How to Stay Cool NYC! 25 Fun things to do in NYC in the Summer (Bring on the sunscreen for this lady right here)!
You know what they say right?
1. Zipline at Bear Mountain
About an hour North of New York City, you can find Bear Mountain, State Park!
You will find a truly enchanting respite from the city by hiking, barbequing, and ziplining through this lovely state park (You better add this to your, “fun things to do in NYC summer” list, stat)!
Come on, you know you want to fly through the air with the greatest of ease!
Okay, maybe this activity is only for adrenaline junkies and travelers who are not terrified of heights.
How can you resist over 2,700 feet of zip lines that launch you through the forest at a pretty impressive 35 miles an hour (I got nothing for speed in kilometers. Just think super fast)?
A magnificent way to make the most out of all those warm and sunny days of summer (going on my list of top things to do in NYC this summer).
The final stretch of the zip line brings you through a meadow, where you expertly land on a three-story climbing structure.
Or almost face plant since you’re a spaz like me (I hope you’re not).
***Bear Mountain Ziplines offers courses that are geared towards kids and adults alike. Sessions are offered every two hours, between 9 am and 5 pm, daily, except for Thursdays and Tuesdays.
***Adult zip line courses cost $75 a person and can be booked online unless you want to book your tour on the same day. Participants must weigh between 70 and 250 lbs and be at least 8 years of age.
2. Black Tap Milkshake (locations in LES, mid-town, and SOHO)
OMG! Yes, these are the insane milkshakes that you saw on Facebook and yes, they really are as good as they look.
I’ve also heard they have really good burgers too.
But I’m a vegetarian so I’ve only heard it through the grapevine (get it? no? right… awkward). Anyway, clearly, you NEED a milkshake to help you escape the hot and humid summer weather of New York City.
But really, when are milkshakes NOT a good idea?
Milkshakes are always one of the most fun things to do in the summer.
You can get classic shakes for $9 each, that come in flavors like Nutella, Peanut Butter, Cookies and Cream, Black Cherry, etc.
But it’s summer so you gotta treat yo’self!
Splurge and get a crazy shake for $15! Trust me, it’s like two desserts in one so it’s really not as expensive as it sounds.
You can choose from epic flavors like Sweet n’ Salty Peanut Butter Shake, Cotton Candy Strawberry Shake, the Vanilla Cookie Shake, Sour Power Black Cherry Shake, Brooklyn Blackout Chocolate Shake, Cookie n’ Cream Supreme Oreo Shake, Bam Bam Fruity Pebbles Shake, and my personal fave, the Cake Shake.
I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream, even when you’re adulting and life totally sucks, besides the milkshake of course.
3. Grab an Iced Tea Latte from Cafe & Ginseng
Located on Fifth Avenue, in the heart of Korea Town (right near the empire state building):
This cafe with the cute little bunny logo has it all!
Between the assortment of light, single serving cake rolls that come in snazzy flavors and colors like rainbow (rainbow is an Instagram lovers dream), and the delicious selection of tea lattes, with unique flavors like purple taro, you may never want to leave with your iced tea latte.
You might have to since seating is limited and no one wants to be “that person”, You know, that weirdo standing awkwardly in the corner while everyone’s mow them over just to get at all the fabulous cakes. Yeah, I have been “that person” and it isn’t fun.
Another Down Side Though:
I kind of thought that my latte would be super pretty, kind of like the picture on the wall. But no (sob. talk about major first world problems). It was just a normal purple latte.
Hopefully, your order is super pretty so that you can post that thin slice of awesome all over INSTA.
4. Explore Dumbo (Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass)
One of my absolute favorite neighborhoods in NYC (and one of the great free things to do in NYC this summer) only gets better in the summer, when you can actually stand outside and NOT freeze to death.
In this trendy part of Brooklyn (wait, what part of Brooklyn isn’t trendy?):
Cobblestone streets and converted Brooklyn warehouses serve as the backdrop for some stunning views of the Manhattan skyline.
But it Gets Better!
