Image of the Manhattan skyline
The Manhattan skyline is one of the tallest and most breathtaking in the world
As any native New Yorker will tell you: once the heat arrives, so does a flurry of excitement. Summertime is a great season to reap all that New York has to offer – from musical performances to parades, from theatre to a day at the beach. Here are some events in the 2014 season to add to your New York summer to-do list!

Watch Outdoor Movies in NYC

Image of a Central Park film showing. Photo: Jason Kuffer.
New Yorkers pack a picnic for a special Central Park movie screening. Photo: Jason Kuffer.
Warmer weather ensures lots of lovely evenings – perfect for outdoor movie screenings with friends, family or your beloved.

  • Bryant Park, centrally located between 40th and 42th Streets and 5th and 6th Avenues in Midtown, hosts their annual movie screenings (this year entitled HBO Bryant Park Summer Film Festival) in May. Bring a blanket, come for a free showing and enjoy delicious food and movie magic underneath a New York sunset. Fan favorites including Saturday Night Fever, National Lampoon’s Vacation, Key Largo, The Karate Kid, and The Shining will be shown, among others.
  • World-famous Central Park also has a comparative event, the Central Park Conservancy Film Festival, held between August 18 and 22. Spread your blanket on the grass, north of the park’s Sheep Meadow (around West 72nd Street), and grab a spot at 6:30 before the proceedings start at 8. This year’s theme, “Scenes from Our City,” depicts films where New York takes center stage: Big, The Royal Tenenbaums, The Way We Were, Ghostbusters, and Rear Window.

Cultural Summer in NYC

New York is, arguably, the best place to see live music in America. There’s a wealth of (mostly outdoor) summer festivals for musical connoisseurs to sample from.

  • Central Park SummerStage, celebrated at Rumsey Playfield, attracts popular guests annually. A free festival, SummerStage also sponsors live performances in almost every New York borough. This year’s lineup in Central Park includes breakout sensation The Neighbourhood, indie darling Beck, and nineties alternative chart-toppers Toad the Wet Sprocket.
  • Early morning show rivalries continue with Good Morning America and the Today Show each hosting their own respective summer concert series, with the former’s venue at Rumsey Playfield and latter’s in Rockefeller Center. Both programs are free and open to the public, running roughly from May to August and featuring contemporary music superstars.
  • Madison Square Park also has their own festival, the Oval Lawn Series, which celebrates an array of folk, jazz, and soul artists. Iconic singer-songwriter Suzanne Vega kicks off the festivities on June 19.
Image of the crowds at MoMa PS1 Warm-Up. Photo: Tom Giebel.
The MoMa PS1 Warm Up series attracts visitors to Queens for innovative music. Photo: Tom Giebel.
  • Should you be in the market for something a little more experimental, pay a visit to Long Island City in Queens for the annual MoMa PS1 Warm Up, which debuts up-and-coming musicians and DJs. Why not turn it into a day trip by taking a spin around the Queens borough?
  • Movie screenings aren’t the only thing Bryant Park has to offer in the summertime. For a few weeks in midsummer, Broadway in Bryant Park highlights the best of off-Broadway and the Great White Way around the noontime hour, free of charge.
  • If classical music is more your style, you’re in luck: the New York Philharmonic continues their Concerts in the Park tradition this summer, with four outdoor concerts spread around Brooklyn, the Bronx, Manhattan, and Queens.
  • Or why not head out to Brooklyn for a lovely day of music? Prospect Park is home to the Celebrate Brooklyn! festival, which will showcase acts like Brazilian songstress Bebel Gilberto and alternative rockers Dum Dum Girls for free as well as ticketed shows by Jack Johnson, The National, and Neutral Milk Hotel. It also happens to be right nearby Park Slope, one of the best neighborhoods in Brooklyn.

Cultural Events

Image of Shakespeare in the Park at the Delacorte Theatre
Central Park’s Shakespeare in the Park draws A-list actors and theatre fans of all ages to its stage
Theatre, dance and culture combine to make summer 2014 a memorable one in New York.

