10 Best Things To Do In NYC In The Summer

This post is also available in: French

There’s never a shortage of super fun things to do in New York City —especially during the summer! Enjoy your NYC summer outdoors, splashing around in the water, eating yummy refreshing foods, taking in the sun, the sky, and the arts; moving around, and getting down to good sounds for a summer to always remember! Here’s a list of 10 of the best activities you can do here to really take a juicy bite outta the Big Apple…and savor it to the last drop.


1- Go on a cruise

There are so many types of remarkable cruises to embark on in New York City during the sweltering summer! From the speedy 30-minute thrilling Beast to the 2-hour chilled out Champagne Brunch Yacht Cruise, there’s something for everyone’s personal preferences! Here’s the full list of our day cruises to cool off on while catching some much needed summer sun.



If you prefer to cruise the Hudson or East River by night for a dinner cruise or to listen to some jazz over a meal, for a special event like 4th of July, New Years Eve, or a Beer Tasting, and more, we’ve got you covered! Cool off on a hot summer night with a leisurely cruise by boat or sail. Check out our full list of evening cruises right here!


2- Spend a day doing outdoor activities

Central Park

At Central Park, you can do all sorts of outdoorsy things to have some serious summer fun this year! At the Loeb Boathouse, for example, you can rent a rowboat for $15 an hour during the hours of 10am until sundown. Afterwards, step into The Loeb Boathouse Lakeside Restaurant for some fine dining indoors or outside with a gorgeous lake view.


Click here for reservations and summer hours of operation. Or, if you’d just like to grab a nice drink and sit outside under a parasol along the lake, the Outside Bar is a delightful option, with a comfortable patio atmosphere and people watching galore. You can also rent a bike, take a horse & carriage ride, a gondola tour, visit the Central Park Zoo, Belvedere Castle, Strawberry Fields John Lennon Memorial, ride the carousel, and visit the seasonal Victorian Gardens Amusement Park!

Governor’s Island

Governor’s Island is a mere $3 round-trip, 7-minute ferry ride across the East River, where you’ll find tons of car-free and adventurous summer activities! Home to a 93-acre man-made urban public park, you can explore the island on a rented bicycle and take in spectacular views of the city and nearby islands including Liberty Island where The Statue of Liberty is, and also enjoy free kayaking at the boathouse.

governors-island-nyc-harlem-spirituals(Photo: Chris Hunkeler/Flickr CC)

You can bring your supplies and grill for a nice picnic, slide down the public slides at 75 feet above sea level, zip glide, lounge around on hammocks, play in the beautiful fountains, and even enjoy overnight accommodations called “Glamping“, glamorous camping. Click here for more details and to see which adventures are to be had today! Ferries leave from Battery Maritime Building (10 South Street) at the southern most tip of Manhattan where the subway lines 1, 4, 5, and R meet, and from Pier 6 at the Brooklyn Bridge Park in West Brooklyn where the subway lines 2,3,4,5, and R meet. Click here for ferry schedules. Ferries to & from Governor’s Island are free on Saturdays and Sundays before noon!


3- Take a Cool Dip in a New York City Swimming Pool

Young and old, who doesn’t crave a chilled swimming pool in the hot summertime? Luckily New York City has a couple of massive public pools you’ll positively adore during your visit to this red-hot metropolis.

Astoria Park Pool

Outdoor swimming pool summer hours of operation are everyday from 11am-3pm; then 4pm-7pm.

The oldest and largest pool in NYC is Astoria Park Pool, located on the Subway lines N and Q at Astoria Blvd. Equipped with Olympic-sized lanes, waterslides, Art Deco architecture, and outstanding views of the Upper East Side and nearby monumental bridges, Astoria Pool is an oasis on a 45-minute subway ride from Midtown.


