101 things to do in the summer in New York City 2012

Our picks for the best events and things to do in the summer in NYC. Make a checklist, keep track on our Facebook app... just get outside and get started.

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  • Photograph: Julienne Schaer

    11. Spend some time on the waterfront in Brooklyn Bridge Park

  • 12. Drink on the waterfront at Beekman Beer Garden

     

  • Photograph: courtesy Tanya Bonakdar Gallery

    13. Make music in Madison Square Park

    Pictured: Charles Long, Rendering of Pet Sounds (2012) in Madison Square Park

  • Photograph: Virginia Rollison

    14. Hot step it to Midsummer Night Swing

  • Photograph: Virginia Rollison

    15. Get tanned and titillated at the Coney Island Mermaid Parade

  • 16. Catch the season's big outdoor music fest, Governor's Ball

     

     

  • Photograph: Courtesy Shakespeare in the Park

    17. Queue up for free Shakespeare in Central Park

  • Photograph: Max Flatow Photograp

    18. Follow a flock of food trucks

  • 19. Root, root, root for the home team

    Pictured: The Brooklyn Cyclones' MCU Park

  • Photograph: Jakob N. Layman

    20. Go for postwork drinks on a Tuesday night at the Hudson Square Music and Wine Festival

Photograph: Julienne Schaer

11. Spend some time on the waterfront in Brooklyn Bridge Park

11

Spend some time on the waterfront

  • Critics choice
  • Free

Perennial favorite Brooklyn Bridge Park just keeps getting better. This summer, it inaugurates a new 1,500-square-foot, 3.5-foot-deep wading pool (opens early July) on the greenway adjacent to Pier 2 and launches Books Beneath the Bridge (Mon 7–8pm; free; July 9–Aug 13), programmed by a half dozen of the best independent bookshops in Brooklyn. Big names (Martin Amis, Aug 13) and local heroes (Lizz Winstead, July 23) will read on Pier 1’s Granite Prospect with the Manhattan skyline as their backdrop. Returning to the fold is the Syfy Movies with a View series (Thu 6pm, July 5–Aug 30) on Pier 1—Wet Hot American Summer screens August 2—and three walk-up sand volleyball courts plus a roof deck with concessions from Bark Hot Dogs (Wed–Fri, holiday Mon 11am–10pm; Sat 11am–midnight; Sun 11am–11pm; opens May 26).

  1. Main St, (Fulton Ferry Landing)
More info
12

Drink on the waterfront

  • Price band: 1/4

Once you’ve had your fill of sober lounging in Brooklyn Bridge Park, cross the bridge to Beekman Beer Garden Beach Club in South Street Seaport and imbibe in its sandy environs. Recline on the white couches, play a free game of pool, Ping-Pong or foosball (tables are first-come, first-served), or gather round the fire pit when the night turns chilly. As well as one-off events like a crawfish boil (May 31 at 6pm; $65), there’s a slew of Wednesday night shows (times and prices vary) and Sunday afternoon parties.

  1. north side of Pier 17, Beekman St, (at South St)
Book online
13

Make music in Madison Square Park

  • Critics choice
  • Free

The gigantic white head (otherwise known as Jaume Plensa’s Echo) is gone from the Oval Lawn, but it’s been replaced by a mixed-media installation that is just as whimsical—and a tad less scary. Pet Sounds (through Sept 9), by California artist Charles Long, consists of colorful railings and cartoonish blobs that vibrate and emit sounds when touched. It’s worth timing your visit to either before June 1, when Worth Square is packed with 25 local food vendors—including Eataly and Momofuku Milk Bar—for Madison Square Eats (daily 11am–9pm; free), or on Wednesday evenings after June 20 for the Madison Square Music: Oval Lawn Series (times vary; see madisonsquarepark.org for information), which culminates in a show by lauded veteran soulstress Bettye LaVette on August 8.

  1. 23rd St to 26th St, (between Fifth Ave and Madison Ave)
More info
14

Catch the season's big outdoor music fest

  • Price band: 4/4
  • Critics choice

Having recently returned to action with a pair of instantly sold-out club dates, Fiona Apple commandeers Randall's Island June 24 to properly celebrate the release of her new album, which naturally has a 23-word title. Beck, Modest Mouse and Explosions in the Sky are among the major acts that share the Sunday bill; on Saturday you can catch Passion Pit, Duck Sauce, Chromeo, Santigold, Special Disco Version and more.

  1. Randalls Island Park Robert F. Kennedy Bridge, at Randalls Island
  2. Until Sun Jun 8
More info
15

Queue up for free Shakespeare in Central Park

  • Free

Director Daniel Sullivan returns to the Delacorte Theater with As You Like It (June 5–30)—where he's had remarkable success with Twelfth Night, A Midsummer Night's Dream and other notably fresh takes on Shakespeare. This new staging of the Bard's beloved pastoral romantic comedy stars Lily Rabe as the witty and pretty Rosalind, Oliver Platt as the clown Touchstone and Stephen Spinella as the mordant Jaques, he of "seven ages of man" fame. Normally, New Yorkers expect one or two Shakespeare classics presented free in Central Park, but we'll make an exception this time for Stephen Sondheim's Into The Woods (July 23–Aug 25), staring Amy Adams.

