You know what they say right? Ain’t no party like a summer in New York City party! That’s why you totally need this post about the many beyond fun things to do in NYC in the summer.
And spoiler alert? There are A LOT of them.
Yeah, I’ve been a New York City local for well over 30 years and know exactly what you should and should not do when spending summer in New York!
- Average Summer in New York City Weather
- How to Get to New York City in the Summer
- Getting to and From the Airport in New York City
- How to Get Around New York City in the Summer
- What to Pack for Summer in New York City
- Top Things to do this Summer in New York City
- Where to Stay this Summer in New York City
- Where to Eat this Summer in New York City
- Additional Resources to Help You Plan the Perfect Summer in New York City
Average Summer in New York City Weather
How to Get to New York City in the Summer
If you’re planning to spend summer in New York City, be prepared to spend a lot of money since this is peak travel season. As a result, flights into and out of NYC will be extremely expensive (Translation? Budget accordingly).
Now, if you’re flying into NYC, you’ll probably fly into JFK (aka John F. Kennedy International Airport) since this is where most international flights will fly into the city.
However, other popular airports that you might fly into include Newark (This airport is actually in New Jersey, is the farthest one from the city, and also handles international flights) and LaGuardia (this airport is in Queens and is where most domestic flights will land in NYC).
Now, if you don’t want to fly into New York City and are traveling here from within the United States, then you could always take a Greyhound Bus into Port Authority Bus Terminal or an Amtrak Train into Penn Station.
Both stations are in Manhattan and from there, you’d just have to take either a bus or the subway to your hotel.
Oh wait, I almost forgot! If you’re coming into New York City from upstate New York you can also take either a MetroNorth or Amtrak train into Grand Central Terminal, which is right in Midtown.
And while you can sometimes find great deals on bus fares into NYC, train tickets can be REALLY expensive. Therefore, definitely do your research and make sure that the train is actually cheaper than flying.
Pro Tip: Above all else though, if you are planning to spend summer in New York City, for the love of God and all that is holy, do NOT drive into the city. Parking spaces are hard to find, there are a ton of ridiculous parking regulations, and parking your car in a garage will be INSANELY expensive. You also don’t actually need a car while in NYC since you can quickly and easily use the subway to get anywhere you like.
Getting to and From the Airport in New York City
If you’re spending summer in New York City and plan to take either the train or the bus, then you’re in luck because the Port Authority Bus Station, Penn Station, and Grand Central Terminal are ALL located in Manhattan. So, you definitely don’t need to worry about getting into and out of the city.
However, if you’re flying into the city, then getting to/from the airport and into NYC will vary based on the airport that you fly into. So, here’s a quick rundown of how to travel between NYC and all three of its major airports.
- JFK (for more info, check out this post about how to get from JFK to Manhattan) – From here, you can take either a taxi, an express bus, a commuter train, or a shuttle. The fastest way to get into the city is probably the commuter train (about 35 minutes and it will cost about $15.50 because no traffic), and the cheapest way is via subway, which can be a long, hot ride in the summer (between 60 and 90 minutes and it costs $10.50).
- Newark (for more info, check out this post about how to get from Newark to Manhattan) – Because you’re in Jersey, I would definitely avoid taking a taxi since it will be expensive and you could encounter a lot of traffic. Instead, take an NJ Transit train from Penn Station (or vice versa), and connect to Newark via the AirTrain, which costs $5.50 per journey. You can also board an NJ Transit bus in Manhattan at one of three stops to get directly to the airport but the train will probably be faster because of traffic
- LaGuardia – There are a couple of different ways to get from Manhattan to LaGuardia (and vice versa). You could take the M60 bus all the way to LaGuardia from uptown Manhattan (106th street and above), you could take the E, F, M, R, or 7 train to Jackson Heights-Roosevelt Avenue and then
take the Q70 bus to LaGuardia (if you’re coming from midtown), or you could take an LIRR train to Woodside and then take the Q70 bus to LaGuardia (good if you’re coming from lower Manhattan).
How to Get Around New York City in the Summer
Okay, so luckily for you, there are a ton of different ways that you can get around New York City in the summer. You could:
- Walk – This is obviously one of the many free things to do in NYC and a great option if you want to get a bit of exercise. NYC is huge though so you for sure cannot walk everywhere but can definitely walk around either midtown, uptown, or downtown Manhattan, within reason. However, if you do decide to walk, be sure to wear sunscreen (or a hat), have a water bottle handy, rock a pair of comfy shoes, wear light clothes, and always keep an eye on your belongings. Summer in New York City is hot and humid and you want to be PREPARED.
