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34 BEST Things to do in New York City in Summer – Events, Festivals, and More!

34 BEST Things to do in New York City in Summer – Events, Festivals, and More!

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Looking for a list of the best summer activities available in New York City? Cha-ching, you found it!

I know you’re probably a little stressed about making your experience perfect, and I get it, I’m like that too! We have been to NYC many times and explored lots of what the city has to offer and trust me this list is the best of the best.

From big-ticket attractions like the Empire State Building to eating pizza with locals, or having a lazy sunny afternoon in Central Park, we’ve included a slice of New York life for everyone. You’ll also find the prices of activities, recommendations, and helpful tips we wish we had known the first time around.

Things to do in NYC in Summer

1. Head up the Empire State Building 

Binoculars and a view of New York City from the Empire State Building
The Empire State Building!
Views from the Empire State Building in NYC
The 102nd Floor!

Chances are you’ve already heard of the iconic Empire State Building. Over 4 million people visit this epic site every year, and it’s consistently one of the most photographed buildings in the whole world!

After years of development, the “race to the sky” officially ended when the Empire State Building was completed in 1931. Standing at 1,250 feet (380 meters) this was the world’s tallest building for 40 years! Today, you’ve likely seen it in countless films or photographs – iconic is an understatement!

Even if you only have one day in NYC, the Empire State Building should definitely be at the top of your itinerary. It’s in the heart of the city, located in Midtown Manhattan.

View through the wire fence on the 86th Floor Observatory in New York at the Empire State Building
View through the wire fence on the 86th Floor Observatory in New York at the Empire State Building

The main observation deck is located on the 86th floor, and the views are incredible! One of our favorite parts was hearing about the history of the building’s construction as we passed through an exhibition on our way up to the observation deck. Although the views are certainly worth an honorable mention! You can also visit the 102nd-floor observation deck, but it’ll cost extra, and honestly, the views from the main deck were impressive enough.

During the summer, I highly recommend booking your tickets in advance here – we couldn’t believe how many people were there! Luckily, we didn’t feel overcrowded, but we were happy to have tickets ahead of time. General admission tickets range from $48 to $53 USD (depending on the day) and although we couldn’t fit it into our schedule, you can also visit at sunset for an extra $11 USD – talk about epic views! Simply use the general admission tickets to catch the sunset.

As I said, this is a popular attraction (it’s world-famous after all) so if you want to skip the line, you can purchase express tickets for $92 USD.

Bailey poses for a photo on the 86th Floor Observatory in New York at the Empire State Building in New York City
It’s hard to stop taking photos!
Daniel on the 86th Floor Observatory in New York City, Empire State Building
The 86th Floor!

Only a limited amount of people can visit at once, so booking tickets in advance is necessary. However, don’t worry about booking months in advance. There are plenty of time slots, so booking the day before should be fine.

A great option is getting a New York sightseeing pass, which covers the entry fee to get into the Empire State Building and other can’t-miss activities. For the full run-down, read our guide to New York’s best sightseeing passes and our favorite one!

We recommend allotting 2-3 hours to visit the Empire State Building. We walked around the deck, took tons of photos, and loved taking in the views. This is such an incredible experience, so you don’t want to feel rushed.

2. Check out Smorgasburg

Smorgasburg in New York City
Come hungry!
lobster dish at Smorgasburg in New York City
So good!

You’ll find all the food you could ever want (and more!) at Smorgasburg. In fact, it’s the largest open-air food market in America, so it’s the perfect place to check out some of the best local vendors in New York City. New York’s food scene is out of this world, so you won’t find any chain restaurants here! 

The market usually hosts around 80 vendors in total, and the list changes every year, but my absolute favorites include Rooster Boy, which serves delicious fried chicken, and Mao’s Bao, which offers colorful pan-fried buns. 

Smorgasburg has been such a success that they now do pop-ups in multiple cities, including LA, Toronto, and Sao Paulo. But the original is always the best, so that’s why we love this NYC festival!

Smorgasburg only runs during the summer and it varies each year, so I recommend double-checking the dates before you go. The market operates out of three different locations: at the World Trade Center on Fridays, Marsha P. Johnson State Park in Williamsburg on Saturdays, and Prospect Park in Brooklyn on Sundays.

The only downside to this market is that it’s (understandably) super popular, so the lines are long. However, we successfully beat the queues by using the ChowNow app to order food in advance, and then just strolled around the market until it was ready to collect. 

Smorgasburg is an event not to be missed! Locals love it, and it’s certainly a unique thing to do in the summer as a tourist.

3. Explore Central Park

Bailey walks through Central Park in New York City
The park is huge!
Bailey and Daniel take a selfie in Central Park, New York City
It’s such a nice break from the city!

Located right in the center of Manhattan, Central Park is a beautiful urban park that seems almost endless. Much like the Empire State Building, this park has also been featured in tons of movies like Ghostbusters, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, and Elf and is an absolute must-visit when going to NYC.

Central Park was approved for development in 1853 to give New Yorkers a green, outdoor space where they could escape the concrete jungle. In 1858, the first section of the park was opened to the public and the park continued to expand and change throughout the years.

Covering 1.3 square miles (3.4 square kilometers), Central Park is huge and is split into lots of different sections. 

Locals typically soak up the sun in Sheep Meadow, which is a great place to relax. Also, a visit to Belvedere Castle is a must! This NYC castle is a base for monitoring the weather, and the best part is it’s free to go up the terrace where you’ll get amazing views.

There are plenty of things to see like the famous Alice in Wonderland sculpture, the model boat pond, and of course, the historic carousel. If you come back for a visit from October to April, the park opens a huge ice skating rink too!

To be honest, it’s difficult to walk around and explore all that Central Park has to offer because of its sheer size! For this reason, we recommend going on a tour. There are a handful of tours in Central Park, whether you want to walk, bicycle, or even take a carriage ride!

Beautiful pond in Central Park, New York City
Exploring on foot can take a while!

Horse and Carriage Tour

Made abundantly popular by movies as a grand romantic gesture, the most popular way to explore Central Park is on a horse and carriage ride.

This journey lasts about 45 minutes and costs $195 USD for a group of up to 4 (double-date anyone?). You can choose to go any time between 9 am and 11 pm, I think it’s such a unique way to explore the park. It’s like a rom-com in real life – book your movie-worthy carriage ride here!

Pedicab Tour

Instead of using horses, a pedicab is a tour where your chauffeur uses a bicycle to drive you around.

I’ll be honest, we prefer this pedicab tour over the horse-drawn carriage ride because you can reach places that the horses can’t! If you want to see as much of Central Park as possible, this is the most efficient way to do it. You’ll see the John Lennon memorial, the Central Park Zoo, and more!

