20 Best Bucket List Things to Do in New York City this Summer

20 Best Bucket List Things to Do in New York City this Summer

Are you seeking inspiration for your plans in New York City during the summer of 2023? Look no further. We present a thoughtfully curated list of twenty marvelous things to do in the Big Apple. Summer brings out the vibrant essence of this city that never sleeps, offering many thrilling experiences and sights to behold.

New York City boasts an abundance of summer adventures that guarantee endless fun. Whether you are a local, a frequent visitor, or embarking on your first journey to this iconic destination, something is captivating for everyone. Immerse yourself in the serenity of Governor’s Island, where you can escape the bustling city and discover a tranquil oasis. Alternatively, delve into the captivating exhibits of various museums, embracing the rich cultural offerings New York City has to offer.

Prepare yourself for an unforgettable summer in New York City, where excitement awaits at every corner.

This selection of the 20 best things to do in New York City during the summer has it all. So why wait? Let us dive into these exhilarating adventures together

1. Experience New York Rum Festival

Prepare your taste buds for an extraordinary experience at the highly anticipated 6th Annual New York Rum Festival. It returns to the vibrant streets of the Big Apple on Saturday, June 10th, and is held at The Metropolitan Pavilion on 125 W. 18th Street. The Rum Lab organizes this event and promises an unforgettable celebration of all things rum.

With a remarkable lineup of over 100 rum expressions from around the world, including rare and exotic varieties. The festival offers rum enthusiasts the chance to immerse themselves in the captivating world of this beloved spirit.

20 Best Bucket List Things to Do in New York City this Summer

From the smooth and rich flavors of Cane Rock to the classic excellence of Lemon Hart & Sons. The selection is bound to delight every rum lover’s palate. Other featured brands include Chinola, Diplomatico, and many other renowned names.

The festival offers three tasting session times, starting at 2 PM, 3 PM, and 4 PM, ensuring attendees can choose a time that suits their schedule. Tickets, which start at $88, offer different tiers based on ticket type.

For those seeking an elevated experience, the VIP Rum Experts Session provides a five-hour admission. They feature exclusive Rum Lab swag, premium tastings, and the opportunity to attend consumer seminars. Industry professionals can use the Trade Industry session. The Trade Industry session features discounted tickets, networking opportunities, access to premium rum tastings, and trade-focused discussions.

This exciting event kicks off a week of spirit-focused festivities in New York City, including the New York Rum Congress on June 12th. In addition, the Indie Spirits Fest is on June 12th, and The Brooklyn Bar Convent is on June 13th and 14th. The entire week is dedicated to exploring and appreciating the world’s finest spirits.

Buy your ticket now

Take advantage of this extraordinary opportunity to sample exceptional rums. Discover new favorites, and stay ahead of the latest industry trends. So secure your tickets now and get ready to immerse yourself in the vibrant and flavorful world of rum at the New York Rum Festival.

2. Visit the High Line

A visit to New York City is incomplete without experiencing one key attraction – The High Line. The High Line offers visitors a remarkable aerial panorama view over Manhattan’s streets from above ground level. The former railway has been transformed into an idyllic park. The striking vivid views of towering buildings, beautiful botanical gardens bursting with color, and dynamic public art exhibits.

While strolling on this elevated path, one can observe different locales entrenched with historical significance showcasing present-day urban landscapes. Indulge yourself by participating in activities ranging from yoga classes to informative guided tours and outdoor movies for a truly unforgettable experience.

Discover the latent wonders that await you on The High Line by embarking on an exhilarating journey.

Your journey through the High Line would not be complete without exploring some of the nearby attractions like Chelsea Market or Whitney Museum of American Art. These captivating destinations boast unique characters and cultural experiences that are worth immersing yourself in.

And after all that excitement, treat yourself to a delightful culinary journey by sampling the restaurants and cafes around you. Tasting New York City’s local flavors is an experience to experience, with endless options for satisfying your cravings.

