Top 20 Things to Do in Summer in New York City
By Charles Beacham

Top 20 Things to Do in Summer in New York City

June 24, 2014   |   Summer Activities  

Summer is the perfect time to be outside, and we've compiled a list of the top 20 things to do in New York City in the summer, including paddle boat rental at Central Park in Manhattan, Macy's 4th of July Fireworks, outdoor music festivals and concerts, the Hong Kong Dragon Boat Festival in Queens, and wet and wild fun at Coney Island in Brooklyn.

1. Visit an amusement park.

thunderbolt roller coaster coney island

Get set for a summer of thrills when Luna Park in Coney Island, Brooklyn opens for summer in late May. Serious thrill-seekers won’t want to miss the park’s newest and fastest rollercoaster, The Thunderbolt. Check out our full list of amusement parks.


2. Go boating.

Rent a water craft at the Loeb Boathouse in Manhattan’s Central Park and be the captain of your own ship (well, just a paddle boat) and take in the views of Central Park Lake. Want more nautical fun? There are plenty of places you can go boating in and around the city.

3. Attend an outdoor concert.

Enjoy open-air concerts and dance performances throughout all five boroughs when CityParks presents SummerStage, with kid-centric performances taking place from mid June through August.


4. Pick your own berries.

pick your own strawberries

The Hamptons aren’t the only fun thing about Long Island. Gather your brood for a day trip to pick your own berries a at Patty’s Berries and Bunches in Mattituck, which offers a different berry each month starting in June. Find the full list of berry farms in the NYC area (including Westchester County and New Jersey).

5. See Shakespeare plays outside.

Bring a blanket and sit under the stars as you introduce the kids to The Bard’s timeless work during the Inwood Shakespeare Festival at Inwood Hill Park in Manhattan throughout June. 


6. Attend a fine art festival.

Enjoy free access to some of the world’s finest art collections as you stroll down Fifth Avenue during the Museum Mile Festival on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, in early June. Is your little artist feeling inspired? Check out our guide to art classes.

7. Swing to jazz music.

Get down to sweet syncopation in mid-June when the Red Hook Jazz Festival brings together amazing local jazz groups to perform at Urban Meadow at Brooklyn’s Columbia Waterfront District.


8. Go to a ballgame with dad.

old-fashioned baseball game

Treat Dad to one of the many Father’s Day events happening throughout the city around mid-June, such as Take Me Out to the Ball Game 1864, an annual exhibition baseball match played with historic equipment and historic rules at Bartow-Pell Mansion Museum in the Bronx. Find more vintage and modern baseball games in the city (read: Brooklyn Cyclones in the minor league, and those two MLB rivals we all know and love—or love to hate!).

9. Ride a carousel. 

nyc carousel

Take a spin on the historic Flushing Meadows Carousel in Queens, which was moved from Coney Island to its current location for the 1964 World’s Fair and is right next to the Queens Zoo, or find another merry-go-round near you.

10. Attend a pirate festival.

ny pirate festival

Set sail north to Phillipsburg Manor in Sleepy Hollow for Pirates of the Hudson, a festival filled with bandits and buccaneers of all sorts, not to mention a ton of kid-friendly games and shows. The fest takes place in early July and is well worth the trip to Westchester County. 

11. Watch movies in the moonlight. 

Starting in July you can enjoy free outdoor movies all summer long with Riverflicks Family Fridays at Hudson River Park in Greenwich Village, Manhattan ant other kid-friendly outdoor screenings.


12. Go fishing.

father and son fishing

Teach the kids the perfect cast (while sneaking in some bonding time) as you go fishing for blue gill and giant carp at Kissena Lake in Queens. Try casting a line at these other local fishing holes.

13. Eat a famous frank. 

Watch competitive eaters scarf down iconic New York franks at Nathan’s Famous Fourth of July Hot Dog Eating Contest in Coney Island, Brooklyn. (Don’t forget to try one of your own!).


14. Watch some fireworks.

fourth of july fireworks nyc

Don’t miss the city’s biggest Independence Day celebration when the Macy’s 4th of July Fireworks show lights up the city skyline. The show travels back and forth between the East and Hudson Rivers so check for details on where to view.


15. Go to the beach.

kids at the beach

Spend a day at Rockaway Beach in Queens, where you can swim in the ocean, lounge on the beach, and stroll the boardwalk. Check out our full list of beaches in the area.

16. Celebrate different cultures.

french festival bastille day nyc

Indulge in the diversity of the Big Apple with crepes, face painting, crafts, and more during Bastille Day, a French-themed street fair hosted by the French Institute Alliance Française in mid-July on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. Find other cultural festivals nearby.


17. Learn to golf or play a round of putt-putt.

mini golf kid

In July and August, kids ages 7-17 can learn to play golf like the pros at the Junior Golf Center in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn which boasts a driving range and a six-hole practice course. Short game need some work? Play a round of putt-putt here in the city.

18. Play in the water.

Enjoy a day full of wet and wild fun and take in the view of New York Harbor from Governors Island or enjoy free boat tours, live music, crafts, games, educational events, and on-the-water kids’ activities during City of Water Day, presented by Metropolitan Waterfront Alliance in mid-July.

19. Cheer on rowers at the Dragon Boat Festival in Queens.

dragon boat festival queens

Take part in Chinese tradition through cultural performances, arts and crafts, and an amazing boat race at the Hong Kong Dragon Boat Festival, held in mid-August at Flushing Meadows Corona Park in Queens.

20. Catch a tennis match.

us open kids day

Help kick off the U.S. Open tennis tournament at Arthur Ashe Kids’ Day, held in late August at USTA Billie Jean King Tennis Center in Flushing, Queens. Got a budding Andy Murray or Serena Williams on your hands? Sign up for kids tennis classes.


More Seasonal Fun in NYC


Also see:

125 Ideas for Summer Fun

125 Reasons to Get Outside This Summer


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