1. Hit the beach and walk the boardwalk
For those whose like to embrace the city heat, this nearly three-mile stretch of sea and sand is free. But it does get crowded, so arrive early—most beachesopen at 10am. The adjacent boardwalk boasts some of the best people-watching in all of New York, not to mention rides, corny carnival games, concessions (though not much beyond funnel cakes and hot dogs) and shops chockablock with graphic T-shirts, souvenirs and beach gear. You could spend the whole day meandering along the boardwalk, but wear sunscreen—there aren't many shady escapes.