Get us in your inbox

New York, The High Line, Meatpacking District, social distancing
Photograph: Shutterstock

Fun things to do in NYC based on your comfort with reentering society

A level-by-level guide to getting back to your life.

Shaye Weaver
Written by
Shaye Weaver

NYC's positivity rate is falling and temperatures are climbing, which means NYC is headed for a more "normal" summer. While mask-wearing will continue and we'll still be talking about vaccine appointments, music venues are hosting shows, museums are opening major exhibitions, and rooftops are welcoming back revelers to drink in front of the skyline. It'll look like the NYC we all know and love at last.

And while most of us are excited to finally get out and resume our city lives, we're also anxious to re-enter society. These past 14 months have been some of the most stressful months of our lives. Many of us will be leaving quarantine very different from how we went into it. On the surface, we'll be a little rusty at socializing (do we hug?), vigilant about how many people are around us, and confused about masks. But deeper down, many of us are grateful to even be alive and have the ability to get out and resume a somewhat normal life in NYC. We're ready to live life to the fullest and not take it for granted ever again.

We've put together a guide for how to re-enter society and have fun this summer based on your comfort level, which will fluctuate. Below are the five levels of social comfort and accompanying activities to do depending on where you're at now.

RECOMMENDED: Eight amazing live shows to see in NYC this April

LEVEL ONE: You just want to get out alone

It's spring and you're ready to get back but on your own terms. We get it. There's a way to continue being cautious but still take in the sights and sounds of NYC on your own. We suggest taking a solitary "sound walk" at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, ride your bike on the Brooklyn Waterfront Greenway, or head out on one of the best walks in NYC. If you want to see some of the city's newest outdoor art, head to Madison Square Park to see "Ghost Forest" or to Downtown Brooklyn's "Breathing Pavilion." A little hungry? Grab lunch from this semi-secret food stall in Flushing or head to Central Park for a walk and stop at Tavern on the Green to pick up some snacks and cocktails to go.

LEVEL TWO: You're OK seeing people but only in small, outdoor settings 

You've been solo for long enough and you're ready to see friends again but not comfortable enough to be in a crowded area. We've got you. Play some Pétanque with Carreau Club at Industry City or have some cocktails while you paint outdoors at Paint 'N' Pour NYC. Looking for some adventure, head over to Governors Island, starting May 1, where you'll find tons of outdoor, spaced-out fun, from bike riding to outdoor art exhibitions to peruse. Want some history, head to Green-Wood Cemetery for a casual walk around the tombstones, or work with your hands by taking a private floral design class at Fern Botanica.

LEVEL THREE: You're fine with being surrounded by people—outside

At this level, you're ready to expand your horizons with a few more people in your periphery so long as you're outside with a fresh breeze and room to move around. So, if you miss the theater, Lincoln Center's "Restart Stages" outdoor performing arts center is hosting dozens of free programs or head to Brooklyn Botanic Garden's "Spring Weekends." Luckily, many comedy clubs have taken to the Great Outdoors to provides laughs. You can find them at The Tiny Cupboard's rooftop Friday Night Special comedy show or even in Prospect Park. Take a blanket and join your neighbors for the Disco Tree Variety Show on Friday nights. The Brooklyn Flea is back and don't skip one of the biggest art shows of the summer at the mostly-outdoor “KUSAMA: Cosmic Nature” exhibit at the New York Botanical Garden.

LEVEL FOUR: You’d like to get back to your old NYC life, please

Ready to take advantage of all of those only-in-NYC activities that make living here so great but that haven’t been possible for the last year? We’ve got you. For the first time since last March, many indoor venues are reopening for visitors. In early May, you’ll be able to once again grab a martini at Bemelmans Bar or catch art at the Brant Foundation in the East Village. Want to return to the theater? Catch a showing of “Blindness” in Union Square, an immersive, socially distanced theatrical production. (Be warned: The play is about—uh—a devastating pandemic…) Meanwhile, some of NYC's major events are finally starting to come back IRL, including the Frieze Art Fair at The Shed and the Bronx Night Market. A majority of the city’s movie theaters have also now reopened if you’ve got some catching up to do before Oscars Sunday.

LEVEL FIVE: You’re ready for Hot Vax Summer

We get it—We’ve all been cooped up inside for way too long and a lot of us have a ton of pent-up energy in need of an outlet. If that sounds like you, and you’re looking to be as social as possible right now—you have more options than you’ve had in a long time. For the first time this year, many local venues are reopening for indoor live shows—including concerts and comedy. If you’re looking to mix and mingle outside, try hitting up this weekly McCarren Park dance party or the newly reopened Rooftop at Elsewhere. The backyard at Nowadays is also now open seven days a week and the city’s many waterfront bars and restaurants have begun to open their doors dockside with copious amounts of rosé at the ready. If there was ever a time to treat yourself to that bottle of Whispering Angel, it’s now.

Fill out our excellent (and extremely quick) Time Out Index survey right now, and have your voice heard.

Want to know what’s cool in the city? Sign up to our newsletter for the latest and greatest from NYC and beyond.

Popular on Time Out

    You may also like
    You may also like