They offer 1-hour or 2-hour tours, ranging from $50 to $100 USD. We highly recommend the 2-hour tour since you get to see so much more of the park! You can purchase either option online here.

Views of Central Park with the New York City skyline in the background
It’s so cool to see the city meet greenery!


Another great opportunity to see the most of Central Park is by bike. For just $27 USD, you can rent a bike from inside the park for the whole day. They provide a map and recommend stops, so its your own self-guided tour!

For those who prefer biking with a guide, we recommend taking this 2-hour leisurely bike tour. You’ll hit all the park’s top sights, including the Dakota Apartment Building where John Lennon lived, as well as Bethesda Fountain. What a fantastic way to learn about this iconic New York location, and get a little exercise in! This tour costs $48 USD and you can book tickets online here.

Walking tours

We also loved this walking tour, as it was a good way to get our steps in and learn heaps about the park! Our guide, Jeremy was fantastic and gave us an intro to NYC that made us feel like locals at the end (nearly, still working on that NY attitude!).

We highly recommend booking this walking tour here – and it’s a steal at just $35 USD! This tour is only available Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday, so be sure to plan accordingly!

4. Shakespeare in the Park

Shakespear in the park at the Delacorte Theater in Central Park
The best free performance you’ll see in NYC!

Shakespeare in the Park has been a summertime favorite in New York for over 60 years now. Every year, the Delacorte Theatre in Central Park puts on two different Shakespeare plays, sometimes with a twist.

However, after all these years of shows, it’s time for some renovations! For the 2024 season, they will be doing a traveling version of Shakespeare in the Park called “GO PUBLIC!”. Normal productions at the Delacorte Theater will resume in 2025.

GO PUBLIC! will be hosting shows in all five boroughs, with a rotating schedule, but guaranteed entertainment. You can check the locations, times, and shows here.

Regardless of whether it’s traveling or in the iconic theater, you won’t find some amateur production. Tony Award winners and big-name actors get involved in Shakespeare in the Park. For example, Meryl Steep, Al Pacino, and James Earl Jones have all given performances here. So rest assured, everyone involved in this production has talent in spades. 

When the summer of 2025 rolls around, you’ll want to be prepared to get tickets (as it’s harder than it sounds!). You can’t book them in advance, so you have to secure them on the day of the performance. 

There are a few different ways to do this, but the most popular is to queue up at the Delacorte Theatre at midday. You can get two tickets per person, and if you’re not successful, you can still head to the Delacorte before the evening performance begins and join the standby line. 

Alternatively, you can also use the TodayTix app and join the digital lottery for Shakespeare in the Park. This will save you time, and you can keep trying on every performance day while you’re in the city without having to go back to Central Park over and over.

Shakespeare in the Park usually begins the second week of June and runs until early August, but dates and schedules change from year to year, so make sure to check ahead of time for updates.

Related Read: This isn’t the only free activity in the city – check out what our other favorite free things to do in NYC are!

5. Enjoy a dinner cruise 

Bailey enjoys her dinner with the Statue of Liberty in the background during the Bateaux New York Premier Dinner Cruise in New York City
Our main course with Lady Liberty!
Daniel and Bailey with the Brooklyn bridge on a dinner cruise in NYC
The Brooklyn Bridge!

One of our favorite activities from our last NYC summer vacation was a sunset dinner cruise. Honestly, what’s better than incredible views and amazing food? It’s the perfect combo! We’ve done our fair share of dinner cruises but the easy winner was this Bateaux New York Premier Dinner Cruise.

We set off down the Hudson River on an all-glass boat, and the sunset views were about as picturesque as you can imagine.

Even though it was raining when we went, we were still impressed by the views of the city. Since we were nice and dry onboard, it was super cozy and romantic! This cruise turned out to be one of the best things to do in New York when it’s raining (even during the summer!).

One of the highlights of our evening was seeing the Statue of Liberty up close and all lit up! They perfectly time sailing up to Lady Liberty as the main course was served, which made the ambiance top tier. However, nothing beats the expansive skyline, and seeing it at night was simply incredible.

As if the views weren’t enough, we enjoyed an amazing 3-course dinner, too! Given this city’s notable restaurant scene, we were surprised when this meal turned out to be one of the best meals that we had on our entire trip!

A singer sings with passion on the Bateaux New York Premier Dinner Cruise
She was amazing!
The Statue of Liberty lit up at night as seen from a dinner cruise in New York City
Bring your camera for these amazing views!

Oh, and did we mention the live band!? They gave such an amazing performance and helped set the mood for the whole night. Talk about a talented group of musicians.  

The Bateaux Diner Cruise usually costs between $250-$300 USD per person, and we encourage you to purchase your tickets in advance. We wrote a full review on the Bateaux Cruise if you want more info before you book!

If you’re traveling with family or looking for a cheaper option, we recommend the New York Dinner Cruise. The same company runs it so it’s still a great option, but the main differences are that it’s a buffet dinner and it’s not on a glass boat.

While it’s a good alternative, we think it’s worth spending the extra money to do the Bateaux Premier Dinner Cruise if you can. After all, how many times will get to experience the luxurious side of New York City?

6. Visit the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island 

The Statue of Liberty as seen from a cruise in New York City
It’s huge!
Building on Ellis Island on tour in New York City
Ellis Island!

One of the most internationally recognized landmarks in New York City is the Statue of Liberty. Gifted from France in 1890 to celebrate America’s independence, this statue symbolizes freedom and was often the first thing immigrants saw when they arrived here.

On its pedestal, Lady Liberty is a whopping 305 feet (93 meters) tall. She was designed to represent Libertas, the Roman goddess of Liberty, holding her torch of enlightenment that helps guide the path to freedom.

Neighboring Liberty Island is Ellis Island, where over 12 million immigrants traveling from abroad were processed from 1892 until 1954 when the center was shut down.

Given the rich history and symbolism of these two places, it comes as no surprise that visiting these islands is very popular. Instead of waiting until you arrive, we recommend booking a tour since the summer is the busiest season.

We went on this flexible combo tour which visited both! We met at the original immigration station in Battery Park, Castle Clinton, and then hopped aboard the ferry. Our first stop was Liberty Island where we took hundreds of photos of Lady Liberty. I found the guide’s commentary really insightful as we sailed across New York Harbor, so by the time we reached the island I was ready to explore for myself!

A close up of the Statue of Liberty as seen on a Ellis Island and Statue of Liberty Cruise in New York City
Lady Liberty!

This tour also includes a guided tour of Ellis Island and tickets to the Immigration Museum which is a really interesting place, especially for anyone that loves history lessons. You can look up your family name to see if any of your ancestors went through Ellis Island! We tried, but neither of us had any connection!