3. Luna Park on Coney Island

Are you looking for a thrilling adventure that will get your heart racing? Then you should look no further than Luna Park in Coney Island. This beloved destination has something for everyone. Plenty of exciting rides and attractions will leave you feeling exhilarated. And if you are looking for a more laid-back experience, try visiting during the weekdays when lines are shorter.

Be sure to check the parks opening hours before you go to ensure a seamless and unforgettable adventure at Luna Park.

4. Georgia O’Keeffe Exhibit

For art enthusiasts and devoted fans of Georgia O’Keeffe, an extraordinary exhibition awaits at the Museum of Modern Art. “To See Takes Time” is a groundbreaking showcase dedicated to Georgia O’Keeffe’s remarkable drawings. Immerse yourself in the world of this iconic artist as you encounter over 120 pieces spanning four decades. The artist employs various mediums such as charcoal, watercolor, pastel, and graphite.

Within this exhibition, visitors will be captivated by O’Keeffe’s renowned masterpieces, including the illustrious “No. 8 – Special [Drawing No. 8]” from 1916. It provides a rare opportunity to witness the artist’s creative process firsthand, gaining profound insights into her techniques and sources of inspiration.

Do not let this chance slip away to experience the sheer beauty and profound depth of O’Keeffe’s drawings up close and personal at the Museum of Modern Art through August.

5. The House of Cannabis

If you are seeking an otherworldly and thought-provoking adventure, go to THC New York City, the newest cannabis museum in Soho. Known as The House of Cannabis, this mind-bending museum invites you to embark on a journey like no other. Prepare yourself for the exploration by stepping into the “Disorientation Room,” setting the stage for the immersive experience that lies ahead.

At THC NYC, you will discover a captivating fusion of art, science, and social justice issues surrounding cannabis prosecution. With four stories and a sprawling 25,000 square feet of space, this museum is brimming with intriguing facts and multi-sensory encounters designed to captivate smokers and non-smokers alike.

Tickets for this unique experience start at $45 per adult, offering exceptional value for the adventure that awaits. Delve into the mysterious realm of THC NYC, where boundaries are pushed, minds are expanded, and perceptions are challenged. Get ready for an unforgettable journey through the fascinating world of cannabis at this extraordinary museum.

6. The Queen’s Ball: A Bridgerton Experience

Attention all “Bridgerton” aficionados. Prepare to be transported into the enchanting world of the hit Netflix series at “The Queen’s Ball: A Bridgerton Experience.” Narrated by the elusive Lady Whistledown, this immersive event promises an unforgettable journey.

Step into interactive vignettes that bring the show’s opulent universe to life and indulge in themed cocktails that tantalize the taste buds. All while perusing exclusive merchandise for the ultimate “Bridgerton” keepsakes.

But that is not all — delight in a mesmerizing spectacle of dance and acrobatics that will leave you in awe, capturing countless photo-worthy moments along the way. Lasting approximately 90 minutes, this captivating experience will continue throughout the summer at the Mediapro Manhattan Studio, nestled within the vibrant Hudson Yards neighborhood.

Do not miss your chance to be part of this immersive “Bridgerton” extravaganza. Immerse yourself in the grandeur and romance of the series. And embark on a truly magical journey at “The Queen’s Ball: A Bridgerton Experience.”

7. Attend Smorgasburg Food Festival

Food enthusiasts flock to New York City for its vibrant gastronomic scene, with frequent food festivals throughout the year satisfying their cravings for diverse cuisine. Amongst these events is the highly lauded Smorgasburg. A weekly outdoor food market in several areas throughout New York City, including Williamsburg, Prospect Park, and The World Trade Center. And features over 100 tempting food vendors at Smorgasburg.

The festival offers everything from mouth-watering burgers and pizzas to artisanal ice cream formulations and tasty vegan dishes.

Patrons come from far and wide to experience this lively event. And with Spring came its enchanting ambiance. What better way is there to enjoy some of New York City’s outstanding gastronomic offerings? Before visiting a legendary market like Smorgasburg, please bring your most ravenous appetite and be prepared for potentially long queues.

