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14 amazing things to do in the summer in New York City

I have a thousand reasons to love the spring/summer season – but without a doubt, these are my favorite seasons due to the number of outdoor activities that are possible thanks to the weather that is no longer freezing. It’s no news to anyone that I love the longer days, I love enjoying the parks and walking around.  And today I list some activities among my favorites for summer in the city!

Riding a bike – this is something that becomes very difficult – and almost impossible, I would say – during the winter. But in summer it’s a delight! I have a love story with bikes because I’ve always done everything riding a bike, my whole life. A good part of the avenues and streets of Manhattan have bike lanes or borders delimited for the traffic of bicycles. Other than that, it’s great to ride in the parks. My favorite places to do this are Central Park, the FDR drive, Randalls Island, and Governors Island. CitiBike has docks all over the city and you can get a day pass or an annual membership. 

Governors Island – I don’t get tired of recommending this island! The place, which served as a military base for almost 200 years – and was closed to the public – is very close to Manhattan. It is an open public space and it is known as the oasis of the city. Just imagine: a huge green area full of cool parks with plenty of space to run, cycle, picnic, and enjoy a summer day. Not to mention the amazing views! The island opens from May to October.

Beaches – New York’s beaches are far from being among the most beautiful in the world. The waters are not warm, but you know what? For people who live here, having a beach 30 minutes away by subway is already comforting. The two most popular ones are Coney Island – which is charming because of the amusement park – and Rockaway Beach. You can check out posts about Coney Island here – with all the tips on what to do – and about Rockaway Beach here.

Rooftops – we can’t talk about summer in New York without mentioning rooftops! The terraces of a lot of hotels in the city became the hot destination with the arrival of the Spring/Summer season and are crowded with people enjoying a happy hour with friends and the sunset. There are numerous options in the city. The tip is: come early and check out the dress code. The good news is that you don’t pay anything to get into these places – just what you drink. My Favorites? Westlight and Skylark.

Picnic – I love the picnic season! Here in New York, this practice is very, very common and I confess I love it! Few simple things in life are as great as sitting in a park to relax, read a book, and eat delicious foods. And I always recommend this kind of thing to anyone visiting the city during the warm weather period. Besides that, it’s a very local thing.

Free Kayaking -You did not misread: free kayaking in New York, yes, without spending a penny. Hudson River and East River have special spaces for this practice during the summer. And this is another activity to add on your to-do list during the warmer months. Check out all the details.

Drinks on a boat – Grand banks is located at the Hudson River Park, at Pier 25. As it is an open boat, the place only works for a period of the year – from mid-April to mid-October. You can either get a drink and hang out, near the bar, or see the host and get a table. Nothing is more enjoyable than having a drink seeing the One Wolrd Trade Center, the Hudson River with the Statue of Liberty in the background, and Jersey City. Last year, they also opened Pilot, located in Brooklyn.

Smorgasburg  the most famous food market in the city. Happens every weekend, from April to November, in Williamsburg (Saturday) and Prospect Park (Sunday). Each day, more than 100 vendors offer sweet and salty snacks, from the most varied possible options. It is a classic thing to do in the city and a unique opportunity for those who are foodies. The organizers are very careful in selecting new vendors – and the competition for a spot at the Smorgasburg is huge. My suggestion? Go to Williamsburg. Manhattan’s skyline view is amazing and the neighborhood vibe is also great. Bring a blanket and relax.

Trapeze class – finally, I can’t stop talking about this incredible experience I had last year! Those who have watched Sex and the City will remember that in one episode Carrie appears practicing trapeze. The location is the New York Trapeze School, with locations at Pier 40 (Manhattan) and Brooklyn. It’s an incredible experience, both for people who live here and for those who are traveling and looking for different things to do in the city! Each class lasts two hours. Remember that the location at Pier 40 opens from April to October and Brooklyn opens all year. Check all the details.

Photo by Hyla Skopitz, courtesy The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Met rooftop – few people know, but in addition to the amazing collection of artworks, sculptures, and other artifacts, the Metropolitan Museum of Art has a seasonal rooftop – which is only open from April to October. Every season, the rooftop features an exhibition. Besides that, the rooftop has a good open area with beautiful views of Central Park and also a bar serving drinks. A delight!

Address: 1000 5th Ave.

Coney Island Fireworks – during the summer, on Fridays, there is a fireworks show in Coney Island. Fireworks shoot off at 9:30 pm every Friday night during the season. Fireworks season generally starts the last weekend in June and ends the Friday before Labor Day. Remember that Coney Island, in itself, is a great place to visit during the summer.

Address: 1000 Surf Ave.

Cruises – Ok, you know that Manhattan is an island, that the city has an incredible skyline, that the Statue of Liberty sits on an island. That is, there is plenty of reason to convince you that when visiting New York City you must enjoy it from the water! I love to do cruises and Summer is the perfect season for that. Check my suggestions here! 

Jet ski tour – nothing, absolutely nothing compares to seeing the city from a Jet Ski! I have a complete guide here on the blog.

Picture: Steve Brown

Shakespeare in the Park – Free Shakespeare in the Park is an annual event that is held at the Delacorte Theater in Central Park. It is produced by The Public Theater, and attendance is free and tickets are provided on the day of the performance. Shakespeare in the Park includes two productions over the course of the summer and it is one of New York City’s most beloved summer traditions.  Tickets to Shakespeare in the Park are FREE and are distributed, two per person, at the Delacorte Theater in Central Park at noon on the day of the performance. Free tickets are also available through the Virtual Ticketing lottery at shakespeareinthepark.org on the day of the show.

Address: The Delacorte Theater in Central Park is accessible by entering at 81st Street and Central Park West or at 79th Street and Fifth Avenue.

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