Ultimate Guide To Summer in New York City

Published by at under New York

It’s true, New York City never sleeps!  A city of bests, it’s a year-round people magnet, especially in the summer.  With the warmth of summer, the always busy city ratchets up a notch as much of the action shifts outdoors.  The normally brusque demeanor of New Yorkers softens as they stream to outdoor venues and events.  As the heavy layers of winter are shed, a more casual, high energy vibe takes over the city. Everyone, everywhere gets into the act!


Enjoy an Outdoor Festival
Summer festivals are in high gear with open air performances of all kinds happening around all five boroughs.  The Shakespeare in the Park event from the end of May to the end of August is a unique NYC experience in Central Park’s Delacorte Theater and the annual Central Park Conservancy Film Festival on Sheep’s Meadow are city staples. The Blue Note Jazz Festival in June takes place at various venues.  Jazz, of course, is an integral part of Lincoln Center summer concerts too.  Summer Stage concert series, from June to August, includes over 100 free performances, both big and small.  The Lincoln Center Festival in July engages audience with nearly 60 of the best in performing arts from around the world – opera, chamber music, theater, ballet, modern dance, and much more.  Broadway heads outdoors too for Broadway in Bryant Park from July to mid August.  The Lincoln Center Out of Doors event from the end of July through mid August offers free music and dance performances from all over the world at various Manhattan locations.  For one month from the end of July to the end of August, the hugely popular Mostly Mozart Festival delights audiences at Lincoln Center. Fringe NY in mid-August brings 200 companies, 1200 performing artists encompassing all the performing arts to 20 stages on 16 days. Movies under the stars are summer faves; find them at Pier 46 throughout July and August. River Flicks Family Fridays in Hudson River Park, Bryan Park Summer Film Festival on the lawn, and Movies with a View on the Harbor View Lawn in Brooklyn Bridge Park are a few of the must-sees.


Discover the City’s Artsy Side
The concrete caverns of NYC are cold in the winter and hot in the summer.  Summer advice:  dress lightly, wear comfortable shoes, drink lots of water and, balance outdoor activities with indoor ones.  An indoor must without equal – spend at least a half day experiencing a fraction of the astounding exhibitions of mankind’s art through the ages at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, arguably the best in the world (note: it would take days to see it all!) While on Museum Mile, visit the architecturally distinctive Guggenheim whose works of the 19th and 20th century greats is wonderful.  Or, change gears and head to MOMA (Museum of Modern Art) in Midtown to see their spectacular collection of modern art, one of the best in the world.  Here’s an evening treat at MOMA:  every Sunday in July, attend Summergarden in MOMA’s Sculpture Garden.  It’s free, fabulous, first come, first served.  Gates open at 7pm.  Jazz, classical music and dance at its best.


Explore by Land
Head out to Coney Island.  Enjoy a Nathan’s hot dog and ride the Cyclone, but maybe not in that order!  Golf or bowl at Chelsea Piers where there’s a lot of activity with waterfront views.  Walk a unique NYC gem – Chelsea’s 1.4 mile long High Line Park, 30 feet up, from Meatpacking District to 34th Street. It’s really busy in the summer, but the whole experience, views, shade, benches and food vendors, is well worth dealing with the crowds.  For a super-fun time, bike along the Greenway network for great river an city views.  Rent a bike and head out on your own or take a guided bike tour.  A super summer way to see the city!  For a real thrill, take a Brooklyn Bridge Bike Tour. Start at the Battery, head around Manhattan’s southern tip, through Lower Manhattan, over Manhattan Bridge, into Brooklyn, and back to Manhattan over the venerable Brooklyn Bridge. Pretty amazing way to see the city with a big Wow factor!  For something tamer, discover the tranquil beauty of Central Park by day or experience the magical sparkle of NYC lights at night – on a Central Park Bike Tour.


Visit the Popular Attractions
While in Midtown, visit Rockefeller Plaza.  Get a first come first serve free ticket to a Today Show Summer Concert.  Take a Rock Center Tour; marvel at the view from the Top of the Rock.  Get behind the scenes of Radio City on a Stage Door Tour. Day or night, wander around Times Square, the most powerful tourist magnet in the city – and the place for selfies!  Pedestrian-friendly, there’s always something going on.  It’s its own zone – flashy electronic billboards, movies, shopping, food, summer concerts, and Broadway theaters along the Great White Way.  Can’t get close to your favorite star?   Mingle with their wax doubles in Madame Tussauds.  You’ll get plenty of selfies with Madonna, Lady Gaga, Alicia Keys, Michael Jackson, all the Marvel superheros, Princess Diana, Maya Angelou … and the list does on… and on.  Encounter the really weird at Ripley’s Believe It or Not! or get creeped out at Times Scare.  Watch Good Morning America live, check out what’s happening at Discovery Times Square.