Add in some independent boutiques, high-end restaurants (umm can you say Juliana’s pizza?), and trendy cafes like Brooklyn Roasting Company and you could easily spend a day here.
Before Leaving Dumbo:
Check out St. Ann’s Warehouse near the waterfront, a building that is the epicenter of the performance art and gallery scene.
The streets are chock full of delightful street art that anyone can enjoy. The north end of Brooklyn Bridge Park is also home to the historic Jane’s Carousel,
5. Street Art
I love street art.
But man when it’s cold and snowy outside, I have absolutely no desire to tromp through the city to see street art, while simultaneously trying to avoid getting smothered by rogue snow mounds that are sporadically thrown about by insane snowplows.
So thank God for Summer!
This is that fab time of year when you can actually walk through the streets of New York and enjoy some of the fabulous street art found in areas like DUMBO, the Highline, Little Italy, on Bowery and Houston, at the Bushwick Collective, and at Centre-fuge Public art project on first street (there are a ton of other street art spots but you get the idea).
There are a ton of other amazing street art spots but you get the idea.
And this post is already insanely long so movin’ on. But truly one of my fave free things to do in NYC in summer.
6. Governors Island
Found amidst the putrid waters of New York Harbor is Governors Island, a true haven of peace within the sea of chaos that is NYC.
And it’s car-free too! So no danger of getting run over by a tyrannical, NYC cabbie.
Intrigued? Just hop on the Island Ferry and check out some of the fun things to do in the summer on the ever enchanting, Governors Island.
This place is s marvelous combination of delicious food vendors (like Blue Marble Ice Cream and Fauzia’s Heavenly Delights) and amazing festivals like Governors Ball, the NYC Poetry Festival, the Pinknic rose festival (each morning from noon to 9:00 pm), the Jazz Age Lawn party and so much more!
Looking for a bit more adventure?
Why not try out Adventures at Governors Island, a fantastic outdoor activity area that includes a climbing wall, maze, and ziplining course? And if you’re broke like a joke, the island also offers free bike mornings that you can totally take advantage of.
But what if you don’t want to leave?
No worries because for the first time EVER, this island will allow visitors to camp overnight at trendy, oh la la, glamping areas that occupy six acres of the island and that can accommodate over a hundred guests.
Stick with this New York City summer guide and I promise that you’ll be way hipper than I’ve ever been.
7. Brunch at Hotel Chantelle
One of my absolute favorite NYC brunch spots.
This gem of a restaurant, not an actual hotel, offers a delicious, reasonably priced brunch menu that is served amidst a light and airy top floor, adorned with vintage light fixtures, beautiful greenery, and a lovely glass ceiling that inundates the room with an exquisite amount of light.
But it Gets Better!
As if the decor didn’t make this place awesome enough, they also have a live 20’s style band, with trumpeters and saxophonists that are accompanied by a lead vocalist, who croons into a vintage microphone while dressed in a snazzy bow tie, a cabby hat, and a cool pair of shades.
Sprinkle in some fantastic wall art to create the perfect Instagram spot.
Plus, this restaurant is also located right down the street from Black Tap and the first street outdoor street art gallery; making this my new go-to brunch spot this summer,
8. Bookmarks Lounge
Looking for a great view of the New York City skyline?
Then why not try one of NYC’s sensational rooftop bars, like Bookmarks Lounge?
Far from your traditional rooftop bar scene:
This quaint, literary-inspired garden lounge can be found on the 14th floor of the Library Hotel.
You’ll enjoy a more cultured experience with literary based cocktails that can be enjoyed on a charming wrap around terrace, set amongst a jungle of skyscrapers that are known as Midtown East (Literally right next door to Grand Central Terminal so really easy to find).
Talk About a Booklovers Dream.
***Other enchanting rooftop bars (aka “best rooftop bars NYC” list) include Loopy Doopy rooftop bar, 230 Fifth, Upstairs at the Kimberley, Gallow Green, Pod 39 rooftop, and La Piscine rooftop pool bar.
9. Coney Island
I’ll admit it:
I’m not a HUGE fan of Coney island, but I feel like it’s an essential summer experience for anyone visiting New York City during the summer.