McCarren Park Pool

Located in trendy and accessible Williamsburg, Brooklyn, the McCarron Park Pool is a 37,000 square foot swimming area complete with beach chairs, and tons of space for lounging. If you’re there on a Wednesday, you may also want to catch a free outdoor film (at sundown) with food & drink from delicious Brooklyn vendors. You won’t want to miss When Harry Met Sally on July 18th or Fantastic Mr. Fox on August 8th, among several summer dates. View the complete program here.



sky-lawn-Rooftop-Cinema-Club-nyc-harlem-spirituals(Photo: Courtesy of Sky Lawn Rooftop Cinema Club)

4- Watch a movie outdoors

60 W. 37th Street, NY, NY, 10018 – Various times and days

 Wanna watch a film like Casablanca (1942), The Big Lebowski (1998), Dirty Dancing (1987), or Selena (1997) in a comfortable reclined lawn chair while sipping delicious cocktails or glasses of wine under the open sky in the center of Manhattan this summer? Well, consider it done! Right in Midtown Manhattan, a block from charming Bryant Park is where Rooftop Cinema Club hosts its rooftop cinema series on the SkyLawn Rooftop Bar at Embassy Suites.

Everyday, all summer long, the bar opens at 5pm and movies start at 6:30pm. You must reserve ahead of time; but considering the long list of award-winning feature films, you’re sure to find an old or a new favorite to go gaga over among a crowd of hip and friendly New Yorkers. For more information and the full program list, click here. For more outdoor cinema watching and activities this summer, including the free cinema series at Bryant Park and Brooklyn Bridge Park, click here.


230-fifth-rooftop-nyc-harlem-spiritualsPhoto: 230 Fifth Rooftop

5- Have a drink on a rooftop

Having a drink on a terrace during the summer is always a good idea. Having one on a rooftop is even better! Especially when the backdrop is glistening New York City! With more than 100 rooftop bars speckled across Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Long Island City, you’re sure to experience the classic, trendy, or sophisticated atmosphere you seek to make this a summer to always remember. Check out our Staff Picks of the Best Rooftop Bars in NYC!


6- Attend a music festival

Summer in New York is also synonymous with festival. Each weekend, New Yorkers like to join for some good music, good food and good fun with friends during NYC’s numerous summer festivals. From Brooklyn’s famous BRIC! Festival to SummerStage free concerts all across the 5 boroughs, or City Farm presents Summer Series, there are plenty options to get to enjoy yourself! Here are some infos for the most famous ones:


From June 1 until September 28, more than two dozens of concerts are getting you moving and grooving to the sounds of rock, soul, electronic, jazz, and world music. This year, Brooklyn residents Blonde Redhead, along with Ohio’s Guided by Voices, and legendary Jamaican reggae musician Lee “Scratch” Perry among tons of other acclaimed acts are hitting the stage- not to miss!

SummerStage Festival

From June 1- September 26th, free concerts are happening across the 5 boroughs, yet primarily held in Rumsey Playfield in Central Park for this year’s SummerStage Festival. This year acclaimed musicians such as George Clinton & Parliament Funkadelic, Fishbone, Alvvays, Dinosaur Jr, Corinne Bailey Rae,Estelle, and many many more are performing.

BRIC Celebrate Brooklyn

From June 4-August 10, at Prospect Park Bandshell in Brooklyn, don’t miss your chance to catch Patti Labelle, Courtney Barnett, Ibeyi and many more prolific musical artists!


7- Just chill in a park

Since exploring New York City can sometimes be overwhelming, especially during the hot summer days, we highly suggest you take a break and go chill in a park for some fresh air and a break from Big Apple hustle-and-bustle. Pick a blanket and some food to improvise a cool picnic or just sit on a bench and enjoy the magnificent sceneries and people passing by. For more info about parks in NYC, check our article: Top 10 New York City Parks.


8- Dip your toes in the ocean at a NYC beach

Although you may have only heard of Coney Island beach, there are in fact a slew of beaches scattered along the Atlantic Ocean in New York City.