Though standing in line might be required, the lively ambiance and mouth-watering fare more than makeup for it.

Delight in an unparalleled culinary expedition combining remarkable flavors, enticing scents, and a sense of unity at the Smorgasburg food festival in New York City.

8. Pickleball in Central Park

If you are searching for an enjoyable outdoor activity, visit Central Park’s Wollman Rink and experience the largest pickleball installation in the Northeast. From April 7 through October 9, this remarkable installation welcomes visitors daily, offering 14 courts designed to accommodate players of all skill levels.

Do not worry if you are new to pickleball. Lessons and clinics are readily available to assist you in getting started, ensuring that everyone can participate in this exciting sport.

Known for its inclusivity and suitability for all ages and physical abilities, pickleball promises a fantastic experience for everyone involved.

Gather your friends or family, and make your way to Central Park for a day filled with laughter, camaraderie, and the thrill of pickleball.

Engage in this engaging and inclusive activity that will create lasting memories and foster a sense of togetherness amidst the beauty of Central Park.

9. Experience the Met Cloisters

Immerse yourself in the captivating world of medieval art by visiting the Met Cloisters. This enchanting museum is nestled within the picturesque Fort Tryon Park. As an extension of the renowned Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Cloisters offers a captivating exploration of European medieval art.

One of the most captivating aspects of the Cloister’s experience is the explosion of blooms that adorn its three gardens starting in early April. These gardens showcase a remarkable array of plants, some exclusive to this location in the country. Step into a world of botanical wonder as you encounter a diverse selection of flowers, trees, grasses, and more meticulously cultivated to recreate the medieval gardens of Europe.

To delve deeper into the botanical splendor, you can take advantage of the gardens’ guided tours, which began on May 1. These tours offer fascinating insights into the plants, their historical significance, and their blooming patterns throughout spring and summer. The best part? The guided garden tours are free with your admission to the Cloisters, allowing you to fully immerse yourself in the beauty of both art and nature.

Take advantage of this exceptional opportunity to explore the Met Cloisters and its magnificent gardens, where the rich tapestry of medieval art seamlessly blends with the vibrant splendor of botanical life.

Stroll through Fort Tryon Park

Take a leisurely walk through Fort Tryon Park for an unforgettable experience. Its meticulously maintained gardens perfectly mirror those found at the Cloisters. Brimming with colorful florae and delightful scents that immediately transport you into a tranquil state of mind.

And if that were not enough, it also offers awe-inspiring views of towering Palisades and the Hudson River’s majestic expanse. So soak up all these fantastic sights and serenity to escape city life’s turmoil while visiting Met Cloisters.

This natural splendor undoubtedly puts you in sync with medieval Europe’s artistic ideals while offering enchanting views of New York City.

10. MoonLab 42

Calling all shopaholics and collectors. A hidden gem awaits you in Harlem — MoonLab 42, a quaint little shop just under 5 feet wide. However, do not let its small size deceive you because a treasure trove of delightful products lies within its charming confines.

Prepare to be captivated by the diverse array of offerings at MoonLab 42. This tiny shop boasts an impressive selection of zines, books, records, incense, candles, prints, ceramics, jewelry, decorative items, accessories, and clothing. Every step inside MoonLab 42 feels like entering a magical realm, akin to the iconic Mary Poppins bag, where surprises await at every turn.

Whether looking for unique gifts or souvenirs, MoonLab 42 is a must-visit destination whether you are a local or a visitor. Lose yourself in the enchanting atmosphere and allow your curiosity to guide you as you uncover hidden gems and one-of-a-kind treasures within this captivating little space.

Embrace the joy of discovery and embark on a memorable shopping adventure at MoonLab 42 in Harlem. You never know what delightful surprises await you within this charmingly compact shop.

