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The DiscOasis
Photograph: Taylor Hill/Getty Images for The DiscOasis | Roller skaters pictured at DiscOasis.

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.

Shaye Weaver
Written by
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, and doubly so this year, 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 2022

Best things to do this summer in NYC

  • Things to do
  • Coney Island

This new boozy brunch on Coney Island is a home run! The Brooklyn Cyclones debuted a brand-new rooftop boozy brunch for the 2022 season that offers some pretty stunning views. Guests will be able to take in views of the baseball game, the ocean and Coney Island while, of course, sipping on unlimited beer, mimosas and Bloody Marys—courtesy of The Murphs Famous Bloody Mary Mix. (And at $49, the bases aren’t the only things that are a steal!) Service starts at 1:30pm (game time is 2pm) and includes breakfast breads and spreads, fruit, yogurt, Cyclones brunch sliders and hashbrown potatoes.

  • Things to do
  • Chelsea

Nationally-recognized comedy show, UpDating, deals with dating hang-ups front and center at this live romantic experiment. Two New Yorkers will be paired on-stage for a blind date, and you get to join in on the magic (or the meltdown). The show comes from NY-Based Comedian Brandon Berman and Dating Blogger Harrison Forman. For more details you can check out UpDating's Instagram @updatingshow.

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  • Theater

Every summer, the Public Theater produces a beloved NYC democratic tradition and one of the best free things to do in NYC: Shakespeare in the Park, presented at the open-air Delacorte Theater in Central 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.

  • Things to do
  • City Life

Following the arrival of a groovy roller skating rink at Rockefeller Center, Central Park has launched a similar, new immersive, musical and theatrical experience at its own Wollman Rink. Woohoo! The ongoing happening is officially dubbed The DiscOasis and it will stay put through October 1. First off, New Yorkers can partake in a variety of programs and theatrical performances with live DJs and special guests throughout the experience's run. There are open skate sessions during the day and food and beverage offerings all around the area. The iconic Nile Rodgers joins in on the fun as well by curating a special playlist of "skate-worthy, groove-inducing tracks for each night's local DJ to spin fresh for skaters and dancers," according to Wollman Rink reps.

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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 new "Date Nights" will 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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  • Things to do
  • City Life

Governors Island continues to be the hottest destination in New York this season, with a new beach club dubbed Gitano Island officially staking its claim in the area. The effort follows the Tulum-inspired tropical jungle restaurant, Gitano Garden of Love, that operated four successful seasons smack-dab in the middle of SoHo in Manhattan. The original iteration of the seasonal restaurant and beach club is actually based in the Mexican city. The new venue on Governors Island will open in June and take over 27,000-square-feet of space on the island, right next to the ferry terminal overlooking the Manhattan skyline.  Warning: When visiting, you'll feel like you've traveled to Mexico via ferry. Expect 30-feet-tall coconut palm trees to line your surroundings, plus a mezcal bar, two dining patios, a state-of-the-art DJ tent and a VIP all centered around a serene water feature. 

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  • Things to do
  • City Life

The bustling night markets in cities across Asia are the inspiration for a massive new food hall and beer garden at Flushing's Tangram. The space, which is cyberpunk meets organic industrial, has its own international eats from Na Tart, Cruncheese, Qing Shu, Zaab Zaab, Da Wei Mei Shi and more. The hope is to recreate the nightlife seen in Netflix's docuseries Midnight Asia and BHDM Design principal Dan Mazzarini’s extensive travels through Asia (Singapore, Hong Kong, Beijing, and Taipei), and renderings certainly suggest that will be the case.

  • Things to do
  • City Life

Open as of June 25 at the Museum of the Moving Image, "Living with The Walking Dead" features original costumes and props, concept art, storyboards, scripts and prosthetic makeup material that highlight the show’s origins, production and impact. It'll also has multiple screening series and public events over a six-month span for those interested in the show and learning more about behind the scenes. All in all, there are 500 objects including more than 300 props and production materials to see.

