New York summers are famed for being hot and humid, but it’s also one of the most exciting times in the city, with plenty of outdoor festivals, markets, cinemas and sunny green spaces. Whether you want to go kayaking, island hopping or search out the best city views, here are some of the best ways to spend your summer in New York City.
Explore Central Park
Stretching over 843 acres, Central Park is the largest green space in Manhattan. Filled with tranquil gardens, amazing architecture and pretty woodlands, you could spend days exploring Central Park. Some of the best things to do include rowing a boat on Central Park Lake or renting a bike and cycling around the loops. You can also walk along the Jacqueline Onassis Reservoir, ride the charming vintage Central Park Carousel, or have a picnic in Sheep Meadow.
Check out all the quirky sculptures like Alice in Wonderland and Hans Christian Anderson. You can also see other architectural gems like the iconic Bow Bridge, the Bethesda Terrace and Fountain, Cleopatra’s Needle, and the fairytale Belvedere Castle. If you want more greenery, visit the Conservatory Garden, stretch out on the 55-acre Great Lawn, explore the Butterfly Gardens, or wander the peaceful Shakespeare Garden.
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Enjoy all the green spaces
Love a good park or garden? New York City is filled with beautiful green spaces. Some of our favourites are Greenacre Park, Washington Square Park, Domino Park, Battery Oval, and Bryant Park, where they hold the popular Summer Film Festival.
There’s also the lovely gardens of the Lower East Side’s Alphabet City, the sustainable wildflowers gardens at the High Line, and the spectacular New York Botanical Garden in the Bronx.
Spend a day at Coney Island
Coney Island is a classic summer spot in New York City. From the nostalgic charm of the Wonder Wheel and Luna Park, to the quirky street performers and the Circus Sideshow, there’s always something to see at Coney Island. Some of our favourite things to do include strolling along the boardwalk and spending a lazy afternoon at the beach. You can also check out the Coney Art Walls, ride the Cyclone rollercoaster, or get a dose of history at the Coney Island History Project.
If you’re feeling hungry, it’s basically a right of passage to eat a Nathan’s Famous hot dog. If you’ve got a sweet tooth, head to William’s Candy for some old-fashioned candy like fudge, marshmallows, popcorn and caramel-coated apples. Best of all, there are free fireworks every Friday during summer in Coney Island. You’ll get the best views on the boardwalk from West 10th Street to Stillwell Avenue.
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Go island hopping around New York
If you want to get away from the sweltering summer heat in New York you’ve got to go island hopping! Along with Coney Island, there are dozens of smaller islands around the Big Apple, each with their own treasures to discover.
There’s the sandy beaches of Long Island, the gorgeous sunsets over Roosevelt Island, and the historic sights beautiful parklands of Staten Island. We also love renting a bike and cycling around Governor’s Island, strolling along the boardwalk at Long Island City in Queens, and feasting on the freshest seafood in town at City Island.
Kayaking on the Hudson River
Whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned pro, kayaking on the Hudson River is a great way to spend a summer in New York City. You can rent kayaks, get lessons or take guided kayaking tours at Pier 96, Pier 84, Pier 26 and a bunch of boathouses around the city. You’ll get the best views of the city skyline, plus it’s a great way to reconnect with nature and get a fun workout at the same time.
Head to a rooftop bar for the best views over Manhattan
Manhattan is famed for its beautiful skyline and buzzing bar scene, and it gets even better when you put them together! The best rooftop bars come with elevated price tags, but it’s all worth it once you look out over those iconic views and soak up the sunshine while sipping on cocktails.
Some of the best rooftop bars in Manhattan include Elsie Rooftop, for the glamour of the Roaring ’20s and the Fifth Rooftop Bar, the city’s largest rooftop bar. There’s The Met Roof Garden Bar for incredible views over Central Park, and The Crown for sweeping views of Brooklyn and Manhattan.
For green spaces, we love the secret garden at Gallow Green and the gorgeous greenery and views from Public Rooftop and Garden. We also love Ophelia, Frank Sinatra’s old favourite haunt, the enchanting themes of SERRA by Birreria, and the Cuban paradise of Azul Rooftop Bar at Hugo Hotel.
There are dozens more fantastic rooftop bars in New York City to choose from, so get out there and find your favourite!
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Indulge in ice cream
There is no better way to beat the summer heat than indulging in some ice cream. Thankfully, it’s not hard to find a delicious frozen treat in New York City. From street vendors to ice cream parlours, you’ll find all the gelato, soft serves and sundaes you can dream of.
Some of the best ice cream parlours include Morgenstern’s Finest Ice Cream, with more than 80 flavours to try, and Eddie’s Sweet Shop, with their famous homemade ice cream. We also love Van Leeuwen Artisan Ice Cream, which serves up both dairy and non-dairy ice cream that is just as creamy as the original, plus Davey’s Ice Cream, who churn out all kinds of heavenly concoctions.
For an authentic Italian gelato, you can’t go past Grom, with recipes passed down for generations. And don’t forget the Lemon Ice King of Corona, the most legendary Italian ice shop in the city. It’s been serving up icy sweet treats for more than 75 years.
But that’s just scratching the surface of ice cream offerings in the city! There are dozens more delicious places to get ice cream in New York City. Finding your favourite is all part of the fun!