And it’s Gorgeous.
Between the beach, the boardwalk, Luna Park, the original Nathan’s hot dog stand, and the Cyclone rollercoaster, there is a ton to see and do along the very tip of Brooklyn.
On the downside though:
Not only is Coney Island about two hours from midtown by subway, but this iconic theme park can also be super crowded, damn expensive, and rather touristy; still one of those experiences that you must have at least once in your life.
My favorite part of Coney Island?
Not surprisingly, the pizza, since I think with my stomach and nothing else!
Totonno’s has some of the best pizza that I have EVER had. I would, without a doubt, sit for two hours on the subway just to get a slice of this pizza, it;’s THAT good,
Skip Nathan’s hotdogs and go here instead. Trust me, this place has been around since 1921 for a reason.
***If you’re here in the middle of June (June 16th this year), check out the world-famous Mermaid Parade, which brings various nautical and mythological creatures to life. While you’re at it, pretend you’re the Little Mermaid, just out and about, looking for her dinglehopper. But really, have you seen mine? I need to brush my hair.
10. Robert Moses Beach (One of the best NYC beaches)
Okay, I Know you’ll find this SUPER hard to believe but…
Manhattan is an Island!
Yeah, not a shocker but I still feel like people forget that New York City is right on the ocean and as a result, has some pretty EPIC beaches.
And while some are better than others (i.e. some are disgusting and you might find a dead body or get Tetanus if you go into the water):
One of my favorite beaches is Robert Moses beach on Long Island. Not only is it less crowded than Jones Beach, but it is much less built up and much more peaceful. You’ll need a Zipcar to get here though, but I promise, the trip will be worth it.
Before You Go Though:
Robert Moses does have a nude beach, which I had no idea about until I went. I just kept walking down the beach and all of the sudden I was kind of like, “Whoops. OMG, nakedness. Nakedness everywhere. And not the good kind! Ahh, my eyes!”. So as the Lion King song goes. “Be Prepared”!
11. Free Kayaking!
I would never characterize myself as an “outdoor girl”, but kayaking is one of the few, outdoorsy activities that I absolutely love. I find peace and tranquility when I’m alone, cruising through the water, just me and my kayak enjoying the fabulous summer in New York weather.
All of life’s problems just seem to dissipate with every stroke I take.
Even if my arms scream in agony since I am so physically unfit.
So this one is for all the water enthusiasts like me who want to get away from it all. Also one of the many free things to do in New York City, so how can you go wrong?
All you have to do is:
Grab a kayak from public boathouses like the Downtown Boathouse and the Long Island Community Boathouse, in Queens, and enjoy the tranquility that the waters surrounding New York City offer. Boom, that easy. I wish everything in life was that easy.
12. Rooftop Cinema Club
This is probably the closest you will ever come to a drive-in movie in New York City. Except you don’t need a car. So add this bad boy to your things to do in NYC, summer 2018 edition.
All you need is a moderately overpriced movie ticket, a set of wireless headphones, a comfy deck chair, an iconic movie, and some spectacular rooftop views of NYC.
These are all provided by Rooftop Cinema Club btw.
Conveniently located at the skylawn in the Hilton, Embassy Suites, this cinema club opens on June 1st and gives you the chance to experience an amazing set of movies, outside, under the bright lights and beautiful skies of New York City.
Now for the boring but necessary info.
Movies start at 8:30 pm and tickets are only available to adults 18 years and older. Tickets cost between $15 (plus a booking fee) and $39 (You can pay just $3 extra for unlimited popcorn. Bring on the butter, and i’ll take a crane full of popcorn).
Tickets are SUPER popular so book ahead because they sell out fast at 60 West 37th street (Midtown Hilton Skylawn) and at 57 Thames Street Brooklyn (Rooftop Films).
13. Go Shopping at Woodbury Commons
Why not partake in some outdoor, retail therapy at Woodbury Commons, this summer in New York, 2018?
