Image of the Bethesda Terrace in Central Park on a sunny summer day.

Whether in the shade or the sun, NYC’s parks are a great place to explore this summer! (Photo credit: John Cunniff)

Summer is upon us in New York City, and with the warmer weather comes a whole host of outdoor activities, performances, festivals, and special events to coax New Yorkers out of their apartments. Speaking of apartments, why not seize the summer season’s chance to rent your own small piece of New York’s expansive landscape? Because a New York summer has such a bountiful selection of things to do and experience, it’s a peak time to visit—which also means increased hotel rates. But with a New York vacation rental or monthly furnished apartment, you can rent a fully furnished apartment instead and add another dimension to your summer trip to New York: living like a local and seeing a side of the city that tourists rarely see.

To help you fall in love with your New York City summer adventure, we’ve compiled a guide to some of the best things to experience this season. Be sure not to miss a thing, and if you’re still hungry for more, check out last year’s NYC summer guide as well!

Take summer fun in the Big Apple outdoors

Image of crowds on the Coney Island boardwalk.

Get the Coney Island experience; a beach and lively boardwalk that are just a subway ride away. (Photo credit: John Gillespie)

First thing’s first: no one wants to be cooped up inside on summer’s sunniest days! Whatever type of outdoor adventure suits your taste, you can find something to do in New York to satisfy it. Of course, when most people think of summertime, they think of going to the beach. NYC has multiple beaches and seaside attractions that are just a subway ride away from anywhere in the five boroughs. Visit Coney Island in Brooklyn to experience New York’s most iconic beach, complete with carnival rides and food that make it a great family destination. For something more laid-back, try Rockaway Beach in Queens or Orchard Beach in the Bronx. NYC’s beaches officially open May 25, and if you’re looking for more ways to get close to the water, check out our guide!

It seems like a given, but be sure to check out New York’s parks this summer too. Bryant Park hosts free activities all summer, including film screenings, dance classes, outdoor games, and more. Prospect Park is Brooklyn’s gem for hikers, picnickers, and bird-watchers. Hudson River Park is excellent for sporty types, offering yoga classes, pick-up Frisbee games, miles of space for runners, and wonderful views of its namesake.

Finally, don’t miss the star, Central Park, as great in summer as it is year-round. In addition to boating, biking, and scenic walks, you can also join the lottery for tickets to the park’s beloved Shakespeare in the Park performances, running from May 21 thru August 11. These free, open-air stage shows give Broadway a run for its money as the most highly revered New York theatre.

Image of outdoor film screening at Hudson River Park at dusk

Enjoy an outdoor film screening with views of the Hudson at Hudson RiverFlicks. (Photo credit: Max Guliani for Hudson River Park [social media: @HudsonRiverPark])

When the sun goes down, you can also take movie night outdoors. Free outdoor film screenings are another iconic NYC summer staple returning this year. Try Bryant Park, Brooklyn Bridge Park, and our top pick, Hudson RiverFlicks, a summer-long series featuring iconic NYC movies on Wednesday nights at Pier 63 and animated films on Friday nights at Pier 46. Kids and adults will love the host of blockbusters and family films being screened for free! For a full list of what’s playing this summer, check out Hudson River Park’s website.

Image of living area of NY-17903 with sofa and decorative fireplace.

Fill your summer with color inside and outside your accommodations with a stay in this Flatbush, Brooklyn vacation rental! (Rental ID: NY-17903)

To match the spirit of our outdoorsy New York travelers, we suggest this 2-bedroom vacation rental in Flatbush, Brooklyn that is also available for monthly rentals. Those looking to get out and experience the rich great outdoors will love the similarly cheery and free-spirited style of this colorful apartment! Anyone who adores New York’s parks, beaches, and film screenings will also love the traditionalism of this apartment’s classic decorative fireplace, exposed brick, wide open kitchen, and brick townhouse façade. The backyard garden is well-suited for family time or drinks under the stars if you simply can’t get enough time outside, and the neighborhood of Flatbush is an easy trek to the beaches of Coney Island and laid-back Prospect Park to the north, making outdoor time easily accessible regardless of your mood.

