Fun things to do in NYC in the summer: actives, events, attractions

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Author: Nicole Mungo

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1. Grab an ice cream cone at Ample Hills Creamery

Ample Hills Creamery Facebook

I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream!

Originating in Brooklyn in 2011, Ample Hills Creamery takes ice cream seriously. Carefully selecting ingredients (hormone free milk and cream from grass fed cows and organic cane sugar) along with making their mix-ins from scratch (hellooo, homemade peppermint patties and pistachio brittle!), their ice cream is not to be missed. As a matter of fact, Zagat even pronounced them #1 rated ice cream shop in New York City.

Lucky for us, Ample Hills Creamery opened a location in Gotham West Market in 2015, just a few blocks from YOTEL New York!

Unique and delicious flavors include:

“Ooey Gooey Butter Cake” The creamiest vanilla ice cream with hunks of St. Louis-style Ooey Gooey Butter Cake

“Snap Mallow Pop” – A deconstructed Rice Krispie treat made with marshmallow ice cream and buttery Rice Krispie clusters

“Oh Fudge” – Vegan / non-dairy chocolate made with coconut milk and a splash of rum

See the full list of flavors here.


2. Go Kayaking

Manhattan Community Boathouse

One of the best things about summer is being anywhere near the water! Here are a few kayaking & guided tour options:

The Downtown Boathouse: “The Downtown Boathouse is an all-volunteer nonprofit organization dedicated to providing free public access to the harbor in New York City through public kayaking programs. Our mission is to encourage safe public use of the harbor waters of New York City and thereby provide residents of this space-constrained city with increased recreational opportunities. Our operations are made possible exclusively through volunteers and with your public donations.”

           2017 Free Kayaking Season – Pier 26

           Weekends & Holidays: 9am - 5pm
           May 20 – Oct 9

           Tue/Wed/Thu Evenings: 5pm - 7:30pm
           June 20 – September 14

Last boat goes out half an hour before closing

Brooklyn Bridge Park Boathouse: “From the first weekend in June through the end of August, we have free walk-up kayaking in Brooklyn Bridge Park between Piers 1 and 2. Everything is first come, first served. We'll get you in a life vest, explain the basics of kayaking, and keep watch over you in the protected embankment while you paddle (No, you cannot go across the East River to Manhattan!). There's a 20 minute limit to your time on the water—but it'll be the best 20 minutes of your day!”

          Free Walk-Up Kayaking: 
          Saturdays 10am – 3pm
          Thursday 5:30pm – 6:45pm

Manhattan Community Boathouse: Located at Pier 96, free kayaking is on a first-come, first-served basis. Free classes in paddling skills and safety techniques are also available! “These classes been developed with beginners in mind, but are appropriate for kayakers of all skill levels. Each session includes instruction on the pier followed by practice time on the water. Classes are offered on a first-come, first-served basis.”

           Saturday - Sunday: 10am – 6pm
           May 27 - October 8

           Monday - Wednesday: 5:30pm – 7:30pm
           June 5 - August 31

           Thursday-Friday: Closed

3. See a performance at Central Park SummerStage

SummerStage NYC Facebook

New York City doesn’t mess around when it comes to music in the summertime. If you enjoy Central Park & outdoor concerts, then you need to put a show at Central Park SummerStage on your list of things to do!

Every summer, City Parks Foundation offers New Yorkers a series of summer concerts. In fact, SummerStage is the largest FREE performing arts festival in New York City (admission is first-come, first-served for free events).

Their line-up includes everything from indie, jazz, soul and R&B to live poetry readings and high energy percussive stepping. You can usually find some sort of performance every day of the week, through September 22nd.

For a full calendar of events, click here.

4. Watch Coney Island’s Friday Night Fireworks

Luna Park Coney Island Facebook

If you missed the Macy’s 4th of July fireworks, don’t worry! You can still catch fireworks during your time in NYC this summer. Every Friday night at 9:30pm through September 1stConey Island Beach in Brooklyn puts on a spectacular fireworks show that is definitely worth seeing. Enjoy the rides, some classic Nathan’s hot dogs, and fireworks once it gets dark!

The park might be a bit of a trek from Manhattan, but we guarantee it’s worth it. Click here for the fireworks lineup and additional info.

5. Attend Shakespeare in the Park

The Public Theater Facebook

“To be or not to be….”

Taking place outside at the open-air Delacorte Theater in Central Park, Shakespeare in the Park invites audiences to experience free Shakespeare plays, with Central Park and Belvedere Castle as a stunning backdrop.

A Midsummer Night’s Dream (directed by Lear deBessonet) is playing July 11 through August 13, 2017.

Learn different ways to grab tickets here.

6. Go Row-Boating in Central Park


There’s just something about row boating in Central Park during the summer time that is quite magical.

Head to Loeb Boathouse from 10am – sundown, and, weather permitting, rent one of their 100 rowboats for a fun-filled daytime activity! Boats are $15/hour (cash only) and each boat holds up to four people. When you’re done, stick around for a little longer and grab some lunch or dinner at the Lakeside Restaurant!

(Classic Venetian gondola tours are also available for up to 6 people at $45 per 30 minutes)

For more information, visit: CentralParkBoathouse.com

7. Have fun with NYC's "Summer Streets"

Citi Summer Streets Facebook

“On Saturday, August 5, 12 and 19th between the hours of 7 am and 1 pm, nearly seven miles of New York City’s streets are open to the public to play, run, walk and bike. Held between 7:00 am to 1:00 pm, Summer Streets extends from the Brooklyn Bridge to Central Park, along Park Avenue and connecting streets, with easy access from all points in New York City, allowing participants to plan a trip as long or short as they wish. All activities at Summer Streets are free of charge, and designed for people of all ages and ability levels to share the streets respectfully.”(NYC.gov)

Activities include a zipline, outdoor art installations, misting stations, water slide, fitness classes, dance performances, arts and crafts workshops and more!

8. Cycle your way around The Big Apple

Staying at YOTEL? Enjoy exclusive access to special-designed bikes, allowing for a fun and eco-friendly outdoor experience along the city bike paths.

YOTEL partners with Blazing Saddles, NYC’s leading bicycle rental and tour company, located at Pier 84, along 12th Avenue just 2 short blocks walk from the hotel.

Bikes may be coordinated on a first-come, first-served basis to hotel guests via Mission Control for a $5 insurance fee paid to Blazing Saddles upon pick up.

As an added bonus, guests may choose from Blazing Saddles' fleet of bikes at a 25% discount off the day rate (only $30)!


The opportunities and things to do in New York City seem endless. After all, it is “the city that never sleeps!” If you’re looking for a more different recommendation, reach out to us on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter. We’re happy to help make your trip one you’ll never forget!

Author: Nicole Mungo

Nicole Mungo contributes to YOTEL New York’s marketing team. She enjoys cooking, hiking, reading & a good glass of wine.

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