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The best things to do in the summer in NYC

Summer is in full swing! Discover the essential things to do in the summer to make it unforgettable.

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Bryant Park

Ah, sweet summer, you’ve arrived! The city gains a boundless energy once the warmer months roll around, and there’s endless things to do in the summer—including some great free things to do in NYC, our Rooftop Cinema Club and places to go camping near NYC for when you just need to get out of town. Use our guide to make the absolute most of these steamy summer nights!

Best things to do in the summer


Warm up the dance floor at MoMA PS1

It's easy to see why the annual Warm Up party series is so popular: You get to drink beer, eye contemporary art and dance beneath a large-scale outdoor installation. And then there's the quality of the musical lineup, which in previous years has included Afrika Bambaataa, Questlove, Francois K, Danny Krivit, the Scissor Sisters and LCD Soundsystem. This year, check out a sick lineup of artists and DJs, including Hot Chip and other big acts to be announced. Block off Saturday afternoons for this: It's going to be worth it.

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By: Vivienne van Vliet

See a free SummerStage show

Never take for granted how lucky we are to be in a city where a free show in the park has become a quintessential summer experience (even when you're stuck in the interminable line for said free show). For New York's largest free performing-arts festival, 18 parks around the city offer gratis programming, with Central Park's Mainstage at the center of the action. This year's musical lineup covers classical, jazz, hip-hop, indie rock and even comedy. Highlights include Chairlift (June 14), Public Enemy (June 21) and Indigo Girls (June 27).

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By: Andrew Frisicano

Devour an ice cream cone at Ample Hills Creamery

Twenty-four rotating flavors—made with Battenkill Valley Creamery milk, organic cane sugar and cage-free eggs—are on offer at this sunny artisanal ice cream parlor. Take a seat at the L-shaped marble counter, or watch the creamy treats being made through the production-room window. Flavors range from simple and seasonal, such as strawberry and pumpkin, to more baroque creations like The Munchies: pretzel-infused ice cream with Ritz crackers, potato chips, pretzels and mini M&Ms.

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Prospect Heights

Cool off in the city's pools

When the pavement starts to emit more heat than your apartment's radiator and the mass of shiny, reflective skyscrapers offers no escape, it's time to book it to the closest swimming hole. That would be any of the city's outdoor pools, opening June 29. 

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Lindy Hop at the Jazz Age Lawn Party

Bust out your best Daisy Buchanan frock or Gatsby suit for this '20s-themed fete. Old-timey tunes from Michael Arenella and his Dreamland Orchestra, cocktails and complimentary dance lessons will complete a day of throwback revelry. Try your steps out in the Charleston contest!

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By: Jennifer Picht

Take a trip to Governors Island

Can’t afford a tropical vacation? Hitch a ferry to New York’s car-free island, and once you’re there, get a tan as you chill in one of its hammocks. But it’s not all about taking a load off here. After launching the appropriately named 10-acre park the Hills last summer, GI continues to expand with exciting openings of attractions like Island Oyster (a beer garden from the Grand Banks team, serving seafood and cocktails) and Adventures at Governors Island, a new recreational facility with a climbing wall, maze and zip line. Tried-and-true events such as the 1920s banger Jazz Age Lawn Party are not to be overlooked either.

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By: Tazi Phillips

Catch a flick at Rooftop Cinema Club

Films go down better with cocktails—you know this to be true. And the whole experience is even sweeter when you can take in a Manhattan or Brooklyn sunset. Rooftop Cinema Club has perfected the night out at the movies, and we’re delighted to exclusively announce its third annual edition of summer movie screenings. Once again, the party comes to two venues: midtown’s swanky YOTEL (570 Tenth Ave) and East Williamsburg’s OfficeOps (57 Thames St).

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By: Joshua Rothkopf

Drink on the water at boat bar!

What better way to take advantage of New York’s gorgeous waterfront views than by actually getting on the water at one of the best boat bars in NYC? From docked summertime icon the Frying Pan to sailing-the-Hudson dinner cruises, get your outdoor drinking and outdoor dining on aboard one of these lively boat bars.

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By: Christina Izzo

Scream your guts out at Luna Park

In a sure sign that summer's on its way, NYC's largest amusement park is back for another season of rollicking good times. The Coney Island institution boasts more than 50 attractions, including the iconic Cyclone, the high-flying Air Race and the Endeavor. Try your luck at dozens of carnival games, or refuel with a burger at Cyclone Cafe. Keep an eye out for the Summer Series, which brings parties, concerts and performances to the park starting weekends in July.

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More things to do in the summer in NYC

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Summer holidays and festivals


Summer events calendars


Best summer music

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Summer eating & drinking

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