The weather is warm, the sun is setting late, and we’re here to make sure that New Yorkers make this summer count! From taking advantage of the season’s gorgeous weather, to telling you about the best summer happenings in NYC, get ready to make your way through the most ultimate NYC summer bucket list!
Here are all the best things to do this summer in NYC (and nearby):
1. Pack your schedule with all of NYC’s free summer concerts
Thanks to all of our fantastic Parks, New Yorkers have plenty of choices for where to spend time outdoors during the warm weather months, and you can hear some incredible music performances in NYC Parks this summer, all for free, while doing so. Some free concerts this summer include Bryant Park “Picnic Performances” and Hudson River Park concerts, but you can see the full list of free concerts here.
2. View tiny art at NYC’s “Small Is Beautiful” art experience
The Small Is Beautiful experience is currently open at 718 Broadway in Manhattan where visitors can view over 30 artists from all across the globe and over 130 pieces of art. Artists from the UK, Belgium, France to Asia to the Middle East to all across the U.S. and many more will be showcasing their work. Snag tickets to this experience here.
3. Kayak for free under the Brooklyn Bridge
Be active and paddle your way around the East River. Brooklyn Bridge Park is offering free, 20-minute sessions on the water to kayak and see the city from a new perspective. Learn how to reserve your spot, on Wednesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays, & Sundays here.
4. Watch ‘Hamlet’ come to life at Free Shakespeare In The Park
One of the most beloved summer activities in New York City, Shakespeare in the Park, is returning to the Delacorte Theater for its 61st season! The first performance of Hamlet will debut June 8, 2023. The production will carry through to August 6, 2023. Learn more about this exciting series here.
5-7. Experience an enchanting concert by candlelight
Calm your mind and experience classical music in a new light with these sensational candlelit dinners in some of New York City’s most magical locations, from stunning restaurants to glamorous lounges.
- Sway along to The Best of Hans Zimmer
- Or enjoy dreamy vibes with A Tribute to Fleetwood Mac
- Or sing along to Neo-Soul and Hip-Hop Favorites
Either way it’s an experience you won’t want to miss! More candlelight concerts can be found here.
8. Anchor yourself at the compelling Titanic Exhibit
The Titanic exhibit features original objects belonging to passengers, recreations of the ship’s interior, and moving recollections of heroism from those who survived. It’s truly a moving experience to be a part of. Learn all about it and grab your tickets here.
9. Battle your way through the ultimate high-stakes Jenga tournament
Block off your calendar–a high stakes Jenga tournament is coming to NYC this June, and the winner will walk home with $10,000 in their pocket! Hundreds of competitors will battle it out as they work their best to defy gravity in the form of a wooden block tower. $14,000 total in prize money will be awarded for the top teams. Learn more about the tournament here.
10. Skate around NYC’s roller rinks
Once again summer in NYC will be one groovy season as roller skating rinks take over! Grab your skates and get your groove on at Flipper’s Roller Boogie Palace – Rockefeller Center, The Standard Plaza, or The Roller Wave.
11. Go glamping on Governors Island
Forget about sleeping on the floor and going to the bathroom outside, regular camping is so last year! That’s right, now it’s all about glamping. Enjoy a luxurious stay on NYC’s island oasis with incredible amenities under the sky. Camp under the stars tonight!
12. Become a part of your favorite scenes at The FRIENDS Experience
This interactive experience features realistic replicas of your favorite scenes and moments from FRIENDS. Grab a fellow fan, and dive into these sentimental set recreations! Whether you’re lounging on Chandler and Joey’s recliner or sipping on an imaginary coffee at Central Perk, prepare to be filled with FRIENDS frenzy! Get your tickets here.
13. Party on NYC’s best rooftop bars
Whether you’re looking for a good skyline view or a refreshing cocktail to sip on, New York City has all the rooftop bars you could ever imagine. Whatever you decide, you’re in for a great time and even greater views. Read the full list here.
14. Cruise around the city
Who doesn’t love a day on the water? Escape the city heat and spend your time relaxing (or partying) on some luxurious cruises around the Hudson and East River. From wine tastings, brunching, & dancing, take all your favorite summer activities and make them that much better afloat! Take in the skyline and cheers your friends because there’s a cruise experience for everyone, day or night…hey why not both!? See the full list of cruises here.