This outdoor outlet mall literally has it all and is a great place to while away those warm and lazy days of summer (especially if you’re doing NYC solo travel). They have over 240 stores to choose from, that sell designer items at 25% to 65% off retail prices.
You may need to extend your credit line while you’re there. Just a thought.
The only downside?
This outlet mall is about an hour North of the city. But never fear because the Port Authority offers daily bus service from NYC to Woodbury Commons (Buses cost $42.00 roundtrip for adults and $21.00 roundtrip for children).
Just be Prepared to do an insane amount of Walking!
Yeah, this mall is ridiculously huge so wear comfy shoes and grab a map before you start shopping (otherwise security will need a GPS to find you)!
14. Attend a Free Summer Concert Series Concert
Between the Today Show and Good Morning America, there are a ton of free, outdoor concerts that you can add to your list of NYC summer events, 2018.
But like with anything free in NYC:
These concerts get ridiculously crowded. That’s why you need to show up and wait in line the night before, with snacks and drinks so that you can get a good seat.
Nor really. Trust me, I’ve seen Maroon Five and the Backstreet Boys this way.
However, I’ve reached the age where I’d rather buy tickets than stay up all night, waiting to surge the stage, and fighting a thousand other screaming women for good seats.
But if you’re young, dumb, and broke, free concerts are the way to go (not personal, just a song).
15. Street Fairs
In the summer, the concrete jungle of New York comes alive with street fairs.
Three cheers for streets that are devoid of crazy cabbies who try and run you over!
Between the pop-up shops of Seventh avenue and the food courts of Broadway Bites (alone Herald Square), there are no shortage of places where you can eat, shop, and just enjoy the pure awesomeness of NYC.
So take advantage of the beautiful, but grossly humid, NYC weather.
And if you’re looking for something unique to do, you can also shop for antiques/vintage clothes, rock out to outdoor music, or enjoy one of the city’s many outdoor street art festivals.
NYC may be a lot of things, but boring is not one of them.
16. Dance the Day Away at MoMA PS1 Warm Up
Beer + amazing contemporary art installations + nice summer weather + dancing under a large-scale outdoor installation = a hopping good time, only minus the beer for me.
And trust me, it isn’t crap, elevator music either.
In the past, this outdoor music series has featured rising rap stars, DJs, and underground musicians like Afrika Bambaataa, Questlove, Francois K, Danny Krivit, the Scissor Sisters and more.
So free up your calendar on Saturday afternoons between June 30th and September 1st.
Oh and get your butt to 22-25 Jackson Avenue in Long Island City, Queens; an event that also features a series of exciting and totally innovative, contemporary art installations.
***FYI: This event is popular so make sure that you score some tickets in advance ($25 a person). Also, to get here, just take the 7 or G trains to Court Square.
17. Explore Ellis Island
So visiting the Statue of Liberty? Kind of Lame. But Ellis Island, not so much.
Seriously, it’s one of the best museums in New York City.
And way better in the summer when you can actually walk around the island without getting frostbite. Okay, that was dramatic but the island is insanely windy and can get brutally cold in the winter.
But Why Was this Building so Important?
As America’s most historically significant, immigrant gateway, Ellis Island was the processing station through which steerage class passengers entered into the United States (over 12 million of them between 1892 and 1924, to be mildly exact).
This relic of history has been transformed into a three-level Immigration Museum with detailed narratives from both historians and immigrants alike; stories that personalize the objects, official documents, and photographs that are displayed throughout the museum.
Just Make Sure You Save Time for the Second floor (my fave)!
This exhibit is entitled ‘Through America’s Gate,’ and details the rigorous, step-by-step process that immigrants underwent before entering the country (Ex: chalk-marking the ill, a wince-inducing eye examination, a 29 question interrogation in the vaulted Registry Room,etc.).
Also Take a Look at the ‘Peak Immigration Years,’ exhibit. too
This section of the museum examines not only why many immigrants came to the US, but what their life was like once they got here, and the unique set of challenges that they faced as foreigners in America.
***If you have time, head to the third floor, where you can see haunting remnants from the building’s transformation as a result of disuse.