- Rent a City Bike – Citibike is a great way to get around NYC when it’s warm outside. You will need your own helmet though and you should be a decent cyclist since traffic in NYC is pretty insane (aka dangerous). However, it’s a really cheap way to get around the city since an annual membership costs $95 while one week pass costs $25, and a 24-hour pass costs $9.95.
- Take the Subway – Okay, so going into the subway is a nightmare because there’s a lot of people, there’s no AC and it’s humid AF. However, once you’re inside the train, it’s usually air-conditioned, making the ride itself pretty bearable. And if you grab a Metrocard, you’ll be able to enjoy single rides on all NYC subway trains and buses for $2.75 per ride. Just know that to buy your first “pay-per-ride” Metrocard, you’ll need to pay a minimum of $5.50. Also, I tend to stick with the subway as opposed to buses since buses can get caught in A LOT of traffic.
- Hail a Taxi – Real talk? I never use taxis in NYC. They’re just really expensive. However, they are convenient if you’re in a rush and there’s not a ton of traffic. Typically a taxi ride in NYC will start off with a $2.50 charge. You’ll then pay 50 cents per 1/5 mile when traveling over 12 mph or per 60 seconds if traffic is intense or the vehicle is stopped. You could also take an uber but it’s definitely not as cheap as it once was.
Pro TIp: Do NOT take a pedicab ride (those bikes where people pedal you around while you sit in the back) through Central Park. They are expensive AF and are definitely not worth your money. Trust me, I’ve done it, paid a small fortune, and was very much unimpressed with a capital “U”.
What to Pack for Summer in New York City
Planning to spend summer in New York City but not sure what to wear? If so then check out this comprehensive guide on what to wear in New York City! It has tons of insider tips on what to pack for NYC, regardless of the season.
It also has a free, printable NYC packing list that you can use when getting ready to travel to NYC.
But, if you’re looking for ideas on what to wear when spending summer in New York City specifically, then be sure to pack things that will help make the heat and humidity infinitely more bearable.
So, lots of light, breathable clothing that is also comfortable. This way, you can walk around the city if you need to, without spontaneously combusting.
I would also definitely pack a water bottle to help you stay hydrated (bottled water here is expensive and just bad for the environment), as well as some sunscreen or a hat to help protect you from the sun.
Additionally, because the weather can be kind of unpredictable, you may want to bring some rain gear since you’ll likely encounter at least one or two rainy days during your time in NYC.
In general, though, black, tailored clothes will help you look more like a local, as will wearing cropped pants as opposed to shorts. You’ll also want to bring a warm jacket/sweatshirt of some kind since AC is outta control (read, frigid AF) throughout the summer in NYC.
That’s why, if I were packing for a summer trip to NYC, I’d be sure to bring sunglasses, a backpack, comfortable sneakers, a casual skirt. a simple black dress, a warm/jacket sweatshirt, t-shirts, a water bottle, and sunscreen or a sunhat to protect you from the sun.
- Sunglasses – Sunglasses are an integral part of any native New Yorkers’ wardrobe since we basically rock a solid pair of sunnies on any day that ends in “y”. So yeah, wearing a pair will help you instantly look more like a local. They also actually really do protect your eyes from the sun and help guard against ugly squinty faces in all of your photos. I personally like these sunglasses from Carfia since they’re cheap (a smidge over $20), come in a ton of different colors, actually don’t break, are polarized, and provide actual UV protection.
- Backpack – Okay, since you’ll be walking around NYC A LOT, you’ll obviously need something big enough to fit all your crap, I mean stuff. It also needs to be chic and antitheft since pickpockets are always a concern in the Big Apple. That’s why I love and personally use this Kenneth Cole Backpack. Not only does it last forever (I’ve had mine for well over 2 years and used it daily), but it’s stylish, reasonably priced (less than $60), and is large enough to fit a 15′ laptop.
