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The best things to do in the summer in NYC

Make the most of those warm and sunny days in the city with our essential list of things to do in the summer
Photograph: Courtesy Angelito Jusay
By Time Out New York editors, Jennifer Picht and Jillian Anthony |

After peeping our killer list of things to do in summer in NYC, you’ll want to grab a new swimsuit, bust out your sandals and start requesting vacation days. The city gains a boundless energy once the heat cranks up. Thus, some of the most popular New York attractions provide an endless list of things to do outside. From rooftop movies and free dance parties in Gotham’s best parks to can’t-miss music festivals and more, make sure to use our guide to make the absolute most of these steamy summer nights.

Best things to do in the summer

Photograph: Loren Wohl

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, and other big acts to be announced. Block off Saturday afternoons for this: It's going to be worth it.

Photograph: David Gettens

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, various 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 Porches and Sunflower Bean (Aug 11), O.A.R. (Aug 13) and Blood Orange (Sept 26).

Ample Hills Creamery
Restaurants, Ice cream parlors

Devour an ice cream cone at Ample Hills Creamery

icon-location-pin Prospect Heights

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.

Coney Island Mermaid Parade 2015
Photograph: Filip Wolak
Things to do

Party with creatures of the sea

Half-naked mermaids and mermen and other creatures covered in glitter and scales invade the streets of Coney Island for this annual bacchanal by the sea. Leading the procession this year? Fiery musician Amanda Palmer as Queen Mermaid and her hubby, literary celeb Neil Gaiman, as King Neptune. 

Atlantic Antic 2013
Photograph: Alex Strada
Things to do

Eat, drink and shop in the streets

If you need another reason to get excited for summer, NYC street fairs take over various blocks in all five boroughs when the weather gets warmer. While frolicking through these vehicle-free roads, snack on sensational eats from the best restaurants and score stellar throwback wares and antiques as you would find at our city’s finest vintage clothing stores. 

Bushwick Collective Block Party.
Jesus Gonzalez
Things to do, Festivals

See far-out graffiti paired with live music

A chunk of Brooklyn’s top-notch outdoor artists stage a Bushwick street takeover, fully armed with food trucks, live jammin’ and Instagram-worthy graffiti to celebrate the nabe’s trendy art scene. Watch spray-can masters create new masterpieces in real time, while local hip-hop and rock-and-roll artists provide the backdrop tunes. 

Floating Pool at Barretto Point Park
Photograph: Courtesy NYC Parks
Things to do

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 27, 2018. 

Photograph: Courtesy BarberCon
Things to do, Conventions

Get buzzed at Barbercon

Makeup and skin-care junkies have Beautycon; bearded folks or those with magnificent manes have Barbercon. You don’t have to be a professional trimmer to get in on the fun, with food trucks, tunes and games, as well as drinks to keep you feeling buzzed.

Jazz Age Lawn Party 2015
Photograph: Lauren Spinelli

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!

McCarren Park
Photograph: Courtesy and Sara
Attractions, Parks and gardens

Be a free agent for the Brooklyn Kickball League

icon-location-pin Greenpoint

Partake in the ultimate hipster sport without committing to a weekly team. Simply email and add your name to the roster of 350 roving players. If you're contacted to participate in a match, the fee will be at the discretion of the team. Various times and locations; visit for more details.

Things to do

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, GI continues to expand with exciting openings of attractions like a Collective Retreats camp site, so you can sleep under the stars on the island.

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