New York City in the summertime is honestly one of the best times! Regardless of heat, humidity, and hot temperatures, NYC rewards us with community activities and incredible events. Here are 10 top things to do in NYC this summer, and the best part, most of it is free!
1. Bryant Park Movie Nights
When I was in LA dreaming about moving to NYC, this was one of the things I kept dreaming about! Watching a movie at sunset against tall buildings in the middle of a bustling city. Now here, it’s as magical as what I dreamt!
Bryant Park Movie Nights offer free movie showings every Monday. Food and beverages are allowed (no alcohol though!). With a Whole Foods directly across from the park and lots of food vendors around, there are plenty of food options for the night. As soon as the lawn opens at 5 pm, within seconds most of it is covered in colorful blankets and throws (the actual film doesn’t start till around 9 pm). It’s really the perfect me night (there are chairs all around), date night, group get together, and girls night out activity.
Bryant Park Movie Nights movie schedule – here
2. Museum Days
New York City is home to some of the best museums in the world with an impressive roster of museums ranging in fine arts, history, and culture. What’s more impressive is that NYC offers free admissions to over 20 different museums. Most of these museums offer only select days and hours for free admission, but a majority of them also run on a pay what you wish policy.
With incredible architecture all around, views of Central Park directly across, and a towering skeleton of a Barosaurus dinosaur, the Natural History Museum is one of my favorite museums in the city. My other wishlist museums to visit: The Frick Collection, The Sculpture Center, The Cloisters, Metropolitan Museum of Art, and so many more!
Complete list of NYC free museum days – here
Cost: Free (or pay what you wish)
3. Gallery Hopping
One of the unique features of New York City is the long list of art galleries open to the public. Two of my favorites are the Perrotin Gallery and the Tina Kim Gallery.
The Perrotin Gallery is truly moving. With their current exhibit dedicated to the works of street artist JR. Hailing from Paris, The Perrotin Gallery transports you to a place immersed in conversations about social justice. JR’s work is on display till August 17 (I honestly wish they could extend it). Drop by to see it before it’s gone!
The Tina Kim Gallery is so peaceful and beautiful. Situated at the center of the arts district right below the High Line, the gallery is known for its emphasis on international contemporary artists and highly curated shows. With pristine interiors, polished concrete flooring, and walls painted in all white, this gallery radiates tranquility and calmness.
A list of art galleries in Chelsea, NYC – here
4. Shakespeare in the Park
Shakespeare in the Park has been a quintessential part of NYC summer nights for over 60 years. Lines form at noon on the dot for free tickets to the night’s performance. In the past, impressive performances were done by Meryl Streep, Natalie Portman, Denzel Washington and more!
Food and drinks are welcomed at the amphitheater. The nightly (except for Mondays) performances are held at the Delacorte Theater, an open-air amphitheater located at the southwest corner of the Great Lawn in Central Park. Watching a Shakespeare play underneath a starry night with the impressive Belvedere Castle in the background… it’s the set-up for a perfect midsummer evening!
Shakespeare in the Park play schedule – here
5. Brooklyn Cat Cafe
I can write a novel about this, but I won’t torture you. Cat lovers unite! Animal-themed places and activities are spreading like wildfire throughout the world, the owl cafe in Tokyo, goat yoga in Portland, and of course the beloved cat cafe!
The Brooklyn Cat Cafe, it’s actually where we adopted our beloved little Sherlock. I can’t imagine our lives without him, he is such a curious and mischievous kitty, always full of energy and willing to cuddle. And he loves his morning cuddles! The Brooklyn Cat Cafe is 100% volunteer-run and one of the earliest cat cafes in the US. They also operate as a resource center and provide a mixture of educational and fun workshops (Cat Yoga, Pet CPR training, Movie Showings, etc.). If you’re a cat lover, friends with a cat lover, dating a cat lover, married to a cat lover, this is the place for you! But seriously though, be prepared to be overloaded by cuteness.
Brooklyn Cat Cafe information – here
Cost: $7/every half an hour
Enter through the pearly gates of this outdoor food market and there will be traditional Honduran Baleadas, deep-fried cookie dough, mangoes on a stick, ramen burgers, and so much more deliciousness! Bring cash, a pair of comfortable shoes, and an appetite… Smorgasburg is home to some of best food the city has to offer (I especially love the Williamsburg location for the great views of Manhattan)! Have fun and eat lots!
Smorgasburg information – here
Cost: Free Admission
7. Artist & Fleas
The fun continues after Smorgasburg… walk around the corner down North 7th Street and step inside Artist & Fleas. Artist & Fleas is a weekend market curated by and for the creative and curious. It has over 100 individual vendors selling anything and everything within the realms of fashion, vintage, art, and design. A fun destination for unique jewelry pieces, vintage coats, home decor items, and more.
Artist & Fleas information – here
Cost: Free Admission
Thanks to the kind folks over at the Amateur Astronomers Association of New York, visitors of the High Line can stargaze and see rare celestial sights through high-powered telescopes! Some evenings, there’s also accompanying live music, which makes it the perfect backdrop for a fun night. Stargazing at the High Line takes place every Tuesday, beginning at dusk till Tuesday, October 30.
High Line Stargazing information – here
9. Hudson RiverFlicks on Pier 46
Movie in the park, and now, movie by the water! Beautiful sunsets along with blockbuster films, the Hudson RiverFlicks offers free movie showings at 8:30 pm on Pier 46 every Friday till August 24. Blankets are welcomed, and food and drinks can be purchased on site.
Hudson RiverFlicks movie schedule – here
10. Picnic in Central Park
Saving the best for last! Colin and I do this quite often and we love it. A picnic in Central Park!
This is one of my favorite areas in Central Park. But to be honest with you, any area with grass or on a huge rock is perfect. This particular location is near the Gapstow Bridge and it’s just so beautiful. We sit, have a picnic, people watch, talk, and spend time here every summer and fall. And every time we’re here, I fall in love with NYC over and over again.
Location: Near Gapstow Bridge
I truly hope you enjoy this post! Feel free to bookmark it for places to visit and things to do in NYC this summer! For more fun things to do, we also have a list of best ice cream shops in NYC. Happy summer and wishing you endless warmth and happiness!
As always, thank you so much for reading!