State Building. For $14 you can take a 20-minute nap in a special audio and vibration equipped “chair-pod.”
Yearning for a memorable meal? New York City offers many delicious spots. Eataly, located in the Flat Iron District at 5th Avenue and 23rd Street, is an excellent dining experience featuring delicious food combined with amazing, almost circus-like décor. Along with a bustling mega-market of Italian goods, there are several sit-down restaurants: La Verdue, Il Pesce, Manzo, and a rooftop beer hall, La Birreria. Each focus on meals made from markets they’ve inspired, providing a true grand tour of Italy. Manzo is the fine dining gem, but for classic fare for the whole family La Pizza & La Pasta is the place to be. The allure is in the name!
For the ultimate New York experience, you can enjoy a night out at the opera, ballet, symphony or a Broadway performance. You’ll be dazzled by the lights and energy of Broadway, and of course, by the names on the marquees: Chicago, Jersey Boys, and Phantom of the Opera. But during the summer, I suggest taking in live action outdoors and head for Central Park’s Delacorte Theater where you’ll enjoy the long-running series of free Shakespeare in the Park plays. Outdoor theater in the park is synonymous with summer fun in NYC.
How Will You Have Fun in NYC this Summer?
New York City offers more to see and do than you can manage in one visit. It has so much to offer that you’ll want to return to see everything. Wherever you stay and whatever you do, you’re sure to enjoy this jewel of a city. Follow this guide to summer fun in NYC to make the most of your trip.