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  • Restaurants
  • Eating

Starting on Sunday, July 10 and running every Sunday through National Dog Day on August 26, HOWM Cocina + Cocktails is hosting Puppy Brunch! The Chelsea restaurant and bar will be encouraging pets and people to dine on dishes for both humans and their four-legged friends. Menu items for people include avocado toast with pickled onion and chili oil, pan dulce French toast, a lox tostada with everything seasoning, and churro bites. For pets, the special menu includes doggy meatballs and a puppy frosty. The menu costs $40 and includes an entree and dessert for humans, plus the dog menu and a complimentary doggy bag with treats and goodies to take home.  

  • Restaurants
  • Eating

Dine at Radio Park sprawls across the 24,000 square-foot green space nine flights above Radio City Music Hall. Typically numbered among amenities like Rock Center’s pool club (billiards, not water, although it is called Sharks), the lovely, open-air lookout has only welcomed the public on a smattering of prior occasions, and this is its first dinner series. The ticketed events begin on July 8 and repeat each Friday through Sunday until July 31. 

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  • Art
  • Art

As we enter the most sweltering days of summer, Rockefeller Center is offering a new, fun way to cool off.

Its newest art installation, "Changing Spaces" by Jeppe Hein is effectively a water fountain with jets that spray up from the ground, allowing passersby to walk in and out and get soaked if they so desire.

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The water-based, social sculpture, which was unveiled at the Center's Plaza on June 22, is made up of four circles with enclosing "walls" of water that shoot up from the ground randomly and merge together, dividing the water pavilion into smaller spaces within it.

The "liquid architecture" is meant to inspire people to interact with it and find a peaceful respite.

"Installed in an open, public space like in front of Rockefeller Center, the water pavilion activates the area and invites people to make use of the work, either as a space for seclusion and relaxation or the opposite, a place of pure joy and playfulness," Hein said in a statement. "Children will dash in immediately, adults will hesitate at first, then hopefully will dare to go in after all. Rockefeller Center is the perfect place for this because so many people pass by every day and the water pavilion will give them a reason to stay."

It'd also be a great way to cool off after taking a spin on your skates at Rock Center's new Flipper's Roller Boogie Palace.

Changing Spaces will be open through September 9 at Rockefeller Center's Plaza.

Jeppe Hein Changing Spaces Rockefeller Center
Photograph: Anna Morgowicz | Jeppe Hein, Changing Spaces at Rockefeller Center, June 21 – September 9, 2022 © Studio Jeppe Hein, Courtesy the artist; Rockefeller Center; 303 Gallery, New York; and KÖNIG GALERIE, Berlin.
Jeppe Hein Changing Spaces Rockefeller Center
Photograph: Anna Morgowicz | Jeppe Hein, Changing Spaces at Rockefeller Center, June 21 – September 9, 2022 © Studio Jeppe Hein, Courtesy the artist; Rockefeller Center; 303 Gallery, New York; and KÖNIG GALERIE, Berlin.

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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, and at Swingers NoMad, there will be six cocktail bars with signature classic cocktails from London and D.C., as well as 12 cocktails created specifically for Swingers NoMad, private rooms you can rent, an opulent clubhouse and four gourmet street food vendors—Sauce Pizzeria, Miznon, Fonda and Mah Ze Dahr Bakery.

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  • Things to do
  • City Life

Lincoln Center's Josie Robertson Plaza is now a bonafide dance floor. The plaza is among NYC's coolest outdoor music venues, not only because of its concerts and dance events but because its disco ball is massive. The 10-foot-wide disco ball weighs 1,300 pounds and yes, it actually spins. The disco ball is at the center of "The Oasis," now the city's largest dance floor, where there will be tons of free dances, concerts and performances throughout the summer as part of Lincoln Center's "Summer for the City" program that runs through August 14. Not only that, but there will be silent discos and even a mini film festival from Film at Lincoln Center that will be projected at the "Outdoor Cinema" in front of the under-renovation David Geffen Hall. Those who attend will get popcorn and drinks with movie audio transmitted via Quiet Event headphones. The dance floor will be free and open to the public during the day in case you'd like to take a mid-day dance break.

