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10 cool things to do in New York City in the Summer

I know a lot of tourists relate New York City to cold and snow – but there is summer in the Big Apple! When the weather starts to warm up, it feels like another city and everyone enjoys every second outdoors. I didn’t do the math, but I imagine the number of things to do here always doubles in spring/summer. I’ve already talked about this subject here on the blog – and today I bring 10 cool and amazing things to do in New York City in the summer.

Fun fact if you are not from the US: despite the fact that summer only officially starts on June 21 in the Northern Hemisphere, here in the US the beginning of summer is “celebrated” with Memorial Day, a holiday on the last Monday in May, because it is usually at this time that temperatures start to rise.

1. Boat bars

During the summer – and also over the “warm” months – it is just a delight going on a cruise/tour on the water and enjoying beautiful views of the city and, in fact, over this period, we have more options because there are a lot of bar/restaurants on boats in New York City. I like this type of activity because it brings a “beach” vibe to the middle of the city – and there is nothing better than being outside when the weather permits

I really love La Barca Cantina:  it is New York City’s first and only floating Mexican restaurant. The boat departs from Pier 81 and you can enjoy beautiful views of the city while you try some nachos, tacos, and cocktails! La Barca Cantina offers a menu full of Mexican-inspired street food, tequila, mezcal, signature cocktails, and breathtaking views of the New York skyline. You need to buy a pass (U$10) to have access to the boat and it sails for 1 hour every 2 hours, starting at 2pm or 4pm, depending on the day. I strongly recommend you buy your pass in advance – you can do it online. The menu is also available online. 

Address: Pier 81, W 41st St.

2. Hot Tub

This was one of the most amazing things we did last year – all of our friends loved it! Sea the City, the famous Jet Ski tours company offers tours on a 40′ boat featuring two bubbling hot tubs. This is the first of its kind hot tub boat in New York City – and, at this moment, Sea the City is the only company to offer it. The hot tub boat carries two, ten-person commercial grade hot tubs, and is bookable by the tub (up to 10 people) or by the boat (up to 20 people). The amenities include a large bathroom and a separate changing room. Also, Sea the City provides coolers, ice, and cups for beer and wine. In addition to the captain, there is the staff is on board to assist guests. Also, the boat has canvas covers to protect the tubs from heavy rain and also from the sun – providing a comfortable and enjoyable ride. The boat departs from the Marina going down the Hudson River providing views of the Manhattan skyline and heads towards, of course, the Statue of Liberty.

3. Jet Ski tour

“But I’ve never ridden a Jet Ski!”. Me neither – most people who do the tour have also never ridden a Jet Ski before. The experience is simply unforgettable it does not compare to anything I’ve ever done here before- and I’ve seen NYC from different ferries and sailing boats – but nothing, absolutely nothing compares to seeing the city from a Jet Ski! I recommend Sea the the City. Their staff is amazing.

4. Spa Day

Nothing beats a spa day – and what about a spa with views? QC NY Spa is located in Governors Island featuring gorgeous grounds providing unprecedented views of Manhattan, Brooklyn, and New Jersey, pools, relaxation rooms (each with its own meticulously curated personality, scent, and music), themed saunas, and other incredible wellness experiences such as vichy showers, infrared beds, foot baths, hydro jets, steam baths and more. Luxurious bathrobes, sandals, towels, shower products and a storage locker will all be provided – all that is needed is a swimsuit.

5. Rooftop

One of the things I LOVE most about this time of year is going to the rooftop bars because they have incredible views and amazing vibes! Plus, it’s a thing that locals do! There are many rooftops around the city – I’ll prepare a special post just about that – but I’ll leave some suggestions for you: Skylark, Castell, Refinery, Jimmy, and Westlight. Remember to bring an ID and here’s an advice: make a reservation. These places get very busy at this time of year – so save your spot!

6. Picnic

I love picnics! Although New York City has beaches, it is not that easy to get there for everyone who lives in the city, so having a picnic is a classic thing to do here during the Spring/Summer season. I like the behind-the-scenes: buying and preparing food, grabbing a good book, calling my friends, and of course choosing a nice place for this “event”. I can spend hours on a picnic – yes, it is a simple ritual but I would say it is something healthy because it is important for us to take time out for ourselves in the middle of the rush, especially living in a city like New York. Next, I recommend some of my favorite picnic spots in the city and give tips on how to make your picnic even more special.

Check these posts:

7. Gondola tours

You’ve probably heard about the boat rentals in Central Park but what about the gondola tours? Yes, you did not read wrong: you can take a gondola tour in New York. An official gondola, a gift from the city of Venice to New York, the first gondola in history to be given as a gift. The ride – which lasts from half hour and runs on The Lake, the lake that sits in the southernmost part of the park – is a delight. First, because, as there is only one gondola, it becomes an attraction. Impossible not to feel kinda “celebrity” with everyone looking at you, lol. Second, because it gives you a new perspective of the park and the city.

The gondola has a capacity for up to 6 people and a half-hour ride costs $45  plus tips. You can make your reservation by phone (212.517.2233) or try to contact us by the form, available here. Yes, there are also boats on the lake for rent – but do not forget they are different experiences.

8. Cruises

I’ve already told you that you need to see New York City from the water, right? I will repeat it as many times as needed. One of the most special experiences – that is definitely better in the summer – is a cruise! Dinner cruise, brunch cruise, sunset cruise: it is always a delight! There are a lot of options and I highly recommend the cruises from Classic Harbor Line and also from City Experiences (you can use the code LAURA10 to get 10% off on brunch, lunch and dinner cruises)

9. Watching a movie outside

Another classic thing that locals do is the open-air cinema and there is something for all budgets, from paid options, with more comfort and fewer crowds, such as the Rooftop Cinema Club, and also free options, such as the Seaport Cinema no Pier 17and also Movie Nights at Bryant Park. . Whichever you choose, it’s such a nice thing to do – believe me, it’s another vibe to watch a movie outdoors.

10. City Island

City Island is a small island neighborhood that is part of The Bronx borough. Visiting this place is to be transported to a small town with super beautiful landscapes and a great atmosphere – it’s known as the Cape Cod of New York City.  The island is super famous for its seafood restaurants and antique shops. My recommendation is to have lunch at one of the seafood restaurants – I like The Original Crab Shanty, with great portions and price. Don’t expect a fancy place or Insta-worthy experience – but the food is good and the price is even better.

How do you like these suggestions?

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