15. Put your putt-putt to the test
In for a little friendly competition? Head to Williamsburg’s waterfront mini golf course PUTTING GREEN, an 18-hole climate change-themed mini golf course with the goal of educating and enlightening visitors on climate change in a fun and creative way. Read more here.
For more mini golf ideas, try our top mini golf spots in NYC here!
16. Cool off in one of NYC’s public pools
If we know one thing, it’s that summers in NYC are HOT! From sweaty subway rides, to AC’s units dripping on you, taking advantage of pools are an essential way to survive the season. See the full list of NYC public pools here, which are open through Labor Day Weekend.
Also, don’t forget to check out America’s only floating pool right here in NYC!
17. …Or at one of NYC’s private hotel & rooftop pools
Maybe you’re looking for something a little less…public. You can still take a dip in the many private hotel and rooftop pools around the city sure to cool you down one canon ball at a time. View all our top picks here.
18-19. Catch a flick at an NYC Park outdoor movie night
No matter if you’re if in Midtown to Brooklyn, there are hundreds of free outdoor movies you can enjoy in your local park. Some spots you can plan to catch a movie at this summer include:
- Brooklyn Bridge Park
- Hunter’s Point South Park in Long Island City
20. Enjoy free summer programming at various spots around NYC
The summer is all about spending your time outdoors, but we know how easy it is to spend money the second you step out the door. Thankfully, there’s tons of free programming going on all around NYC, including at The Seaport, Lincoln Center, and Pier 57.
21. Pick your own sunflowers at a farm outside of NYC
Journey through sunflowers towering up to 10-feet at this farm in New Jersey. Visitors are welcome to pick the flowers, sip on some fresh squeezed lemonade, and obviously snap a few pics for the ‘gram! They open for the season on June 30, and you can discover more details here.
22. Party like royalty at ‘The Queen’s Ball: A Bridgerton Experience’ in NYC
The exquisite Bridgerton experience, complete with elegant décor, set recreations, passionate performances, delicious themed cocktails, and so much more has taken over NYC! This exclusive soirée has it all—from delicious themed cocktails and countless photo ops to dramatic theatrical dance performance and accurate set recreations from the famed Bridgerton series. Secure your invitation here.
23. Taste yummy bites at some of NYC’s outdoor food markets
With warm weather comes nights spent outdoors, and there’s no better way to celebrate some of the city’s most delicious food than at one of its beloved markets. Some of our favs are Bronx Night Market and Queens Night Market.
24. See your favorite Star Wars characters strut their stuff at this spaced-out burlesque
The Empire Strips Back puts a sensual spin on everyone’s favorite characters from a galaxy far, far away. The show has a 2-hour runtime, during which you’ll see everything from Tusken Raiders twerking to droids revealing what’s underneath their plating. Grab your tickets here.
25. Dine on the waterfront
Nothing pairs better than a cocktail in hand and the skyline in sight! Spend your summer waterside at any of NYC’s gorgeous waterfront restaurants and bars like Island Oyster on Governors Island or aboard a historic ship at Baylander Steel Beach in Harlem.
View the full list here.
26. Watch a baseball game at the ballpark
Whether you’re a Yankees or a Mets fan (no judgement here…well maybe just a little) go catch a ball game at Yankee Stadium or Citi Field for the perfect summer activity.
27. Catch a tan at the best beaches in NYC
Let’s face it, everyone needs a little beach day from time to time. Spend your weekend relaxing oceanside or building sandcastles at these best beaches across NYC.
28. Taste test the most delicious ice cream shops in NYC
A large scoop of ice cream is the answer to any hot or cold day in the city (let’s be honest ice cream is good in any weather). Spend your summer trying every ice cream shop in the city to find your favorite. Need somewhere to start? Check out some of our other favorites here.
29. Work on your mindfulness with a yoga class in Bryant Park
All the way through August 24th, Bryant Park will be hosting their free yoga classes in the park. So whether you’re a yogi or a first-time goer, learn from expert instructors for an active and energetic session beyond a mere indoor studio class. See more information here.
