21 New York Activities To Accomplish Between Memorial Day And Labor Day

Lin Manuel-Miranda said it best when he wrote, "ain't nothing like summer in the city" for Hamilton's legendary hit, "The Schuyler Sisters." Lin knows best, this is what we've all come to realize as unalienable truth. New York City summers smell like hot trash and feel like you're walking through a puddle...yet residents of the five boroughs will defend this season to the death. With interns flocking to the city to pursue dreams, New Yorkers shedding coats previously super glued to their frozen, winter bodies, and tourists deciding to all go to Times Square at the exact same time, NYC is at its best when the sun decides to shine. 

While everyone's summer in the city looks different, we all share the same sidewalk. We all stand in line for the same rooftops. We all hear our wallets crying when we splurge for that $20 cocktail. Most importantly, we all have our "must dos" that can only be accomplished under that New York summer sun. 

1. See a Tony-winner in action

With June comes awards season, the most important being the Tony's. While I suggest seeing a show before it wins a Tony (your ticket price will see a major difference), seeing a show after it has accepted an award is oh so exciting. Plus, the theater is a great way to escape the heat! 

2. Hit up Smorgasburg with your best buds

For you elite, Manhattanites, this does require a trek across the East River. But since you'll be sharing the likes of brunch on a stick, fresh Dough Doughnuts, and the newest, trendiest eats in the five boroughs, it's worth it. 

3. Eat on the water as much as you can


A dinner cruise? I'm obsessed. The North River Lobster Company is my personal favorite, but the Hudson houses many summertime eateries. 

4. Read in the park

Grab that ice tea, a blanket, and your best hat - NYC parks were designed to consume good books. If you want to join me in all the beach reads, send me a note! I've also got some stellar psych thrillers if you need a page-turner.  

5. Pretend to be Ariel at Coney Island's Annual Mermaid Parade

Don't knock it until you try it! The Mermaid Parade is such a blast, whether you're a bystander or walking with your fellow merfolk! It's a day of fun in the sun that you won't forget! 

6. Catch the Brooklyn Bridge at sunrise


The Brooklyn Bridge is one of my favorite sights the city has to offer. But catching it at sunrise, that's downright magical. 

All your photography buddies will swoon for this little activity, make sure you take them with you! 

7. Watch a movie with total strangers, outside

It's Movie in the Park season! One of my personal favorite, free events that New York hosts includes total strangers, blanket seats, and old movies. Bring snacks and enjoy the evening! 

8. Wake up at an ungodly hour for a free concert, via the TODAY plaza


You'll need a buddy for this one (because getting to Rock Center at 3 a.m. requires company), but you'll have a friend for life by the time your concert is done! Trust me, you'll be wiped out by 9 a.m., but seeing the hottest stars for free does come at some sacrifice! 

9. Frequent FiDi's Stone Street for all your happy hour needs

Stone Street is where the cool kids eat. Promise. 

10. People watch in Central Park

It's a blast and a half, from street performers to tourists to ALL the doggos. Buy a popsicle from the ice cream cart and call it an afternoon. 

11. Get your fit on with free exercise classes in the park

Did you know that New York is the most physically fit city in the world? My doctor recently told me that. Then I googled it... a blatant lie. Oh well, we still are big fans of trendy fitness, so you can exercise throughout the summer at no cost to you! Yippee! 

12. Go on an ice cream crawl


I did this with my roommates when I was an intern and it is by far one of the best things I've done! There were four of us and we did eight different stops, each buying two of our tastings.

I can't find the ice cream crawl we embarked on, but this one from Excessories Expert seems pretty rad! 

13. Run the West Side Highway and pretend to train for the marathon

Or you could join me and actually train for a marathon. One way or another, the West Side Highway is gorgeous, perfect for a run! I prefer it to Central Park, actually, because it's less crowded and less hilly! 

14. Get an epic rooftop photo, whether it's Top of the Rock or just a groovy restaurant (you'll spend the same $$$ either way) 


Rooftops are a way of life during the summertime. You've got to go to at least one. 

15. Make the most of rainy days with Museum Mile

As an intern, I was shocked to find out how many rainy days a New York summer actually has. Thankfully, there is no shortage of inside activities for those of you (and me!) to enjoy while you're waiting out the storm. 

The best news? Now anyone who has a New York Public Library card can gain admittance to SO MANY cultural hot spots in the five boroughs for free! I know what I'll be doing the next time we have unfortunate precipitation. 

16. Enjoy Brooklyn's waterfront at either Brooklyn Bridge Park or Domino Park

I love the Brooklyn waterfront. Brooklyn Bridge Park has been a favorite of mine since becoming a permanent resident in the city, with plenty of benches and epic skyline views of Manhattan. It's such a nice change of pace from the sometimes crowded Manhattan park scene. Recently, Domino Park opened up in Williamsburg, giving BK another great East River hangout. 

17. Set up shop in a coffee house or cafe for a lazy Sunday


People seem to be extra rushed in the summer...you can't waste any of that precious daylight! This being said, one of the few times New Yorkers stop to breathe is on Sunday mornings. Brunch doesn't start until noon, and they've been out late the night before. One of my favorite things to do is get up early, go to a coffee shop, and read or work for the day. Escape the hustle and bustle while being right in the middle of it. 

18. Walk from Battery Park to the top of Central Park (and celebrate with Levain's afterward) 

A WALKING TOUR? MY FAVORITE! I am the most enthusiastic walker that New York has ever seen - it's just the BEST way to see the city! Start at the bottom of the island and just walk your way up! 

19. Attend a rally, parade, or protest in Union Square Park/Washington Square Park

Lower Manhattan is home to people who care. I know, I know, the whole city is full of enthusiasts for something or another. But it just seems like Union Square & Washington Square really go overtime in this department. Grab a sign, a banner, a flag - whatever - and join in! 

20. Head to Long Island for the Belmont Stakes


The Belmont Stakes is the third race in the Triple Crown and an absolute hoot. I went this last year (and saw the 13th Triple Crown winner in history...it was pretty dope) and had so much fun! Dress up, wear the hat, grab a signature cocktail and watch history being made! 

21. Take a weekend off from the hustle and bustle to enjoy it even more when you get back. 

Sometimes a breath of fresh air actually makes coming back to that hot garbage smell more bearable. Sure, NYC is far from perfect, but you just can't do summer the same way anywhere else. 

The 411Lily MoeComment