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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.

Photograph: Shutterstock

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!

The 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, ?uestlove, 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

Catch a flick at Rooftop Films

Watch an alfresco flick on a pretty perch at this long-running series. A panoply of rooftop venues across the city are hosting screenings of dozens of films, from romance (Don Juan) to documentaries (Weiner). Be sure to look out for after-parties offering cheap beer or an open bar.

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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 from St. Germain 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

Cut a rug by the Hudson

Ever wanted to dance with the devil in the pale moonlight? Find a partner at Hudson River Park's Sunset Swing series to swing and salse with music by live bands. Arrive at 6:30pm for a dance lesson before that night's orchestra strikes up and practice your steps as the sun sets over Jersey—the romantic view should help your partner forgive you for treading on their toes. Pier 45, W 44th St at the Hudson River (212-627-2020, hudsonriverpark.org). Tue 6:30–10pm, July 10--Aug 16; free.

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West Village

More things to do in the summer in NYC

The best summer parties in NYC

Whether you prefer dancing on a boat or listening to soul jams at the park, we have the right summer party for you

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By: Vivienne van Vliet
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Summer holidays and festivals

Bastille Day in NYC guide

Celebrate Bastille Day in NYC with our guide to the best Bastille Day events, French restaurants and outdoor parties

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By: Tazi Phillips
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Summer events calendars

Best summer music

Summer eating & drinking

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Archive things to do in the summer content

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