Popular Events And Festivals In New York State
It’s home to the city that never sleeps, so you can be sure there’s always something happening in New York State as well, particularly during the warm-weather months. Plan ahead if you’ll be visiting a city or town during a major event, as accommodations may be scarce and rates at a premium. Be aware of the calendar of official state holidays, too, as long holiday weekends tend to get more people on the road to upstate destinations.
A few iconic annual events that should be on your bucket list if you love New York include:
- Baseball Hall of Fame Weekend, Cooperstown
- Finger Lakes Wine Festival, Watkins Glen
- The Great Jack OLantern Blaze, Croton-on-Hudson
Cruise Around Nycs Waterways
Photo: EB Adventure Photography/Shutterstock
If you cant take the crowds, get off the island literally. Whether its sailing, kayaking, or cruising in a water taxi, hitting the open water is an ideal way to beat the huddled masses while enjoying the citys sites. Floating down the Hudson River leads to views of the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, George Washington Bridge, and Manhattans West Side. The East River showcases skylines from four of the citys five boroughs, the Brooklyn Bridge, and quiet escapes like Roosevelt Island.
Adventure seekers will get a thrill by renting a jet ski and zooming around Manhattan on a guided tour. For a low-key outing close to shore, try the free 20-minute kayak rentals at Pier 96 in Hudson River Park. The romantically-minded should consider setting sail at sunset on a leisurely cruise through New York Harbor. If youre looking to travel like a real New Yorker, hop on the Staten Island Ferry, which gives free 25-minute rides between lower Manhattan and Staten Island.
Kayak For Free At Brooklyn Bridge Park
Every Wednesday, Thursday, and Saturday through the end of August this summer youll be able to walk up to the Brooklyn Bridge Park Boathouse Pier 2 for free kayaking. The sessions only run for 20 minutes but the views are worth it and at the end of the day, its a free activity! So why not? Learn how to make your reservation here.
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Drink And Dine Al Fresco
Summer breezes pair well with New Yorks fine-dining scene as patios, terraces, and sidewalks overflow with gourmands in the know. For some of the best outdoor dining this season, opt for Brooklyns indie scene, where larger and more comfortable al fresco options abound. Start with an evening toasting in the garden of Williamsburgs Maison Premiere, where $1 happy hour oysters fit the bill of this NOLA-inspired eatery. And for an old-school New York feel, head to Frankies Spuntino 457 in Carroll Gardens, where a former garage has been transformed into a lush garden, welcoming locals with authentic Italian fare in a relaxed setting.
Bike The City Of New York
Biking in New York City might sound daunting I know, but I like biking as a way to explore a city and if I can cycle around Saigon in Vietnam I can do New York.
Citi Bike is New York Citys bike sharing system and Id like to navigate the streets of NY on two wheels, take on some of the 700 miles of bike paths such as over the Brooklyn Bridge, around Central Park, or the Hudson River Park Bikeway.
You can also hire bikes online here or take a bike tour.
We loved biking around Central Park and is in our list of things to do in New York City with kids.
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More Fun Things To Do In New York In The Summer
For more amazing things to do in New York in the summer, we recommend heading to the many outdoor markets. Smorgasborg Food Market and Queens Night Market are enjoying increasing popularity. Both are every foodies dream! The best thing you can do to find fun summer activities in New York is to head to the respective monthly articles for , , or .
Experience True Darkness At The Dystopian Immersive Show Blindness
This electrifying off-Broadway show utilizes cutting-edge technology combined with immersive lighting and atmospheric design to transport the audience to a near-future shrouded in impermeable darkness. One of the first performing arts events to reopen in NYC this year , Blindness has been met with rave reviews since opening in April and will only be in New York through July! Get tickets here.
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Hear Live Music At The Museum Of Modern Art
On Sundays in July, the Museum of Modern Art has free concerts in their beautiful sculpture garden. This series, known as Summergarden, is free, though space is limited so go early.
The Sculpture Garden opens at 7:00 pm, concerts start at 8:00 pm and the garden closes at 10:00 pm. The museum is not open during these hours.
MoMA is a fantastic museum and you should consider visiting it during their open hours.
They have free hours on Fridays from 4 pm-8 pm. Find out more here. For other free museums, see our post here.
NOTE: This event has yet to be scheduled for 2021.
Look Into Getting A Tourist Pass
Visitors who are working with a budget should think about getting a New York City tourist pass.
Tourist Passes can save you quite a lot of money to visit the most popular attractions in the city.
Lots of the best things to do in summer in NYC are included in these passes, like these attractions:
If you plan to visit even a few of these attractions, you could easily end up saving a lot of money over general admission prices.
There are several different types of passes, so be sure to read our comparison post to learn about how you can save the most money on your trip.
TIP: Our Guide to NYC on a Budget may come in handy!
