Contrary to popular belief, summertime in New York City is absolutely spectacular—that is, if you know how to do it properly. Although the city may be hot and humid, those who are here for the long-haul know exactly how to navigate the best activities during the city’s hottest days. That being said, conquering the five boroughs like a true New Yorker is key. Looking to savor summer like a local? Check out six summer activities beloved by New York locals below, perfect for basking in all of the season’s sun-soaked glory.
Hit the Beach
Who says you need to head ‘Out East’ to have an awesome beach day? One of New York’s biggest draws in the summer is its proximity to a plethora of hot, sandy beaches (the city is located on multiple islands, after all.) For hot dogs, carnival rides, and an amusement park feel, head to Brooklyn’s famed Coney Island—and don’t forget to catch some wind on the borough’s famed Cyclone. For a laid-back vibe, hit the Rockaways, known for its tacos, tiki drinks, and pretty epic surf culture. And for those looking to trek just a bit further, venturing out to Long Beach makes for the perfect day trip away from the city. Simply hop on the LIRR, grab your umbrella, and enjoy a quiet day away from the city’s hustle and bustle.
Grab a Beer at a Local Brewery
Forget the bigger breweries that sit at the top of tourists’ to-do lists. Sip like a local at one of the boroughs’ many craft breweries, most of which are scattered across Brooklyn and Queens. For outdoor seating and top-quality bar food, check out Threes Brewing (333 Douglass St, Brooklyn, NY 11217) or SingleCut Beersmiths (19-33 37th St, Queens, NY 11105.) For picnic tables and island vibes, look no further than Rockaway Brewing Company (415 B 72 St, Arverne, NY 11692.) Grimm’s, KCBC, and Interboro also make for stellar Brooklyn based options, the latter of which also boasts a handful of homemade spirits.
Catch an Outdoor Movie
There’s no better way to enjoy a film than beneath the summer stars. Grab your blanket, lawn chairs, and popcorn-filled picnic basket and catch an evening flick at one of New York’s many outdoor cinema spaces. Outdoor movies play across all five boroughs, mainly in larger open-air venues such as parks and rooftops. Bryant Park, Randall’s Island Park, and Astoria Park are some of the bigger (and therefore more crowded) options, so looking to smaller venues, such as St. Nicholas Park and Habana Outpost, is key.
Sip Cocktails at a Rooftop Bar
Yes, every tourist loves a rooftop bar—but who says you have to follow the myriads of people to the overcrowded (and overpriced) midtown hotspots? Do as the locals do and venture out of Manhattan to Brooklyn and Queens for some of the city’s best rooftop bars, including Berry Park, Z Roof, and Penthouse 808. Drinks are cheaper, views are better, and the vibe is all-around chiller. For those looking to stay in Manhattan, Gallow Green and Cantina Rooftop are excellent places to imbibe (we recommend the Mezcal Smash and Guacamole Clasico at the latter!)
Hit the Pool
.... in New York City? You bet. New York is home to numerous public pools, which believe it or not, aren’t too shabby. Arrive on the earlier side to avoid afternoon crowds, especially if you’re looking to snag a lounge chair. Astoria Pool is open from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily and is the city’s largest public facility, with early bird and night owl lap swim hours available. John Jay Pool is conveniently located on the Upper East Side and boasts a separate pool for children, in addition to its 145-foot lap pool. And for swimming in Central Park? Lasker Pool is just the ticket. Be sure to bring a combination lock and towel to any NYC public pool that you visit or access will be denied!
Take Advantage of Outdoor Concerts, Shows, and Performances
Just because the city slows down in summer doesn’t mean that its culture takes a break. From classical music concerts to Shakespeare in the Park, NYC is home to tons of seasonal outdoor performances, many of which are free to attend. Be aware that free still may mean ticketed, so be sure to check in advance—and line up as early as possible! Grab some friends, pack a picnic, and enjoy New York’s balmy summer evenings outdoors, accompanied by a backdrop of soothing classical music.