This tour is flexible, so you have options. If you’re short on time, you can select the 30-minute tour for $44 USD per person. But we recommend taking the 4-hour option which is $79 USD. It’s a great way to learn all about New York City without feeling rushed.

Money Saving Tip – Some of NYC’s best attractions unfortunately aren’t free. But that doesn’t mean you have to blow your budget to see them! We purchased a New York City attraction pass during our visit and it helped us save 30-40% on admission fees to top attractions like the Empire State Building and the Statue of Liberty. There are a few different options, but the top three are the New York CityPASS®, the New York Pass, and the New York Explorer Pass by Go City.

7. Check out a night market

Lobster roll at the Brooklyn night Market in New York City
Yum! Photo credit: Brooklyn Night Market
Brooklyn Night Market
Photo credit: Brooklyn Night Market

Warm summer nights in NYC are the perfect opportunity to dine, drink, and shop al fresco, so why not take advantage of one of the city’s many night markets?

The Bronx Night Market was our favorite but unfortunately, it closed down at the end of summer 2023. We hope it will make a resurgence one day, but in the meantime, there are plenty of other options to check out. 

The Brooklyn Night Market is a vibrant open-air market showcasing the best of the borough’s American and Afro-Latin cuisine. It takes place at Industry City which is along the waterfront of Brooklyn’s Sunset Park. With live music and over 60 vendors, it will keep you both well-fed and entertained! The market takes place from 4-10 pm on the last Monday of the month during the summer, and it’s best to check their page to see when the next one is taking place.

The Uptown Market in Harlem is another fantastic food market, and it has served as a launching pad for many minority-owned local businesses. Not only does it have a super diverse range of food from over 50 vendors, but you can also catch some super-talented musicians performing here – this is Harlem we’re talking about, after all! As the evening goes on, you’ll see a lot of people getting up to dance in front of the stage. The market usually takes place from April onwards on the second Thursday of the month, but it’s best to check their website or social media for exact dates. 

The Chinatown Night Market in Forsyth Plaza is also a fantastic place to experience New York’s Asian American culture. Besides delicious food, you’ll also find traditional folk art here, as well as music, puppet shows, and sugar painting! The date of the market changes, so keep checking the website for updates. 

All of the night markets we’ve mentioned are free to visit, but you’ll see RSVP links on their websites. The organizers ask people to RSVP ahead of time so they can get an approximate amount of people to expect and plan accordingly, but you don’t need tickets and there’s no admission fee.

8. See the NY Yankees play 

The New York Yankees play at Yankee Stadium in New York City
The Yankees!
Bailey and Daniel take a selfie at a New York Yankees game in NYC
They lost, but it was still fun!

Whether you’re a baseball fan or not, you’ve probably heard of the New York Yankees. This team has been playing for over 100 years!

Even if you’re not really into baseball, catching a game at Yankee Stadium is so much fun and an iconic New York activity. Yankee fans have a lot of energy, and the atmosphere at this place is lively and draws you into the fun! Grab a hotdog and an overpriced beer, and join the “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” chorus. We ended up having a lot more fun than we thought we would!

Summer is the height of baseball season, and if you want to catch a game, you can get tickets beforehand. We purchased our tickets online here, which let us choose our seats and see who was playing. It was super easy to pick up the physical tickets at will call and made our game-day experience seamless. Depending on the opponent, prices generally start at $39 USD and go up based on the seats you want.

The stadium has its own subway stop, which makes getting here really easy. To have an authentic New York Yankees experience, we had to get a hot dog and beer! While stadium prices are high (it costs us $15 USD for a beer), we will say it’s a very large serving and, after all, it’s all part of the experience.

9. Walk the High Line 

The High Line Trail with views of the skyscrapers in NYC
You literally walk among the skyscrapers!
View of New York City from the High Line Trail
The views are amazing!

While visiting a park might not be at the top of the list for many, the High Line is definitely an exception. This elevated park is located in Manhattan and was a former freight railway line before being converted into a walking trail above the city.

It’s obvious how much love went into this public park. There are community classes, art installations, playgrounds, and places to eat along the way. In total, this trail is 1.45 miles (2.3 kilometers) one-way, and you can access it via stairs, ramps, or elevators. The best part is it’s completely free to visit! Believe me, free activities in the city are hard to come by, so take advantage of this one!

Some of our favorite spots to visit were Hearth on the High Line, which is an open-air wine bar that has amazing views of the Hudson. Or you can cool off with a yummy ice cream. Check out the Malai ice cream cart for some delicious South Asian-inspired ice cream. After all, what’s better than an ice cream on a hot summer day?

We visited the High Line on this guided tour from Chelsea Market (we’ll get to that soon!) and it ended up being a really fun day – although we were absolutely stuffed by the end of it, so a stroll through the park was welcomed!

The High Line is a really unique park, and it’s even more special to visit because of its community involvement. We think it’s a great spot to add to your NYC summer itinerary!

10. Watch a movie at Bryant Park outdoor theater

I don’t know about you, but I would take an outdoor cinema over an indoor movie theater any day. So if you’re in New York City between mid-June and mid-August, you can catch a movie every Friday night at the Bryant Park outdoor theater.

You can’t reserve tickets so you should try to be at Bryant Park, armed with a blanket, by 5 pm to claim your spot. You can bring a picnic or grab food from the vendors around (and even rent a blanket if you don’t have one on hand). You can also buy wine and beer from the bar at the back of the lawn, so it’s easy to pass the time until the movie starts at 8 pm. 

The movie lineup usually includes classic, easy-to-watch favorites. For example, the 2024 schedule includes Mean Girls, Star Trek, and Zoolander. Movies at Bryant Park are completely free, and who knows, maybe they will even play your favorite film!

11. See the city from a helicopter 

View from the pilots window on a NYC helicopter ride
Can you spot the Empire State Building?
Pilot flies a helicopter with views of New York City from the Manhattan Heliport
That iconic skyline up close!

Taking a helicopter ride in New York City is an obvious bucket list item and one we were happy to check off the list. We had a blast seeing NYC from a bird’s eye view, for once the skyscrapers looked small!

While there are many options out there, we went on this 15-minute flight around the city. Now, 15 minutes might not sound like a long time, but we covered so much and saw tons of notable sights like the Empire State Building and the Brooklyn Bridge. It honestly felt like we were up there for much longer!

Prices change based on the time of year, but you can expect to pay around $249 USD per person in the summer. While it’s not a cheap experience, it’s a once-in-a-lifetime one. We didn’t know what to expect, but it ended up being such an incredible way to see the city and we still talk about it to this day. If a helicopter ride is on your bucket list too, you’ll love taking this flight over the Big Apple.

