101 things to do in New York City in the summer

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  • See big-ticket concerts, like Rufus Wainwright with the New York City Opera,...

  • Cheer at the Hong Kong Dragon Boat Festival

  • Photograph: Syd London

    Picnic during a movie in Central Park

  • Photograph: Norman Blake

    Flap your flippers at the Mermaid Parade

  • Clean out your ears at the Brooklyn Hip-Hop Festival

  • Photograph: Cory Weaver/Metropolitan Opera

    Watch opera for free

  • Photograph: Courtesy Archives

    See the peacocks at the Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine

  • Relax on the waterfront at Water Taxi Beach

  • Photograph: Courtesy Astrograss

    Bring the young'uns to Hoboken

See big-ticket concerts, like Rufus Wainwright with the New York City Opera,...



 

71. Boogie down at Uptown Fridays
Don't spend your precious time on the line at MoMA's Free Fridays. Instead, head to the Studio Museum in Harlem for free admission and guided tours of the institution's exhibits, such as "Stephen Burks: Man Made," featuring artifacts from an ongoing collaboration between the noted industrial designer and West African artisans. Once your cultural thirst is quenched, cut loose with a cocktail during the dance party in the museum's courtyard. 144 W 125th St between Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Blvd (Seventh Ave) and Malcolm X Blvd (Lenox Ave) (212-864-4500, studiomuseum.org). Begins June 24 6--9pm; free. Select Fridays, see website for details.

72. See big-ticket concerts for nothin'
Watching a top-tier outdoor gig during a summery night is a fantastic NYC experience—but doing so for free is even better. This season, catch troubadour Rufus Wainwright with the New York City Opera at Winter Garden at the World Financial Center (20 Vesey St at West St; 212-945-0505, artsworldfinancialcenter.com; June 28 at 7pm; free), and rap heavyweights Rakim, EPMD and Funkmaster Flex at Central Park SummerStage Mainstage at Central Park (Rumsey Playfield, midpark at 71st St, enter at Fifth Ave and 72nd St; 212-360-2777, summerstage.org; Aug 21 at 3pm; free). For more free shows, head to our guide to the best summer concerts.

73. Cheer at the Hong Kong Dragon Boat Festival
Celebrate the fifth day of the fifth lunar month in the Year of the Rabbit at this two-day cultural festival. Watch colorful Asian dragon boats race on Meadow Lake as rowers paddle to the beat of drums, catch performances such as performances from Shaolin monks and traditional dragon dances, then dig into buns, dumplings and other ethnic goodies at the festival food court. 111th St to Van Wyck Expwy between Flushing Bay and Grand Central Pkwy, Flushing Meadows--Corona Park, Queens (hkdbf-ny.org). Aug 13, 14 9am--5pm; free.

74. Picnic during a movie in Central Park
Be there when the gates open to claim a primo picknicking spot for the Central Park Conservancy Film Festival. This year's lineup focuses on classic music movies. Find a schedule of what's playing in NYC in our outdoor-movie guide. Sheep Meadow, midpark at 69th St, enter at Fifth Ave and 72nd St (212-310-6600, centralparknyc.org). Aug 23--27 at 8pm, gates 6:30pm.

75. Flap your flippers at the Mermaid Parade
Catch and release the fishy exhibitionist in you and sign up to march in this arty procession ($2--$10, register at coneyisland.com), a revival of the Coney Island Mardi Gras that ran from 1903 to 1954. A tip for your costume: Make it aquatic, elaborate and barely there. Afterward, continue partying at the ninth annual Mermaid Parade Ball, where revelers will be entertained with live music and burlesque performances. Parade starts on Surf Ave at 21st St, Coney Island, Brooklyn (718-372-5159, coneyisland.com). June 18 at 2pm; free. Mermaid Parade Ball: New York Aquarium, Surf Ave at 8th St; June 18 7--11pm; $25.

76. Clean out your ears at the Brooklyn Hip-Hop Festival
Last year the BHF expanded from a one-day affair into a whole week of cultural activities, and this year's hip-hop blowout will be no different. The NYC-centric schedule includes a competition for local artists to win a main stage time slot, a graffiti and street art exhibition, a DJ showcase and a family-friendly block party. Longtime rap hero Q-Tip will headline the Main Stage under the Brooklyn Bridge on July 16, as well as cocurating the rest of the lineup; considering he's been in the game for more than 20 years, old-school hip-hop fans should be licking their chops in anticipation of the surprise guests that might appear. Brooklyn Bridge Plaza and the Tobacco Warehouse, 26 New Dock St at Water St, Dumbo, Brooklyn (bkhiphopfestival.com). July 11--16; prices vary, main stage $15.

