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If you’re looking for something more than just a fly and flop, how about the Big Apple? Summer in New York is a Gossip Girl’s dream: think rooftop bars, outdoor festivals, and all the iconic sights – minus the bitter winter chill.

Whether you’re a culture vulture, a fabulous foodie, or someone who just loves a good park picnic, summer in New York will have something for you. 

What months are summer in New York?

Like the UK, the summer months in New York are June, July, and August.

Is summer a good time to visit New York?

New York in summer

New York may follow the same seasons as the UK, but across the pond it’s much more extreme. Winters can be harsh with tonnes of snow and summers can be very hot and dry. Between June and August temperatures in New York can very between lows of 18C and 29C – but it’s much more likely for the mercury to hitting the higher end of the spectrum.

But the best thing about visiting New York in the summer is you get to properly enjoy all those little things, like lolling around in Central Park and mooching around food markets. There’s always way more to do when the weather’s good. And, well… where in the world is there a better place to sip a Cosmo than on an epic roof bar? And the concrete jungle’s got plenty of those.

Things to do in New York in summer

New York at Christmas is nice, but there’s something really special about the city in the summer months.

Central Park

There’s loads to do in summer in New York, and top of that list has to be making a beeline for Central Park – it’s like one giant playground. Rent a bike or take a paddleboat out on the lake . Then there’s Delacorte outdoor theatre on the Great Lawn, famous for its summer productions of Shakespeare (“Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day in New York…” we think is how it goes?), the Bethesda Fountain for meeting up and people watching, and Strawberry Fields just a ten minute walk away for a picnic.

Psst, you can even go to France whilst you’re here! Albertine, a two-story bookstore that sells both French and English language books, can be found inside the fancy Payne Whitney mansion. This mansion also happens to double as the French Embassy, so you’ll have to pass through security as you’re technically on French soil…

Rooftop bars

One of the best things about summer in New York is the roof top bars. They offer stunning views of the city and have a great atmosphere… a mojito for us, please.  It’s always a good idea to check before you arrive, as some of the more popular spots need pre-booking. 

There’s loads to choose from, but we love Daintree in Midtown because of it’s unbelievable views of the Empire State Building. Another Midtown gem is the Bookmarks Rooftop Lounge at the Library Hotel, named for the nearby New York Public Library just a stone’s throw away – try the Hemingway cocktail. Harriet’s Rooftop Bar and Lounge has perfect views of Brooklyn Bridge, but if you’re after that classic New York City skyline, then you’ll want The Crown – it has what some say is the best view in the city…

Outdoor movies

From Bryant Park to Hudson River Park, if it’s summer in New York and you’re in a park, then it’s probably gonna host free outdoor movie nights. Bring a blanket, some snacks, and enjoy a film under the stars. How romcom is that!  

Keep up to date with the latest events on the NYC Parks website.

Coney Island

Embrace your inner child with a trip to Coney Island. Ride the iconic Cyclone, enjoy the beach, and have a Nathan’s hot dog for the classic NYC summer experience.

Actually made up of several different parks, today Coney Island is home to Luna Park – the modern incarnation of which opened in 2010 – featuring a mix of historic and contemporary rides, including that famous Cyclone roller coaster, and Deno’s Wonder Wheel Amusement Park, home to the iconic Wonder Wheel, a 150-foot tall Ferris wheel.

The beach offers a beautiful view of the Atlantic Ocean, and the boardwalk is lined with shops, restaurants, and entertainment venues. The fourth of July is when you need to be at Nathan’s Famous – this is when they hold their annual hot dog eating contest.

Broadway shows

A cornerstone of American theatre, a Broadway show is a must at any time of year. Catch a hit musical like the Lion King, Wicked or Phantom. Many theatres offer matinees, which are perfect for escaping the afternoon heat.

A quick primer for the beginners: The Majestic Theatre is known for hosting “The Phantom of the Opera,” the longest-running show in Broadway history. The Gershwin Theatre is home to “Wicked,” one of Broadway’s most successful modern musicals. The Lyric Theatre hosts large-scale productions such as “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child.” Last, but defo not least: The Richard Rodgers Theatre is famous for “Hamilton,” – you know, that musical by Lin-Manuel Miranda that every man and his dog wants to see.

Top tip: the Theatre Development Fund (TDF) operates TKTS booths in Times Square and other locations where you can nab same-day discounted tickets. But if you want to stay out in the sun, look out for Shakespeare in the Park, a unique theatrical experience in Central Park.

The Highline

A public park built on a historic freight rail line elevated above the streets on Manhattan’s West Side and stretching 1.45 miles from Gansevoort Street in the Meatpacking District to 34th Street near the Javits Convention Center, the High Line has stunning views of the Hudson River and the city skyline. Stroll through the gorgeously landscaped gardens, check out the public art (it’s known for its rotating art installations, making it essentially an open-air gallery), and grab a bite from a food vendor or by stopping off at the famous Chelsea Market.  

Several spots along the High Line offer elevated views of the city, including the 10th Avenue Square and Overlook, where visitors can look out over the streets below.

How to stay cool

Slip into the AC at a museum or art gallery

New York has a shopping list-long number of museums and art galleries, and if you happen to be in Manhattan (museum central), it’s one of the easiest – and most educational – ways to get out of the heat for a couple of hours.

A mega quick run through: you’ve got the The Met, the Museum of Modern Art, the Guggenheim, the American Museum of Natural History, the Frick Collection, and the Whitney Museum of American Art – and that’s just scratching the surface.

Head underground in a speakeasy

If you’re more into your  mixology than your modern art, then get thee to a speakeasy! These cool (literally and figuratively) and mostly underground havens are another easy way to keep cool in summer in New York.

There’s loads around, but here’s a few ideas to get you started: Please Don’t Tell (through a vintage phone booth inside Crif Dogs, a hot dog joint), Employees Only (marked by a neon “Psychic” sign on Hudson Street in Manhattan), Attaboy (look for an unmarked door with just an “AB” on it), and The Back Room (an original speakeasy from the 20s, look for a gate marked “The Lower East Side Toy Company” and head down the stairs).

The Museum of Ice Cream 

Because this is New York, of course there’s a museum dedicated to ice cream. As if we couldn’t love this city anymore than we already do!

Colourful and mega imaginative, each room here is designed to engage all five senses – and come with giant ice cream-themed sculptures, obvs. But the thing it’s really famous for is the Sprinkle Pool – a giant pool filled with millions of (plastic) sprinkles where you can dive right in.

Naturally, there’s plenty of ice cream samples to enjoy throughout the experience as well, from more classic flavours to ones only the brave will try – each room comes with a different tasting experience, so come hungry.

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