12. Go for drinks at Watermark 

Watermark pier 15 views along the water
Photo credit: Watermark 
Food at Watermark on Peri 15 in New York City in summer
Photo credit: Watermark

Watermark is an outdoor bar and restaurant perched on Pier 15 in downtown Manhattan. It honestly feels more like a park than a bar, given that it’s a huge space, and there’s always something exciting going on here. They have events and themed festivals all year round, but the best time to go is during the summer when it turns into a tropical oasis right in the middle of the city, known as Watermark Beach. 

With tiki torches, cabanas, palm trees, and brightly colored cocktails, everything about Watermark Beach feels fun, silly, and summery. They regularly host themed parties with live DJs and dancers. Plus, it’s located right on the water with fantastic views of the skyline and the Manhattan and Brooklyn Bridges, so you couldn’t ask for a better place to sit. 

Watermark usually opens for the summer with a big Cinco de Mayo party and then sheds its summer theme after Labor Day weekend. Whether you’re looking to party, or just soak in the panoramic views, you can’t go wrong with a visit to this impressive venue.

13. Japan Festival

Japan Festival in New York City
Photo credit: Japan Festival

Japan Festival is the world’s largest Japanese food festival, so it’s a must for any foodies visiting during the summer. We love Japan, so it was so fun to have a little taste of this culture while in NYC. It usually takes place a few times a month from April to October at various locations around the city, so it’s worth trying to catch while you’re here. 

Over the summer, it hosts between 750-1,000 different vendors in total, so it’s a veritable smorgasbord of Japanese and East Asian food. I recommend trying dorayaki, which consists of two pancake patties and a sweet filling. This is usually red bean paste but you can also get vanilla custard or matcha. 

The dates for the Japan Festival tend to be a bit scattered and as I mentioned, it moves around, so double-check the details before you add it to your itinerary! Normally, it takes place between 15 and 20 times over the spring and summer months, so fingers crossed that one of those dates coincides with your visit to NYC!

14. Dragon Fest

Dragon Fest is an outdoor Chinese food and culture festival and an awesome place to discover New York City’s top Chinese food. It’s estimated that there are around 3,000 Chinese restaurants in New York City but only the best of the bunch make it to Dragon Fest. I can’t really think of a better way to spend an afternoon in the city!

From scallion pancakes to barbecued octopus and deep-fried dough, there is so much delicious food here that you may need to go shopping for some new pants by the time you’ve eaten your way through it all! 

Dragon Fest debuted in 2023, so it’s still pretty new. During their first year, they held five different events throughout the summer, but it was such a success that there may be even more to come in 2024! Stay tuned via their website for updates.

15. Walk the Brooklyn Bridge

bailey walks along the Brooklyn Bridge in New York City
A must-do!
Bailey poses for a photo along the Brooklyn Bridge in New York City with Manhattan in the background
The views are magnificent!

New York is such a recognizable place across the world, and the Brooklyn Bridge is another iconic sight. And while fame often comes with high prices, walking across the iconic bridge is a completely free activity, which isn’t easy to come by in NYC!

It’s about an hour’s walk from midtown, but you can take a taxi or catch the subway to either the Chambers Street Station or Brooklyn Bridge – City Hall Subway Station. Both are steps from the bridge entrance.

Even though it’s not a particularly long walk, we recommend going early in the morning or in the evening when the sun is down so you can avoid the summer heat. We visited in mid-afternoon and found it to be quite hot and busy, as it’s a favorite spot for locals and tourists.

Daniel on the Brooklyn Bridge
Daniel on the Brooklyn Bridge

The bridge is 1.1 miles (1.8 km) in length, and we suggest designating about an hour of your day so you can enjoy the sights while you walk. There are also vendors on the bridge so you can enjoy a cold drink or a snack in between taking tons of photos.

We really enjoyed the entire walk, but if you don’t want to retrace your steps, you can take the subway from the High Street – Brooklyn Bridge Station to get back to Manhattan, or even explore all the cool things that Brooklyn has to offer.

16. Indulge at The Feast of San Gennaro

Italian man cooks sausages at the The Feast of San Gennaro in NYC
Italian man cooks sausages at The Feast of San Gennaro in NYC Photo credit: Stu99 Depositphotos

The Feast of San Gennaro started in Napes, Italy, to honor Saint Gennaro, a bishop who met a rather grizzly end. However, the festival took on a life of its own in New York’s Little Italy and is now a huge 11-day festival. 

Back in the 1920s, the Feast of San Gennaro was a one-day celebration that took place on September 19th. Italian immigrants would gather on Mulberry Street, one of the neighborhood’s main thoroughfares, and local cafe owners would host a feast and sell ribbon pins to raise money for the needy. 

Nowadays, the Feast is an organized event and Mulberry Street is officially closed off for the occasion. A polychrome statue of Saint Gennaro is carried through the streets, and for almost two weeks people congregate in Little Italy to feast on delicious Italian cuisine. There’s also live music, dancing, religious ceremonies, and sometimes even karaoke! 

So if you’re in New York during the late summer, be sure to head to the Feast of San Gennaro and eat as much as you possibly can. It usually runs from mid to late September, but be sure to check the exact dates before you go. We enjoy coming to Little Italy to eat and drink on any given day, but this awesome cultural event takes it to the next level! 

17. Celebrate the 4th of July 

4th of July fireworks in New York City
4th of July fireworks in New York City

The 4th of July is Independence Day in the United States, and it’s one of the biggest holidays of the year! Plus, it’s right in the middle of the summer, so it’s always a lot of fun to celebrate. 

Watermark, which we mentioned above, throws an epic all-day 4th of July party every year, with a big barbecue and lots of cocktails.

You can also head to Coney Island to try your luck at the annual hot dog eating contest at Nathan’s – just try and keep it all down!

Meanwhile, the New York Historical Society hosts a midday event where you can learn about the history of the American Revolution through interactive games and exhibits. This is a particularly great option for families because there are also opportunities to dress up and sit for portraits.

However, things get going in the evening, culminating in an epic fireworks display. Every 4th of July, the Macy’s department store lights up the sky in New York City with the largest firework display in the world! They also put on the Thanksgiving Day Parade in NYC, so they know how to throw a holiday party. This is a classic American tradition, and a must if you’re in the city on Independence Day!

Lots of New York City cruise companies offer boat parties that give you a first-class seat to this dazzling display. For example, this 4.5-hour dinner cruise will take you sightseeing along the East and Hudson Rivers and enjoy a buffet meal and open bar at sunset before ooh-ing and aah-ing at the fireworks from the water. This experience is not cheap at $279 USD per person, but it’s certainly an awesome way to celebrate the 4th of July. 

The One World Observatory, which is one of the city’s top observation decks, also hosts a fireworks viewing party. For $65 USD per person, you get access to the 100th floor where there’s a cash bar and, more importantly, amazing views of the fireworks. Or if you want to go all out, you can include dinner in the restaurant and a few drinks for $275 USD. 