Experience a Different Perspective
Step back from the press of crowds and escape from the asphalt heat on a cruise around Manhattan on the East River, the Hudson River, or both.  It’s a great summer sightseeing choice, and the choices are many. Being able to clearly see iconic NYC sites from one side of Manhattan Island to the other from the water is a wonderful experience. Circle Line Sightseeing does just that:  it circles around Manhattan.  Clipper City Tall Ships cruise around Manhattan too, but to be able to experience it under sail is a spectacular added bonus.  It doesn’t get much better than a twilight cruise complete with champagne and wine tasting on a Manhattan by Sail vessel.  How about leisurely sightseeing by water while enjoying an elegant lunch or dinner buffet on Manhattan Cruises, or Sunday Brunch with music and entertainment on aboard a large World Yacht or see the sights through unique curved glass walls of an elegant NY Bateau cruise.  Fascinated by architecture?  Don’t miss Classic Harbor Line’s Around Manhattan Architecture Tour aboard an elegant 1920s era yacht and hosted by architects. Going under 18 bridges and getting an upclose look at the surrounding architecture is fascinating.  To see a lot, but not all on foot, try this:  get on a weekend only Hop-on/Hop-Off Water Taxi All-Day Pass. It’s a great way to get around, beat the heat, and see it all by land and sea!  Here’s how it works:  get there by water; walk around on foot.  Catch the next Water Taxi to the next important sightseeing spot hop off, sightsee, and get back on to the next spot.  Or, a really nice experience is on Water Taxi’s Hop-off and Visit 9-11 Memorial pass.  The water taxi will drop you off at Battery Park, not far from the Memorial.  After walking to and around the moving Memorial, getting back on the water is a meaningful way contemplate its impact.  Another interesting water/land adventure is a quick ferry ride out to Governors Island, just minutes off Lower Manhattan, and with great views of the Statue of Liberty.  It’s open 7 days a week. Take a picnic packed by a Lower Manhattan eatery,  or grab a bite at the park’s food trucks and carts.  Walk the trails; rent a bike around the island; visit Revolutionary War era Fort Jay and Castle William of the War of 1812.


Live like a Local
For a real feel of New York City, check out Manhattan’s eclectic neighborhoods, many still flavored by their immigrant past; others uber trendy.  Visit flower markets, fresh markets and flea markets.   On the weekends, head over to Brooklyn to one of NYC’s top summer attractions: Brooklyn Flea to browse antiques, jewelry and vintage vendors and taste tasty food.  This super urban experience takes place April – November, Saturday at Fort Greene, south of Brooklyn Bridge; Sundays in Williamsburg, north of Williamsburg Bridge.  For a giant all-food market, Smorgasburg is a must.  On Saturdays in its Williamsburg; Sundays at Pier 3 in Brooklyn Bridge Park. Super fun; super hip.


Sample the Cuisine 
Nothing beats the fabulous restaurants throughout the city.  Go elegant or go fun.  There are so many ways to sample your way through culinary NYC!  Nothing says New York more than pastrami piled high on rye and a Kosher pickle from a neighborhood deli. Sometimes pricey, often cash only; always busy and predictably abrupt, one thing is certain: servings are generous. Katz in on the Lower East Side; Carnegie Deli and Ben’s Deli in Midtown, Artie’s in the Upper West Side Bernstein’s in the Lower East Side.  All are good.  To get the full flavor of the city’s distinct neighborhoods, taste your way through ethnic East Village on a guided walking tour where tasting stop samplings of Polish pierogis, Russian borscht, Chinese Dum Sum are delicious!  Try NY City style pizza, deli foods, and cheesecake on a Flavors of New York Tour to discover even more ethnic delicacies; Italian, Vietnamese, Mexican, Israeli, Turkish specialties on NOLITA Eat a Bite of Ethnic NY Tour; flavorful Greek, Italian and Jewish on a Lower Side Artisan Food Tour; Harlem for real Soul Food.  Pick one and enjoy! Ice cream is king on a hot NYC summer day.  Lower East Side’s Il Laboratorio del Gelato is famous; Chinatown Ice Cream Factory has the regulars plus green tea, ginger and lechee flavors; Van Leeuwen Artisan Ice-Cream in East Village is flavorfully creative and super creamy delicious; Le Maison du Chocolat in Rockefeller Center is a must stop when there; Cia Bella Gelato in Grand Central or in the Upper East Side is super delicious. Wrap up a busy day by seeking out a Rooftop Bar for cocktails with a view  Trendy, pricey, and with a dress code, it’s relaxing and a hip NYC thing to do.

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