10 Things to do in New York City in Summer

New York in summer is wonderful. The heat may take its toll in the middle of the day, but during the rest of the day you can enjoy the city and its parks.

Isabel Catalán

Isabel Catalán

15 min read

10 Things to do in New York City in Summer

Resting under the Brooklyn Bridge in summer | ©Hellotickets

Summer in the Big Apple is a very hot season but don't let the heat wave discourage you, as the city has many events and outdoor activities to cool off and enjoy the sunny days.

Check out the 10 ideas of things to do in New York in summer that I propose!

1. Experience the passion for baseball in New York City

Yankee Stadium| ©Hellotickets
Yankee Stadium| ©Hellotickets

One of the most exciting experiences you can have in New York in the summer is to go to an MLB game. Either because you love baseball or because you want to enjoy the atmosphere that this sport awakens in the city.

In addition, MLB is a very family-friendly show, so it's common to see parents take their kids to the games. Put this idea on your list of things to do in New York with kids.

If you want to include a baseball game during your summer vacation, the regular season runs from April to early October and during those months you can watch the New York Yankees or the New York Mets play in their respective stadiums.

What is a baseball game like?

The atmosphere is lively and even if you don't know the rules of the sport in detail, it's easy to get into the swing of things. The games are long, they can last from 3 to 4 hours, and most of the game takes place calmly, although suddenly there are plays full of emotion that make the fans vibrate. So stay tuned!

In the meantime, you can take selfies at the stadium, take videos of the event and comment on the plays while you eat tacos or hot dogs. From my experience, going to the baseball is entertaining and you will spend a day doing something different during your trip. It's worth it!

Don't hesitate, prepare your cap and your hot dog and live one of the most fun moments of your trip to the Big Apple.

How to buy MLB tickets in New York?

MLB has a lot of games, in fact, teams play every few days and even every day for a few weeks. So baseball tickets are usually easy to get, especially if we compare it with NBA tickets.

To buy baseball tickets you have two options: at the stadium box office or through the internet. In my experience, I recommend buying tickets online before traveling.

The demand to go to a baseball game in New York is high so it is normal for tickets to sell out quickly. If you want to know more about this sport, in my article how to buy tickets for a baseball game in New York I tell you everything you need to know to get them at the best price, what place to choose in the stadium, how the league works and much more. Don't miss it!

Book your baseball tickets

2. Cruise and sail the Hudson River

Kayaking the Hudson River
Kayaking the Hudson River

The summer heat in New York can be sweltering but fortunately there are plenty of activities to cool off outdoors, one of my favorites is zodiacing or kayaking the Hudson River!

Plus, you can enjoy the ocean breeze on a fantastic sunset or sunset cruise.

How to zodiac the Hudson River?

If you want to do something different during your trip to New York in summer, my favorite option is to book a zodiac ride on the Hudson River from where you will have the best panoramic views of the city, as well as some of its landmarks such as the Empire State or the Chrysler Building.

In addition, you can get a few meters from the main monuments of New York as the Statue of Liberty, the Brooklyn Bridge, Ellis Island or Governor's Island, and take some unforgettable pictures of your trip.

Throughout the tour, which lasts approximately 1 hour, you will be guided by a U.S. Coast Guard Captain.

Isabel's Traveller Tip

Wear summer clothes, even a swimsuit if you have one. If you want to bring a change of clothes, there are usually changing rooms.

How to kayak the Hudson River?

From the end of May to October you can kayak without spending a penny. As you read! The company offering this free activity is Manhattan Community Boathouse.

To participate in this activity is very simple. You don't have to make any kind of reservation, you just have to go to Pier 96 on the Hudson River near the Intrepid Air and Space Museum where the company operates and sign a waiver stating that you know how to swim. Kayak tours on the Hudson River last 20 minutes.

Enjoy the ocean breeze with a cruise

And if you are looking to enjoy the Hudson River but with more tranquility, the best option is to take a cruise. The options are very diverse, as you can opt for a sunset or sunset cruise.

Book a zodiac ride on the Hudson River

3. Feel the magic of Broadway!

The Aladdin Musical| ©Broadway
The Aladdin Musical| ©Broadway

Escape the scorching sun and immerse yourself for a few hours in the magic of Broadway. Get comfortable in your seats and get ready to live a unique experience you won't find anywhere else. Its musical numbers are legendary and its majestic staging and the talent of its actors transport you to a dream world where anything is possible.

