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People swim at Coney Island beach with the amusement park in the background.
Photograph: By pictureforlife / Shutterstock

The best things to do this summer in NYC

Soak up the sun as well as our list of recommendations for the best things to do during summer in New York.

Rossilynne Skena Culgan
Shaye Weaver
Written by
Rossilynne Skena Culgan
Contributor
Shaye Weaver
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This summer in NYC promises to be an unforgettable one. The city has a boundless energy once the heat cranks up, so it's time to start checking off our sensational list of things to do in summer in NYC. Some of the most popular New York attractions provide an endless list of things to do outside from rooftop movies and free dance parties to can’t-miss music festivals and more. Here’s how to make the absolute most of these steamy summer nights.

Tip: You may want to request off for a few staycation days too so you can spend some time relaxing at a few rooftop pools during the week when they’re less crowded.

RECOMMENDED: NYC events calendar for 2023

Best things to do this summer in NYC

  • Things to do

When it gets hot, cool off in style. Several of New York’s finest hotels offer day passes for their rooftop pools, most of which include chaises and cabanas for lounging in addition to a full-service bar. The combination of two of New York's favorite things—swimming pools and rooftop bars—creates an elevated summer oasis worth throwing down some cash for. Make sure to cross one, if not all, of these pools off your summer bucket list.

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  • Theater

Every summer, the Public Theater produces a beloved NYC democratic tradition: Shakespeare in the Park. There’s nothing quite like hearing the Bard’s immortal words performed outside in New York, with a backdrop of natural splendor and the Belvedere Castle looming in the background like the world’s most impressive set decoration.

Actors will stage a powerful rendition of "Hamlet" with shows through August 6, 2023. Shows are presented at the open-air Delacorte Theater in Central Park, and tickets are free. Shakespeare in the Park’s popularity means that tickets aren’t easy to come by—but if you persevere, you can get seats. Here’s our guide to navigating the system in 2023.

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  • Movies
  • Movies

The beloved Movie Nights series is coming back to Bryant Park this summer, and it’s got an exciting new partner: Paramount+. The streaming juggernaut has entered into a multiyear deal with Bryant Park to support its outdoor movie series, which is celebrating its 30th anniversary this summer, making it the park’s longest-running program.

The newly dubbed "Paramount+ Movie Nights at Bryant Park" series will runs June through August. Here's the schedule:

  • June 19: Dream Girls
  • June 26: Mean Girls
  • July 3: School of Rock
  • July 10: Roman Holiday
  • July 17: Reality Bites
  • July 24: Star Trek III: The Search for Spock
  • July 31: Swingers
  • August 7: 48 Hours
  • August 14: Zoolander
  • August 21: Bonus | Good Burger
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  • Restaurants
  • Drinking

If you can't make it to a tropical beach this sumer, Watermark Beach is now open and ready to help. This tropical takeover at Pier 15 features tiki decor, seasonal drinks and twinkling lights for when the party stretches into the nighttime hours.

Reservations are available here, so grab your Tommy Bahama shirt, slather on some sunscreen and party like you're in the Bahamas right here in Manhattan.

  • Art
  • Art

Artist Lauren Halsey transformed images of lowriders, men in durags, DJs and spaceships into modern-day hieroglyphs to create a massive new rooftop installation at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Drawing on inspiration from Egyptian architecture and her Los Angeles neighborhood, Halsey reimagined an ancient language with a fresh, 21st-century take. 

Titled "the eastside of south central los angeles hieroglyph prototype architecture (I)," The Roof Garden Commission: Lauren Halsey is now on view through October 22 on The Met's rooftop. The Cantor Roof Garden Bar is now open, so you can enjoy a drink while admiring the art.

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  • Theater
  • Theater & Performance

'Tis the season of free events and Little Island is getting in on the gratis action with its 2023 lineup of summer programming.

The public park, which can be found floating at Pier 55 off the west side's Hudson River Park, will host a fresh slate of free events, including DJ sets, drag bingo, dance parties and a wide variety of intimate performancesstand-up comedy, spoken word, live jazzheld in the park's scenic stage, The Glade.

Some of the talents joining Little Island's summer event calendar are Saturday Night Live cast member James Austin Johnson, Tony Award winner Tonya PinkinsGrammy winners Joshua Henry and J Hoard, Emmy nominee and Joe's Pub favorite Shaina Taub, and many more.

No tickets or timed entry reservations are required to attend any of the events this summer.

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  • Things to do
  • City Life

One of Manhattan’s most famed institutions is coming back this summer. 