11. Immerse Yourself in Art at the New York Botanical Garden

Immerse yourself in a world of wonder as you embark on a magical tour through the New York Botanical Garden’s enchanting landscapes. Encompassing 250 acres, this botanical escape fuses natural beauty with artistic marvels in awe-inspiring unity.

Upon arrival, expect nothing less than an explosion of colors and fragrances courtesy of myriad blossoms and cherry trees that will dazzle your senses — taking your breath away completely.

Slow your pace; allow ample time to explore every nook and cranny amidst these vibrant gardens. Each distinct area reveals its own hidden gem waiting for discovery. Quiet havens create perfect settings for appreciation as art meets nature seamlessly — painting portraits surpasses all human expectations.

Escape to a realm of majestic landscapes and creative magnificence, where each stride leads to fresh and fascinating revelations.

The New York Botanical Garden calls out to you, offering an unforgettable expedition through the vivacious mosaic of Mother Nature’s charm and artistic ingenuity.

12. Unwind and Rejuvenate at a Spa Day

Step into a world of tranquility at Governors Islands QC NY Spa. Where relaxation and pampering reign supreme amidst beautiful greenery and peaceful surroundings. Discover this hidden gem that offers an escape from all things hectic. Inviting you into an environment where peace can truly flourish within you.

Immerse yourself in luxury with indulgent spa treatments designed just for you. Whether for massages, facials, or body treatments, each experience promotes inner harmony while elevating your senses like never before. So take some time at the QC NY Spa today and enjoy the exquisite amenities that await you.

Bask in ultimate relaxation with a refreshing Sunset Aperitivo as you soak in the warm waters of a heated spa pool. Enjoy peace and tranquility amidst steam rooms, saunas, and relaxing spaces thoughtfully crafted to rejuvenate your body and mind.

At QC NY Spa on Governor’s Island, take advantage of more than just an escape from daily life. It provides an opportunity to replenish yourself wholly. Let go of all worldly concerns as you relish deserved luxury and tranquility.

13. Dance the Night Away at Skyline Series at Penthouse

Prepare for a night of unparalleled excitement and enchantment as you ascend to The Penthouse, perched atop the magnificent Ravel Hotel. With every step, anticipation builds. And upon reaching the pinnacle, you will be greeted by awe-inspiring panoramic views of the iconic Manhattan skyline.

Embrace the vibrant atmosphere that pulses through the air as the rhythm of the night sets the stage for an unforgettable experience. Feel the music coursing through your veins, surrendering to its irresistible beat. The warm spring nights provide the perfect backdrop for an epic dance party. Where the city’s energy intertwines with your own, creating a symphony of exhilaration.

Lose yourself in the moment as you move to the music, letting the rhythm guide your every step. The dance floor becomes a sanctuary of freedom and expression. Where memories are made, and inhibitions are left behind. The electrifying energy of the city infuses every heartbeat, amplifying the joy and creating an atmosphere of pure enchantment.

As the night unfolds, let the captivating views of the Manhattan skyline serve as a reminder of the boundless possibilities that lie before you. Immerse yourself in this transcendent experience, where time seems to stand still, and the only limits are the ones you set for yourself.

A night at The Penthouse atop the Ravel Hotel is an invitation to surrender to the allure of music, dancing, and breathtaking views. Instead, allow yourself to be swept away by the magic of the moment, for this evening will linger in your memories long after the music fades.

14. Step Back in Time at The FRIENDS Experience

Calling all fans of the beloved sitcom Friends. Prepare to embark on a nostalgic journey. And immerse yourself in the world of your favorite TV show at The FRIENDS Experience in New York City. Then, step back in time and find yourself right in the heart of the iconic scenes that made the show memorable.

As you wander through this interactive exhibit, you will feel like a true participant in the Friends universe. Sit on Chandler and Joey’s legendary recliner, imagine yourself sipping a cup of coffee at Central Perk, and relive the side-splitting moments that brought so much laughter to your life.

Gather your fellow Friends enthusiasts and make your way to this unforgettable experience that promises to create lasting memories. From hilarious one-liners to heartwarming friendships, every corner of The FRIENDS Experience is designed to transport you back to the show’s magic.