Dance along to New York’s summer soundtrack: live music

Image of rooftop of MoMA PS1 with blue sculpture.

The thought-provoking art at MoMA PS1 is the perfect backdrop for their WarmUp summer concert series. (Photo credit: ForgeMind ArchMedia)

New York may not always be something out of a musical, but in the summer there are plenty of opportunities to see some live music. Of course, there’s SummerStage, a city-wide series that hosts free concerts across genres in New York’s parks all summer long. Celebrate Brooklyn! (June 4 thru August 6) is another free concert series in Prospect Park, with occasional ticketed shows for larger acts.

If you’re a fan of classical music (or just want to experience an unforgettable night in Central Park), attend NYC Philharmonic in the Parks on June 12. The renowned orchestra puts on a free show to Central Park’s Great Lawn for an evening that’s quintessentially NYC. The concerts are also hosted in other parks around the city from June 11 thru 16.

For something more off-beat, check out MoMA PS1 Warm Up, an outdoor music series at the MoMA PS1 in Queens. The series showcases concerts by rising artists in a fun party atmosphere every Saturday in July and August for $18 advance, $22 at the door.

Finally, festival fans can’t miss New York City’s famous summer music festival, The Governor’s Ball! This musical juggernaut hosts 3 days’ worth of live performances on Randall’s Island, with this year’s headliners of Tyler the Creator, Lil Wayne, Florence + The Machine, The Strokes, and Nas. Festival passes must be purchased in advance.

Party in New York style at a summer parade

Image of marchers in the Coney Island Mermaid Parade in mermaid costumes.

Make a splash with thousands of costumed mermaids (and maybe a few real ones!) on the Coney Island boardwalk at the Coney Island Mermaid Parade!

Another great way to experience New York City life is to get out on the streets and celebrate with locals during one of the summer’s annual street parades! Don’t miss one of the most raucous celebrations of the year at the Puerto Rican Day Parade on June 9. The city’s Puerto Rican population gathers along 5th Avenue in Manhattan for a celebration of Puerto Rican pride and culture, the largest of its kind in the country.

Another can’t-miss parade event is Coney Island’s quirky Mermaid Parade (June 22). A jubilant celebration of the arrival of summer, this parade encourages participants to don their best, most glittery mermaid apparel and march through the Coney Island Boardwalk. It’s the largest parade dedicated to art and self-expression in the United States, and is martialed by a King Neptune and Queen Mermaid every year (past kings and queens have included Lou Reed, Debbie Harry, and David Byrne).

Image of rooftop of NY-12219 with lounge chairs.

Perfect your summer suntan on the rooftop at this Upper East Side alcove studio rental. (Rental ID: NY-12219)

Prepare for some of the biggest celebrations and events of the year from the comfort of this alcove studio in the Upper East Side of Manhattan. If you can’t get enough of the summer fun in NYC, you’re in luck, because this studio is available for longer stays of a month or more, ensuring you won’t miss anything happening this summer. You’ll also find a versatile space with lofted ceilings, large windows, a spacious kitchen, and an upstairs sleeping alcove. All that flexibility is great for wherever your summer takes you, be it a party, preparing your mermaid costume, or just relaxing. Finally, you can perfect your tan in time for a summer festival or the mermaid parade thanks to the private roof terrace included with this rental (a feature you’ll definitely love, because rooftops are all the rage in New York City!).

Attend one of Brooklyn’s finest summer parties

Image of guests at the Prospect Park Soiree in the summer.

Mingle with your well-dressed Brooklyn neighbors at the Prospect Park Soiree. (Photo credit: Prospect Park Alliance)

New York is known for its food and Brooklyn is known for its neighborly, residential vibe. If you want to get acquainted with both, be sure to attend the annual Prospect Park Soiree! This 21-and-over event takes place in Brooklyn’s most beloved park and is a giant, communal, open-air picnic dinner designed to allow New Yorkers to meet, mingle, and enjoy the fresh air and an evening under the stars. Guests to the soiree bring their own food to enjoy, and live entertainment is provided. Plus, the event encourages fancy dress, so be prepared to show off your style! This year’s soiree will be held on June 22, and tickets are purchased in advance.