Central Park's Loeb Boathouse, which shuttered in 2022, is reopening this summer for boating, snacking and classic New York vibes in Central Park near West 74th Street.

Legends Hospitality, which manages food at major events and tourism spaces including Yankee Stadium, Circle Line Cruises, and One World Observatory, took over the lease, promising $3.5 million in improvements to the historic property.

  • Things to do
  • Events & Festivals

It's always a good time to go to the west side's scenic Hudson River Park, but this summer especially so: the waterfront green space turns the big two-five this year and they’re celebrating with more than 400 free events hosted from May through November. Yes, we said 400

And with that breadth of activity, there truly is an event for everyone. Along with returning favorites like the Hudson River Dance Festival, Blues BBQ Festival, Jazz at Pier 84 and SUBMERGE Marine Science Festival, attendees can enjoy dance classes, from salsa to Bollywood; an outdoor fitness series presented by Lululemon, including yoga and HIIT workouts; sustainability initiatives like wildlife walking tours and STEM programming, and more. 

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  • Museums
  • Hell's Kitchen

On select Friday nights through September, the Intrepid Museum opens its doors for free (tickets are usually $36), allowing visitors to explore the Museum and enjoy free after-hours programming. Free Fridays run on the last Friday of the month.

Find the Intrepid Museum located at Pier 86 (46th Street and 12th Avenue). Events begin at 5pm, with free general admission for all visitors through 9pm. Check the program schedule at intrepidmuseum.org.

  • Sports and fitness
  • Sports & Fitness

The pickleball craze is continuing as CityPickle has arrived at Central Park's Wollman Rink—the largest pickleball installation in the Northeast. Fourteen courts are open from 7am-9pm daily through October 9 and all skill levels are welcome to play.

Each court at Central Park can accommodate four to eight people. Full-price court rental options range from $80-$120 total per hour, depending on if it’s an off-peak or peak reservation time. That translates to about $10 per person for an hour of play. 

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  • Things to do
  • City Life

Flipper's Roller Boogie Palace is back at Rockefeller Center through October. 

The rink offers smooth ride with plenty of space to get around other skaters. Being able to glide by Prometheus and in front of spectators visiting Rockefeller Center is quite a thrill. Before Flipper’s first opened last year, the last time anyone roller-skated here was in 1940!

Tickets start at just over $20 for a one-hour rink time.

  • Art
  • Art

Nearly every artist has their fixation, and for two years, Vincent Van Gogh was possessed with the challenge of capturing the cypress trees that surrounded him in France toward the end of his life.

You’ll be able to see this glorious obsession firsthand at The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s major summer exhibit, “Van Gogh’s Cypresses,” which runs through August 27.

And it is history in the making as it is the first exhibition to focus on the artist’s cypress trees, reuniting some of his most iconic paintings, including “Wheat Field with Cypresses” and “The Starry Night” and other rarely lent works.

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  • Movies
  • Movies

Looking for an elevated movie-going experience? This summer, you can watch classic movies Casablanca, Clueless and Goodfellas on a Manhattan rooftop while sipping wine and snacking on vegan popcorn. 

Rooftop Cinema Club in midtown is back this summer with an impressive slate of movies.

No matter which movie you pick, the city's skyline serves as a stunning backdrop, as the cinema's located on the Skylawn rooftop of the Embassy Suites Hotel on West 37th Street. But don't worry about background noise because each guest gets their own wireless headphones.

  • Restaurants

Smorgasburg is the food bazaar spectacular that unofficially announces summer in New York City every year. Founded by Brooklyn Flea’s Eric Demby and Jonathan Butler, the culinary extravaganza typically spotlights about 100 vendors across its locations. Smorg has three spots in 2023, two in Brooklyn (in Williamsburg and Prospect Park) and one at the World Trade Center. 

The World Trade Center outpost runs on Fridays; Williamsburg on Saturdays; and Prospect Park on Sundays.

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  • Things to do
  • City Life

Live out your childhood dreams and launch down a slide into 500,000 translucent balls at Pop In The City. The giant, 120-foot-long bouncy castle is known for its interconnected domes with interactive elements.

Bouncers should expect NYC-themed fun with big apples, big buildings, big pizza, and other NYC icons made in inflatable art, as well as a “glitterball dome” inspired by Studio 54 with a performance stage, fun lighting and special effects, 100 shimmering disco balls and more.

There will also be DJs, emcees and musicians who will keep the excitement bouncin’.

Find Pop In The City in the plaza adjacent to Greeley Square Park on Broadway between 32nd and 33rd Streets. Tickets start at $20. It’ll be up through Sunday, September 3.