Coney Island

If you’re looking for a carnival atmosphere with amusement park rides, crowds, and/or to try one of Nathan’s Famous Hot Dogs, a visit to Coney Island is a must-do! It also has freak shows, carnival rides, and the famous Mermaid Parade every June. Each Monday and Thursday, enjoy a full Brooklyn experience by joining our Brooklyn Walking tour in the morning with one of our certified guides who will show around and give you some valuable tips. Then head to Coney Island with a short subway ride for an afternoon of fun and sunbathing on the beach!

Rockaway Beach

Less crowded Rockaway Beach in Queens has a ton of yummy Oceanside food and local cuisines, a great boardwalk, and two stretches of shoreline for surfing the waves.

Brighton Beach

Just a one-hour subway away and you’re in this quaint Russian and Eastern European residential neighborhood of Brighton equipped with a beach (much quieter than Coney Island) and a boardwalk. Coined Little Odessa because of its many residents from Russian and Ukraine, you can complete this relaxing beach day with a trip to a Russian bathhouse such as this one. Click here for our Staff Picks of the Best Beaches Around NYC!



9- Get crazy with the best NYC ice creams

From the Big Gay Ice Cream Shop, voted #5 of the Best ice cream parlors in the world by USA Today, combining top quality ingredients with guilty pleasures, and La Newyorkina with its Mexican-inspired ice creams and sweets, to Odd Fellows’ hormone and additive free, personally pasteurized in its very own Brooklyn kitchen practice, and Soft Swerve’s Asian-inspired soft-serve with a flavor such as Black Sesame, to Tipsy Scoop Ice Cream Barlour’s Strawberry White Sangria Sorbet and other liquor-infused ice cream, and Van Leeuwen’s delicious vegan flavors made from scratch, it would be an utter disappointment to miss out on all the super artsy and innovative things that are happening in the DIY NYC ice cream scene! Check our dedicated blog for the best Ice Cream Shops in NYC!


smorgasburg-new york-harlem-spirituals

10- Go to a NYC Food market

It’s no secret that NYC has a pioneering and ever-changing food scene! From the iconic Chelsea Market in the Meatpacking District on the sleek West Side to Smorgasburg in hip Brooklyn, this summer is jam packed with indoor & outdoor market options to satisfy the salivating foodie in you. If you are looking for more info, have a look at our dedicated blog: New York’s most exciting food markets.



BONUS ADVICE – Take a NYC bus tour!

New York is a large city and you are lucky if you have lots of time to visit it. If you don’t, one of the best ways to discover the boroughs and many neighbourhoods in a limited timeframe is to take a bus tour! From the heart of Manhattan to Harlem, and the Triboro tour of Brooklyn, the Bronx and Queens, a bus tour will enable you to get a great overview of the City. And of course, the A/C will make the experience even more enjoyable if the sun is burning outside.

And Of Course: Eat and Drink!

What would NYC be without its countless restaurants and bars? As the sun is still shining, it is the perfect time to go for a drink on a rooftop, have lunch on a terrace, or get ready to engage in a very typical New Yorker activity: to wait in line to get NYC most sought after delicacies!

With so many rad things going on in New York City all summer long, it would be a crying shame to not make the most of your summer and try at least all of our 10 recommended activities! Get ready to have the best summer of your life, you sports loving, film buff, adventuring, music fanatic, beach bums, sweet tooth having, foodies. Take a juicy bite outta the Big Apple…savor it to the last drop, and go back for more! If you are interested in finding more to do in New York City, search through our complete range of tours, attractions and activities. We can also tailor-make programs specifically to match your desires and budgets. Harlem Spirituals is the ideal one-stop-shop to simplify your planning! Find more information on www.harlemspirituals.com.

Do you have favorite summer activities you do in NY in the summer? Please share them with us in the comments below. If you are looking for other ideas of things to do in New York in the summer, do not hesitate to also visit our website at www.harlemspirituals.com.