Things to Do in NYC in the Summer 2016

New York City is one of the hottest places to be this summer. There are so many free events, fun festivals, and exciting attractions for the whole family to enjoy, you’ll never want to leave.

If you’re planning a visit and looking for things to do in NYC in the summer, check out our list of the top attractions and activities going on this year, including…

  • Shearwater Classic Schooner Sail
  • BEAST Speedboat Ride
  • Brooklyn Bridge Tour
  • Central Park bike ride
  • and more…

Heading to the area to celebrate Independence Day? Then check out our post on things to do in NYC 4th of July Weekend.

You should comeback towards the end of summer to – if you do, here are some things to do in New York Labor Day Weekend.

Save on Attraction Admission

Regular admission to a number of of these popular New York activities are available on the New York City Explorer Pass®.

Choose as you go from dozens of top attractions and save up to 50% on combined admission vs paying at the gate.

See all available passes, attractions & prices – Learn more.

Please note, the special summer events taking place at these attractions may be separately ticketed and not available on the Explorer Pass.

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Outdoor Summer Activities

Shearwater Classic Schooner Sail

shearwater-schooner-sails-new-yorkFor a daytime delight, set sail on the 82-foot schooner Shearwater Classic.

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.

BEAST Speedboat Ride

beast-speedboat-rideThis thrill ride isn’t for everyone. But if you crave speed and don’t mind the occasional splash of water, the BEAST Speedboat Thrill Ride is one of the best things to do in NYC in the summer.

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 more romantic than a summer night on the seas? Relax, unwind, and be dazzled by New York in the twilight.

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!

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 on Foot 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.

Museums to Visit

Metropolitan Museum of Art

NYC The MET Exhibits (2)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 The Met 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. This is certainly a must visit for museum lovers looking for things to do in NYC in the summer.

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.

Festivals & Free 2016 Events in NYC

Museum Mile Festival – Fifth Avenue, 82nd – 105th Streets

June 14, 2016
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 13 – July 16, 2016

Brooklyn Hip-Hop Festival

Nas, 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 Nas, Fabolous, Talib Kweli, Rapsody, and many more. You’ll also find fun family activities, a film festival, hip-hop exhibition, informative lectures, and food and clothing vendors.

SummerStage Concert Series

May – October, 2016
summerstage-central-parkFor over 30 years, this prestigious free concert series has featured 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 31 – August 14, 2016

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.

In celebration of the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s work, this year’s plays are two of his favorites, “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” and “The Winter’s Tale,” so grab a blanket and a picnic dinner and enjoy performances throughout the summer.

Let’s Recap

So there you have it. Our picks for some of the top things to do in NYC in the summer.

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

Please note, the summer events taking place at some of these attractions may be separately ticketed and not included with the Go NYC Card.

Plan to visit some of these top attractions during your trip. Whether you are traveling with your family or a couple of friends, we’re sure you will have a great time.

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

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