 

  • Things to do
  • Events & Festivals

Summer nights, after work or a day out, will once again be alive with music and dance thanks to Bryant Park Picnic Performances presented by Bank of America.

Starting in June, the Picnic Performances will bring the best of NYC to the stage, including the New York City Opera, Jalopy Theatre, Carnegie Hall, the Classical Theatre of Harlem and the American Symphony Orchestra.

Best of all, all 26 performances are free and open to the public! Here's the full schedule.

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  • Things to do
  • Events & Festivals

Stargazing without leading the city is totally possible. 

SUMMIT One Vanderbilt, is teaming up with the Amateur Astronomers Association (AAA) to bring guests a new and exciting experience in the sky. A group of expert astronomers at the AAA, a volunteer-run non-profit organization, will guide guests through an enchanting tour of the sky with state-of-the-art telescopes on SUMMIT’s outdoor terrace. The experience on the skyscraper’s 93rd floor (1,100 feet above the sidewalk) will help guests witness celestial marvels, mysteries of distant galaxies and the wonders of the solar system. Or, you know, you may just see a cute constellation.

Events will be held throughout the summer: Wednesday, July 26, starting 8:30pm (Rain Date: July 27), Wednesday, August 23, starting 8pm (Rain Date: August 24), Wednesday, September 20, starting 7pm (Rain Date: September 21); and Wednesday, October 25, starting 6pm (Rain Date: October 26).

  • Things to do
  • Events & Festivals

A new colorful floral installation has bloomed in Brooklyn Heights, and the pop-up is thankfully pollen free! 

The Montague Street Business Improvement District (Montague BID) debuted “Montague Street Blooms,” a 6-foot tall pop-up flower park installation.

Created by local artist Piera Bonerba, owner of Le Meraviglie Art Studio at 108 Montague Street, and artist Emanuele Simonelli, the pop-up park will return to Montague Street between Henry and Hicks Streets every Saturday in June and July, from noon-6pm. 

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  • Music
Step onto the ferry—and back in time—with thousands of revelers dressed to the 1920s-nines. During the event, enjoy live music from Michael Arenella and his Dreamland Orchestra, learn the Charleston and sip cocktails and have a picnic in the sunshine.

The Jazz Age Lawn Party is a 1920s-themed party where attendees are encouraged to wear period dress, try classic cocktails and dance along to live jazz! It's held on August 12 and 13, 2023. 

  • Art
  • Art

Featuring more than 120 works from 85 lenders, this sprawling show is the first to reunite Georgia O'Keeffe's works on paper made in series. It's also the first time MoMA has featured her work since 1946; at that time, the exhibition was the museum's first retrospective of a woman artist. 

The renowned American artist is the subject of "Georgia O’Keeffe: To See Takes Time," on view through August 12. 

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  • Art
  • Art

Gardens tend to attract the most attention when they’re in full bloom, fragrant and colorful. They don’t garner much adoration when they’re dormant or decaying. But all of these cycles are an important part of life, as artist Ebony G. Patterson explores in a powerful new exhibition at New York Botanical Garden. 

Iridescent vulture sculptures, glass re-creations of extinct plants and collages inspired by gardening books are now on view as part of her exhibit titled "... things come to thrive ... in the shedding ... in the molting ..." It's now on view through Sunday, September 17.

  • Things to do

Crowds flock to this delicious pop-up, which runs from spring through the fall, transforming parts of NYC into a sliver of Japan. This massive festival attracts more than 250,000 people every year. This year, it'll be held 20 times during the season running through October 28, making it the biggest JAPAN Fes yet. Locations include Chelsea, Astoria, NoMad, Park Slope, the East Village and more. 

Snack on treats from 750 vendors inspired by Japanese and East Asian street food like takoyaki (octopus balls), sushi, gyoza, Korean-style rice hot dogs, Taiwanese popcorn chicken and much more. After you're full, shop for Japanese crafts and gifts featured at the event.

Here's the full JAPAN Fes schedule for the summer.

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  • Music
  • Music

This year, SummerStage will bring New Yorkers nearly 80 free and benefit shows to Central Park and 12 neighborhood parks across the five boroughs, including at Marcus Garvey Park in Harlem, Tompkins Square Park in the East Village, Von King Park and The Coney Island Amphitheater in Brooklyn, Flushing Meadows-Corona Park in Queens, Crotona Park in the Bronx, Stapleton Waterfront Park in Staten Island, and its “flagship” venue at Rumsey Playfield in Central Park.

