2015 Summer Events & Things to Do in NYC

New York City is one of the hottest places to be this summer (not quite literally, but you know). There are many free events this summer, fun festivals, and great attractions the whole family can enjoy that you’ll find yourself with so much to choose from that you’ll never want to leave.

If you do plan on seeing a lot of New York attractions while you’re in town, consider a flexible New York Explorer Pass®, which provides admission to your choice of over 50 of the area’s best attractions for up to 45% off admission prices. Or, build your own pass with two or more attractions and save 15-25%.

Summer in the City means making the most of the warm weather and getting outside! Below are a few of our picks for the best New York summer events and things to do.

Festivals & Free 2015 Events in NYC

Museum Mile Festival – Fifth Avenue

June 9, 2015
guggenheim-1Love museums? Then you won’t want to miss the Museum Mile Festival, which offers free admission to some of the city’s top museums for one day only. Nine participating institutions across 23 blocks include the Guggenheim, the Met, the Africa Center, the Jewish Museum, and more.

Brooklyn Hip-Hop Festival

July 8 – July 11, 2015

Common, one of this year's top performers. Image copyright Brooklyn Hip-Hop Festival.

Common, one of this year’s top performers. Image copyright Brooklyn Hip-Hop Festival.

This event is an annual of showcase of some of the top current hip-hop artists as well as older acts who have been influential in the past. This year’s line up includes Common, Mobb Deep, Lion Babe, Freeway, and many more. You’ll also find fun family activities, a film festival, informative lectures, and even brewery and food tours.

SummerStage Concert Series

May – October, 2015
summerstage-central-parkCelebrating its 30th anniversary this year, this prestigious free concert series features a diversity of performances from theatrical shows to musical performances from hip-hop to opera to folk and everything in between. Events are rain or shine, so don’t forget to bring a blanket or umbrella.

Held each year in Central Park since 1986, SummerStage is an arts and culture festival for locals and visitors alike. The festival was originally designed in the spirit of Central Park’s mission to serve as a free public resource to enrich the lives of New Yorkers and continues today as a great summer activity for New Yorkers of all ages.

Shakespeare in the Park

May 27 – August 23, 2015

Image copyright Public Theater.

Image copyright Public Theater.

A perennial favorite with the locals, this free theater series brings the Bard’s greatest works to life each year in a charming outdoor setting. This year’s plays are “The Tempest” and “Cymbeline,” so grab a blanket and a picnic dinner and enjoy performances throughout the summer.

Outdoor Activities

Sheawater Schooner Sails

shearwater-schooner-sails-new-yorkFor a daytime delight, set sail on this 82-foot schooner. Work on your summertime glow as you soak up the sun and enjoy a complementary drink while you take in the dense city from a maritime vantage point.

Choose the 90-minute or two-hour journey into the waters off Manhattan, and return refreshed by the sea air, and relaxed by the intimate experience.

Brooklyn Bridge Tour

DUMBO, in Brooklyn, New York has unbeatable skyline views of Manhattan

DumBo, in Brooklyn, New York has unbeatable skyline views of Manhattan

Although there are dozens of tours you can choose from – including TV or movie-themed tours, food tours, and cultural heritage tours – the Brooklyn Bridge walking tour is one of our favorites. Walk across the Brooklyn Bridge and into the trendy DumBo neighborhood for great views and fun shopping and dining opportunities.

Brooklyn Botanic Garden

brooklyn-botanical-gardensIf you love the great outdoors but prefer the feel of a cultivated garden, then you’ll delight in a visit to the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. This gorgeous collection of flora is also conveniently located next to the prestigious Brooklyn Museum, which features fascinating and inspiring exhibits from around the globe. Combine visits to both into one educational day!

Explore Central Park

New York Memorial Day 1

Isn’t Central Park just gorgeous?