  • Music
  • Music

After a two-year-long closure caused by the pandemic, the iconic Smoke Jazz Club on the Upper West Side is back—and the beloved venue is looking slightly different (in a good way!). The club has taken on two adjacent storefronts in order to expand the jazz club, which is now home to an attached lounge as well. The instantly recognizable full-length bar that patrons were used to saddling up to in the original iteration of the venue is now found in the new lounge. The additional space also allows for a larger stage. Come July 21, though, things are sort of going back to normal with a grand reopening celebration featuring the George Coleman Quartet and special guest Peter Bernstein. The upcoming lineup also features the Heavy Hitters, the Eddie Henderson Quintet, Mary Stallings and more.  You can check up the summer schedule and buy tickets for each session right here.

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  • Restaurants
  • Drinking

A new, reservations-only rooftop day club just opened above Ravel Hotel. Expect palm trees and all sorts of greenery to adorn the space, plus cabanas, a stocked bar serving, among other things, eight specialty frozen drinks, and ideal pool-side food (tuna tartare tacos! Grilled chicken skewers! Lobster roll sliders!). Needless to say, a rotating cast of DJs and musicians is scheduled to provide entertainment all summer long. As mentioned previously, you'll only be granted entry at the club if you have a reservation, which you can make right here. Prices start at about $50 for a full day pass and you'll also get to reserve VIP poolside table service.

  • Things to do
  • City Life

Time Out Market New York just reopened its doors on Thursday, May 27. The stunning waterfront destination is located in the historic Empire Stores building with sweeping views of both the Manhattan and Brooklyn bridges and the city skyline. It brings together some of New York’s top culinary talent, all curated by our editorial team. The opening day lineup includes 10 eateries, with more kitchens debuting later this summer. New this year, guests can indulge in delicious ice cream from Sugar Hill Creamery, expertly crafted pizza from Fornino and homestyle Thai food from Wayla. (Check out our complete guide to our eateries and get excited.) Additional vendors, including Tiki Chick and Mr. Taka Ramen, will be opening later this summer. To wash down all of those delicious eats, we’ve got three fully stocked bars serving up craft cocktails, beer, wine and non-alcoholic beverages. We’re especially excited about a brand-new seasonal cocktail menu just unveiled for summer with must-try drinks like the Salty Thyme Margarita with Herradura Silver Tequila, Thyme, Blood Orange Juice, Lime, Sea Salt and Combier D’Orange and the Smokin’ Cherry Mule with Agave De Cortez Blanco Mezcal, Amaro, Rapa Cherry Liqueur, Lemon Juice and Ginger Beer. To celebrate the surrounding borough, a brand-new Love Local Brews Bar on the fifth floor will be serving an enviable collection of beers from local Kings Country breweries. We’ll drink to that!

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  • 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. Smorgasburg World Trade Center opened on Friday, May 21 and operates every Friday from 11am to 7pm all summer with Mao’s Bao, Carlitos Barbecue Taqueria, Bona Bona Ice Cream, Wood Fired Edibles and Rooster Boy. See Jersey City’s vendors here.

  • Things to do
  • City Life

At 6am on Friday morning, the public was allowed into Little Island, the "floating" greenspace within the Hudson River Park—you know, the one set on massive pylons that stick up out of the water? You can't miss it. For years, during its planning and construction, it's been a subject of controversy and mystery, as it is primarily funded by The Diller – von Furstenberg Family Foundation, but now it's all out in the open, and it's glorious. Across two acres, lies an entirely new ecosystem of gorgeous plantings and prime space for live music and performances. It's amazing to think that this entire oasis, with its beautiful and thoughtful greenery, is now a place we can call ours.

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  • Restaurants
  • Eating

Refreshing agave-based spirits and tasty tacos are now being served onboard a three-story boat in the Hudson River. La Barca Cantina, the only Mexican restaurant on a boat in NYC, reopened to the public with a summer street food-inspired menu that'll get the party started for you and your friends. Based at Pier 81, next to its sister-restaurant North River Lobster Company, La Barca spans three levels with an expansive outdoor top deck with a bar and table seating, a bi-level interior space with two bars, table seating and booth-like tables—perfect for large groups. Even better, it takes short cruises multiple times per day, five days a week, offering up sweeping views of the NYC skyline. (It's a must to reserve a table for cocktails at sunset.)

