A view of Lower Manhattan in summer
Lower Manhattan in summertime
Billy Joel pretty much sums it up in his famous song “New York State of Mind”: there’s really no need to go on holiday when you’ve got the chance to explore New York City in the summertime. New York in summer is absolutely vibrant: there’s something new to see or do every day, and the great weather makes it even better!

In this article, we’ll give you some examples of fun activities to do and things to see in New York City during the summer of 2013. From outdoor movies at Bryant Park to free festivals such as Celebrate Brooklyn! – we’ve got you covered!

Watch Outdoor Movies on Hot Summer Nights in New York City

Picture of an outdoor movie showing in Bryant Park, Manhattan
Movies in the Park at Bryant Park, Midtown Manhattan
One of our favorite summer activities in New York City is to catch a free outdoor movie. New York’s humid subtropical climate ensures hot summer months where the temperature stays up even late at night. This creates the perfect setting for a nighttime showing of movies under a starry sky. There are several locations in Manhattan and Brooklyn where you can catch an outdoor movie showing.

  • One of the most popular of these is Movies in the Park at Bryant Park. Every Monday from June 17 to August 19 2013, Midtown Manhattan’s Bryant Park hosts free classic movies at the lawn in the park. The movies start at sundown, but you’re advised to arrive well before that to ensure a good spot. Also make sure to bring plenty of blankets or cushions to keep comfortable!
  • Another well-liked outdoor movie event is the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum’s Summer Movie Series. This year, the Intrepid will host 6 free outdoor showings of some of the best heroes movies, ranging from Top Gun (May 24) to Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (August 2).
  • The Brooklyn Bridge Park may be the outdoor movie location with the most spectacular view. The audience gets to sit on the lush lawn of the park, and the movie screen is erected right beside the East River with the Lower Manhattan skyline as an impressive backdrop. This year’s theme of the film series is “With love from…” featuring several films about cities all over the world.
  • The last of our outdoor movies list is a very special event called Rooftop Films. Rooftop Films is a non-profit organization that shows indie movies in all sorts of outdoor locations in New York City. Some of the showings are free while others require a purchased ticket. The locations for the viewings vary and range from rooftops in Manhattan to Brooklyn.

Attend Free Concerts & Festivals in New York City

Image of a Good Morning America concert in Central Park
See Good Morning America’s free concert series in Central Park
Summertime in New York City also means the start of the festival season. There are festivals centered around dance, music, film and more. Furthermore, concerts can be found all around the city in summertime. If you know where to look you’ll find a free live music show in New York every night. From intimate jazz performances in the East Village to an opera performance in Central Park, New York City has something to offer for everyone!

  • Summer on the Hudson at Riverside Park is one of the most diverse free festivals held in Manhattan over the summer. Starting early May and ending in late September, the arts & culture festival hosts a set of different activities throughout the summer at Riverside Park from 59th Street to 153rd Street. These activities include dancing classes, tai chi workshops, free outdoor (kids) movies, concerts and more. All the programs are free, and no registration is required.
  • For the Brooklynites, Celebrate Brooklyn! is the go-to festival in the city. The free outdoor performing arts festival has been around for over 30 years, and each year the line-up gets more diverse. The festival kicks off on June 5th at the Prospect Park Bandshell and runs until the end of July.
  • Central Park’s Summerstage is equally diverse with its many music events, dance shows and other performances throughout the summer. Summerstage is held outside at Rumsey Playfield, which is best accessed from 72nd Street & 5th Avenue. From here it’s just a small walk west in the park along Terrace Drive.
  • Philharmonic in the Parks is a free concert that takes place in different parks across the boroughs. The New York Philharmonic will play in Brooklyn’s Prospect Park on July 10; in Central Park on July 13 & 15; in Cunningham Park in Queens on July 11; in Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx on July 16; and in the indoor CUNY Center for the Arts on Staten Island on July 14.
These are just four of the many concerts and festivals held in the city over the summer. Other great events to check out are the Today Show concerts at Rockefeller Center, the Good Morning America concerts in Central Park, the Metropolitan Opera in the Park, the Washington Square Music Festival, the Madison Square Kid Concert Series, the Lincoln Center Festival, Shakespeare in the Park and more! For more information about free concerts in the city, check out Summertime Free Music in New York City.