However, you really don’t have to spend a lot to get a great view of the fireworks show. The Front Row Fireworks party is much cheaper, and it’s said to have the best views in the whole city – hence the name! It takes place at the TSS Heliport from 6 pm until 10 pm, and it’s family-friendly with live music, giant chess and Jenga, and plenty of food. You can purchase tickets in advance from $35 USD and they go on sale the week before Independence Day, usually on either the 27th or 28th of June. 

18. Have a beach day on Long Island (Long Beach) 

Bailey and her friend sit at the beach on Long Island and Long Beach, New York
Hanging in Long Beach with friends!
Bailey watches the sunset on Long Island in Long Beach, New York
The beaches are stunning!

While it’s easy to get lost in the big city, it’s always nice to get out for a relaxing beach day. We had a blast in Long Island, which is pretty famous for its epic beaches.

It takes about 45 minutes when you take the train from Penn Station to Long Beach. Plus, it’s a 24-hour service, so you don’t have to worry about missing your train!

We ended up on the southern end of Long Beach, which is covered in 4 miles (6.5 kilometers) of lush, white sand beaches, on top of fun shops and plenty of places to eat. If you’re looking for a restaurant, we enjoyed eating at Lost and Found. Their staff are super friendly and the food hit the spot after a long day in the sun!

You will need to purchase a day pass for the beach, which will ring in at $15 USD per person. But it’s worth it to escape the urban area for a while to enjoy a nice outing on the beach. You can get a digital pass ahead of time online or buy the ticket when you arrive.

Related Read: Having trouble planning your trip to NYC? Check out our 4-day New York itinerary, which takes you to the best sights and takes all the work off your plate!

19. Visit the 9/11 Memorial and Museum

The 911 Memorial and Museum outside Memorial with the skyline of NYC in the background
The 9/11 Memorial
Bailey walks through the 911 Memorial and Museum in New York City
The steel beams that collapsed

The tragic Twin Towers attack on 9/11 was an event that shocked the world. After much time and deliberation, the community came together to create a memorial for the victims and their families that was built on the site where the buildings once stood.

The 9/11 Memorial houses two large pools to represent the former towers, with the names of the victims engraved on the surrounding walls. It’s a very touching monument and can be quite an emotional experience for many.

While the memorial has free admittance, you will need to get tickets to enter the museum. We thought the museum was very insightful and encourage everyone to spend some time here. There are plenty of exhibits about the events surrounding the attack, including media coverage and even first-hand accounts. It’s a beautiful tribute and definitely worth the trip.

The Memorial Museum has timed entry, so you need to book your tickets before going so you can select a time that works for you. Tickets cost $33 USD for adults, and there are discounted rates for children and seniors.

While your entry time is specified, you can stay as long as you like. We recommend setting aside at least 2 hours to walk around as this is quite a large museum with lots to see.

A damaged fire truck at the 911 Memorial and Museum in NYC
A damaged fire truck

You can also use the New York sightseeing passes which cover entry to the 9/11 Memorial Museum. For more information, read our guides about the New York CityPASS®, the New York Pass, or the Pass by Go City.

Another option is visiting on a tour. This guided sightseeing tour includes a visit to the 9/11 Memorial. It’s a great choice if you can only stay in NYC for a short time, as it passes by previously mentioned sites like the Brooklyn Bridge and Central Park. This tour is well run, and even though you’ll see a ton of attractions, it doesn’t feel rushed at all. This bus tour costs $99 USD and is really a great option for anyone trying to see some NYC highlights in a short amount of time.

And with nearly 8,000 positive reviews on Viator, you know you’re getting a great experience!

20. MoMA PS1 Warm Up

MoMA PS1 is a contemporary art museum located in Queens that’s all about cutting-edge and experimental works of art. Every summer, the city’s creatives flock to the Warm Up music festival to enjoy electronic music and DJ sets on Friday nights. Many, but not all, of the performers hail from New York and there tends to be a focus on experimental, genre-bending music. If you’ve ever claimed to like an artist “before they were cool”, then this event is probably for you. 

Warm Up usually runs from 5-10 pm on Friday nights in late July and August, but the dates and acts aren’t officially announced until the summer begins, so check the website for updates

21. Day trip to Philadelphia 

Bailey poses for a photo with liberty bell in Philadelphia on a tour from New York City
Liberty Bell!
Inside Independence Hall in Philadelphia on a tour from New York City
Independence Hall!

If you’re up for exploring another historic city, we recommend taking a trip to nearby Philadelphia. Located just 95 miles (153 kilometers) from New York, it’s easy to get here by car, bus, or train!

One of the easiest ways to travel to Philly is by taking the high-speed train, which costs anywhere from $20-$200 USD depending on your train time and seat type. It’ll take about an hour each way, and it’s a great option if you have a flexible schedule since it runs 24 hours a day.

Known as the birthplace of the USA, Philadelphia is a great place to take a history tour. After all, it’s home to the Liberty Bell, Independence Hall, and the Betsy Ross House. It happens to be where the Declaration of Independence and Constitution were signed, so it’s definitely a place you don’t want to miss if you’re an avid lover of American history.

If you want to see even more famous sites, read our article on our favorite Philadelphia sightseeing tours!

Of course, when food comes to mind, people generally think of the famous Philly cheesesteak – which, we can vouch for its hype. Although this staple is quite delicious, we also really enjoyed a lot of other things while we were on a food tour in Philadelphia, the most notable of which is tomato pie – I know it sounds weird, but it is surprisingly delicious!

If you don’t want the hassle of planning your own travel to and from Philly and you’re looking to see as much as possible in one day, then you can’t go wrong on a guided tour of the city. We took this tour to Philadelphia from New York which was a great option because you get a full day of sightseeing in Philly and Lancaster County, with included transport from New York. It was a long day with an early start, but for $179 USD a person, we thought it was a great deal and got to knock off two states in one go.

22. Broadway in Bryant Park

Bryant Park is in Greenwich Village, which is famed for its art scene and off-Broadway venues, so it makes sense that it’s the venue for outdoor Broadway performances during the summer.

That’s right – on Thursdays in July, you can catch Broadway stars belting out hits in Bryant Park at lunchtime. The set list changes every year but in recent years tunes from hit shows like The Lion King, Moulin Rouge, Chicago, and The Book of Mormon have been heard ringing around Bryant Park. 

We saw The Book of Mormon on actual Broadway and it was incredible, so I can imagine how fun it would be in the park!

Broadway in Bryant Park is totally free to attend so if you, like Bailey, just can’t get enough of musicals, make sure not to miss this.