  • Things to do
  • City Life

As much as we love the hustle and bustle of NYC, sometimes it’s nice to be able to get out and spend a little time in nature. Even better? Being able to spend time in nature without having to leave the city at all. (Have you seen car rental prices these days?) Enter: Camp RockawayThe waterfront glamping destination in—you guessed it, the Rockaways—has announced that they’ll be returning for another season of fun in the sun, sleeping on the beach in an enjoyable-not-castaway way and upscale accommodations, beginning on June 11. This summer, the rustic escape will be setting up camp at Fort Tilden, just steps from the beach. You’ll be able to either lodge in safari-style canvas tents or bring your own tent. 

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  • Things to do
  • City Life

NYC’s most easily accessible glamping site (You don’t even have to leave the city to get there!) is now officially taking reservations for the summer. Collective Governors Island is a luxury glamping retreat on the west side of the island with sweeping views of Lower Manhattan and the Statue of Liberty. The six-acre retreat, which is reachable via private water taxi for guests, has added a slew of new offerings for the 2021 season to complement the yoga and pilates offered last year. Two new culinary experiences will be available to guests looking to get up-close-and-personal with some seafood. “The Art of Oyster Shucking” will teach participants how to select, shuck and serve oysters while “Mastering Poaching Lobsters” will show you the ins and outs of preparing, poaching and serving whole lobsters. Both experiences are $60. Other new offerings include classes on how to saber a champagne bottle, a custom rosé tasting and a live sound meditation. 

  • Restaurants
  • Eating

Lovers of ethnic foods, rejoice: New York's renowned Queens Night Market is officially coming back on June 19, running every Saturday through October 30. As usual, vendors of all sorts will take over Flushing Meadows Corona Park, serving everything from Indian tandoori kebabs to Bengali fuska, Hong Kongese soy sauce noodles and Puerto Rican papas rellenos. There will still be a $5-$6 price cap on food orders, to make sure you get to eat all that's available without breaking your wallet, plus beer and wine on offer for purchase. In terms of music, you can expect live gigs to capture your attention as well. 

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  • Music

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. 

  • Restaurants
  • Ice cream parlors
  • 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.

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  • Things to do

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. 

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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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  • Attractions
  • Theme parks
  • Coney Island

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.

Experience Luna Park and other NYC attractions with a Go New York Explorer Pass.

  • 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! 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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  • Things to do

The Times Square ladies won’t be the only ones baring their chests during Go Topless Day. In fact, all those who support gender equality are welcome to free the nipple and proudly march through Manhattan during the Pride Parade. If you didn’t already know, it’s 100% legal to roam around New York topless (yes, even out in the open at the best NYC parks), so unhinge your bra, take your top off and screw the patriarchy during one of the best and most scantily-clad events in August.

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  • Things to do

During Summer Streets, seven miles of Gotham turf along Lafayette Street and Park Avenue is completely cleared of vehicles in order to create a pedestrian paradise. Hundreds and thousands of revelers descend upon the asphalt for invigorating sight-filled tours, plus free activities including a rock climbing wall, a zipline, outdoor art installations, misting stations and a water slide.

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  • Things to do
  • Festivals

In case you didn’t know, the U.S. Open—New York’s most-attended sporting event—is one of the most exciting this to do in Queens. For two weeks, Flushing Meadows­–Corona Park will be the tennis capital of the world during the legendary tournament. New Yorkers bring the party to the National Tennis Center with a celebrity-studded crowd (past famous attendees include Oprah, Alec Baldwin and Jimmy Fallon), while local food trucks bring the yummies, and live musicians performing on the grounds. Oh, and you can also check out the top pros in tennis.

  • Things to do

One of the best things to do in summer is pack a picnic basket and partake in some outdoor dining at one of the best picnic spots NYC has to offer. There are plenty of NYC parks, at which you can sprawl out and enjoy an alfresco feast. However, we've chosen a few of our favorite grassy refuges from all corners of Gotham, as well as the best places for grabbing snacks nearby, to help you decide the best spot to pick.

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