- Sneakers – I bet you wondering why I didn’t put sandals here instead? Well, NYC is dirty beyond belief, Therefore, wear sandals and your feet will be caked in filth in about five seconds flat So, instead, rock a pair of stylish but comfortable sneakers that will help you walk for, literally, miles every single day – like these Dr. Scholl’s slip-on women’s sneakers. They’re comfy AF while still being sleek and stylish. This way, you can actually feel good about wearing them. They’re also reasonably priced and if you get a pair in black, they’ll be incredibly versatile and won’t get super dirty while you walk around NYC.
- Casual Skirt – Trust me on this, a nice, casual skirt is incredibly versatile, will help keep you cool, and is infinitely more “New York” than a pair of shorts. So, check out this stretch waist, mini-flared skater skirt since it comes in every color of the rainbow imaginable (and even in some cute patterns too) and costs less than $20 per skirt.
- Black Dress – What can I say? This little black dress has it all! I mean, you can dress it up or down, it comes with pockets, it’s super comfortable, it costs less than $30, it’s pretty dang stylish, and it falls just below the knee. Therefore, you don’t have to worry about it getting dirty while dragging on the floor as you do with long dresses.
- Bomber Jacket – The AC in NYC is outta control. So, if you plan on spending any time indoors, then you’ll definitely need at least a mildly warm jacket, like this chic, Andy & Natalie women’s quilted bomber jacket. It’s lightweight/stylish, totally durable, comes in a ton of colors, and is well-priced at under $40 per jacket. FYI, this jacket is hand wash only, and pay close attention to the size chart.
- Light T-shirts – Umm, what can I say? It’s a woman’s t-shirt. They’re light, breathable, well-priced, and come in neutral colors so that you can mix and match to create a bunch of different outfits.
- Water Bottle – When spending summer in New York City, a water bottle is your new best friend. I mean, it’s good for the environment, it’ll help you stay hydrated, and you’ll save a ton of money on bottled water. If you can, go with a collapsible water bottle since it’s much easier to pack into your dag bag when you’re not actively using it. Personally, I like this one from Nefeeko since it’s cheap (under $15), leak-proof, BPA-free, and comes with a carabineer so that you can carry it outside of your backpack.
- Sunhat (or lots of sunscreen if you look like crap in hats)- The sun is pretty intense throughout the summer in New York City. Therefore, packing a nice sunhat is a total must since you obviously want to protect your face from sunburn. And added bonus? A nice sunhat, like this one right here, will help you look baller level awesome in all of your photos. Plus, I mean, hey, it even has a giant black bow in the back. So, really, what’s not to love?
Top Things to do this Summer in New York City
1. Zipline at Bear Mountain
About an hour North of New York City, you can find Bear Mountain, State Park! Here, you will find a truly enchanting respite from the city by hiking, barbequing, and ziplining through this lovely state park (You’ll also find some of the best hikes in upstate New York here too)!
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.
But, 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)?
It’s easily one of the best ways to make the most out of all those warm and sunny days of summer in New York City (going on my list of top things to do in NYC this summer).
Plus, the final stretch of the zip line brings you through a meadow, where you get to 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 9:00 am and 5:00 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 also weigh between 70 and 250 lbs and be at least 8 years old.***
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, alas, 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 weather that proliferates all throughout summer in New York City.
But really, when are milkshakes NOT a good idea? Because, to me, milkshakes are always one of the most fun things to do in the summer.
And sure, 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! So, 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.
Plus, 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.
Trust me,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.
Actually, 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 proceeds to mow them over just to get at all the fabulous cakes this summer in New York City. Yeah, I have been “that person” and it isn’t fun.
Another downside Side though is that 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.
So, hopefully, your order is a bit more aesthetically pleasing so that you can post that thin slice of awesome all over INSTA.
4. Explore Dumbo (Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass)
This is one of my absolute favorite neighborhoods in NYC (and one of the great free things to do in NYC this summer) that only gets better in the summer, when you can actually stand outside and NOT freeze to death.
Because 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 wait, because it gets even 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 an entire day in NYC here.
Before Leaving Dumbo though, be sure to check out St. Ann’s Warehouse near the waterfront, a building that is at the epicenter of the performance art and gallery scene.
Additionally, all of the streets here are just chock full of delightful street art that anyone can enjoy. Plus, the north end of Brooklyn Bridge Park is actually 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 in New York City! 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? Then hop on the Governors Island Ferry, which departs from the Battery Maritime Building in Lower Manhattan (tickets are $3 round trip for adults), and check out some of the fun things to do this summer in New York City.