  • A well honored New York tradition, this year’s Shakespeare in the Park features two of the Bard’s most esteemed plays: the witty Much Ado About Nothing and the tragic King Lear. Much Ado runs from June 3 to July 6; Lear’s production begins on July 22 and concludes on August 17. Shows held at the Delacorte Theater in Central Park; tickets are free but distributed via online lottery or stand-by line the day of each performance. Keep in mind that the theater is outside and open air, so be sure to consult the weather forecast before you go.
  • Looking for a little more cultural variety? The Summer on the Hudson festival takes place in Riverside Park from May to September and hosts a season’s worth of free events for all ages, from Tai Chi lessons to dance parties.
  • From July 7 to August 16, the Lincoln Center Festival sponsors edgy and innovative productions all across Manhattan, ranging from ballet to contemporary dance to opera (ticket prices vary). Also hosted by Lincoln Center is the Mostly Mozart Festival, paying tribute to the Austrian composer and all those inspired by his legacy in music and dance form (some events free of charge; others range in price.)
Image of Roger Federer at the U.S. Open
Tennis greats, like Roger Federer (above), battle it out for the trophy at the U.S. Open
  • If you’re a bit sportier, the US Open is a perfect fortnight of entertainment. The best in the tennis world will descend upon the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing for two weeks of intense matches in the fourth and final Grand Slam tournament. Tickets range from below $100 to the upper hundreds, and the stadium can be accessed via the 7 subway line and other public transportation.

Beat the Heat

Image of Coney Island boardwalk
Coney Island is a feast for the senses with amusement rides, tantalizing food, and beachfront property
New York’s northeast location ensures cold winters and very hot summers. If the humidity proves to be too much some days, why not make a splash at one of the city’s many swimming pools? Astoria Pool — located in Astoria Park, in turn named for the titular Queens neighborhood – is the City’s largest, Olympic standard size and free to the public. McCarren Park Pool in Greenpoint, Brooklyn reopened in 2012 after extensive renovations and is a popular spot in the district at no cost. On the Upper East Side, Asphalt Green provides swim camps, classes and sports for every age with special deals. The Sports Center at Chelsea Piers offers patrons a dip in the Olympic-sized pool and select swim classes; paid membership earns guests access to even more activities. And the view – from sundecks overlooking the Hudson River – rivals any you’ll find in New York.

In search of sand to spice up the surf? New York is home to several seashores guaranteed to satisfy the beach lover in all of us. Rockaway Beach in Queens is the perfect place to test your surfing skills, but be mindful of restrictions put in effect in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. New Jersey’s Sandy Hook is only a forty-minute ferry ride from Manhattan’s Financial District and great for a day of relaxing and people-watching. Long Beach, with its brand new boardwalk and youthful spirit, is a terrific hotspot just south of Long Island. Speaking of Long Island, why not take the weekend to travel out to Montauk, the farthest point on the isle, whose quintessential beach town scores thousands of visitors each year? Lastly, any list would be remiss without Brooklyn’s iconic Coney Island, which draws visitors not only to its coastline, but to the legendary boardwalk, amusement park rides, New York Aquarium, and carnival oddities.

Summertime mingling with friends is easy thanks to New York’s vast network of rooftop bars. For something a little quirky and theatrical, make a reservation at Gallow Green, above the McKittrick Hotel in Chelsea. Otherwise our list of the top five rooftop bars in New York City should give you plenty of options for a night on the town.

To experience New York in the summer, why not stay in one of our New York vacation rentals, or bed and breakfast accommodations? New York Habitat can ensure you live – and feel – like a local this summer

Do Not Miss NYC Summer Events

Mark your calendars for special holidays, parades and festivals held only in the summer months!

  • On June 8 this year, the annual Puerto Rican Day Parade – one of the largest heritage parades in the city – will make its way from 44th to 79th Streets along 5th Avenue to honor the spirit of the thousands of Puerto Ricans who call New York home.
  • In the final days of June, Pride Week hosts events all across the boroughs to celebrate and campaign for the rights of the LGBTQ community.
Image of July Fourth fireworks
Fireworks dazzle over New York to celebrate America’s July 4th birthday
  • Independence Day is a massive jubilee across the nation, and New York pulls out all the stops to commemorate America’s birthday. After a much-opined setup last year, 2014’s Macy’s Fourth of July Fireworks will return to the East River so that Brooklyn and Queens residents may be able to view the spectacle along with Manhattanites. If culinary delights are more up your alley, take a ride over to Coney Island and watch as foodies compete in the Nathan’s Fourth of July Hot Dog Eating Contest and attempt to win the gastronomic race.
  • French culture takes the forefront for Bastille Day on July 14, with music and festivities to boot. Keep in mind that most events will fall on a Sunday, and that may be the first Sunday after July 14, not the actual date.
  • Harlem Week, which is closer in league to four weeks, brings music, dancing, family fun, food, sports and the arts to raise awareness and shine the spotlight on the Manhattan neighborhood.
  • The summer entertainment continues well into August with Summer Streets as roads running from the Upper East Side down to the Lower East Side are cleared for people to walk, bike and play. The series runs on three consecutive Sundays (August 3, 10, 17) from 7am to 1pm.

Summer months not enough New York for you? If you’re looking for long-term accommodations, check out our New York furnished apartment rentals and roommate shares.

Readers, what are your favorite things to do in New York summers?