New York City really ramps up the energy levels when temperatures start to rise in the summertime. The city is alive with excitement all year round, but there is something about the long, sunny days that make it feel like extra adventure is waiting for you just around every street corner. From free dance parties in the parks to glitzy parades and cultural attractions, you don’t have to shell out a fortune to have a great time in New York this summer. Here are 10 free things to do in NYC in the summer that you won’t want to miss!
Yoga at Bryant Park
Interested in doing a bit of soothing, centering exercise during your travels? Bryant Park is one of the city’s best spots to sit in the sun and people-watch during the summer, and they also offer free yoga classes outside on the lawn. Head there on Tuesday mornings at 10 am or Thursday evenings at 6 pm for free classes.
Head to the Beach
Most people don’t think of New York City as a tropical getaway, but there are actually a couple of great beaches to check out. During the summer, a lot of people head to Coney Island for some sun and surf in addition to the bustling amusement park. But Brighton Beach, The Rockaways and Fort Tilden are also amazing spots to spend a day. If you want a real getaway, consider a trip to Fire Island for the day!
The Mermaid Parade
No list of summer events in NYC is complete without mentioning the Mermaid Parade. Every summer, Brooklyn’s Coney Island gets taken over by fun-seeking paraders dressed up in outrageous outfits with a Mermaid theme. It’s a little bit like Mardi Gras meets the circus, and you can expect lots of energy, colorful costumes, live music, and artistic floats. It’s free to attend, so start planning your costume now!
The High Line Park
The High Line is one of the city’s main attractions in the summer. It’s a public park built on a historic freight rail line elevated above the streets on the West Side of Manhattan. It is completely free to wander along the river and check out the hybrid public art space to marvel at the displays, nature, and design. Plus, on Tuesdays starting at dusk, the Amateurs Astronomers Association sets up telescopes between 15th and 16th Streets so you can stargaze at the New York City Sky.
Free Ferry Ride
What better way to enjoy the warm sunshine than to head out on the NYC Waterways? The East River Ferry costs $4 to ride and offers spectacular views of Manhattan and Brooklyn as it travels up the river. And the Staten Island Ferry, which runs back and forth between Lower Manhattan and Staten Island, is absolutely free to ride and offers a perfect taste of a river boat ride in the big city.
Spend a Day in Central Park
Whether it’s early morning or late in the evening, Central Park is always full of its own unique beauty and charm. It is one of the best places for bird-lovers, as the park sees over 200 species visit every year. It’s also a fantastic way to wander and people watch in the city while getting a little break from the traffic and noise of midtown Manhattan.
Walk Across the Brooklyn Bridge
The Brooklyn Bridge is one of the city’s most iconic landmarks – and it is totally free to visit, photograph and travel across, by foot or by bike. Start with a visit to the Brooklyn Bridge Park, which curves around the waterfront in DUMBO and Brooklyn Heights and is a perfect place to relax and enjoy the views. Then make the trek across the East River and take in the fabulous architecture of the bridge itself.
Free Fridays at MoMA
The Museum of Modern Art is one of New York City’s best art hubs. They have a fantastic permanent collection, featuring works from Picasso, Rothko and plenty of others, as well as a sculpture garden and rotating exhibits all summer long. The price tag is a little hefty at $25 per person, but if you go on Fridays from 4 pm to 8 pm you get to visit for free! It’s a great way to take in some world-class art in the evening before heading out to dinner.
Outdoor Movie Nights
Many of NYC’s parks show free movies outside during the summertime, which is a fantastic way to enjoy the balmy weather, soak up the energy of the city and see a classic flick. Head to Bryant Park when the sun sets for their Summer Film Festival, or you can check out Movies with a View at Brooklyn Bridge Park. Here, you can watch something on the big screen with a stunning view of the lower Manhattan skyline as the backdrop. Check out the summer schedules to see what’s playing.
Go Green in the Brooklyn Botanic Garden
The Brooklyn Botanic Garden is one of the city’s most exquisite pleasures! If you’re craving a break from the hustle and bustle of the city streets, de-stress with a trip to see the blossoms and greenery of the gardens, located on the northeastern edge of Prospect Park. While they do charge admission, the fee is waived all day on Tuesdays. You can spend a full day here, exploring the zoo, Lefferts Historic House and the LeFrak Center.