The lawn opens at 11 am on the day of the show, so get there early to grab a spot and maybe even see the end of the rehearsals. The performances last from 12:30-1:30 pm, and you can check the lineup here. It’s certainly not every day that you get to watch Broadway performances for free and enjoy a sunny afternoon in New York City’s summer!

23. US Tennis Open

US Tennis Open
It’s one of the biggest events of the summer!

The US Open is the biggest tennis tournament in America, and it takes place in Queens! It’s one of the oldest tennis tournaments in the world and the only one to have been played every year since its inception. So if you’re a tennis fan, you should try to score a ticket to the US Open, which takes place in the last week of August and the first week of September each year. 

Tickets for the US Open usually go on sale during early summer, so keep your eyes open if you’re planning a trip here when the event is on. Tickets are released in rounds, starting at around $125 USD for general admission. Prices increase with each round, so try and snag tickets early if you’re keen to go! 

24. Go on a food tour

Daniel with his pizza at the Chelsea Market on our food tour
This was one of the best NY slices we tried in NYC!
Doughnuts at Doughnuttery at the Chelsea Market on a food tour in NYC
Did someone say doughnuts?

On top of being home to famous memorials, iconic buildings, and renowned art, New York City is also extremely popular for its epic food scene. While you can walk around and grab whatever strikes your fancy, our favorite way to dive in is by going on a food tour of the city.

To find a host of cuisines in NYC, a visit to the Chelsea Market is a must for any foodie. There are so many options and there’s a fantastic mix of cultures, so you get to try cuisines from all over the world!

However, with so many good food options, we thought it would be difficult to just pick one, so we opted to take a food tour of Chelsea Market. This also let us skip the queues, which saved more time for snacking. We absolutely loved this experience and learned some interesting facts about the market’s history along the way. It’s a great way to sample some of the best bites that NYC has to offer.

You can read our experience and overall review of this tour here!

For anyone who has a sweet tooth (like us), there’s a stop at the Doughnuttery that’ll satisfy your craving. We also had the best NY slice of pizza while on this tour – just check out Daniel’s smile in the picture above!

The Chelsea Market has been a staple in New York City’s culture for decades, so it is certainly worth a stop. Taking a food tour of the market made our experience even better because we got to try the top picks by our local guide, eat some fantastic food, and learn about the unique history (like that it’s the birthplace of Oreos!).

This was the same tour that took us to the High Line Trail that we talked about above. It’s a well-rounded opportunity for anyone looking to sightsee, eat, and learn about New York. Believe us, you’ll appreciate the walking bit to help with all the tasty food you’ll eat.

This is a really popular tour that lasts about 3 hours and costs $88 USD per person. It’s likely to sell out, especially during the summer!

25. Go to a Broadway show

Bailey at the Book or Moorman Theater on Broadway in New York City
Bailey at the Book of Mormon Theater on Broadway in New York City
The cast of Book of Moorman say thankyou after an awesome show on Broadway in New York City
The cast of Book of Mormon

Another iconic NYC experience is going to a Broadway show. If you love the theater, this is the place for you!

To be honest, we’re a little divided when it comes to musicals. Bailey is a huge fan, and Daniel … well let’s just say he doesn’t seek them out. We did find some middle ground when we saw the Book of Mormon because we both laughed a ton. It was created by the same guys who write South Park, so it’s hilarious and a great introduction to musicals if you’ve never been.

One of Bailey’s favorites is The Lion King which has been on Broadway for over 25 years! While the movie is a classic, there’s something magical about watching it live.

If you’re interested in seeing The Lion King on Broadway, we recommend booking tickets through Viator so you can avoid waiting in line. For summer shows, tickets start at $166 USD for mezzanine seats and go up if you want orchestra or premium seats. From the acting to the music to the costumes, this is really an unforgettable show.

If you’re more interested in learning about the theater, well we’ve got you covered! This guided tour with a Broadway performer is a fantastic way to get some behind-the-scenes secrets. Your guide will tell you stories about the performers and share fun details from their own experiences. Plus, you’ll visit famous spots like Sardi’s and Times Square. This 2-hour experience costs $39 USD per person and starts at 4 pm, so it’s the perfect activity before seeing a show.

26. Get NYC gelato or ice cream 

gelato selection at Anita Gelato in Manly, Australia
The hardest part is choosing!
Daniel enjoys an ice cream at Anita Gelato in Manly
It’s so good!

Summer in the city always calls for ice cream, and fortunately, there is no shortage of places to get this sweet treat in NYC. 

For something a little different, try Taiyaki NYC Japanese Ice Cream, which has locations in Chinatown and Williamsburg. They have fun flavors of soft-serve ice cream, like matcha, yuzu, and hōjicha tea, which are presented in a fish-shaped waffle cone (also known as a Taiayki)! This is a treat not just for your tastebuds, but your Instagram aesthetic as well.

Meanwhile, Van Leeuwen Ice Cream promotes the idea that eating ice cream is actually good for you, which is certainly an ethos that I can get behind. They offer delicious flavors like marionberry cheesecake, brown sugar chunks with cookie dough, and peanut butter brownie honeycomb. The company started with a single ice cream truck in 2008 but now they have over 25 shops all over the city. It’s a true testament to how good their ice cream is.

For delicious, indulgent Italian gelato, visit Anita La Mamma del Gelato. We love this place and they’ve also got stores in Sydney, so we always go when we visit Manly Beach! They have three locations in New York City: Hell’s Kitchen, Murray Hill, and the Upper East Side, so try to hit at least one of them while you’re here. 

FIGO il Gelato Italiano delivers the true Italian experience because their flavor range includes tons of classic Italian desserts. We couldn’t say no when we walked by this place, and I am so glad we stopped in for a scoop! If you make it to their store in Little Italy (where else?!), I recommend trying the cannoli ice cream, or the tiramisu one. They’ve also got fresh lemon, mango, and passion fruit flavors, which are just what you need on a hot summer’s day in the city.

27. Take in the views from The Edge or SUMMIT One

There is no shortage of incredible views in NYC, but there is something even more special about views from above at an observation deck. We’ll start this off by saying you might want to avoid this activity if you have a fear of heights. Otherwise, read on! We’ll break down the highlights for each place, but we recommend visiting at least one.

The Edge

Bailey leans against the glass corner at Edge NYC
This is actually so scary!
View of New York City and the Empire State Building from The Edge NYC
View of New York City and the Empire State Building from The Edge NYC

Located in 30 Hudson Yards on the 100th floor is The Edge NYC. It’s an outdoor observation deck made of angled glass walls and glass flooring, so you get panoramic views of the city. It’s also a great place to snap some photos, so don’t forget to bring your camera!

