BY SAMANTHA LEAL
New York City thrives in the summer. Yes, if you’re a local you’ll complain about all the hot, sticky humidity, and the fact that every street you're on smells like garbage, and okay, yeah, dripping in sweat from the MTA is not a cute look. And yet, despite all that, NYC still the perfect place for being outdoors, enjoying the season, and feeling like the world is your oyster. (Because in NYC, it kind of is.) Here’s how to really make the most of what the city has to offer during the warm summer months.
Get a Drink on a Boat
Nothing—and I mean nothing—is better than being on a luxury boat, sitting at the bar and having a drink. Trust. And in NYC, there are plenty of options: Grand Banks at Pier 25 on the Hudson; Pilot at Brooklyn Bridge Park; The Brooklyn Barge in Greenpoint; the Frying Pan at Pier 66 on the Hudson. There are also plenty of booze cruises and other boat-life delights—like the North River Lobster Company—that will actually take you out on the water as well. The high seas await.
See a Free Film or Concert
There are so many free entertainment options in NYC in the summer, it's almost enough to make up for the high cost of actually living there. (Well, sort of.) Located at Central Park and across 17 other neighborhood parks in NYC, Capital One City Parks Foundation SummerStage features nearly 100 free benefit performances this season. BRIC Celebrate Brooklyn! also has a ton of free concerts in Prospect Park—including *the* Patti LaBelle. Bryant Park hosts free movie nights during the summer, as does Central Park, Chelsea Park, and a slew of other parks around NYC. Lincoln Center Out of Doors hosts music and dance performances—yes, for free. There are also free Shakespeare in the Park tickets, just make sure to follow the protocol (you’ll need to register). Seriously, free stuff everywhere.
Go to a Music Festival
When it comes to the not-so-free side of things, festivals are still the perfect weekend experience and a key highlight of any successful summer. The Governors Ball Music Festival on Randall’s Island is a biggie (hello, Florence + The Machine, The Strokes and Tyler, The Creator) but there’s also Hot 97’s Summer Jam, Afropunk, Electric Zoo, and oh so many more. Not looking to spend an arm and a leg? There's always those offerings I mentioned a second ago: City Parks SummerStage, Lincoln Center Out of Doors, and BRIC Celebrate Brooklyn! offer good vibes at a fair price: free.
Get to a Botanical Garden
You know MedMen loves plants. The New York Botanical Garden (in the Bronx) and the Brooklyn Botanical Garden are two must-see destinations in NYC. And, depending on when you go, they can even be free. Are you noticing a theme here?
Get Buzzed at the Zoo
Brew at the Zoo is an adults-only event at both the Central Park Zoo and Bronx Zoo, with exhibits of animals that eventually close (so get there early!) for pourings and tastings of more than 100 beers and wines, along with food trucks and live entertainment. It’s definitely one to mark on your calendar.
Party During the Day (...And Be in Bed by a Reasonable Hour)
Summer is the perfect time for day drinking. When you’re not doing so on a boat, head to Mister Sundays at Nowadays for a dance party on (you guessed it) Sundays. For a fun time, nab tickets to the Jazz Age Lawn Party, where you dress up in 1920s garb and hang out on Governors Island. You can Warm Up on Saturdays at MoMA PS1, where DJs and other entertainers will having moving and shaking under amazing art installations.
Check out Governors Island
Speaking of Governor’s Island, it’s a must-do for a fun day in the summer. Art installations, hammocks, and beautiful lawns will beckon you to take a stroll (and then a nap), while amazing food and drink options like Island Oyster (recently nominated for the 2019 James Beard Foundation Outstanding Restaurant Design Awards), Taco Vista, and brews at Governor’s Island Beer Co. are ready and waiting for you. You can even go glamping on the island, thanks to Collective Retreats, a truly unique experience.
Head to Coney Island (And See the Mermaid Parade)
Ah, Coney Island: hot dogs, Luna Park (hello, rides on the Cyclone), and the annual Mermaid Parade, where you’ll see a lot of flesh and glitter, are just some of the draws. No summer is complete without a trip to this NYC institution.
Make sure you shop MedMen for all your summer supplies.