Because 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? Then 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, then take advantage of the island’s free bike mornings.
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.
Yup, just stick with this New York City summer guide and I promise that you’ll be way hipper than I could ever hope to be.
7. Brunch at Hotel Chantelle
This is easily of my absolute favorite NYC brunch spots of all time.
Because 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 that is adorned with vintage light fixtures, beautiful greenery, and a lovely glass ceiling that inundates the room with an exquisite amount of light.
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,
And if you’re not sure what to get, then order the stuffed brioche french toast with maple-infused mascarpone/ricotta and crusted in frosted flakes. Yup, it’s the stuff that diabetic comas are made of (But so good).
8. 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.
Here, you’ll enjoy a more cultured experience with literary-based cocktails that can savor atop a charming wrap-around terrace, set amongst the jungle of skyscrapers that are known as Midtown East (Literally right next door to Grand Central Terminal so really easy to find).
Yup, talk about a total book lover’s dream.
***PSST…other enchanting rooftop bars you might want to check out 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 experience for anyone spending summer in New York City.
And, it’s gorgeous. Because 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 while hanging out on the very tip of Brooklyn.
On the downside though, Coney Island about two hours from midtown by subway. This iconic theme park can also be super crowded, damn expensive, and rather touristy. Yet, it’s still one of those experiences that you should most definitely have at least once in your lifetime.
And my favorite part of Coney Island? Not surprisingly, the pizza, since I think with my stomach and nothing else! Legit though, Totonno’s has some of the best pizza that I have EVER had and I would, without a doubt, sit for two hours on the subway just to get a slice of this pizza. Because it;’s THAT good,
So, skip the Nathan’s hotdogs and come here instead. Trust me, this place has been around since 1921 for a reason.
***If you’re here in the middle of June, 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), others are pretty dang awesome and should be on your summer in New York City bucket list.
Accordingly, one of my favorite beaches just happens to be 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 since you’ll find some of the best hikes on Long Island here.
Before you go though, just remember that 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. Enjoy Some 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 City weather.
For real though.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. It’s 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 theater in New York City. Except you don’t need a car. So add this bad boy to your list of things to do in NYC this summer.
Because all you’ll 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.
FYI, these are all provided by Rooftop Cinema Club btw, which is conveniently located at the sky lawn 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).
FYI, 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 City?
I mean, this outdoor outlet mall literally has it all and is a great place to enjoy those warm and lazy days of summer (especially if you’re doing some NYC solo travel). They have over 240 stores to choose from, that sell designer items for between 25% to 65% off retail prices.
On second thought, you may need to extend your credit line while you’re there. 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 once you get there! 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 things to do this summer in NYC.
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. And by seat, I obviously mean a good place to stand.
No really. Trust me on this. 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 a primo viewing spot.
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. And I say a hearty, three cheers for streets that are devoid of crazy cabbies who try and run you over!
So, between the pop-up shops of Seventh avenue and the food courts of Broadway Bites (along Herald Square), there is no shortage of places where you can eat, shop, and just enjoy the pure awesomeness of NYC this summer.
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.
Because while NYC may be a lot of things, boring is definitely 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 (roughly).
Oh and get your butt to 22-25 Jackson Avenue in Long Island City, Queens for an amazing event that also features a series of exciting and totally innovative, contemporary art installations.
Pro Tip: 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 train 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, wait, why was this building so Important?
Well, ss 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 exact).
Today, 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.
Pro Tip: If you have time, head to the third floor, where you can see haunting remnants from the building’s years of disuse. Also, 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!
Translation? 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, which include:
- 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)
- Spaghetti doughnuts
- And so much more. I’m getting hungry now, 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.
Pro Tip: 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” – a rooftop pool at the Dream Downtown Hotel
This one is a huge splurge since 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 hotspot at the Dream Downtown Hotel.
20. Check Out a 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 are the garlic cheese fries. Nom.
Also, DO NOT TAKE YOUR CAR! Parking is insanely expensive. You can either take the 6 train or ride the Metro north train to Yankee Stadium from Harlem 125th.
Other Fun Things to do this Summer in New York City
As you may have guessed, this list of the best things to do this summer in New York City 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.
Therefore, I’m just gonna throw a few more, fun things to do this summer in New York City that you can add to your “What to do in New York City in the summer” NYC bucket list.