Image of bedroom in NY-14369 with double bed, chandelier and artwork.

Take advantage of a stay that’s both classic and modern with a vacation rental in a Park Slope brownstone that’s decorated for families. (Rental ID: NY-14369)

If you want to mingle with the locals around Prospect Park, why not live among them too? This 3-bedroom triplex vacation rental in Park Slope is an ideal place to do both. Enjoy the exclusive chance to stay in a beautiful brownstone building for which Park Slope is famed, and get a fresh perspective on summertime thanks to the apartment’s lovely bright colors and the outdoor terrace. The rental sleeps five people, making it great for families. The Park Slope neighborhood is similarly a place where you’ll want to bring the family, even if only for a visit; its low-key, laid-back vibe has made it a hotspot for families with young children, so there are many playgrounds, parks, and the Prospect Park Zoo in the area.

Special events: Stonewall50, Harlem Week, and more

Image of participants in the 2018 LGBT Pride march in NYC waving rainbow flags.

Celebrate 50 years of LGBT Pride this year in NYC with some of the biggest parties the city has ever seen!

As it has every summer since 1970, New York City hosts one of the largest LGBT Pride marches in the country in June. However, this year marks an extra-special celebration: the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riots that marked a turning point in rights and visibility for the LGBT community. Pride Week will be held this year from June 23-30, culminating in NYC’s famous all-day Pride March on June 30. Keep an eye out for other events celebrating the Stonewall50 all week long, including speakers, parties, rallies, and more.

Make sure to make your way to the culturally rich neighborhood of Harlem as well: Harlem hosts its own celebration in honor of Pride Month every year, including film screenings, concerts, memorial events and more. Harlem Pride Day on June 29 marks a 10-year anniversary of the events and 2019 marks the 100th anniversary of the Harlem Renaissance, so you can expect an exciting party!

Image of living area in NY-15085 with armchairs, sofa, and decorative fireplace.

Center yourself in New York’s proud historical heritage with a stay in this classic Greenwich Village townhouse. (Rental ID: NY-15085)

Don’t miss out on any of the great events happening for the month of June in celebration of Pride! Opting for a monthly rental like this 1-bedroom apartment in Greenwich Village is a great way to put yourself in the center of the action during all the celebrations. This historical apartment is located in a classic brick townhouse and features original windows and wood shutters for light control, a rarity in NYC. The classic, laid-back style of this apartment will welcome you to a tranquil environment even after the day’s most wild celebrations. Finally, this apartment’s location in Greenwich Village puts you right in the backyard of the historic Stonewall Inn, the arguable catalyst for the entire LGBT Pride movement. History buffs will love a visit!

Image of the lobby area of the Metropolitan Museum of Art filled with guests.

Enjoy free admission to one of the most famous art museums in the world (plus many more!) during the Museum Mile Festival. (Photo credit: Chris Eason)

NYC’s cultural events don’t end with Pride this summer! Don’t miss the chance to enjoy one of the city’s other finest celebrations, starting with the River to River Festival from June 18-29. This summer arts festival hosts music, films, visual arts, dance, poetry, plays and more for the public to enjoy as part of an initiative to revive the Lower Manhattan area following the attacks of September 11, 2001. Best of all, the event is completely free!

If you’re looking for more free things to do in New York, don’t miss the Museum Mile Festival on July 11. This one-day event takes shape with a massive block party along 5th Avenue from 82nd to 110th Streets, with the famous institutions of the Museum Mile (including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Guggenheim Museum, and more) opening their doors to the public!

Cap off your NYC summer with Harlem Week (July 28- August 24). It’s somewhat of a misnomer, as Harlem Week is actually a full month of concerts, exhibitions, sporting events, family programs, and more celebrating Harlem’s cultural heritage, including and especially jazz music.

Of course, the getaway of your dreams doesn’t have to end when summer does! Entrust your trip to the help of New York Habitat and your agent can help you find a flexible accommodation for as long as you want to stay, be it a long weekend or several months. We have hundreds of rentals all across New York City, and working with an agent can help you find the ideal one for your ideal summer getaway.