Featured artists include Indigo Girls, Sammy Rae & The Friends, Grandmaster Flash, The Metropolitan Opera, Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds and Garbage, Kool and the Gang, DJ Rekha, Regina Spektor and much, much more. All shows are free except the benefit concerts, which are noted in the full lineup here.

  • Music
  • Music

Forest Hills Stadium in Queens has released its lineup for its 2023 Centennial season, and it includes some must-see acts like Kevin Hart, Dave Matthews Band, Soccer Mommy, Fall Out Boy, Arctic Monkeys, Duran Duran, Weezer, Future Islands, The Strokes, Angel Olsen and more. 

The new season will feature 30 music and comedy performances, representing the “most diverse and exciting list of performances yet,” according to a press release. 

Here's the lineup.

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  • Things to do
  • City Life

It's finally time to take a dip in the city's most colorful pool! 

Manhattan Park's annual pop-up pool party is back at the luxury waterfront property on Roosevelt Island, and the ninth annual summer-long celebration is perhaps more unique than ever. 

When the pool re-opens each year, a new outdoor transformation is revealed. This year’s is by local artist James Gortner, chosen for his artistic and colorful vision for this summer’s themes of the joy of existence and sustainability.

The Manhattan Park Pop-Up Pool Party and annual pool mural will remain open throughout the summer 2023 season. Access to the pool is available via monthly or seasonal membership. All summer club rates start at $550 for Roosevelt Island residents and $1,100 for non-residents. Monthly membership is $400 for individuals, $550 for couples, and $750 for families. 

  • Restaurants
  • Eating

If you can't travel abroad this summer, don't worry: These new pop-up picnic options offer a taste of the Mediterranean. NYC's PopUpPicnic Group is partnering with Cedar's Foods to add some summery, Mediterranean-inspired food options to their picnic menu. 

PopUpPicnic is known for its lavish picnic setups, complete with floor cushions, pillows and gorgeous tablescapes with a "modern garden party" theme. They even handle all the location scouting, setup and cleanup. Each picnic runs for two hours of outdoor fun.

Pricing for the picnic setup and catering changes based on the headcount and equipment required for setup. In general, $75-$100 per person is the price range for parties under 20 guests.  

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  • Sex and dating
  • Sex & Dating

Does the perfect date night exist? Well, it does now! We're here to tell you that this is one you'll want to add to your to-do list. The Metropolitan Museum of Art's "Date Nights" give visitors an opportunity to become acquainted with artwork with informal drop-in gallery chats, the chance to listen in on gorgeous live music and sip on yummy cocktails. These "Date Nights" will be held every Friday and Saturday nights in the American Wing Café from 5pm to 9pm.

 

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  • Restaurants
  • Eating

Summer is here, and you know what that means: it's time for Gitano Island.

The popular Tulum-inspired beach clubwhich first brought its Mexico-by-way-of-Manhattan vibes to New York with Soho's Gitano Garden of Love—has made its grand return to Governors Island.

The waterfront concept is getting a fancy little makeover for the summer, with a more refined menu of modern Mexican plates from Executive Chef Antonio Maldonaldo that include black truffle sopes, lobster tostadas, Baja California kampachi with grilled avocado, duck carnitas huarache, and short rib birria, doled out from the restaurant's open kitchen. And, yes, there will be caviar, served with masa cakes, a chipotle créme fraiche and other accompaniments.

 

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  • Things to do
  • City Life

Swingers NoMad, a "crazy mini-golf course" and entertainment complex straight from London, has three nine-hole golf courses across 23,000 square feet under 20-foot-high ceilings.

"Crazy golf" is a British spin on mini-golf, but it's for a 21-and-over audience since craft cocktails are served by caddies on the course. At Swingers NoMad, expect six cocktail bars with signature classic cocktails from London and D.C., as well as 12 cocktails created specifically for NYC, private rooms you can rent, an opulent clubhouse and four gourmet street food vendors—Sauce Pizzeria, Emmy Squared Burger, Fonda and Mah Ze Dahr Bakery.

  • Theater
  • Theater & Performance

Lincoln Center's “Summer for the City” is back through August 12 with hundreds of free events, from silent discos and outdoor film screenings to queer music festivals and orchestra performances, and more.

The city’s largest outdoor dance floor with a massive, 10-foot-wide disco ball—The Dance Floor at Josie Robertson Plaza—will return for social dance nights, silent discos, and more giant parties.

For the full lineup with days, times, and details visit SummerForTheCity.org.