One of the nation’s most beloved urban parks, Central Park is literally the heart of Manhattan. It spans almost 850 acres and is filled with everything from picnic spots and baseball diamonds to works of art and attractions like the Central Park Carousel, skating rinks, and more.

A smart and fun way to spend a warm summer day is by going on a bike ride through Central Park.

With this full day’s bike rental, you can customize your own day of sightseeing without the hassle of needing a rental car or having to plow down other pedestrians as you sprint to catch a cab. Hit the paths of Central Park, head to the world-famous Museum Mile, or simply ride wherever your heart desires!

Central Park Zoo

Also located in Central Park, the Central Park Zoo is a small but charming zoo that’s home to everything from snow leopards to sea lions. Families won’t want to miss out on a visit to the Tisch Children’s Zoo, which features animals that love human interaction.

NYC Food Tours

nyc-food-tours-pretzelsOne thing New Yorkers generally agree about is that the food in their city is better than yours – no matter where you are coming from.

If you are going to be in NYC this summer, see what all the fuss is about by going on a New York Food Tour. For a tasty way to see the city, New York Food Tours can’t be beat.

The “World Famous Sweet Tooth Tour,” “East Village Block Party Food Tour,” “East Village Variety Food Tour,” “Food Fast Tour,” “Go West Food Tour” “Orient Adventure Food Tour” and “New York’s Waterfront Village Food Tour” are all options.

SHARK Speedboat Ride

shark-speedboat-ride-nyc-2This thrill ride isn’t for everyone. But if you crave speed and don’t mind the occasional splash of water, this SHARK was made for you. Combining speedboat thrills with a high-speed tour of NYC’s landmarks, learning has never been so fun.

Twilight Sightseeing Cruise

nyc-twilight-sightseeing-cruiseAs the sun goes down, Manhattan evolves into a whole new experience. The skyline is transformed into a sea of alluring, vibrant lights as the city sparkles with thousands of lights illuminating the iconic skyline.

A twilight sightseeing cruise of NYC will transport you to highlights such as the Empire State Building, Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, Brooklyn Bridge, and much more. What’s mor romantic than a summer night on the seas? Relax, unwind, and be dazzled by New York in the twilight.

Museums to Visit

Metropolitan Museum of Art

Metropolitan Museum of Art Facade

Credit: Monica Arellano-Ongpin (license)

The Met is among the best art museums in the world, and for good reason. This top tier museum has some of the most extensive collections of art and artifacts in the world, numbering more than 2 million distinct items. Highlights of their collections include their Ancient Egypt wing, their collection of artifacts from classical antiquity, plus paintings and sculptures from all the biggest European masters.

American Museum of Natural History

American Museum of Natural History

American Museum of Natural History

The American Museum of Natural History, conveniently located adjacent to Central Park, is a family favorite. This museum is most famous for its huge collections of dinosaur fossils and striking gemstones, the Milstein Hall of Ocean Life, and the Hayden Sphere.

Museum of Modern Art


Fans who prefer contemporary to classical will love the MoMa. This world-famous modern art museum has often been estimated to be the greatest collection of modern art in the world. Some of the top artists and works of art you’ll see in their collections span the gamut from Picasso to Pollack, including Warhol’s Soup Cans, Van Gogh’s Starry Night, and more.

Cloisters Museum

cloisters-museumsThe Cloisters is the sister museum of the Met and focuses primarily on medieval art and artifacts. Their famed unicorn tapestries are beloved around the world, and the fact that they’re housed in an impressive historical building helps to build their reputation.

Visitors should also be on the look out for collections of arms and armor, stained glass, religious relics, and artifacts from the Crusades.

So Remember…

Of course, there are so many more things to do in New York this summer than we could possibly list in one article, so why not head to the Big Apple yourself to do some exploring?

Remember, if you’re planning on visiting a lot of museums and other attractions, it would be smart to pick up a flexible attractions pass like the New York Explorer Pass® to save big on admission.

Now get out there and enjoy all that the summer in NYC has to offer!

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