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Visit Governors Island Which Is Only Open During The Summer
It is still one of Sabrinas favorite things to do in the summer in NYC. Governors Island only opens during the summer months and its super-cheap to reach by ferry. You and grab the ferry at the southern tip of Manhattan. Here you can enjoy the view of the Statue of Liberty among the New York locals and just watch the city of New York City in peace.
Here you can find our Best Things to do on Governors Island.
Get Free Tickets With A Tourist Discount Pass
Admittedly, these passes have a cost. However, if you plan well, you will essentially get several tickets to attractions or tours each day for free.
Tourist discount passes work by bundling multiple tickets into one price, usually between 20%-50% the retail price.
Read our post comparing the different tourist discount passes.
Several bus tour companies, including hop-on-hop-off buses, also offer discounts and deals.
For year-round free things to do see our comprehensive post about free things to do in NYC as well as our list of free NYC attractions.
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Things To Do In New York City This Summer
Most New Yorkers love to get out of their tiny apartments and take advantage of the warm weather in June, July, and August. The city buzzes with activity, and visitors can enjoy everything from dinner cruises and walking tours to Central Park bike rides. Heres how to make the most of summer in the Big Apple.
- Feel the Hudson River breeze on your face and take in views of the Statue of Liberty on a sightseeing New York Harbor cruise or a hop-on hop-off cruise.
- Rent a bike and zip around Manhattans verdant Central Park, or join a sightseeing bike tour.
- Visit some of Long Islands scenic beach towns on a shopping day trip to the Hamptons.
- Taste your way around New York City on a guided foodie walking tour.
- See the best of Downtown Manhattans historic neighborhoods on a walking tour through SoHo, Little Italy, and Chinatown.
- Marvel at the sparkling New York City skyline on a party boat cruise or nighttime sightseeing cruise.
- Treat yourself to a luxurious dining experience on a dinner cruise, complete with live music and skyline views.
- Savor waterfront views and cross the iconic Brooklyn Bridge on a guided biking excursion.
Reacquaint Yourself With Museum Mile & Beyond
Our world-class museums are back, and many are offering FREE admission deals, though you may have to book a reservation to visit. See the whimsical art of Alexander Calder at MoMA or larger-than-life pop-art from KAWS at the Brooklyn Museum. We’re overjoyed CMOM is fully reopened and are looking forward to revisiting old favorites like MoMI, The Intrepid , and MoMath .
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Getting To And From The Airport In New York City
If youre spending summer in New York City and plan to take either the train or the bus, then youre in luck because the Port Authority Bus Station, Penn Station, and Grand Central Terminal are ALL located in Manhattan. So, you definitely dont need to worry about getting into and out of the city.
However, if youre flying into the city, then getting to/from the airport and into NYC will vary based on the airport that you fly into. So, heres a quick rundown of how to travel between NYC and all three of its major airports.
Brooklyn Bridge Park Brooklyn
No doubt you’ve heard: Brooklyn is where it’s at now. It’s where the young’uns who couldn’t afford Manhattan prices went and turned the once unhip, unglamorous, undesired borough into a vibrant, happening, cool place for eats , the arts and family fun. Perhaps one of the best family-fun spots in Brooklyn is the 85-acre Brooklyn Bridge Park.
What to do: There are volleyball courts, ping pong tables, water pads. tall slides. and oversized sandbox and funky climbing structures. There are also picnic tables, so bring along lunch. Or, if you’d rather not pack food, get good pizza at Fornino.
What you need to know: The park at 334 Furman Sreet is open from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. later on weekends. And if you haven’t yet done so, walk across the Brooklyn Bridge. The bridge is gorgeous and so are the river views. Besides, you’ll get bragging rights.
Go: 334 Furman St., Brooklyn 718-222-9939, brooklynbridgepark.org.
Governors Island: Hop on a ferry and visit this serene 172-acre island where cars are prohibited. Rent a bike and go for a nice ride. Swing in one of the island’s red hammocks. Zoom down a 57-foot-long, three-story tall slide. Get one of the free kayaks offered and start paddling. To get there, take a ferry from the Battery Maritime Building in Lower Manhattan. The ferries come every 30 minutes and cost $2.75 each way. govisland.com.
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See A Good Morning America Concert
For early birds, you can see some of the best artists and bands in Central Park every Friday at 7 am.
The series runs from May through August. The 2021 line-up has not yet been announced, but rest assured there will be some major stars playing.
for more details. And see our post about VIP Tickets!
NOTE: This event has yet to be announced for 2021.
See Artist Yayoi Kusamas Show At The New York Botanical Garden
Photo: New York Botanical Garden/Facebook
The New York Botanical Garden is a sensory treat no matter the season. Still, this summer, an exhibit by pop artist Yayoi Kusama brings a new kind of stimulation to the outdoor museum.