- 10 a.m. on Tuesday mornings on the Upper Terrace
- 6 p.m. on Wednesday evenings on the Lawn
The last class will be held on September 27.
30. Allow your senses to guide you as you dine in the dark
According to psychologists, dining blindfolded is an ‘amplified’ way to enjoy food, and you can try it out right in Brooklyn! Choose from a meat, seafood, or vegan menu and let your tastebuds fully guide you through your meal. This experience is definitely one you won’t want to miss, and you can get your tickets here.
31. Check out NYC’s Museum Of Failure for flops & fun
If you’re curious you can find product flops that are downright outrageous at the Museum of Failure. The purpose of this exhibit is to inspire and stimulate discussions and ideas while showcasing some of the biggest brand’s biggest failures. Grab your tickets here.
32-33. Book a city escape
Sure we love the city, but sometimes a few days away is an absolute necessity. Here are some unique ideas not too far away:
34. Picnic in the park
It’s time to lay out the plaid blanket and prepare the charcuterie board! A picnic in the city is just the thing you should do to celebrate the summer. Who doesn’t love snacking while soaking up a little sun? Find the best spots picnic here.
35. Adventure to Coney Island
Stroll the beach, ride the coasters, or munch on a Nathan’s hot dog. Whatever you’re in the mood for, Coney Island has got you covered!
36. Relive one of the most groundbreaking moments in NYC art history at this ‘Banksy in New York’ exhibit
NYC’s ‘Banksy in New York’ exhibition, filled with more than 80 of Banksy’s original and authenticated masterpieces was just extended until July 9! After the great success of ‘Banksy: Building Castles in the Sky,’ the event creator organized a new exhibition that honors the 10-year anniversary of Banksy’s artistic residency in NYC. Get your tickets here while you can!
37. Be amazed by NYC’s colorful street art
New York is filled with some of the best museums and galleries, but heading indoors isn’t the only way to get your art and culture fix. Take a walk through the city streets and you’ll find colorful murals on walls, big bold writing on subway cars, and spray painted words on sidewalks and streets—basically anything is fair game to act as a canvas. Find out some of our favorite spots to view street art here.
38. Discover the best waterfront parks NYC has to offer
There are tons of beautiful waterfront parks across the boroughs to spend a lovely summer day relaxing. Observe the dazzling skyline from uptown or downtown, the East River or the Hudson, your options are truly endless. See our full list of spots here.
39. Test your teamwork skills at this live game show experience
This one hour long show will test your social strategy, reaction time, useless knowledge, puzzle-solving skills, and ultimately—your pure cosmic luck. Up to 32 people can play at once, each with their own buzzer. Guided by a live host, teams of 4 compete in a series of high-energy party games. Prepare for an adrenaline-infused experience that measures your collective wits and button-finger agility. Bring a team, or show up and join one. Get your tickets here.
40. Stock up on fresh produce at a local farmer’s market
New York City is no stranger to fairs, markets, and outdoor bazaars. The city’s endless amount of farmers markets are a must-visit—especially in the warm weather—and the level of fresh produce and goods you can find here is unmatched. Find some of our favorite markets here.
41. Find treasures at an outdoor flea market
Flea markets are arguably some of the best places to find interesting treasures. Whether you’re looking for something vintage, unique, or downright weird, you’re bound to find something at a flea market, like some of these.
42. Unwind with this magical experience at the Parlor of Wonder
The Parlor of Wonder brings a magic show and jazz lounge together for a night of fun entertainment. It captivates audiences by the wonder of the renowned magicians and acclaimed singers who will be performing! You won’t want to miss out on it, and you can get your tickets here.
43. Escape NYC’s summer heat at a waterpark
Full of lazy rivers, slides, wave pools, and beyond these attractions just outside of NYC are the perfect thing to do with kids or just have a day of summer fun! Plan a day trip to one of them this summer–some of our favorite water parks near NYC include The Kartrite Resort & Indoor Water Park and SplashDown Beach.
But our full list can be found here.
