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The Aqueduct ​- Images 26-40 (Bourbon, Licor 43, Strawberries, Basil)
Photograph: Liz Clayman St. Cloud

20 ways to have the best summer ever in New York

From outdoor movie screenings to rooftop cocktails, here’s everything you need to do in New York this summer

By Nick Leftley

If you’re looking for things to do in NYC this summer, look no further. Below, you’ll find our pick of the best restaurants, bars, beaches and events to make sure that this year, you really do have the best summer ever. What are you waiting for? Get out there!

RECOMMENDED: Full guide to things to do in the summer in NYC

Ways to have the best summer ever

Try a cocktail at the Loopy Doopy Rooftop Bar

Bars Cocktail bars Battery Park City

Summer means rooftop bar season, and this is one of our new favorites. Fruity tipples come with a side of stunning downtown views at this drinking spot overlooking the Hudson River waterfront. Sample cocktails like the Topsy Turvy (vodka, orange liqueur and white cranberry), Cool as Cucumber (gin, St. Germain and lemon) and Lime in Coconut (vanilla vodka, rum and pineapple juice).

Shake Shack, Madison Square Park
Photograph: © Peter Mauss Esto Photography

Chow down at Shake Shack

Restaurants Hamburgers Flatiron

Newly reopened, Danny Meyer’s wildly popular Madison Square Park concession stand is mobbed with hour-long lines during this time of year, but it's worth the wait—it just isn't summer without a double Shack in the park. Frozen-custard shakes also hit the spot, and there’s beer and wine to boot.

Father John Misty
Photograph: Emma Tillman

See Father John Misty at Summer Stage


The crackling aura surrounding Father John Misty extends beyond his past life as a member of Fleet Foxes to the music he’s now releasing as a solo artist. Get the full experience as he takes the mainstage in Central Park during one of the city's key outdoor music series.

Photograph: Caroline Voagen Nelson

Picnic on Governors Island

Attractions Parks and gardens Governors Island

A seven-minute ride on a free ferry takes you to this seasonal island sanctuary, a scant 800 yards from lower Manhattan. With more than 30 acres of space to spread your blanket and snacks available from both the Liggett Terrace food court and a selection of food trucks that inlcudes Blue Marble ice cream, this one is a summer must.


Soak in the atmopshere at Gallow Green

Bars Cocktail bars Chelsea
Looking for something a little more unusual? Gallow Green has the feel of a garden party thrown at an abandoned farm. Fairy lights and tattered flags hang between verdant trellises while bartenders sling cocktails like the Vanessa’s Cup (Rhum J.M. Gold rum, Pimm’s, sirop de canne—a simple syrup infused with cinammon, cloves and vanilla— strawberries, ginger and nettle tincture; $14), served by waitstaff dressed in ghostly white.
Billion Oyster Project
Photograph: Courtesy Billion Oyster Project

Marvel at the Billion Oyster Pavilion

Art Sculpture

Once summer ends, this installation—which is actually designed as an artificial reef for aquatic life—will be lowered into New York Harbor, where it will hopefully attract oysters. It’s an effort to repopulate the waters around Gotham with the bivalves that once numbered in the millions, if not billions, before industry and toxic waste drove them out. It's also stunning.

Amy Poehler, Matt Besser and Matt Walsh with the newly finished UCB book
Photograph: Ari Scott

Laugh through the 17th Annual Del Close Marathon

Things to do

Get your giggles in at one of the biggest comedy events of the summer. The Upright Citizens Brigade hosts this 56-hour-long marathon dedicated to Del Close, the grandfather of long-form improv. This year's lineup of more than 600 shows includes performances by Bobby Moynihan, Ellie Kemper, Mike Birbiglia, Sasheer Zamata, Nick Kroll and the original UCB4: Amy Poehler, Matt Walsh, Ian Roberts and Matt Besser.

Grab the lamb on naan at Salvation Taco

Restaurants Mexican Murray Hill
After you’ve sat on a roof and eaten April Bloomfield’s cult-favorite tacos, including braised short rib with pickles and roasted cauliflower with farro and curried crema, you can basically die happy. For the full experience, order from the to-go menu on the ground floor, where Salvation has its main dining room, and then head up to the 17th-floor terrace. Heaven.
Fort Tilden Park
Photograph: Virginia Rollison

Sunbathe on Fort Tilden Beach

Attractions Parks and gardens Rockaways
NYC’s best-kept secret and lifeguard-free, three-mile stretch of clean sand, trees and grassy dunes is so isolated that even on a summer weekend, you’ll get a good 50 yards of beach to yourself. Since Fort Tilden Beach is nearly inaccessible via subway or car (unless you have a fancy fishing license), we suggest biking there. Oh, and don’t forget to pack some grub—the area is pretty sparse in terms of eateries and stores.
Frida Kahlo, Botanical Garden
Photograph: Filip Wolak

Admire Frida Kahlo's art at the Botanical Garden


Feel like you took a trip to Mexico with a visit to this show at the New York Botanical Garden. Twelve original paintings, including her lesser-known still lifes, will be on display, as well as a revocation of her home garden at her Casa Azul.

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