With hundreds of annual performances, Broadway is the mecca of New York theater. Here you can see works of great prestige and popularity such as The Lion King, Wicked, Chicago, Aladdin or Frozen, among many others.

Dare to let your imagination fly into a world of fantasy and daydream with Broadway musicals!

How to get your Broadway tickets?

Broadway musicals are one of the most popular shows in New York, so tickets sell out very quickly.

If you want to know how to buy tickets for a Broadway musical, I recommend you to read the article the 10 best Broadway musicals, where I tell you how to get your tickets and which are the best musicals that are playing this season.

What other cultural events are there in New York in summer?

If you're looking for more cultural plans in the Big Apple during your stay, take a look at these suggestions:

  • Shakespeare in the Park: Every summer night in Central Park, Shakespeare plays are performed at the Delacorte Theater for free. It is a New York tradition. More information on the web.
  • Lincoln Center Out of Doors: Dance, music, dance and theatrical performances are held in Damrosch Park at Lincoln Center. No ticket is required, just arrive early to get a seat. In addition, food stands are set up for snacks. More information on the web.
  • SummerStage: This famous festival organizes a multitude of concerts throughout the summer in Central Park, most of which are free. There are bleachers, food stands and a great atmosphere. More information on the web.

Book your Broadway tickets

4. Be amazed by the immensity of Niagara Falls

Niagara Falls| ©Tim Gouw
Niagara Falls| ©Tim Gouw

While planning your New York trip agenda at first you may not have thought of adding an excursion outside the city to see other parts of the United States, as there is so much to see and do in the Big Apple.

However, dedicating a day of your vacation to a trip to Niagara Falls is a great idea, because you will have the opportunity to see this natural wonder and feel the mist of the waterfalls on your face, which is a very refreshing experience in the intense summer heat.

In addition, during this season temperatures rarely exceed 30º C and do not usually drop below 20ºC, so the weather is ideal to go hiking and enjoy all the attractions at full capacity getting wet in those places that almost allow you to touch the water.

What is the Niagara Falls day trip like?

The great thing about this organized tour to Niagara Falls is that it gets you to and from downtown New York in the same day, so you won't have to worry about how to get there, something that can be an odyssey considering that summer is the peak season to see these waterfalls.

Once at the falls, you will be sure not to miss a single detail with a professional bilingual guide. Contemplating the beautiful rainbow and listening to the roar of the water is an unforgettable experience - I was speechless! Also, since this tour explores the New York side of the falls, no visa is required.

And remember, if one day is too short you can also opt for:

Get to the Niagara Wine Festival

On the other hand, at the end of June, Niagara's New Vintage Festival is held, where winemakers present the new wines of the season and showcase the wineries in the area, as well as tastings of their wines. If you like the world of wine, make a note of this event in your diary.

Book an excursion to Niagara Falls

5. Visit the best museums in New York City al fresco

The MET| ©Hellotickets
The MET| ©Hellotickets

During the summer, the heat in New York can be oppressive at times. To escape the heat wave, a good idea is to take refuge in places where there is air conditioning.

For example, in the museums of the Big Apple where there is also a lot of culture to soak up. They are very diverse: history, art, photography, espionage, wax figures...

New York is a city that has become one of the great cultural centers of the planet thanks to its museums, many of which have great international relevance. Here are some of the most outstanding:

  • Museum of Natural History: An enjoyable and exciting tour to discover the origins of the universe, the Earth and the human being. Its collection is considered the largest on the planet with more than 35 million pieces of all kinds and is a must-see in New York. In the following link you have all the information you need to know about the Museum of Natural History.
  • MoMA: It is the most important museum of modern and contemporary art in the world. Its popularity lies not only in the value of its collections but also in offering a complete experience suitable for all ages. In the following link you have all the information you need to know about MoMA.
  • MET: Its collection gathers works of art with more than 5,000 years of history from all over the world. The MET is the temple for travelers with the soul of Indiana Jones! In the following link you have all the information you need to know about the MET.
  • Guggenheim Museum: Well worth a visit not only for its magnificent collection of modern art but also for its spectacular architecture designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. An icon of the twentieth century. In the following link you have all the information you need to know about the Guggenheim Museum in New York.
  • Brooklyn Museum: one of the largest museums in the country that houses an interesting collection of antiques and American art of great value. In the following link you have all the information you need to know about the Brooklyn Museum.
  • Fotografiska New York: It is not an ordinary museum but a mixture of photography, art, music and nightlife. A living art space in constant change where each collection is unique. In addition, Fotografiska New York organizes events with live music and special exhibitions. In the following link you have all the information you need to know about Fotografiska New York.
  • Madame Tussauds: If you feel like having some fun, go to Madame Tussauds to see their hyper-realistic wax figures, they are amazing! Without a doubt, one of the best museums in New York to visit with the family because the kids will have a blast. In the following link you have all the information you need to know about Madame Tussauds.

