It’s finally summer! The days are warmer, longer, and there’s plenty of time to fill with fun outings. Luckily, New York City has endless possibilities. Looking for something that’s fun for the whole family? New York City has astonishing sea critters, heart-pounding thrill rides, and awesome playgrounds. Maybe you’re trying to plan the perfect date night–how about a movie under the stars on a trendy NYC rooftop? The city also offers plenty of old-fashioned summer fun, like festivals, street fairs, and fireworks! We’ve compiled a list featuring some of the best places to visit in New York City in the summer:
1. Enjoy classic summer fun at Coney Island.
Easily one of the most iconic spots in NYC, Brooklyn’s Coney Island is the best place for summer fun. Thrill-seekers can get their adrenaline pumping on Cyclone, the classic wooden coaster that’s been around for more than 90 years. Know someone who loves animals? Take them to a beautiful undersea world at the New York Aquarium. Coney Island is home to the city’s only aquarium, where you can get up-close-and-personal with walruses, sea lions, and a plethora of colorful sea creatures. Don’t leave without taking a stroll along the boardwalk, and finish up the perfect summer day with fireworks on the beach.
2. Party under the stars at SummerStage.
Central Park’s SummerStage is ready to rock your world with a spectacular summer line-up. The newly renovated outdoor venue boasts upgraded sound and lighting systems, raised seating, and a brand new stage. In addition to the stage in Central Park, you can catch shows all over the city–SummerStage venues can be found in all five boroughs, with awesome entertainment in every location. No matter what type of music you enjoy, you’re sure to find it at a SummerStage. Up-and-coming artists and seasoned entertainers share the spotlight, playing music from a vast array of genres.
3. Visit street fairs & festivals.
New York City sure knows how to party, especially in the summer! The city is home to tons of awesome street fairs and fabulous festivals. Visit a street fair to experience New York City in a completely new way–free of the hustle and bustle of noisy cars, trucks, and buses. Indulge in authentic cultural cuisine, find exquisite handmade crafts, and immerse yourself in the local community. Once you’ve filled up on street fair treats, it’s time to hit some of the season’s best festivals! Step back in time and relax this 4th of July with a visit to Historic Richmond Town’s Independence Day Celebration in Staten Island. Be sure to make time for the dazzling Macy’s fireworks show, launching from the beautiful Brooklyn Bridge. The fun doesn’t end on the 4th–catch weekly music festivals at Riverside Park, stuff yourself silly at the Grand Central Food Festival Series, find inner peace at the Soulfest NYC Yoga and Wellness Festival, and take in the gorgeous sights at the Hong Kong Dragon Boat Festival.
4. Take a ferry to Governor’s Island.
Summer is the ideal time to hop on a ferry and explore Governor’s Island. Situated 800 yards from lower Manhattan, the island is a former military base that now boasts 172 acres of beautiful scenery, interesting wildlife, and outdoor recreation. You can hike on a variety of paths, play a game of baseball with your friends and family, or climb the breathtaking “Hills” for a stunning view of the city. The “Hills” rise 70 feet above sea level, providing visitors with an eagle-eye view of the Statue of Liberty. If you have kids, don’t leave without trying the longest slide in NYC–a whopping 54 feet of speeding fun!
5. Kick back and relax with an outdoor movie.
Nothing says summer like the nostalgia of an outdoor movie. The NYC Parks Department offers outdoor movies at beautiful locations throughout the five boroughs. A wide variety of movie genres means you can plan a romantic date night, catch a hair-raising classic horror flick, or bring the entire brood for a wholesome family film. Looking for something a little more swanky than a picnic blanket in the park? Well, then, you’re going to LOVE the Rooftop Cinema Club. The Skylawn Rooftop Bar at Embassy Suites is transformed into a magical movie-going experience this summer, with deck chairs, wireless headphones, popcorn, and cocktails. The Cinema Club shows films daily all summer long, with special themed nights sprinkled throughout the calendar.
6. Pack a picnic and head to Central Park.
Summer means warm sunshine, colorful flowers, and fresh air. Make the most of your outdoor time this summer with a delightful picnic in the heart of New York City. Central Park is filled with perfect picnic spots, just take your pick! Spread out on the lush, green expanses of the Great Lawn, or spend some quiet time in the relaxing Sheep Meadow (keep in mind that no music is allowed in this serene area). Enjoy your meal in front of Belvedere Castle, and snap some awesome pictures while you’re there, or plan a romantic lunch for two on a bench overlooking the Bow Bridge.
7. Take in the view-from the water.
Take advantage of the warm weather and spend a day on the water surrounding New York City. The city offers many opportunities to take free kayak rides and see the city from a whole new perspective. Manhattan Community Boathouse has two locations–Pier 96 and 72nd street–where you can hop of the dock and paddle the day away. Piers 1 and 2 offers kayaking with incredible views of the Brooklyn Bridge, and Kayak Staten Island boasts a calmer, quieter scene. Most kayak outings are 20 minutes long, while some will let you paddle longer if no one is waiting. New York City is full of amazing things to see and do. The long summer days offer the perfect opportunity to try new things and enjoy activities you normally wouldn’t have time to squeeze into a busy schedule. From picnics in the park to bustling street fairs to the quiet, peaceful hills of Governor’s Island, this city has something for everyone.