Because the walls come in at an angle, it feels a bit like you’re flying over New York City when you look out (and down!). To be honest, it was a bit scary at first, but we ended up loving our time here. There are also bars onsite so you can sip champagne while admiring the views, or go to the 101st floor and enjoy a drink in the cocktail lounge.

To get to the Edge, you’ll need to go to the mall in Hudson Yards, and the entrance is on Level 4.

The Edge is open from 9 am to 10 pm, and you’ll need to reserve a time slot for entry. We recommend booking tickets in advance so you can select a time that works best for your visit. Plus, the Edge is very busy, people have been known to stand in line for hours to get tickets! So this is an easy thing to skip by grabbing your tickets in advance. We found that it was cheaper to get tickets on Viator, as they were $41.37 for adults.


Views of Central park from SUMMIT One Vanderbilt in New York City
Views of Central Park from SUMMIT One Vanderbilt in New York City. Photo credit: Sainaniritu Depositphotos

If you’d rather stay indoors, SUMMIT One Vanderbilt might be the better choice of observation decks in NYC. The floor-to-ceiling windows ensure that you still get epic views of the city, and you’ll get a great look at the Empire State Building from here too.

What differentiates SUMMIT One is their immersive experiences which combine art and technology through digital art displays. They have virtual reality areas, mirrors, interactive experiences, and areas where you can stand where it feels like you’re floating – it’s a really fun and unique observation deck.

You’ll want to book tickets in advance because they also use a time slot system. In the summer, tickets are usually $54 USD per person, and availability is between 9 am to 10:30 pm. It’s located opposite Grand Central Station.

Related Read: We used the New York Pass to visit The Edge, as well as many other attractions. Get the full scoop about this pass and read about our experience here!

28. See Times Square at night 

Crowds of people in Times Square in New York City
Times Square!
Bailey poses for a photo at Times Square in New York City
Same place just during the day!

It’s fair to say that Times Square is yet another iconic part of New York City. And while its reputation usually heightens around New Year’s, we think visiting in the summer is also a great time – especially at night!

The lights, the atmosphere, the people dressed in character – if they take a photo with you, be prepared to tip – all make Times Square a truly unique and fun place to add to your agenda.

It’s easy to walk to if you’re around Midtown, and there’s also a subway stop at the Times Square – 42nd Street Station.

If you’re looking to make the most of your trip, we recommend signing up for this nighttime bus tour. You’ll get to experience Times Square all lit up, and see some of NYC’s famous neighborhoods and landmarks. It’s so fun seeing this city during the day, but seeing it at night is truly magical. This tour costs $59 USD per person, or you can choose a glass-top luxury option for $10 USD more. To see beautiful NYC at night, we recommend booking this bus tour in advance here.

If you’d rather see New York from the ground, this small group walking tour is a great choice! It’s also a fantastic tour for any theater lover, as the guide will tell tales of Broadway and point out the theaters that line the city. The guides are very animated and you can feel their love for the stage. Tickets cost $39 USD each, and there is a minimum purchase of 2 tickets, so keep that in mind if you’re solo traveling. This tour meets in front of the Majestic Theatre, and there are limited spots available so be sure to snatch up your tickets now!

29. Eat an NYC hot dog 

A hot dog at Times Square in New York City, New York
They are surprisingly good!
Daniel at a hot dog stand in New York City
Dan loves them!

Alongside a slice of pizza or a New York bagel, a New York hotdog is another must-try when you’re in the city.

These tasty treats are made of beef, not pork, and topped with sauerkraut and spicy brown mustard. To be frank (pun intended), they are definitely a solid street food and can be found in carts all around the city.

We didn’t really get the hype until we tried one and well, it was good enough to make it on the list.

If you’re visiting Central Park, there are stands around the perimeter, so you can enjoy a hot dog while you walk. We also enjoyed Crif Dogs, which is the cover for our favorite speakeasy, Please Don’t Tell. Go in and have a hot dog and then you can search out the entrance to the speakeasy inside the telephone booth in the back!

30. Take the historic Staten Island Ferry

Views of New York City from the Staten island Ferry in New York City
Views of New York City from the Staten Island Ferry in New York City

Before subways and bridges were built, people relied on ferries to travel. Today, the only route still in service is the Staten Island Ferry. This ferry connects Manhattan and Staten Island, and the best part is it’s free of charge!

Since New York can be an expensive place to visit, it’s nice to have some free options to help divvy up your time. Just be careful – some scammers might try to convince you to purchase a ticket, but this ferry is always free to use.

When you get to Staten Island, hang out for a bit and check out the area. We recommend visiting the Historic Richmond Town which shows how times have changed and goes as far back as the 1600s. There’s also Kreischer Mansion with its haunted mafia past, or the Booze History Museum which appears to be a normal house but is filled with booze-related artifacts from around the world.

The Staten Island Ferry ride is also a great way to enjoy the New York skyline and even Lady Liberty herself. So even if you don’t want to stay in Staten Island, it’s still worth the trip!

To catch the ferry, go to Whitehall Terminal near Battery Park. Ferries run every half hour, but they can get busy during commuting hours in the morning and evening, so we suggest going between 9 am and 3 pm to avoid the crowds. It’s a great opportunity to see the city from the water and take some good photos.

31. Have fun on Coney Island

Coney Island in New York City
Coney Island in New York City

If you’re looking for a fun day out, we loved our time at Coney Island! This amusement park is fun for all ages, and there’s plenty to do, perfect for a summer day in New York City.

There are rides like the Coney Island Cyclone and the Thunderbolt which are great for any rollercoaster lover. We also loved go-karts, mini golf, the classic B&B Carousell – there are really too many things to try!

Even if you’re not really into amusement park rides, there are still plenty of things to do at Coney Island. There’s a boardwalk and a beach, and always some event going on, we just enjoyed people-watching and taking in the sights and sounds. It’s such a bright and lively area and just an overall fun experience.

Of course, we can’t forget to mention the Coney Island food. Try one of Nathan’s Famous hot dogs, or get your sugar fix with a cotton candy or a gelato from Coney’s Cones which is a perfect cold treat on a hot day. There are plenty of restaurants and food stands and time flies by here.

To get to Coney Island (which is actually a peninsula, but that doesn’t have the same ring to it), you can take the B28 or B38 express bus from Midtown Manhattan, or the the D, F, N, and Q subway lines to Stillwell Ave Station.

If you’re renting a car, there’s also a parking lot onsite. Parking costs $13 USD Monday through Friday, $20 USD on the weekends and $27 USD for special events.

32. Visit Rockefeller Center 

The Rockefeller Center in New York City
The Rockefeller Center in New York City
Bailey at the roller blading ring at the Rockefeller Center in New York City
It would be amazing in winter!

Located in Midtown Manhattan, the famous Rockefeller Center is well known for its winter decor – the giant Christmas tree, impressive light display, and the ice skating rink often featured in holiday films such as Elf. We’re happy to report that it’s also a great place to visit in the summer as well!