  1. Central Park, (at 81st St)
More info
16

Follow a flock of food trucks

  • Critics choice

Good news: Food trucks, previously thought to be solitary, elusive creatures, do in fact travel in packs. Downtown office workers will find five of the mobile snack stands parked outside 4 World Financial Center (North End Ave at Vesey St) during the week; vendors at the Food Truck Court (worldfinancialcenter.com/foodtrucks; Mon–Fri 11am–3pm; through 2013) shuffle daily, but favorites like Kimchi Taco, Rickshaw Dumpling and Red Hook Lobster Pound are often in attendance. On select Sundays, a five-to-eight-vehicle strong Gourmet Food Truck Bazaar convenes at the Hell’s Kitchen Flea Market (hellskitchenfleamarket.com; second Sunday of the month 11am–5pm; through October); city staples like Kimchi Taco, Coolhaus, Frites n Meats and Taim Mobile are all regulars. Between eight and a whopping 15 grub mobiles gather in Grand Army Plaza for Prospect Park’s monthly Food Truck Rally (prospectpark.org/food-truck-rally; May 26, then every third Sunday 11am–5pm; through October). Produced by the NYC Food Truck Association, the roundup draws members such as Luke’s Lobster, Milk Truck and Souvlaki GR over the course of the season.

17
Brooklyn Cyclones

Root, root, root for the home team

  • Critics choice

This summer, catch the Yanks on their home turf  of Yankee Stadium as they battle their fierce rivals, the Boston Red Sox (July 27–29), or watch them face off against the Mets at Citi Field for the second Subway Series of the year (June 22–24). Just remember to remain civil and avoid fistfights. No one wants to be that guy who shows up in ESPN highlights. For a less expensive, more laid-back alternative, hike out to Coney Island to see minor-league team the Brooklyn Cyclones at MCU Park. Even if sparks don’t fly on the field, there’s still a good chance you’ll catch a fireworks show—11 night games this year end with ’em.

18

Go for postwork drinks on a Tuesday night

  • Price band: 2/4

How do you turn an unremarkable, empty parking lot into a popular summer destination? If you’re City Winery, you haul out custom barrels for serving vino on tap, create a makeshift stage from an adjacent loading dock, book an eclectic assortment of musical acts and call it the Hudson Square Music and Wine Festival. The lineup for this Tuesday evening concert series includes novelty string collective the Portland Cello Project (June 26), Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Sam Moore (July 17) and local bluegrass quintet Ollabelle (July 31) pumping out tunes while an after-work crowd of revelers eats, drinks and makes merry. A couple of City Winery’s own craft vintages are available for sipping (2011 sauvignon blanc, $7; 2011 zinfandel, $9), or select from a trio of German bottled beers ($6). If it’s dinner you’re after, mix and match a locally sourced burger-and-salad combo ($10) from Great Performances catering, which comes with a fresh-brewed, mint-infused strawberry lemonade. Though they’ve added a few tables this year, don’t count on snagging one as attendance can reach upwards of 1,000 people. Bring a blanket. A heavy one: All this might sound glamorous, but it’s still asphalt. (212-608-0555, citywinery.com/hudsonbbq)

  1. Spring St, (between Hudson and Varick Sts)
More info


Users say

17 comments
shore excursions in Tallinn
shore excursions in Tallinn

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Justin bieber
Justin bieber

This is so great I love summer and all my fans

Ravyjutty
Ravyjutty

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Brad
Brad

Thanks for the summertime things to do list!! Remember everyone, this summer, you could also adopt a cat in need of a forever home. http://manhattancats.com

Ann
Ann

Appreciate the listing of activities, regardless of my beliefs about his opinions, I found the Glenn Beck comment "bring your rotten tomatos in case Glenn Beck comes" to be distasteful. Do we not respect opinions that differ from our own, or at very least, respect one another enough to not threaten them from being allowed in a public area with their family?

shine
shine

I enjoy this article a lot, however, the 20th is missed. Could you please add? Thanks.

Jonathan Shannon, deputy editor, Time Out New York
Jonathan Shannon, deputy editor, Time Out New York

Hi everyone, thanks for your comments. Hope you're enjoying the list. @Jane: The app just launched, there's a link at the top of the first page. Apologies for the delay, hope you like it! @Allie: There isn't a way to download the list as a calendar, but I like your thinking. We'll see what's possible for fall. @Steve: The series is called Rooftop Films, we've added that rather important detail. @Marco: You are very welcome.

Jane
Jane

i can't seem to find the app. did it actually launch?

The RIDE
The RIDE

#102: Jump on the Fazzino RIDE for a tour of New York like you have never seen it before!

Allie
Allie

Is there an easy way to download this whole list into Calendar? That would be incredible.

Steve
Steve

What is the name of the film series mentioned in number 30?

marco
marco

Thanks New York!!