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New York in May Travel Guide: updated itinerary, things to do and see, and traveler tips

The splendor of spring makes New York in May even more attractive and full of life, with beautiful flowers and warm days. Thanks to this, you will enjoy a dazzling solstice, entertaining walking and biking tours and amazing parades - you have a lot to try!

Luisa María Lugo

Luisa María Lugo

9 min read

New York in May Travel Guide: updated itinerary, things to do and see, and traveler tips

New York in spring | ©Ben o Bro

The days get longer and more pleasant in New York in spring, due to the nice weather that makes everyone feel at ease. So your list of what to do in New York in May can be longer and include many outdoor activities.

The high season will not yet have reached its peak by that time, which will make you feel more comfortable in the tourist spots. In addition, you will be able to participate in the celebration of the various festivities or activities that take place during that month. Find out here which events you won't want to miss.

1. Enjoy Shakespeare's plays outdoors for free

Shakespeare in Central Park| ©New York Habitat
Shakespeare in Central Park| ©New York Habitat

Every year, with the arrival of May, Shakespeare's plays begin to be performed in New York. Seeing them is one of the things you can do during your visit to NY. During this festival, which is held in the huge Central Park completely free of charge, 2 plays are presented.

Each year 2 different plays of the famous Shakespeare are chosen, such as Hamlet, Romeo and Juliet or Cymbeline. If you know how to appreciate the value of these theater classics, this event held in this unique environment will be your favorite. You will be able to have an optimal view of the show because of the way the theater has been set up.

The goal is to ensure that each and every spectator does not miss any detail of the play performed. These events usually start at the end of the month, from Tuesdays to Sundays. The start time is usually 8:00 pm, so you will perceive the nocturnal charm of the place.

2. Be dazzled by the Manhattanhenge

Photo of Manhattanhenge| ©Nishant Khurana
Photo of Manhattanhenge| ©Nishant Khurana

To explain in words how wonderful Manhattanhenge is is quite difficult, but I will try. It is based on a natural event that only happens twice a year, once in May. Of course, being of nature, the date of the month and the exact time of the solstice changes yearly.

During the solstice, as the sun sets, it aligns itself with the main streets of Manhattan. Specifically in the direction of both the east and west streets of this borough of New York. If you've seen photos of the Manhattanhenge, you' ll want to see it in person with your own eyes.

You're also going to want to take the best photos, so be sure to bring your camera along for the ride. There's nothing better than being in the right place at the right time. That way, you'll have the opportunity to witness a magnificent phenomenon like this and capture it in pictures.

3. Tour the city by bicycle

Bike Tour| ©cottonbro
Bike Tour| ©cottonbro

Among the different activities you can do in New York in May is to ride a bike through its streets and the best parks. In addition to exercising, you will be able to ride through many emblematic and recognized sites. Among some of these are the great Central Park and the bridge in Brooklyn.

You can also add to this list the West Side Higway, near the Hudson River and Governors Island. By doing so at that time, you will be sharing with the thousands of cyclists who come out during that time of the month of May.

You will have the opportunity to participate in an event like the Five Boro Bike Tour, which takes place that month. You will be able to ride through 5 districts located in the city, a total of 64km, until you reach the center in New York. The party atmosphere, along with the good weather, make this activity ideal for this time of the year.

4. Take a ride on the Hudson

Manhattan skyline from the ferry| ©Hellotickets
Manhattan skyline from the ferry| ©Hellotickets

Governors Island, although not well known to some, has quite a bit to offer in terms of tourism. You can enjoy a ride using the New York ferry that will take you from Lower Manhattan to this beautiful little island. Surrounded by greenery and sunshine, you will have a great time.

It is only open from the 1st of May, so take the opportunity to go. The excellent views of Manhattan and the Statue of Liberty are spectacular. Undoubtedly, the walk around this island will allow you to discover another side of the city that you will love.

In addition, escaping to Governors Island can be fun. Whether you are young or old, it is worth visiting the island, alone or with your family and friends. This will give you the opportunity to experience an adventurous spirit that you deserve to discover.

And while you're thinking of sailing the Hudson, don't miss out on other options that will give you spectacular views of Manhattan, such as the best cruises in New York or taking the ferry to the Statue of Liberty, another must, especially when the weather is nice.

Book a cruise on the Hudson

5. Don't miss the international food festival

New York Food Festival| ©Carl Mikoy
New York Food Festival| ©Carl Mikoy

Do you love food as much as I do? If that's the case, you'll agree that being at a food fair is ideal. In fact, this is one of the best things to do in New York in May. That's because there's a festival there filled with culinary innovations from around the world.

The food stalls are set up on 9th Avenue in a Manhattan neighborhood called Hells Kitchen. Your entrance to this kind of event will cost you nothing and you have the option to try different special flavors. Depending on the street you go to, you will find one type of food or another, but they are all delicious.

You will also find live musicians playing and/or singing to liven up the cheerful atmosphere even more. Can you think of a better plan than food and music outdoors on a beautiful day? Hardly. So, if you're in the skyscraper capital, take the opportunity to go and see what they have to offer.