So, when planning the ultimate NYC itinerary this summer, don’t forget to:
- Visit the Lemon Ice King of Corona
- Stroll through the New York City Botanical Gardens
- Explore the Cooper Hewitt Design Museum (one of the many cool museums in NYC)
- Party it up at the Frying Pan – located on the lightship which is docked at Pier 66 Maritime in NYC
Where to Stay this Summer in New York City
I believe in being totally honest. And honestly? Hotels in New York City are stupid expensive – especially if you plan to spend the summer in New York City.
Yeah, it’s just unavoidable since summer, like in most places are the globe, is peak travel season in the Big Apple.
Therefore, it can be difficult to find accommodations (even hostels) that cost less than $100 per night. Thankfully though, I’m a local who knows exactly how to find reasonably priced hotel rooms in NYC.
Because we at Girl with the Passport are hardcore people pleasers who ALWAYS want to help intrepid travelers such as yourself – which, in reality, is next level perfect for you.
So, here are some of my favorite hotels in New York, organized from the least to the most expensive.
Pod 39 – Located in the Murray Hill neighborhood of NYC (FYI, they have the best Indian food in the city), this modern, swank AF pod hotel offers an amazing assortment of rooms that start at around $120 per night. And just in case you were wondering, yes, that price is cheap by NYC standards.
Now, are these rooms kind of small? Yes, but that is to be expected since this is a pod hotel. However, what their rooms lack in space they more than compensate for with modern amenities, friendly staff members, and wonderfully clean facilities.
That’s why, if you book a room at Pod 39, you’ll have everything you could possibly want for a comfortable and well-located stay in NYC.
Also, added bonus? You get to stay inside a historic home from 1918 and have your choice of queen-size beds or stainless-steel bunk beds with TVs and bedside shelves.
414 Hotel – Oh I love this hotel for about 10,000 different reasons. Not only is it centrally located in the ever-famous Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood (it’s within walking distance of Times Square), but the sleek, well-appointed rooms here start at $159 per night.
They also include a ton of extra awesome amenities like mini-fridges, flat-screen TVs, iPod docks, etc.
And even though these rooms here are reasonably priced this hotel doesn’t skimp when it comes to quality, hospitality, or cleanliness.
I mean, hello, there’s a working fireplace in the lobby that you can get all cozy around with your boo. Plus, staff are always happy to get you anything you could ever want.
Yessirree, now this is what I call living the proverbial dream.
The James New York – Want to enjoy the luxe life without needing a trust fund of your very own? If so then meet The James New York – aka your new best friend!
It’s conveniently located SOHO and is a stylish, modern hotel that is renowned for its clean, and comfy rooms – which are priced at $177 per night (and up).
So, if you’re planning on staying here, expect to find gorgeous high ceilings, expansive floor-to-ceiling windows, private glassed-off bathrooms, the finest of complimentary toiletries, and a fantastic collection of linens that are made exclusively of all-natural fibers,
The Bowery Hotel – Contrary to what the name might suggest, this is not a hotel for the downtrodden. Instead, this place a stylish, well-reviewed, five-star, hotel in Nolita that I would absolutely stay in if I had an off-shore bank account to dip into.
Sadly though, I can’t actually afford to stay in a hotel with rooms that start at $300 per night. I can, however, dream about it though since that will cost me exactly nothing.
But, with such a high price tag come exquisite rooms that feature free Wifi, free bike rentals, exquisite city views, and so much more. Honestly, that’s really just the beginning since I could go on and on about just how fab the hotel really is.
Guests will also love the impeccable service, making this the perfect place to treat yourself to a luxurious room at this fantastic hotel while spending the summer in New York City.
Where to Eat this Summer in New York City
Guess what? New York City is renowned for its world-class restaurants and for an exceptional diversity of delicious cuisine from around the world.
Therefore, when planning to spend the summer in New York City, be sure to check out some of the city’s best eateries. Because regardless of what your tastes and budget constraints are, NYC has an amazing selection of restaurants that will be perfect for you!
And because there are so many great places to eat and you have so little time, I wanted to share some local favorites with you – places that I personally know and love and frequent every chance I get.
- Sylvia’s – Located in Harlem, Sylvia’s is known for serving up some of the most delicious and authentic soul food in the entire city. So, expect to find enormous, beyond decadent plates that are piled high with fan favorites like smothered chicken, waffles, cornbread, peach cobbler, and candied yams.
