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15 things you have to do in NYC before summer ends

Hot vax summer isn't over yet!

Written by
Melissa Kravitz Hoeffner
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Hot Vax Summer is wrapping up, but there's still plenty of time to get in your last Summer 2021 memories before the leaves change. While Labor Day Weekend in NYC is around the corner, the first day of fall isn't technically until September 22, so you have a few more weeks to fit in all the seasonal ice cream, beach days and fun-in-the-sun your heart desires. Here are 15 things to check off your summer bucket list before one of the most memorable summers in forever finally wraps. 

1. Do rooftop happy hour 

Before the sun starts setting unfathomably early (i.e. before dinner time), get yourself to a rooftop to enjoy golden hour at its best. Check out a new spot like Somewhere in Nolita or Bar Blondeau

2. Meet the cows on parade

The best time to enjoy New York City's public art is the summertime, and this moo-ving installation lasts until September 30. Walk your way through 78 artist-designed fiberglass cows sprawled throughout the five boroughs. 

3. Get to the beach!

Whether you've been a beach bum all summer or have yet to stretch out on the sands of Rockaway, you'll never regret fitting in that last beach trip before the fall chill sets in. 

4. Circle around the Times Square Ferris wheel

Is it the butt of endless Twitter jokes? Absolutely. But will you love looking back at the most desirable selfie of 2021 when you inevitably hear the words Nor'easter in a few months... Do it, do it now. 

5. Ride the NYC Ferry 

At $2.75, the New York City Ferry is the cheapest boat ride in town! Take a joy ride down the East River for excellent skyline views and prime looks at the Statue of Liberty, or try out the new Hudson River route. The ferry runs all year round (except in potentially dangerous weather), but there's nothing like being on the open deck and feeling the breeze as you sail under the Brooklyn Bridge. 

6. Dip into a public pool

Get your last bobs and laps in before NYC's free outdoor pools close on Sunday, September 12. If you're kid-free, the best time to go is a weekday after Labor Day, when unofficial adult swim is on until later afternoon. 

7. Eat ice cream for breakfast

Or lunch. Or dinner. Or all three! It's full of calcium and nutrients, and ice cream just hits different before October. Make sure to pay your favorite ice cream spot a visit before summer's end, or stop into a new spot, like The Social in Prospect Heights or the reopened Serendipity 3 for their signature frozen hot chocolate. 

8. Play mini golf

Embrace your inner child with 18 holes of outdoor fun. This summer, New York saw two new mini golf experiences pop up: A climate-change themed mini golf course on the Williamsburg waterfront and a Pixar-themed mini golf course at Battery Park. 

9. Watch a baseball game

Yankees fans and Mets fans alike can cheer their teams on through September, at both Yankee Stadium and Citi Field. If you're a mixed household, consider grabbing tickets to the Subway Series, September 10-12, in which both hometown teams play each other. 

10. Read outdoors in your favorite park

Pick up your last summer read of the season—the New York Public Library is fully open for borrowing books now —pack a small picnic, and spend some you time in your favorite outdoor space in the city. It's pandemic safe, relaxing and a perfect way to reflect on the most fun months of 2021. 

11. Book a staycation

Your next big trip may be a ways off, but we strongly encourage cashing in on that PTO and staying in a new neighborhood overnight. Apartment swap with a friend, or check into a hotel with a pool to enjoy the fleeting warm weather. If you want an all-out getaway in the paradise of Times Square, visit the brand new Margaritaville Resort

12. Escape to an island

Manhattan doesn't count. Get out to Roosevelt Island, which has a brand new hotel and new hotel and rooftop bar, or Governors Island, before the weather chills. Take advantage of these nearby city excursions before coat weather! 

13. Enjoy a meal on the water

Floating or riverside, it's up to you, but New York is home to several excellent waterfront restaurants, many of which are seasonal. Consider booking a Hudson River voyage on New York's only floating Mexican restaurant or sneaking in one last seafood roll on North River Lobster Co. 

14. See a Broadway show

Broadway is back! If 2020 taught us anything, it's that everything we love and appreciate about New York can be fleeting, even if it bounces back in time! Don't wait to snag your first seat to a Broadway show in over a year, as curtains reopen, theaters are filling up, and the air conditioning is blasting. 

15. Catch an outdoor movie

It's not summer in the city if you don't see a movie in a public park! Many of the free outdoor film festivals run through September, so you have plenty of time to picnic at sunset in Long Island City and watch Jaws (Sept. 12) or sprawl out in Bryant Park lawn to catch Mrs. Doubtfire (Sept. 28). 

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