If you want to know more about New York museums, do not miss the article the 10 best museums in New York where I explain why they are the best and I tell you in detail everything you can see in them.

Book your ticket for the best museums in New York City

6. Take a trip to Coney Island

Coney Island amusement park| ©Hellotickets
Coney Island amusement park| ©Hellotickets

If you are traveling to New York in the summer, whether as a couple, with friends or with children, one of the best things to do in Brooklyn is to book a trip to Coney Island, the neighborhood where New Yorkers flock to enjoy the beach in good weather and relax outdoors.

Visit the boardwalk

Walking along its boardwalk feeling the Atlantic breeze on your face and the scent of the ocean is one of the things I love most about Coney Island - it's an amazing feeling! The other is Luna Park, a mix between amusement park and old fair that retains that special vintage charm and many of its original attractions such as the Cyclone roller coaster or the Wonder Wheel.

Be amazed by the rides at Coney Island

Nearby there is a show that attracts a lot of attention from visitors, it is a freak show that in the 20s and 30s became very popular by presenting the public with amazing numbers or exhibiting oddities of nature.

The spectacle of this freak show is different every season and, although some tricks are repeated, you will have the sensation of reliving times gone by among giants, bearded women, dwarfs and other typical characters.

Another fun attraction to see at Coney Island, especially with the family, is the New York Aquarium, the only aquarium in New York located on the boardwalk. Its purpose is to show the public the importance of preserving aquatic ecosystems.

Here you can see sharks, penguins and sea otters, among many other species. When you enter the New York Aquarium check the feeding schedule and don't miss it if it coincides with your visit - the kids will love it!

Book a tour of the Boroughs and Coney Island

7. Explore other New York islands in the summer

Roosevelt Island Cable Car| ©Unsplash
Roosevelt Island Cable Car| ©Unsplash

Many of them are easily reached by subway, ferry or cable car and are a true oasis in a city of skyscrapers.

  • City Island: Less known than Governors Island, it is a place with a taste of the sea with dozens of restaurants specializing in seafood, ideal for a good meal and a pleasant stroll.
  • Randall's Island: Located in the East River, during the summer months important outdoor music and film festivals are held here. It also has waterfront trails for biking and walking, as well as several sports centers for golf, tennis and more.
  • Roosevelt Island: A very quiet island to go for a walk to disconnect from the hustle and bustle of Manhattan. Here there are several parks and viewpoints along the water perfect for taking some nice pictures of the trip and to let the kids play outdoors for a while. You can get there by cable car. In my article how to ride the Roosevelt Island cable car I tell you more about this excursion.
  • Liberty Island and Ellis Island: Take advantage of the summer to take a ferry tour to Liberty Island and Ellis Island and learn about the history behind the Statue of Liberty, along with the Liberty Island Museum and a guided tour of the Liberty Island grounds.

Book a ferry tour to Ellis Island

8. Enjoy the best summer movies in New York!

Summer movies in Bryant Park| ©Wikimedia
Summer movies in Bryant Park| ©Wikimedia

When the warm weather arrives, you want to spend more time outdoors doing outdoor activities. When summer temperatures rise, the city's parks and gardens become a refuge for New Yorkers to endure the intense heat.

What better plan than relaxing under the shade of the lush trees and enjoying a summer movie night? This is one of the experiences I had the most fun with during my stay in New York.

