Summer, with its warm nights and loads of vitamin D, is finally close. We’ve been waiting for it for the past six months, while cuddled up in warm blankets and anxiously sipping hot chocolate. But now that the NYC summer is finally upon us, what are the best things to do?

This ultimate guide to amazing, unique, and must-do activities in New York during our favorite season will make summer pass way too quickly. So make the most of it! Since there is a ridiculous amount of things to do in our incredible city in the summer, we’ve grouped them into categories. Enjoy!


Best Free Things to Do

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Have an amazing meal while catching some vitamin D and enjoying breathtaking views. All you need is a picnic basket, a comfy blanket, and a few friends or loved ones. An all-time favorite spot for relaxing picnics is Brooklyn Bridge Park, nestled just under the Brooklyn Bridge and offering East River and Lower Manhattan views. If you’d like to stay in Manhattan, head to Sheep Meadow in Central Park, a 15-acre preserve that used to be the gathering spot for large demonstrations and political movements.

Another cool thing to do in the scorching heat is to rent a kayak at Pier 26 and paddle along the Hudson River. Again, you’ll be exposed to beautiful skyline views and it’s completely free.

Free Fridays at MoMA (Museum of Modern Art) deserve a mention here as well. Even though this is a year-round event, it’s even more enjoyable during the summer, since MoMA has a pretty sculpture garden that blooms in the summer months. For more awesome free activities in the summer, go here.


Best Bars to Visit

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We know that New York City is full of beautiful rooftops, countless bars, and unique mixologists, but it’s a whole new ball game in the summer.

Have you ever dreamed of hanging out on a boat and having a few cheeky drinks, but without the sickening rocking of an actual boat? Frying Pan is a New York favorite, perched on a historic lightship and offering amazing Hudson River views. With its perfect location and cool vibe, this place is always packed with people, so make sure you get there early!

Also, consider paying a visit to the Boat Basin, a casual outdoor cafe with classic American fare located in the Upper West Side’s Riverside Park. If you just can’t get enough of boat bars, head to Grand Banks, a seasonal oyster bar on the deck of a historic fishing boat (docked in TriBeCa right near another great summer bar, City Vineyard).

For those who would like to freshen up with a few drinks and a cooling breeze, North River Lobster Company could be the right boat bar for you. This haven of lobster rolls and other fishy snacks sails up and down the Hudson River a few times a day, all the while serving seafood and cocktails.

If you’re an Upper Manhattan resident who has already planned an island escape, you’ll love La Marina. This outdoor bar comes with an island vibe, hosts DJs and live music every night of the summer, and offers a spacious waterfront.


Best Unique Things to Do

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Since New York boasts too many cool places, your friends from out of town won’t be impressed anymore when you post pics from your favorite hot spots. To make them jealous, you need to get creative. Visit the Honorable William Wall, also lovingly referred to as Willy Wall, the Manhattan Yacht Club’s floating clubhouse in the harbor. Its exclusivity stems from the fact that you’ll need to take a ferry to get there. Your reward is a beautiful view of the Manhattan and Jersey City skylines, plus an elegant ambience.

Are you a huge theater fan, but would prefer to steer clear of dark, enclosed theaters in the summer? We’ve got you covered with Shakespeare in the Park. The popular outdoor theater returns to Delacorte Theater in Central Park this summer, performing the playwright’s famous tragedy, Othello. Join the lottery to win free tickets, line up on the day, or drop $500 to support the production.


Best Active Things to Do

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While New York City is the most populous city in the United States with more than 8.5 million people, it also offers a few natural escapes. We’re not just talking about Central Park (though we do love it!). The talk of the town is the George Washington Bridge Trail, which is accessible from 175th Street.

Hiking Project praises this 1.6 mile stretch as, “the best single-track hiking you can hope to find that’s accessible from New York City without a car.” At the halfway point, your hike will be well worth it with panoramic views of the Hudson River and the New York City skyline. Take the A train to 175th Street to get to the starting point.

Another great way to get active outdoors is to take one of the free outdoor workout classes at the city’s parks. Bryant Park, Central Park, the High Line, and Socrates Sculpture Park all offer an abundance of fitness classes that will get you in shape this summer. Pick up a new hobby like yoga, fencing, or tai chi, all for free.