44. Eat your way through NYC’s epic, summer-long Japanese Food Fest
Explore and eat your way through dozens of Japanese vendors like Fujinomiya Yakisoba Society, K. Minamoto, and so much more! Food items average at $10, making Japan Fes. a rather affordable way to immerse yourself in delicious Japanese cuisine. The event normally brings in 250,000 yearly visitors and is held 20 times per year, and you won’t want to miss it! Learn more about it here.
45. Enjoy cocktails at some of NYC’s best speakeasies
There’s something about having a drink in a speakeasy that blows the experience of having a drink in a regular bar straight out of the water. Some of our favorites include this speakeasy sex shop The Woo Woo or Pine & Polk’s secret hidden speakeasy.
Some more good spots can be found here.
46. Explore an enormous indoor adventure park
With 40,000-sq-feet, this indoor adventure park is the ultimate spot for fun! Offering everything from paintball, rock climbing, roller skating, rope courses, and more, there’s no limit to what you can do! See more information here.
47. Spend the afternoon at the perfect outdoor brunch with friends
Among rent controlled apartments and cheap slices, brunch makes the list of New Yorker favorites! And there’s no better way to spend a warm weekend than with an outdoor brunch with your besties. Find our full list of recs here.
48. Hangout with the animals
Forget people, hangout with animals this summer!
- Make some furry friends at the Bronx Zoo
- Head underwater at the New York Aquarium
- Get adventurous on a Whale Watching Cruise
49. Take a train ride to the Berkshires on summer weekends
After a successful pilot season, Amtrak announced the return of the seasonal route, the Berkshire Flyer, set to restore service this summer. Its seasonal service will give New Yorkers a chance to explore all of the exciting summer activities Massachusetts has to offer, and the entire trip from NYC to the Berkshires will take around 4 hours. Read all about it here.
50. Explore one of NYC’s many neighborhoods
From uptown to downtown, borough to borough, NYC has endless places to explore, and we created guides to some of our fav neighborhoods so you know just where to go and what to do when you’re in the area! Some of our guides include:
- 18 Delightful Things To Do In DUMBO, Brooklyn
- 30 Amazing Things To Do In Astoria, Queens
- 38 Exhilarating Things To Do In The East Village
- 40 Incredible Things To Do On The Upper East Side, Manhattan
- 28 Coolest Things To Do In Bushwick, Brooklyn
51. Board a ‘Harry Potter’ themed train from NYC to Boston
Looking for a magical trip from the city? Amtrak’s newly launched Harry Potter-themed trains are just what you need, no finding Platform 93/4 required. With the help of some wizardry, Amtrak has transformed four of their trains into a spellbinding locomotive decked out with your favorite characters. Read all about this magical experience here.
52. Head to NYC’s annual Pride March
With June comes Pride Month and the chance to celebrate and show our support for the LGBTQIA+ community! And NYC Pride March, one of the largest annual Pride parades in the world, has revealed some of its 54th annual event details. From the Grand Marshals to the theme and, of course, the parade route, everything you need to know can be found here.
53. Explore NYC while enjoying the outdoors on a walking tour
It’s no secret that New Yorkers see much of the city by foot. However, walking the same paths day after day may keep you from seeing some of the most unique parts of the city, and what fun is that? Whether you’re looking for new hidden gems in your neighborhood or explore somewhere you’ve never been, we’ve got some guided tours that’ll do the trick, and you can find them here!
54. …or stay indoors to escape the heat and catch a movie instead
If you’re a film lover NYC is the place to be. From hole-in-the-wall independent cinemas run by movie-loving volunteers to legendary cinemas dating as far back as 1948, NYC is filled with spots grab some popcorn, sit back and relax, and enjoy a film. We’re not talking your usual movie theaters though, we mean NYC’s many indie theaters that celebrate non-mainstream movies on their big screens–and you can find some of our favorite ones here.
55. Sweat it out at NYC’s free outdoor fitness classes
NYC certainly has no shortage of gorgeous places to go and views to see…so why not take advantage of this when working out and make your workout a bit more bearable! To help you work up a sweat while showering you with a healthy dose of vitamin D, here are some of NYC’s best free outdoor fitness classes.