While everyone is giddy with excitement on that first warm day of summer, by mid season, we all start to notice all that’s wrong with our city: The smell of garbage and bodily fluids radiating from concrete, lack of enough—and clean—watering holes, the oppressive heat at the subway stations melting the ice in our coffee and those darn AC units peeing on our heads as we walk underneath. It’s summer in the city and sometimes it ain’t pretty. But sometimes it’s so darn spectacular that in so many ways, New York is the only place to be during a heat wave. Here’s a list to remind you why:
Movies in the park
No matter your genre preferences—sci-fi, noir, romcoms or action—the city’s free summer movies has something for everyone. The screenings, which run through almost the end of September, are dotted throughout all five boroughs. Grab a chair or blanket and head to the park. For a full schedule, check out the NYC parks website.
Kayak the East River for free with the Long Island City Community Boathouse. It’s lovelier than you think and no the waterway is not radioactive. From daytime trips to sunset paddles, these trips will distance you from the hustle and bustle of urban life and provide you with post-card views of city. Aiming to reconnect residents with their estuary and bring awareness about its ecology, joining this group will make you feel good in more ways than one.
Head on over to Brooklyn’s Prospect Park to enjoy this outdoor arts festival that runs through most of summer. From music to spoken word to dance performances this event has it all and most performances are free!
While technically not a summer-exclusive activity, perusing museums could provide a much-needed respite from the summer ick. With more than 80 museums dotting the five boroughs—specializing in art, science, math, moving images and much more—you shouldn’t have trouble finding one that suits your interests. Bonus: you’re likely to learn something cool—you know, like about art or dinosaurs!
This favorite concert series is celebrating its 30-year anniversary, which means this year’s lineup is extra ambitious and that you’re sure not to be disappointed. In fact, The New York Times calls the options dizzying!
Shakespeare in the Park
You don’t have to be a literary buff to enjoy the famed English dramatist’s work. If you aren’t familiar with Shakespeare, this is a great way to get your wannabe literary feet wet. And if nothing else, it’s a New York summer tradition. Each year, the Public Theatre puts together free, open-air productions of Shakespeare’s works with some impressive actors—think Denzel and Meryl—at Delacorte Theater in Central Park. The plays run until August 23 and free tickets are available through the Public Theatre.
Lincoln Center Out of Doors
Whether you want to dance with your kids in the National Dance Day Celebration or chill to Judy Collins belt out her tunes, this outdoor arts fest is another option for seeing free dance, music and spoken word. Grab a sandwich at the Columbus Circle Whole Foods and enjoy these performances under the stars, or that one star you might be able to see from midtown!