Immerse yourself in the world of Rachel, Ross, Monica, Chandler, Joey, and Phoebe, and let your love for Friends reignite. This is a must-visit destination for every fan, where the spirit of the sitcom comes alive, and you can celebrate the joy and laughter it brought to your screens for years.

Get ready for a journey that will have you reminiscing about Friends long after your visit concludes.

15. Savor Authentic Sushi at JAPAN Fes

Attention sushi enthusiasts. Experience an extraordinary culinary adventure at JAPAN Fes, a lively tribute to Japanese culture essential for any food lover. Indulge your senses as you are enchanted by enchanting sights, fascinating sounds, and mouthwatering smells throughout this vibrant extravaganza.

You can take time to wander through bustling stalls offering an extensive collection of authentic sushi options crafted meticulously with attention to detail guaranteed to ignite your palate with new flavors and tastes.

Every piece of sushi is unique in its composition. Each is created like artwork, resulting in an explosion of flavors when consumed — leading your taste buds on a journey through vibrant Tokyo streets where sushi has become integral in culinary traditions.

Let yourself experience balance and harmony with every morsel — from fresh fish perfection enriched by perfectly seasoned rice bringing forth Japanese mastery across various culinary crafts.

16. Discover Unique Art Installations at MoonRise

Get ready to embark on a captivating journey into a realm of awe-inspiring artistry and enchanting performances at MoonRise. Step into this extraordinary space, where imagination knows no bounds, and prepare to be amazed.

At MoonRise, you will witness a fusion of mesmerizing circus-based acts, interactive installations, and captivating storytelling. All weaving together the tales of ancient moon goddesses. Immerse yourself in their mythical world as their stories come to life before your eyes.

For an experience that transcends the ordinary, indulge in Moon Dust, the newest addition to MoonRise. This immersive cocktail event takes you on a transcendent journey where ancient Moon Goddesses serve exquisite, specially crafted drinks that will tantalize your taste buds and elevate your senses.

As the night unfolds, you will be treated to a mesmerizing display of dance, theater, circus performances, aerial artistry, and acrobatics that will leave you breathless.

Each act is a testament to the incredible talent and creativity of the performers, who will transport you to a realm where gravity seems to have no hold.

Whether you are a lover of art or theater or simply seeking an otherworldly experience, MoonRise promises an unforgettable night of wonder and entertainment.

Lose yourself in the magic of this unique performance space and craft cocktail lounge, where the boundaries of reality fade away, and the extraordinary becomes the norm.

17. Explore the World of Cinema at Outdoor Movie Nights

Experience the enchantment of outdoor movie nights in the heart of New York City as the traditional theater experience takes a backseat to the allure of open-air cinemas. Instead, picture yourself reclining beneath a starry sky, surrounded by the anticipation and excitement of fellow moviegoers.

Whether it is the renowned Movies With A View at Brooklyn Bridge Park. Or other park-specific screenings, these al fresco theaters add a touch of magic to your summer evenings.

As dusk settles and the screen comes to life, you will be transported into a world of captivating stories and cinematic adventures, with the gentle breeze caressing your skin and the soft glow of the stars above. Every frame is imbued with wonder. It is a chance to disconnect from the ordinary and reconnect with the joy of shared movie-watching experiences.

So, grab your coziest blanket, gather your favorite snacks, and join friends or loved ones for an unforgettable night of cinema under the twinkling night sky. As laughter and gasps of amazement fill the air, you will immerse yourself in the magic of storytelling. Surrounded by the city’s vibrant energy, you will find yourself in the company of other film enthusiasts.

These outdoor movie nights in New York City are more than just a film screening. They are a communal experience that fosters a sense of togetherness and creates lasting memories.

So be part of the cinematic enchantment that unfolds beneath the stars, and let yourself be swept away by the magic of outdoor movies in the city that never sleeps.