In any case, if you want to eat well during your trip, don't miss this list of the best places to eat in New York.

6. Witness the parade for the respected Fleet Weeks

Start of Fleet Week| ©Class Andre N
Start of Fleet Week| ©Class Andre N

A holiday of great importance to New Yorkers is called "Fleet Week". During this week the families of those who make up the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps are celebrated with honor. It also includes the families of the Coast Guard and different activities that you will be able to see.

The beginning is marked by the military type maneuvers that take place on the Hudson River. This week includes Memorial Day, a holiday commemorating veterans and a parade. If you go to Central Park, you will probably see many people picnicking on this date.

The same will be true of New York's best rooftops, where you can go to relax and enjoy the fresh air. Memorial Day is specifically celebrated on the last Monday of the month and indirectly marks the beginning of summer. Besides the fact that the attractions will be open, there will be several deals and sales.

7. Run a half marathon in Brooklyn

A marathon in New York| ©Steven Pisano
A marathon in New York| ©Steven Pisano

If you like to exercise and run, a very popular event that will appeal to you is a half marathon in Brooklyn. But, even if you are not passionate about running those distances, being a spectator is also a special event. You are the one who chooses what to do in New York in May during this activity.

This event, held in May, is one of the spectacular events in the city. It is well known and seen locally, being something expected by many people. It is so popular and anticipated that registrations are taken in the month of January and sell out in an hour.

Whether you participate directly by running, or by cheering on those who do, you should not miss this opportunity. Remember that the weather during this season is very favorable to join the event. Cheer up and be one of those who can say that you were, in some way, in the marathon.

8. Visit the beautiful botanical garden at its best

Entrance to the Botanical Garden| ©Salim Virji
Entrance to the Botanical Garden| ©Salim Virji

Spending a day in natural spaces and breathing an air of tranquility is possible even in the big city. For this there is the beautiful botanical garden, which is among the leading ones in the entire United States. You will see vivid colors and smell the pleasant scents of magnolias, tulips, peonies and other beautiful flowers.

If you want to get away from the tall buildings and noises, visiting it is the thing to do in New York in May. That month is the right month to visit because the cherry blossoms bloom and fill the walkways with pink and white.

Being in these meadows you choose what you will do, whether it is resting, painting, taking pictures or walking placidly through it. You won't even have to pay if you go on a Friday before 12:00pm. For the other days and times of the month you will have to buy a ticket, but at an affordable price.

9. Attend an exciting baseball game

Aerial View of Yankee Stadium in New York City| ©Nick Fewings
Aerial View of Yankee Stadium in New York City| ©Nick Fewings

The most important baseball season in the world, the MLB, is in effect in that month. This is an excellent opportunity for you to attend one of these great games held in New York in May. The participation of famous baseball players adds a lot of excitement and action.

Whether you're a baseball fan or not, the eye-catching structures of the stadiums, along with the stores and attractions inside, are sure to please. You will experience thrilling moments with the extraordinary plays of these great ball professionals.

Likewise, you can enjoy a cold beer at the popular and famous How to visit Yankee Stadium. If your favorite team is the New York Yankees or the Mets, catch an exciting baseball game. You will share with thousands of fans this unique and vivid experience.

Book tickets for Baseball

10. Feel the adrenaline of Luna Park's attractions

Luna Park entrance| ©Larry Syverson
Luna Park entrance| ©Larry Syverson

There are many activities you can do in New York in May if you leave Manhattan, but nothing like feeling the adrenaline of Luna Park. This amusement park, located in Coney Island, offers endless fun. Its different and well-structured attractions will make you feel indescribable emotions.

There are from roller coasters for adults, with impressive heights and speeds, to children's rides for the little ones. In addition, the attractions that are related to the traditional fairground rides add a little more excitement.

The adrenaline you will feel in this great amusement park will be a reason to rejoice. If you have already visited this park, you surely want to come back and, if you have never been there, you have to go. Don't leave without knowing the attractions of Luna Park.


What is the weather like in New York during May?

Bethesda Fountain in springtime in Central Park| ©John Gillespie
Bethesda Fountain in springtime in Central Park| ©John Gillespie

During the month of May in New York City, spring is in full swing, so the weather is warm. However, during the course of the night, the temperature tends to drop and you may experience some chill. Because of that, you should make sure to wear the right clothes for the time.

Generally speaking, rainfall is no longer a problem, although some casual drizzle is possible. Temperatures can more or less average between 12°C minimum and 22°C maximum. One of the advantages you will have is the many hours of daylight to have fun.

Generally you will see the sunrise from 6:00am and it will get dark at about 8:00pm. Therefore, May is one of the most favorable months for various recreational activities, due to its good weather.

How many tourists are there in New York in May?

Sunset in New York City from a Roftop| ©Quintin Gellar
Sunset in New York City from a Roftop| ©Quintin Gellar

Because it is low season and not high season, the number of tourists is lower compared to the summer months. Therefore, the chances of finding crowds in restaurants, stores and other places are much lower.

That, together with the ideal weather, will contribute to you not experiencing any setbacks during your vacation and having an excellent tour. You already know that there are many things to do in New York in May.