In a city as magnificent as NYC, there’s no wrong time to visit. From the towering Rockefeller Tree at Christmas time to the blooming flowers at Central Park in spring, each season has a distinct personality you can see and feel throughout the city. During the summer, New York City comes alive as visitors flock to outdoor festivals, events, and activities scattered throughout all five boroughs.
With so many things to do in NYC in the summer, it’s hard to know where to begin! Make your summer trip to NYC a memorable one with these 12 attractions and activities across the city.
1. Explore NYC’s Parks
Although it’s a common misconception that Central Park is NYC’s only park (seriously, people believe this), the city is filled with sprawling greenscapes! And, summer is the ultimate time to take advantage of these lush spaces.
Grab a blanket, pack a picnic and your choice of beverage, and spend time exploring NYC’s top parks, such as:
- Bryant Park
- Flushing Meadows-Corona Park
- The High Line
- Washington Square Park
- Riverside Park
- Prospect Park
Of course, a trip to Central Park should be on your list as well, especially if this is your first time in the city.
2. Attend Any of NYC’s Free Events, Festivals, and Concerts
One of my favorite things to do in NYC in the summer is to not spend any money! Yes, you read that right. It’s possible to have a frugal NYC vacation thanks to the ongoing schedule of free events, concerts, festivals, and other entertainment.
If you’re like me and would rather keep your hard earned money in your wallet, check out these free things to do in NYC in the summer:
- SummerStage Concerts in Central Park
- Free Movies in Bryant Park
- Free Outdoor Workouts
- NYC Street Fairs
- Free Summer Concerts
Since this is only a handful of the free fun happening around the city, be sure to check what free events are happening during your visit.
3. Grab Your Cracker Jacks and Go to the Ball Game
Everyone knows summertime is baseball season! In NYC, you have your choice between the Yankees and the Mets. Get tickets to a game that lines up with your vacation and enjoy an All-American summer right in the Big Apple.
If you’re searching for less expensive tickets, minor league baseball teams in the greater NYC area include:
- Brooklyn Cyclones
- Hudson Valley Renegades
- Staten Island Yankees
- New Jersey Jackals
4. Visit a Flea Market
Instead of spending your money at souvenir shops and walking away with yet another “I Love NY” shirt, grab an authentic gift at one of NYC’s flea markets. These diverse and eccentric markets feature everything from clothing to jewelry to fine art. You’re bound to find the perfect souvenir to bring home.
Some of the top flea markets in NYC include:
5. Sail Away on a Harbor Cruise
Among the best things to do in NYC in the summer is hop on a boat and cruise around the city. Plus, you’ll have your choice of cruises. Want to party it up under the city lights? There’s a cruise for that. Would you rather see NYC’s notable landmarks from the shoreline? There’s a cruise for that, too.
Find the NYC cruise that suits your interests and get ready to sail away:
Since harbor cruises are one of the top NYC summer activities and spots fill up fast, you’ll want to make your reservation ASAP. Also, double check the boat’s policies with regards to carry-on items, attire, and security procedures for a seamless boarding process.
6. See the Skyline from a Rooftop Bar
Doesn’t it seem as though rooftop bars are the latest trend in city bars and venues? And why shouldn’t it be? With epic views such as the NYC skyline, who doesn’t want to sip a cocktail and gaze out at the twinkling skyscrapers?
When you want a drink with a view, make your way to these NYC rooftop bars:
Plus, for you Instagram-savvy travelers, these rooftop bars boast several places to take a social media worthy picture or two.
7. Escape to Governors Island
If you need a break from the concrete grid of NYC, Governors Island is the place to go. This car-free island is only accessed via ferries from Manhattan or Brooklyn. What was once a military base is now a quiet haven for NYC locals and visitors alike.
While on the island, take advantage of the many indoor and outdoor activities (without the roar of car engines or bustling city streets) including:
- Walking Tours
- Adventures at GI
Before you go, pack what you need for a full day at Governors Island. You’ll want to spend all the time you can on the island!
8. Beat the Heat and See a Broadway Show
NYC in the summer is HOT. Between the sun glaring off of skyscrapers and heat rising from the streets, it’s best to spend your time outside sparingly. With this in mind, it’s easy to see why going to a Broadway show is among the top things to do in NYC in the summer: air conditioning.
Plus, Broadway shows combine mind-blowing special effects and set design with award-winning musical talent for an unforgettable performance night after night. After all, you’re in NYC—if you don’t see a Broadway show, you’re doing it wrong.
This summer, get your tickets to see new and classic Broadway shows such as:
A word of advice: get your tickets early. Show tickets sell out fast and the sooner you book, the better tickets you’ll receive.
9. Experience Extreme Thrills at Luna Park
Lifelong New Yorkers have vivid memories of going to Coney Island and Luna Park every summer while growing up. Today, Luna Park has more thrill rides than ever and continues to be a premier summertime destination in NYC.
Luna Park offers a variety of rides for all ages. Children love the Mermaid Parade and B&B Carousel, while teens and adults rush to thrill rides such as:
- The Tickler
- Coney Clipper
Of course, the ultimate ride at Luna Park is the legendary Coney Island Cyclone. This historic coaster is a must-ride for all amusement park fans!
10. Cool Off by Kayaking or Jet Skiing in NYC
Did you know you could go jet skiing in NYC? You can also go kayaking around the East River! If you’re interested in a soaking wet NYC adventure, this is the best way to spend a summer day in the city. Get ready to see the city from an entirely new perspective from the comfort of a kayak or jet ski in the harbor!
If you plan to go kayaking, head to any of these destinations to start your adventure:
- Manhattan Community Boathouse
- Kayak Staten Island
- North Brooklyn Boat Club
- Brooklyn Bridge Park Boathouse
- Red Hook Boaters
Once you hop in the water, you’ll understand why these water activities are some of the greatest things to do in NYC in the summer.
11. Catch a Movie at Rooftop Cinema Club
On some summer nights, all you want to do is kick back, grab some popcorn, and watch a movie. Amplify your summer movie nights by going to Rooftop Cinema Club in NYC. Trust me, you’ve never had a movie theater experience quite like this.
Rooftop Cinema Club customers are treated to:
- Wireless Headphones to eliminate city noise and focus on the film.
- Unbelievable city views.
- New and classic movies hand-picked by the staff.
- Comfortable reclining deckchairs for the perfect viewing angle.
- Beverages for purchase.
All movie buffs should attend a showing at this outdoor theater at least once. But I have a feeling you’ll continue to go back again and again after your first show!
12. Soak Up the Sun at the Beach
On top of world-class entertainment and skyscrapers, NYC is home to several beaches. If you ask me, spending the day on the beach is one of the greatest things to do in NYC in the summer by far. You can’t beat the sun, the sand, and the waves!
Pack your bags and make your way to NYC’s best beaches, like:
- Brighton Beach
- Rockaway Beach
- Manhattan Beach
- Cedar Grove Beach
- Orchard Beach and Promenade
New York City beaches are open from Memorial Day weekend through early September each year. Try to visit at an off-peak time or day of the week to avoid the crowds, too.
12 Exciting Things to Do in NYC in the Summer: What Will You Do?
What do you enjoy doing in New York City in the summer? Tell us!