One of our favorite activities is going to the Top of the Rock Observation Deck because there are incredible views of the city like Central Park and the Empire State Building. Tickets cost $44 USD, or $60 USD for premium time slots in the evening. It’s worth noting that entry to this observation deck is included if you have the New York CityPASS.

There are a lot of things to do around Rockefeller Plaza as well. While the ice skating rink might be popular in the winter, the summer months keep the spirit alive with a roller rink. Between April and October, Flipper’s Roller Boogie Palace is the place to be to get your skate on while listening to some epic tunes from the DJ! It’s open from 12-10 pm every day and stays open later on the weekends.

If skating isn’t your thing, don’t worry! There’s the lovely Channel Gardens that you can stroll through while admiring the beautiful flowers, or you can go on a shopping spree in the indoor mall. There are plenty of restaurants to eat at, so you can tailor it to fit your schedule.

Rockefeller Center is also the home of two legendary entertainment venues: NBC Studios and Radio City Music Hall.

Top of the Rock in New York City
The Top of the Rock!

If you’re a fan of the TV shows that come out of NBC Studios (like SNL, The Voice, The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon), you can try your luck at getting free tickets to a show here. Otherwise, there are tours of the studios that are available, although sadly, these weren’t running during our visit.

On the other end, Radio City Music Hall is infamous in the entertainment industry. It’s been the home to the iconic dance group, the Rockettes, since it opened in 1932 and they still perform here during the holidays. If you’re visiting NYC during Christmas, this is the show to catch!

There are tons of shows at Radio City Music Hall available year-round, so if you’re visiting during the summer, check their website for availability. If you’re more interested in the history of this venue, we recommend this stage door tour that gives you behind-the-scenes access and stories of the famous venue. You’ll even get a picture with a real live Rockette! Tickets are $42 USD per person, and it’s a really unique way to explore Radio City. Be sure to get your Radio City Music Hall tour on Viator here!

33. Eat a New York slice 

Pizza from the Chelsea Market we got to try on our Chelsea Market food tour
I must say, I loved the pizza!
Daniel eats a slice of pizza on a food tour in New York City

The rumors are true – there’s nothing quite like a New York slice of pizza!

We’ve mentioned plenty of food in this blog, but there’s something special about the pizza in NYC. Not to mention, grabbing pizza here is one of the best cheap activities in the city, it’s also a filling meal. For a regular slice (aka no toppings), it shouldn’t cost more than $3 USD.

There are TONS of places to get a slice around New York City. Off the top of our head, some iconic spots are Joe’s Pizza, John’s of Bleecker Street in Greenwich Village, and Prince Street Pizza in Nolita. We also went to 2 Bros Pizza a few times because it was so close to our hotel, and it was delicious!

A solid slice of pie is definitely on the list of cheap NYC traditions that we hope never end!

34. Manhattanhenge 

The sun sets at Manhattanhenge in NYC
Pretty cool!
Manhattanhenge in NYC
It’s a photographer’s dream!

So, you’ve heard of Stonehenge, but have you heard of Manhattanhenge?

Stonehenge in England was built to align with the rising sun on the summer solstice, and people travel from far and wide to see this on the 21st of June. A similar thing happens at sunset with the street grid of Manhattan twice during the summer, and you don’t have to get up at the crack of dawn to see it! 

The term Manhattanhenge was popularized by Neil de Grasse Tyson, and in recent years it has become a popular event, especially for budding photographers. 

The dates vary from year to year, but Manhattanhenge usually happens on the 28th, 29th, or 30th of May and then again on the 11th, 12th, or 13th of July. The Hayden Planetarium publishes the exact dates every year.

You can watch Manhattanhenge from several spots around the city, but the best places are:

To get the full effect, it’s best to arrive about half an hour before sunset. Stroll up at about 7:40 pm to secure your spot at one of these popular viewpoints and snap as many photos as possible! If you’re looking for unique activies, this is an easy addition to the list.

Where to Stay in New York City

Bailey with her luggage in New york City
Ready to check in!

New York City is huge – there is just no other way to put it! Even Manhattan (the area you’ll want to base yourself in) is a lot bigger than you think. That’s why choosing the right hotel in the right location is so important during your stay in New York.

Below, we’ve simplified it all for you by choosing a couple of the very best hotels available in the city. All three of these options have ideal locations close to attractions and the subway system. They all have amazing reviews, too, so just choose the one in your budget category and you’ll be ready to pack your bags!

Motto by Hilton – $$$

Motto by Hilton is a gorgeous hotel located in the Chelsea neighborhood super close to the Flatiron Building. The hotel features modern decor that has “speakeasy vibes.” In fact, they have a beautiful bar onsite that looks like the perfect place to sip an Old Fashioned. There are a variety of rooms on offer including some that are a little more budget-friendly, and some that are pure luxury with city views!

Prices start from about $400 USD per night plus tax. You can check prices and availability for Motto by Hilton online here!

Delta Hotels by Marriott New York Times Square – $$

Delta Hotels by Marriott New York Times Square is where we stayed the last time we visited New York, and honestly, we loved it! This hotel is the perfect combination of comfort and value for money. It was clean, modern, and our room had all of the amenities we needed for an enjoyable stay (air conditioning, k-cup coffee maker, steamer, large shower, big windows, etc). Plus, the location is ideal – it’s only a couple blocks from Times Square!

Prices do range, but they do go as low as $200 USD per night plus tax depending on the time of year and day of the week. You can check prices and book online here!

Nap York Central Park Sleep Station – $

For those traveling on a tight budget, Nap York is a budget hostel that’s an ideal choice. Although affordable, this property is immaculate and offers a ton of amenities for a great stay including air conditioning and a shared kitchen. The rooms are modern and the location is about as central as it gets! This property only offers dorm rooms, but they are affordable at as little as $100 USD per night.

You can check prices and book Nap York online on either or Hostelworld.

Thanks for reading!

Bailey and Daniel take a selfie at a New York Yankees Game in NYC
Thanks for reading!

It’s clear that New York City offers a TON of things to do during the summertime. Whether you want to see a Broadway show or eat and drink your way around the city, NYC is definitely an epic place to be. We hope this guide has given you some fun ideas for your trip to the Big Apple, and we hope you’ll check out some of our other blogs too.

We love traveling and we hope you do too! If you’re looking for more travel ideas, check out our other USA blogs, or if you’re taking a trip up north check out our Canada blogs, we are experts! We’ve also included some blogs that you might like below:

The 3 BEST Niagara Falls Tours from New York City

25 BEST Cheap Things to do in New York City

10 Things to Know BEFORE Booking a Harbor Cruise in New York City