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  • Things to do

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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  • Restaurants
  • Drinking

Union Square is getting even more fun this summer.

Popular Lower Manhattan brewery Torch & Crown has brought its beloved brews to Union Square this summer with a pop-up running through November.

Torch & Crown has set up shop in the historic Union Square Pavilion with a variety of hand-crafted drafts. A few stand-outs on the menu will include Almost Famous, a smooth, bright, aromatic hazy IPA packed with peach and grapefruit notes, and Share House, an easy-drinking crisp ale made for summertime.

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  • Things to do
  • Soho

Ice cream is at the center of this 20,000-square-foot museum that'll make the cold treat even more fun (who knew it'd even be possible?). Across 13 multi-sensory installations, visitors to the museum will be able to interact with fun elements like a three-story indoor slide, the all-pink Celestial Subway, and a new add-on where guests can build their own edible slime.

Even better: The sweet treats along the way. Yes, we're talking about unlimited ice cream throughout the museum. For adults, check out some fun themed cocktails as well.

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  • Movies
  • Movies

On a day when it's too hot or too rainy to be outside, head to NYC's newest movie theater. 

With a full restaurant, craft cocktails, comfy reclining seats and even more bells and whistles, this new movie theater in Hell's Kitchen elevates the movie-going experience. LOOK Dine-in Cinemas is now open in VIA 57 West, the pyramid-shaped building located at West 57th Street and 11th Avenue. 

 

  • Things to do

Every Tuesday, this dreamy affair gives you an astronautworthy view of the stars from the high-powered telescopes of the Amateur Astronomers Association. And here we all thought we couldn't gaze at constellations in New York City! Stargazing at the High Line runs from sunset to 30 minutes before the park closes each Tuesday.

Just in case you're worried you'll have no idea what you are looking at, the AAA leads the star-spotting expeditions, pointing out celestial bodies above the park. Follow the High Line’s Twitter feed (@highlinenyc) for updates in the event of inclement weather.

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  • Restaurants
  • Eating

If you're a Barbie girl who's always dreamed of living in a Barbie world, now's your big moment.

The Malibu Barbie Café, an immersive pink-hued pop-up, is now open in the Seaport. Boasting fun photo opps, a menu from a Master Chef finalist, California vibes and, of course, actual Barbie dolls, this cafe feels like a spot Barbie herself would hang out with Ken, Midge and Skipper.

All ages are welcome to experience The Malibu Barbie Café, which is available for booking through September 15. Each reservation includes your choice of entree and side item, full access to the Barbie Cafe experience and a 90-minute table reservation. Early bird pricing ranges from $22-$30 for kids and $39-$49 for adults depending on the date and time. You can buy additional drinks, dessert and food.

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  • Things to do
  • City Life

One of New York’s most unique outdoor experiences is back for its sixth summer.  

Collective Governors Island, a luxury outdoor destination with freestanding accommodations, is now open for overnight glamping and dining experiences. 

Set within a 173-acre sprawling green space surrounded by views of the Statue of Liberty, the Manhattan skyline and, you know, nature, Collective Governors Island is created to be an oasis just 8 minutes by ferry from Manhattan and a 5-minute ferry from Brooklyn.

Reservations are now bookable online. While you're out there, be sure to check out the island's seasonal sheep landscaping crew

  • Music
  • Music

Electric Zoo is back and bolder than ever with a powerhouse lineup and the debut of an LGBTQ+ stage for the 2023 festival, which will be held September 1-3 at Randall’s Island Park.

Headliners include GRiZ, Zeds Dead, Galantis, Marshmello, The Chainsmokers, and Gryffin. Plus, in an unprecedented moment, electronic music legends Deadmau5 and Kaskade will join forces for the New York City debut of Kx5. Kaskade will also perform a special sunset set taking the crowd on a nostalgic journey through his discography.

For more than a decade, Electric Zoo has been a Labor Day weekend tradition in New York City.

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  • Travel
  • Transport & Travel

New Jersey’s Atlantic City just got a new distinction—it is now home to the world’s largest indoor beachfront waterpark.

Starting this weekend, visitors to the casino haven can head to Showboat—a family-friendly resort with the largest arcade in the world, go-kart racing, minigolf, roller skating and more—to the new ISLAND Waterpark.

At 120,000 square feet, ISLAND Waterpark holds more than 317,000 gallons of water that cascades down 11 curvy slides (the Electric Eel, Sonic Serpent and Barracuda Blaster), three “Tidal Racers” and five waterslides suitable for younger visitors at Slide Island.

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