- Red Rooster – Owned and operated by the ever-iconic chef Marcus Samuelson, Red Rooster is another Harlem hot spot that is the place to try southern comfort foods like collard greens, mac and cheese, Garvey Punch, mac and cheese, and chicken with waffles.
- Rugelach by a Brother – Beeline it on over to Lee Lee’s Baked Goods in Harlem and try their awesome “rugelach by a brother”. It’s easily some of the best rugelach I’ve ever eaten and is just a great place to try this sweet, iconic NYC baked good. Plus, this place has been talked about in the New York Times, so you know it’s good.
- Papaya King – If you like hot dogs and are looking for some good cheap eats in NYC, then Papaya King is THE place to go. I mean, they’ve been in business since 1932 and are known for their fresh papaya juice (hence the name) and Homerun (a hot dog with sauerkraut and NY-style onion relish) hot dogs.
- LeVain Bakery – Honestly, this place sells some of the best cookies that I’ve ever had in my life. So, if you’re gonna spend summer in New York City, then definitely give this awesome bakery a try. It’s on the upper east side and sells chocolate chip walnut, dark chocolate chip, dark chocolate peanut butter chip, and oatmeal raisin cookies. Although, I personally love their chocolate chip walnut cookies.
- Sarabeth’s – This place is an NYC brunch institution, although you can definitely eat here for either lunch or dinner too. But if you brunch it up here, definitely get the lemon and ricotta pancakes with blackberries. They’re delicious and will leave you wanting (or needing) to lick your plate clean.
- Ess-A-Bagel – if you want to try an authentic, NY-style bagel then this is THE place to go. They’ve been open since 1976, have a great selection of freshly made bagels to choose from, are incredibly cheap, are located right near Grand Central Terminal, and have a fantastic assortment of premium creams cheeses to choose from, like chocolate chip.
- Eataly – This grocery store/market/restaurant has outposts all over the city and is THE place to go for delicious Italian food. And that makes sense since it’s run by Iron Chef, Mario Batali. So, sip on espresso, devour some gelato, or sit down and savor some homemade pasta/pizza.
- Eileen’s Special Cheesecake – Try authentic, NY-style cheesecake at this amazing Nolita bakery, which has been around since1975. They have more than twenty different flavors to choose from, including classic and dulce de leche (so flipping good).
- Big Gay Ice Cream – Stop by this famous ice cream store, admire the vibrant decor, and try one of their insanely unique flavors of soft-serve ice cream. I’m partial to the “Salty Pimp” which is a vanilla soft serve cone that is lightly salted and coated with a chocolate shell. There’s even some divine dulce de leche inside that takes this dessert to the NEXT level.
- Katz’s Deli – This place is a quintessential NY deli and a must-try for anyone visiting NYC for the first time. Get their enormous pastrami sandwich and enjoy all that summer in New York City has to offer.
- Prince Street Pizza – Stop by this amazing pizzeria and grab a slice of delicious, Sicilian-style pizza. So yeah, these will be thick but delicious squares of pizza that everyone will love.
Pro Tip: If you want authentic, NY-style pizza then you have to go to Lucali in the Carroll Gardens neighborhood of Brooklyn. They serve some of the best Margherita pizza ever since their slices here are a divine combo of sauce, fresh mozzarella, thin/crispy crust, and a bit of fresh basil on top.
Additional Reading to Help You Plan Your Summer in New York City
- 25 of the Best Views in NYC
- 26+ Best Book about NYC
- 150+ Amazing Quotes about NYC
- 24+ Amazing Things to do in Lower Manhattan
- 25 Best Parks in NYC
- 30 Romantic Things to do in NYC
- 25 Best Bookstores in NYC
- A Local’s Review of the New York Pass
- 25 Amazing NYC Safety Tips
- Best Churches in NYC
- 19+ Fun Things to do in NYC at night
- 16 Best Breweries in NYC
- 16 Best Indoor Activities in NYC
Spending summer in New York City is an amazing experience that you and your family will love! So, use this local’s guide to stress less and plan the perfect vacation to one of the world’s best cities!
Because although any time is a great time to visit NYC, summer is extra special since it’s filled with delicious ice cream cones, beautiful weather, gorgeous beaches, and beautiful flowers that explode with colors.
So, use this guide to plan the perfect summer in NYC vacation! And if you found this post helpful, be sure to pin this now so that you can read it again later!