Kusama, best known for her infinity mirrors, decorates the 250-acre park with sculptures, installations, and paintings that look like acid-inspired hallucinations from another planet. Supernatural flowers bloom among greenhouse flora a dancing pumpkin sways its limbs in front of the Enid A Haupt Conservatorys Victorian facade steel balls float in on the banks of a pool like alien fish eggs. Each element of the exhibit appears more whimsical than the last.
Perhaps the most joyful piece of the exhibit is the lack of crowds. Yayoi Kusama regularly draws long lines to her shows, but NYGBs reduced capacity and timed-entry tickets mean you can observe her work without fighting through a sea of fellow onlookers.
If polka-dot trees and human-sized daisies arent your style, NYGB is still worth a visit. Between its 50-acre old-growth forest, a gorge that leads down to the Bronx River, and flower beds that change seasonally, a trip to NYGB can feel like a trip far away from NYC. KUSAMA: Cosmic Nature runs through October 31.
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Have A Picnic At A Park Of Your Choice
New York has many parks, and its sometimes hard to choose between them. Central Park is the most famous one, of course but, if youre looking for a more local spot, maybe try Astoria Park or Pelham Bay Park?
Shop at Eataly for some gourmet cold cuts and cheeses, along with Italian bread and/or crackers and some fruit for a lovely picnic spread.
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New York Transit Museum
Whether you grew up in the city or came to it every now and then, a visit to the New York Transit Museum is a fun way to be reminded of or learn about the way New Yorkers and the city’s visitors used to get around. Old buses and old subway cars are all on display. And if you are of a certain age, you may well up seeing all that old memorabilia you’ll certainly want to share your stories with your youngsters.
While the museum is temporarily closed due to the pandemic, check out its digital program or visit its gallery at Grand Central Terminal where you’ll find rotating exhibits and a retail store, just off the Main Concourse, adjacent to the Station Masters’ Office.
What to do: Enjoy! It’s a blast from the past and a reminder of how much transportation has changed.
What you need to know: The museum itself is located in a subway station, the old Court Street station at 99 Schermerhorn Street. To get to it, you need to descend two long flights of stairs. A wheelchair-, stroller-, tired-feet-accessible entrance is located on the corner of Schermerhorn and Court Streets. It costs $10 for adults and $5 for kids 2 to 17. Bring lunch and snacks with you to eat in the museum’s Lunch Room.
Go: 99 Schermerhorn St., Brooklyn 718-694-1600, nytransitmuseum.org.
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Catch This Years Bigger
Though we had 4th of July fireworks last year, it came in the form of smaller displays at different surprise locations across the city to prevent crowds in the crux of the pandemic. Now, the full Annual Macys 4th of July Fireworks will be back in full swing this year, promising their biggest show EVER. Read all about the best places to see them here!
Take A Stroll On The High Line
Originally part of the West Side Improvement Project, the High Line was a rail system that first opened to trains in 1934. After the rise of the interstate trucking industry, the line was officially closed in 1980. Fast forward three decades and now the High Line is one of Chelsea’s trendiest attractions. Spanning from Gansevoort Street all the way to West 34th Street, the park creates a perfect green getaway in the heart of the concrete jungle complete with food trucks, art, music and more.
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Summer In New York State
When summer is here, there’s no better place for fun in the sun than New York State. From renowned state parks like Letchworth and Watkins Glen that offer waterfalls and scenic views to world-class beaches like Coopers Beach in the Hamptons, New York has many unique outdoor experiences waiting to be discovered. Whether you take a walk on the wild side above the treetops at the Wild Center and Wild Walk or explore prehistoric rock formations at Panama Rocks Scenic Park, New York’s wonders pack in plenty of family fun all season long.
New York’s most famous warm-weather attractions, like Watkins Glen International, Niagara Falls, and Saratoga Race Course all belong on any summer getaway wishlist. Thrill seekers will love flying down Hunter Mountain on North America’s longest and highest zipline tour or zigging and zagging down Mt. Van Hoevenberg on the Cliffside Coaster. Younger kids will love their first roller coaster ride on the Dragon’s Apprentice at the brand-new LEGOLAND in the Hudson Valley. Those looking for a more serene summer day can float through Ausable Chasm, stroll across the Walkway Over the Hudson, or visit the magnificent Boldt Castle.
Walk The Brooklyn Bridge Day Or Night
Walking over the Brooklyn Bridge should be on your list of “must-do” activities in NYC. Summer is a fine time to cross it!
During the day it can get a bit hot on the bridge, so consider joining our 911 Memorial and Brooklyn Bridge Night Tour for a cooler, and more informative walk.
We also have a GPS-led audio tour for the Brooklyn Bridge to guide you on your walk.
Use our guide to walking the Brooklyn Bridge, to make your walk unforgettable.
Our guide to things to do in Brooklyn will come in handy once on the other side of the bridge.
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