77. Watch opera for free
The Metropolitan Opera treats patrons to two gratis programs this summer. In July, relive your days of trailing a jam band around the country by following the company through six parks in all five boroughs for its Summer Recital Series. Attend every concert and you'll have visited Central Park SummerStage (July 11), Brooklyn Bridge Park (July 13) and Socrates Sculpture Park (July 26). The Summer HD Festival (Aug 27--Sept 5) in Lincoln Center Plaza hosts ten consecutive screenings of popular Met performances, including this year's hot production of John Adams's Nixon in China (Aug 31). Location and time vary; visit metoperafamily.org for details.

78. See the peacocks at the Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine
Get up close and personal with wild animals that aren't vermin or rabid. On the grounds of this grandiose gothic building—the largest cathedral in the world (USA! USA!)—you'll see its three peacocks (two blue and one white) sunning themselves on the grass or garden trellises. Or catch one of the church's regular tours: We recommend the Vertical Tours (Sat noon, 2pm; $15, seniors and students $12), which lead you up a spiral staircase to a buttress where you can admire the nave and stained-glass windows. The tour continues to the roof for glorious views of Morningside Heights. 1047 Amsterdam Ave at 112th St (212-316-7540, tours 212 932-7347; stjohndivine.org)

79. Relax on the waterfront at Water Taxi Beach
Recline on the sand with a drink in hand—not on New York's public beaches, that would be illegal—at Water Taxi Beach's two remaining locations. Make sure to pour one out for the LIC spot before hitting the foosball and Ping-Pong tables at South Street Seaport, or the beach volleyball and basketball courts on Governors Island. In addition to ticketed DJ parties and concerts, you can head to the Manhattan beach every Sunday for gratis live music from 3pm until sunset. South Street Seaport: North side of Pier 17, Fulton St at South St (877-974-6998, watertaxibeach.com). Wed 4--10pm; Thu 4pm--midnight; Fri 4pm--2am; Sat 1pm--2am; Sun 1pm--midnight. Governors Island: Governors Island (watertaxibeach.com). Fri 10am--5pm; Sat, Sun 10am--6pm.

80. Bring the young'uns to Hoboken
On Tuesday evenings, take the kiddies on the PATH to Hoboken for free family-friendly tunes from acts like Astrograss (June 21), the Hey Ya Brothers (July 12) and Starfish (Aug 16). These gigs at Shipyard Park offer some splendid views of Manhattan from over the Hudson River. Consider heading to Jersey earlier in the afternoon to hit up the the town's best shops. Sinatra Dr North at 13th St, Hoboken, New Jersey (hobokennj.org). Tue 7--8pm;free. June 7--Aug 23.

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12 comments
Daniel Davidson
Daniel Davidson

Us cheapskates thank you for this great list! You mentioned yoga in Bryant Park, but they also have free movie screenings. You just have to get there early to stake out your spot. I included Bryant Park in my Kindle book: 101 Free Things To Do In NYC (http://amzn.to/NT0eoQ) because it's got so many great activities, including tai chi, fencing, juggling, ping pong tournaments, fly fishing classes, birding, a restaurant bar, and free wifi.

Buy a flat in London
Buy a flat in London

These all are really fantastic activity. These kind of activity is really helpful for an individual to develop their skill. Interesting

Mark
Mark

wow. all the activities were either boring or repeats from the boring.

Anonymous
Anonymous

Great job ,it is really helpful !

Anonymous
Anonymous

Great, varied list and most comments are about whether you are PC or not. Sad. Life is more fun with a bit of colour. Give me non PC any day!

Anonymous
Anonymous

Skip the Prospect Park Zoo. The way they keep the animals is depressing and the crowds aren't much better. Go to the Bronx Zoo instead.

Anonymous
Anonymous

also agreed re: use of "loony bin." not cool.

Anonymous
Anonymous

17. Feel fancy at Cocktails@Cooper-Hewitt Been there, done that - Drinks are not free with price of admission!

Anonymous
Anonymous

i agree with the 'looney bin' comment. read it twice 'cause i thought i misread it.

Anonymous
Anonymous

#70 Former loony bin? That's not very PC and a little offensive. Otherwise, great list.

Anonymous
Anonymous

#70 Former loony bin? That's not very PC and a little offensive. Otherwise, great list.

Anonymous
Anonymous

#70 Former loony bin? That's not very PC and a little offensive. Otherwise, great list.