If you love movies, you will have a great time because during the summer there are several festivals organized in the Big Apple every week and you will have many to choose from. Here are some of the highlights:

  • Bryant Park Film Festival: It is held on Monday nights and classic movies are screened. You can take some snacks with you for a picnic, although if you arrive early around 5 PM you can get a free popcorn cone. Curtain opens at 8 PM.
  • Central Park Film Festival: Takes place one week in August and is held near Sheep Meadow on the esplanade between the meadow and 72nd Street. Doors open at 6:30 PM and there is a DJ spinning until the film starts at 8PM.
  • Movies with a View: Held in Brooklyn Bridge Park on Thursdays in the park under the Brooklyn Bridge. Classic and modern movies are shown on a giant screen with the Brooklyn Bridge in the background. There are also food and drink stands.
  • Roosevelt Island Outdoor Summer Movie Series: South of the cable car is a movie screen in Southpoint Park where you can watch the movies after watching the sunset. Accessible starting at 7PM.
  • Hudson Riverflicks: At Pier 63 in Chelsea, at 23rd Street along the Hudson River, every Wednesday during the summer, this festival is organized where recent blockbusters are screened. The screening starts around 8:30 PM and free popcorn is handed out to attendees.

Book a TV and movie tour of New York City

9. Duck in the New York pools!

The Astoria Pool| ©NY Times
The Astoria Pool| ©NY Times

The best way to combat the high summer temperatures in New York is to cool off by taking a dip in cold water in one of the public pools scattered throughout the city. Cool, right?

From late June through September, New York's public pools open their doors for New Yorkers and tourists alike to spend a great summer day sunbathing, relaxing and splashing in the water without paying a dime.

Mark your calendars for these three public pools because you won't want to miss this summer experience:

  • Pop-Up Pool: Located in Brooklyn Bridge Park, this pool has heart-stopping views of Manhattan. It also has an artificial beach for tanning. On your way out you can take a stroll through Brooklyn Bridge Park, one of the most beautiful gardens in the city. It is at 150 Furman St.
  • Astoria Pool: Located in Queens, it is the largest pool in New York. It has beautiful views of Triborough Bridge, Hell Gate Bridge and Manhattan. It also has sports facilities for playing tennis and a restaurant area. It is located at 19th Street & 23rd Drive.
  • Lasker Pool: Located in the middle of Central Park, this pool is a great place to take a quick dip if the heat gets too much during your stroll through the park. If you don't know how to swim, there are free lessons for both children and adults. As a curiosity, in winter it turns into an ice rink. You'll find it in Mid-Park between 106th and 108th streets.

Other ways to cool off in New York

If you leave the pool and feel like taking a dip, you can also visit one of the beaches in Queens, Staten Island, Brooklyn or the Bronx. You can even ride a jet ski along the New York waterfront and cruise the Hudson River out of New Jersey.

10. Visit Governors Island in summer

Governors Island| ©Lonely Planet
Governors Island| ©Lonely Planet

Manhattan is a very tempting island full of great tourist attractions for travelers and a great list of things to see and do, but in summer too. It's hard to leave, but it's worth getting away from the epicenter of New York to explore its small satellite islands that are a hive of activity during the summer and a true oasis of tranquility in the asphalt jungle.

What to do on this island?

One of the best known is Governors Island, which opens only in summer with a great gastronomic offer and an interesting catalog of festivals. It also has a new attraction called The Hills, an elevated park that offers a new perspective of the Statue of Liberty, the Manhattan skyline, Brooklyn and Jersey City.

Another attraction to visit Governors Islands is to have the opportunity to spend a quiet day in nature taking advantage of the good weather for hiking or biking routes. These can be rented at the Blazing Saddles stand in the Colonels Row area. However, thanks to Bike and Roll, on Fridays in summer you can ride a bike for free for an hour to visit the island.

Free kayaking is also available here from June through mid-September. The Downtown Boathouse organizes kayaking sessions for both adults and children, a plan that is sure to excite them. Head to Pier 101, strap on your life jacket and get paddling!

Speaking of kids, if you go to Governors Island as a family you have to take them to Slide Hill, New York's largest slide on a large hill with a length of 17 meters. They will be amazed!

From a cultural point of view, there is also a lot to do on Governors Island. There are often workshops, as well as festivals and concerts. For example, the famous Jazz Age Lawn Party inspired by the 1920s during Prohibition where you can sip cocktails and dance the Charleston in a very original evening.