***Always book your tickets in advance ($18 a person). And to get here, take the 4 or 5 to Bowling Green, and then walk towards Battery Park to reach the ferry. The museum is open between 8:30 am and 5:30 pm daily,
18. Smorgasburg in Brooklyn
Umm, I’m sorry but this is like the best seasonal, outdoor foodie’s market ever!
If you ingest food then you should go here, like now. Just be aware that it’s only open on Saturday and Sunday, between 11 am and 6 pm (Saturdays are in Williamsburg at East River State Park (aka 90 Kent Avenue) and Sundays are in Prospect Park, at East Drive, Lincoln Hill).
It’s open from April through October so if you wanna avoid crowds, go when it’s cooler.
But with over a hundred vendors, it can be hard to figure out which stands have the best eats.
That’s Why I’m Gonna Give You My Top Picks.
Deep fried cookie dough from Mozz and DO, Bonsai Kakigori (aka fluffy Japanese shaved ice), Btarts (Canadian butter tarts with Maple syrup), King Street Kitchen Baked goods (PB&J Brownie), Bread and Monkey (Banana Bread/Grilled French Toast), Frico Italia (a fried potato and three cheese pie that is traditionally served in Italy), Dulcinea Churros, Big Mozz mozzarella sticks, spaghetti doughnuts, Wowfuls waffles, John’s Juice (served in whole pineapples), and way more. But I’m getting hungry so I’ll stop!
Hold on a moment while I wipe the drool from my mouth.
Yup, I’m gonna need a bigger boat…I mean plate.
***FYI: The market is open rain or shine and during holiday weekends. Bring cash just in case but most vendors do accept credit cards. Also, no disposable water bottles are allowed in the market, so bring a reusable bottle that you can fill at refilling stations. One last thing, I promise! No pets are allowed on Saturdays but they are totally welcome on Sundays.
19. Lounge at “the beach”, rooftop pool at the Dream Downtown Hotel
This one is a huge splurge.
Day passes to this, rooftop pool are a whopping, $65 a day. Yikes. They are also only issued Monday through Friday (day passes start at 11 am).
And, You Guessed it.
You are NOT guaranteed a lounge chair by the pool.
Honestly: I’d rather just hit the beach but if you’re staying at this hotel or have money to burn, then check it out.
Because yes, this pool is super luxurious, has killer views and has beautiful decor (The designers can come to my house. Just step over the old pizza boxes and you’re good).
Sadly though, I am not quite fab enough to frequent this place.
20. Yankees Game
FYI, I’m a die-hard Yankees fan so there will be no mention of the Mets in this post.
But Baseball is one of those iconic, NYC summer pastimes that gives you a taste of what real New York City life is all about.
But What If You’re Broke:
That’s okay because tickets don’t HAVE to be expensive. Just purchase them on StubHub either the day of the game or the night before, when prices drop as sellers try and unload all their unsold tickets.
Just Remember That:
Food, alcohol, and Yankee swag is all ridiculously expensive at the stadium. Therefore, the only acceptable food item that you should ever purchase at the game is the garlic cheese fries. Nom.
DO NOT TAKE YOUR CAR! Parking is insanely expensive. You can either take the 6 train or ride the Metronorth train to Yankee Stadium from Harlem 125th.
RUNNERS-UP (Because I am running out of Space)
As you may have guessed:
This list was originally gonna be MUCH longer. But per usual, I started word vomiting all over the page and just couldn’t stop. And now my fingers are slowly developing carpal tunnel syndrome and you are quickly running out of patience.
I’m just gonna throw a few more, fun activities in here that you can add to your, “What to do in New York City in the summer” list.
So Don’t Forget About:
Visiting the Lemon Ice King of Corona, strolling through the New York City Botanical Gardens, exploring the Hewitt Copper design museum and garden, or visiting the Frying Pan, which is located on the lightship which is docked at Pier 66 Maritime in New York City.
And…We’re Done! See that Wasn’t So Bad Was it?
If it was bad, don’t answer that last question. Thanks.