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Our Favorite Things to Do During Summer in New York

by Mommy Frog on July 29, 2023
New York City

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New York City is famous for its hustle and bustle, and we can totally understand why. There are so many sights to see — all packed into one big city that never sleeps. From Broadway shows to sporting events, and famous landmarks and museums to the Fifth Avenue shopping district, there’s something for every member of your family, especially when it comes to summer activities. More than likely, you know us from our theme park travels, but we also offer tickets to attractions nationwide, including New York City! We’ve rounded up some of our favorite activities to share how you can save some green during your next trip to the Big Apple this summer.

Summer in New York - City Skyline

Our Favorite Things to Do During Summer in New York

Summer in New York is a popular time to visit the city, so you’ll want to be prepared with reasonable expectations — both with crowds and weather. It’s a busy tourist season, so many families may be traveling at the same time as you. As for the weather, the average high temperatures are typically in the mid-to high-80s (Fahrenheit) but can soar even higher. With these factors in mind, here’s a list of our favorite summer activities in New York City that allow for flexibility in your schedule or can help you stay cool.

Sightseeing in New York

Visiting famous landmarks is always a must-do when it comes to exploring a new city. If you’re someone who wants to check the Statue of Liberty, the Empire State Building and Times Square off your bucket list, we recommend a sightseeing tour or pass that will allow you to visit multiple locations on your own schedule. You also have options — bus, bike or boat — when it comes to how you get around!

Summer in New York - Big Bus New York

1. Big Bus Tours New York — Hop on and off from the double-decker, open-top bus at your leisure. The 1-Day Discover Ticket gives you same-day access to the Downtown Loop, which travels through iconic areas such as Time Square, Fifth Avenue, Broadway and Wall Street. Enjoy views of the towering skyscrapers, as well as the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island from the Westside Highway. When you board the bus, you’re given complimentary headphones so you can listen to pre-recorded commentary filled with fun facts and stories during your tour.

2. Unlimited Biking New York — Whether you want to rent a bike and cruise around the city on your own or join a guided biking group tour, Unlimited Biking New York offers a variety of options depending on which sights you want to see. For guided tours, you can opt for a two-hour tour around the Brooklyn Bridge area or Central Park area, or a three-hour New York highlights tour. Otherwise, you can rent an electric bike for two hours, four hours or an entire day, and explore the city on your own!

3. Circle Line Sightseeing — Take in the New York City skyline via a tour cruise. There are several options, including the Liberty Cruise (close views of the Statue of Liberty, but does not land on Liberty Island), Landmarks Cruise (landmarks in Manhattan and Brooklyn), Harbor Lights Cruise (a special shoutout for sunset and nighttime views to avoid the heat of the day) and the Best of New York City Cruise (the only cruise that takes you around the entire island of Manhattan).

Summer in New York - Circle Line Sightseeing Liberty Cruise

4. Statue Cruises — Enjoy round-trip transportation and access to the grounds of the Statue of Liberty National Monument and Ellis Island, as well as the Liberty Museum and the Ellis Island Immigration Museum with Statue Cruises. It also includes a self-guided audio tour as you hop around the islands.

5. GoCity Pass — With a Go City Pass, you can access multiple attractions and visit them at your own pace. Choose between the attraction-based New York Explorer Pass by Go City (visit 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 or 10 attractions within 60 days) or the day-based, all-inclusive New York Pass by Go City (visit as many attractions as you wish over 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 or 10 days). For a full list of participating attractions, check out the Go City Explorer Guidebook or the New York Pass Guidebook.

Sightseeing Observatories and Special Interest Tours

Summer in New York - Summit One VanderbiltPerhaps you have limited time when it comes to sightseeing and you need a “one-stop shop” type of spot for the best views of the city. In a city full of skyscrapers, you have options! Or if you want to explore the city from a completely different angle, there’s a spooky option for you.

  • Empire State Building — One of the most famous observatories, this general admission ticket allows access to 360-degree views from the main deck on the 86th floor, plus 12 interactive exhibits on the 2nd and 80th floors.
  • One World Observatory — The One World Observatory is atop the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere — and it only takes 47 seconds to get to the 102nd floor!
  • SUMMIT One Vanderbilt — This observation deck combines art and technology to create a unique experience. You can even step inside a glass-enclosed skybox and look down to the streets below, if you dare.
  • Top of the Rock Observation Deck — Take in panoramic city views from the 70th floor, plus historic exhibits about NBC and Rockefeller Center.
  • NYC Ghosts Tour — Do you feel a chill in the air on a hot summer night? During the NYC Ghosts Tour, take a sinister stroll through Greenwich Village in the dead of night (pun intended) as your guide points out haunted locations and recounts ghostly tales.

Museums in New York

If you want to beat the heat, New York City has a number of museums where you can stay inside and learn new things!

Museum of Modern Art (MoMA)

For art aficionados, the Museum of Modern Art boasts a wide collection of modern and contemporary art, including architecture, drawings, paintings, photography, prints, film and more. It’s a fantastic option for families, as children 16 years and younger can enter for free. If you have kids tagging along, be sure to visit The Samuel and Ronnie Heyman Family Art Lab, which offers interactive activities for kids and adults alike. As you tour the museum, there are also special audio and activity guides designed just for kids — plus keep an eye out for any scheduled events or Family Gallery Talks.

American Museum of Natural History

Summer in New York - American Museum of Natural History

The American Museum of Natural History is the largest natural history museum in the world, spanning four city blocks and 25 interconnected buildings, so there’s no shortage of exhibits to explore. You’ll see a colossal collection of dinosaur fossils, which includes the tallest free-standing dinosaur exhibit in the world, a 94-foot-long whale display and the world’s most technologically advanced planetarium.

Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum

The Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum is dedicated to history, science and service through its indoor and outdoor exhibitions, educational programming and collection of aircraft and vessels, featuring the USS Intrepid, an aircraft carrier from World War II. It’s also home to Enterprise, the first U.S. space shuttle, as well as Growler, the only American guided missile submarine open to the public. Kids will want to check out The Exploreum and ride one of the simulators. There’s even a model of the Intrepid made out of LEGO bricks!

New-York Historical Society Museum & Library

Considered New York’s first museum, the New-York Historical Society was founded in 1804 to preserve artifacts that document the history of the state and the United States. Permanent exhibits include a re-creation of the Oval Office and the Gallery of Tiffany Lamps. Admission also includes entrance to the DiMenna Children’s History Museum and Barbara K. Lipman Children’s History Library.

Madame Tussauds

Summer in New York - Madame Tussauds

Well, this is one way to get "up close and personal" with some of your favorite celebrities and public figures! At Madame Tussauds New York, aka the World's Greatest Wax Museum, you can suit up with Marvel superheroes, pretend you're a guest on the Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, strut down the New York Fashion Week runway and so much more. Our discount tickets include general admission and the Marvel 4D Movie. You can also opt to add on the 7D Coney Island Carnival Carnage gaming experience.

Theme Parks and Indoor Attractions in New York

LEGOLAND New York

While best for children ages 2 to 12, the whole family can have fun going on rides, watching shows and meeting LEGO characters within seven AWESOME themed lands at LEGOLAND New York. You'll want to schedule a day trip for this one, as the theme park is located in Goshen, about 60 miles from New York City. However, we do sell tickets that include round-trip transportation from Port Authority, making it one less thing to stress about.

LEGOLAND Discovery Centers (Westchester and NJ)

If your kids want to play with LEGOs, but you can't make the trip out to the theme park, there are two LEGOLAND Discovery Centers in Westchester and East Rutherford, New Jersey. These smaller LEGOLAND Discovery Centers are more so indoor attractions than theme parks, but kids can still play and build with LEGOs at different building stations and watch a 4D show.

Luna Park

Summer in New York - Luna Park Cyclone coaster

Luna Park in Coney Island is a smaller-scale NYC amusement park that pays homage to the original 1903 Luna Park. Located seaside, the park offers plenty of thrills, family rides, carnival games, shopping and dining for a full day of summer fun. Luna Park is currently open daily for the summer season.

The Escape Game New York

For those who love a good challenge, you'll want to round up some friends and family to tackle The Escape Game New York. Race against time to find hidden clues and solve puzzles to win and, well, escape the game. At this location, you can choose between five different themes (in order of increasing difficulty levels) — Playground (6/10), Gold Rush (7/10), The Heist (8/10), Special Ops: Mysterious Market (8/10) and Prison Break (9/10).

iFly

Have you ever wanted to go skydiving but have no desire to actually jump out of a plane? At iFLY, you can do just that! Step inside the high-speed vertical wind tunnel, and hover above ground while you feel the same sensation of flying — all indoors. There are two iFLY facilities in the greater New York City area — Westchester and Paramus, New Jersey.

Movies

In general, one of our favorite summer activities to beat the heat is going to the movies. We love to catch the latest blockbuster while reclining in our seats and munching on popcorn. This summer, in particular, saw major blockbusters such as "Barbie" which is currently in theaters, along with "Haunted Mansion." Sure, you can watch movies anywhere, but in New York City, you just might be able to catch a glimpse of a movie premiere going on! You can get movie tickets valid at AMC, Regal and Cinemark — plus, even discounts on popcorn and soda for AMC Theatres!

Live Events in New York City

Sports

Summer in New York - New York Yankees game

Take me out to the ball game! If you’re into sports, attending a game at Yankee Stadium may be high on the bucket list for any baseball fan. What better way to spend a summer night in the Bronx than cheering on the New York Yankees (or perhaps your favorite visiting team) with a hot dog in hand? Or you can head over to Queens and catch a New York Mets game. The MLB season is in full swing during the summer, with teams focused on strengthening their odds for the October postseason. If you're a soccer fan, you can also watch the New York Red Bulls or New York City FC in action over the summer.

Summer is the offseason for other sports teams in the NFL, NHL and NBA. But if visiting at another time of year, be sure to cheer on the Giants, Jets, Knicks, Brooklyn Nets, Rangers, Islanders and New Jersey Devils.

Concerts and Comedy

Madison Square Garden is one of the biggest live event venues in the country (and also home to the New York Knicks and New York Rangers). You can watch some of the biggest names in music, comedy and more at "The World's Most Famous Arena" including:

Radio City Music Hall is another iconic venue for performers (and is home to the Radio City Rockettes). This August, Maisie Peters is performing Aug. 11, Carlos Vives on Aug. 19 and Noah Kahan on Aug. 31.

Broadway

And of course, what is New York City without Broadway? The mecca for theatrical performances, including musicals, plays, ballets and more. From kid-friendly shows, such as "The Lion King" and "Aladdin," to iconic shows, including "Wicked," "Hamilton" and "Moulin Rouge," there's a show for every member of the family.

What are your favorite activities or places to visit during summer in New York City? Share in the comments below! 

Related: Top 10 Nationwide Indoor Attractions to Keep You Cool This Summer

Hoppy planning!

Keep hopping, Mommy Frog!
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