18. Soak Up the Sun at NYC’s Best Rooftop Bars

Experience urban elegance like never before at New York City’s finest rooftop bars, which offer stunning skyline views and unforgettable ambiance to elevate your night out.

Head to The Ready Rooftop with charming backyard vibes for a laid-back feel. Where you can unwind while sipping on delicious cocktails against the backdrop of mesmerizing cityscape views.

Need a touch of sophistication? Then, venture over to The Skylark located in Midtown, with its sleek design and contemporary elegance, where artisanal cocktails reign supreme as live music fills the air leaving you feeling both refined and captivated.

Meanwhile, Somewhere Nowhere beckons for those who want an electrifying atmosphere and love dancing all night long. Get lost on their vibrant dance floor as pulsating beats fill your body with energy guided by their expert DJ.

Discovering thrilling new experiences in New York City is easy — visit one of its incredible rooftop bars. Gaze upon stunning panoramic views as far as the eye can see while savoring a delicious cocktail among friends.

This is an opportunity to unwind and marvel at what lies ahead. From this vantage point, nothing seems impossible. So let these unforgettable sights ignite your imagination and propel you towards exciting new adventures in this incredible city.

19. Embark on a Ferry Adventure to Nearby Beaches

When city life becomes overwhelming its time for a change of pace and scenery. A quick ferry ride to nearby beaches can be just what the doctor ordered when seeking solace in natures beauty.

Renowned for its luxurious rides, Seastreak can transport you to breathtaking locations like Marthas Vineyard, Sandy Hook Beach, and The Sandbox at Seastreak Beach. As soon as your feet touch down on those pristine shores, all your worries melt away as tranquility sets in.

Sink your toes into soft sand or dip in crystal clear water while basking under warm sunshine or even curling up with your favorite book under an umbrella shade.

A thrilling whale-watching cruise could add excitement as majestic humpback whales swim elegantly around their natural habitat. It is something one gets to see only sometimes. It is truly awe-inspiring – proof that nature never ceased to amaze us. Take your beach vacay up several notches with Seastreak’s tantalizing live music performances.

Let melodies waft through the air as you partake in their signature cocktail menu while sinking into an idyllic setting made for relaxation. Every trip is worth cherishing forever. These ferries guide your way towards reinvigoration, surrounded by stunning natural landscapes brimming with serenity.

Leave urban stressors behind and hop aboard one of their enthralling ferry adventures; Seastreak promises unforgettable moments that will stay with you forever.

20. Explore Unique Green Spaces Across the City

Escape the hustle and bustle of the city and explore the emerging green spaces scattered throughout New York City. Imagine yourself in the serene oasis of 50 Kent, nestled within the picturesque Bushwick Inlet Park.

Surrounded by vibrant foliage and expansive lawns, you can indulge in relaxation, picnics, and outdoor recreation. Also, you can explore the newly established public plazas in Lower Manhattan. They offer peaceful seating areas and verdant landscapes where you can unwind and find tranquility.

These hidden treasures provide the perfect opportunity to reconnect with nature amidst the dynamic cityscape. So gather your friends, pack a delightful picnic, and discover your own urban haven amidst the bustling energy of New York City.

The ultimate guide to things to do

Discover how to make this summer unforgettable with our ultimate guide to experiencing the best that New York City has to offer. Whether you are an art fanatic, a foodie, or just looking for relaxation amidst city-life chaos, New York City has something to satisfy every craving.

Get lost strolling through beautiful parks or immerse yourself in Georgia O’Keeffe’s artwork collection showcased at MoMA. Indulge your senses at the Smorgasburg food festival or dance all night long at The Penthouse.

Take full advantage of those warm summer nights with star-gazing outdoor movies. And if you want to escape from it all? The Met Cloisters’ stunning gardens are calling your name. Not forgetting a day’s worth of pampering luxury treatments waiting for you at QC NY Spa. Remember, though – things get booked up fast, so be sure to plan ahead.

Do not miss out on making unforgettable memories in New York City this summer with our list of the best things to do.

Nat C.


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