Hit New York City’s Parks & Rooftop Terraces

Top 5 New York City rooftop bars
Our top 5 rooftop bars in New York City
For those days where you don’t want to visit any event in particular but simply want to lounge, New York City has some of the best spots in the world for sunbathing and enjoying the summer.

  • Central Park in Manhattan is great if you want to stay clear of the hustle and bustle of the city for a while. Pack a picnic basket and head over to Sheep Meadow or the Great Lawn for an afternoon of lounging in the lawn, eating strawberries and playing sports. See Explore Central Park for more detailed information about summer activities in the park.
  • Prospect Park in Brooklyn is also lovely in summer: the Brooklyn Botanic Garden is especially nice. Moreover, the Highline in Manhattan is a must-visit when the weather is good. The Highline also organizes stargazing nights!

Another alternative is to seek out one of the many rooftop bars in the city. These terraces bring you even closer to the sun, and yet it is often not as hot here as down on the street, because there’s a nice breeze so high up. Sit down on a lounge chair with a tasty cocktail and enjoy the view of New York City’s skyline. For some of our favorite rooftop bars in the city, see our Top 5 Rooftop Bars in New York City.

Beat the Heat at New York City’s Swimming Pools & Beaches

Picture of the Astoria Park Pool next to the East River in Queens
The Astoria Park Pool in Queens with a view of the East River
If the heat becomes too much, you can always cool off in one of New York City’s many swimming pools. The city boasts some great public pools, such as the Lasker Swimming Pool in Central Park and the Riverbank State Park Pool, or the Astoria Park Pool in Queens, which has a great view of the East River. These outdoor public swimming pools are also completely free!

If you prefer to some more open space and salty air, New York offers many great beaches all around the city. Brooklyn’s Coney Island is famous among New Yorkers, as are the large beaches in Staten Island. To find the best sandy beach for you, check out our Top 5 Beaches in New York City.

A more active way of cooling off is to partake in one of the many water sports the city has to offer. There are several sailing schools located in New York City where you can take lessons. You can also rent jet skis to explore the New York Harbor from the water in Brooklyn. For a free alternative, you can rent a kayak for free at Pier 70 and Pier 96 in Manhattan, and also at the Brooklyn Bridge Park.

View of New York City seen from an apartment balcony
Balcony view of a New York City apartment for rent in summertime
Lastly, after a hot day in the city nothing beats coming home to a nice cool apartment. We have many New York City vacation rental apartments and furnished rental apartments available that have central air-conditioning. Furthermore, some of these are located in apartment buildings that have their own rooftop terrace or even a swimming pool! Another great perk is that by staying in an apartment you’ll have the chance to feel what it’s like to live among the locals of New York in summertime. Many neighborhoods in Manhattan and Brooklyn organize their own barbecues, and it’s not uncommon to see an entire road closed off for a neighborhood fair! Not many tourists get to see these fairs, but you will when you’re staying among the locals.

Summer 2013 Events in New York City

Image of fireworks on the 4th of July in New York City
4th of July fireworks in New York City
Summer is the season when many of New York’s best annual events are held. Early on in summer, one of the biggest holidays of the year is celebrated in the city: the 4th of July. In New York City the national holiday is celebrated with an amazing fireworks display each year. For more details on what to do on the 4th of July, check out Celebrate the 4th of July in New York City!

Other great summer events include the Big Apple BBQ Block Party on June 8 and June 9, the Puerto Rican Day Parade on June 9, the Museum Mile Festival on June 11, which is one big block party where people can visit many NYC museums for free, the Golf US Open from June 13-16, Pride Week from June 24-30, and Summer Streets on three Saturdays in August!

We hope you’ve enjoyed this article about the summer of 2013 in New York City. What’s your favorite summer festival in New York City?