The days are getting longer and the mercury is rising. It’s time to decide where you’re going to kick off the lazy days of summer. If you think the Big Apple is best saved for watching autumn leaves fall or ice skating around the rink at Prospect Park, think again. Steal away to the Empire State while some West Coast cities are experiencing “June Gloom.” New York City is fabulous in every season, especially on the cusp of summer. Not convinced? Here are five stellar reasons why you want to say goodbye to spring in NYC, and “Hello, Sunshine” to summer:1. Island weather is at its best. We aren’t going to pretend here. May and June are warm and balmy in NYC, a cozy reminder that Manhattan is an island in the North Atlantic. You can finally flaunt your summer wardrobe and your hair will have more body than ever.
A day on the busy boardwalk at Coney Island Beach is a time-honored Brooklyn pastime—spread out your towel for some sunbathing and follow your nose to the nearest cotton candy vendor. Farther afield, Rockaway Park in Queens offers a peaceful waterfront escape.
At the end of May and the beginning of June, school hasn’t let out quite yet, and the beaches on Long Island have plenty of room for sunbathing. Otherwise, skip the sand and settle in with a blanket and good book in Sheep Meadow in Central Park.2. Outdoor dining in NYC is on point. The Big Apple is quite possibly the dining capital of the western world, and at the end of spring, you’ll find delicious eats served al fresco.
Take a break from the studious vibes of the Upper West Side at Lolo’s Seafood Shack, where New England comfort food meets the flavors of the Caribbean—and what’s more, the patio is awash with bright colors and family-style tables. The evenings here cool off, but the beachy fish fry atmosphere sizzles.
Between the renovated art spaces and graffitied walkups of Bushwick, Mominette Bistro boasts a charming garden, which they open up any chance they get. The eggs Florentine is spring brunch at its best, especially when paired with the signature gin cocktail, the Blossom.3. The last few weeks of June are prime festival time in New York. The sun sets after 8 p.m., so take advantage of Father Time’s generosity and stay out late for annual events. Add these beloved NYC festivals to your itinerary:
Coney Island is already known for its quirky blend of beach-town vibes and carnival kitsch. It should come as no surprise that this waterfront neighborhood hosts the annual Coney Island Mermaid Parade each June. The 2017 event is scheduled for June 17, and you can participate—find your fins!
If you arrive in time for NYC Pride Week (June 16-25), join the party! The event began
to commemorate the historic riots that took place outside the famous Stonewall Inn in 1969, and has become an annual celebration of life and pride for the LGBTQA+ community.
4. Farmers markets are open all over town. You’ve gotta shop fresh when you’re in the big city. As the seasons change, allergens and shifting climate control can be quite a rollercoaster for your body. Eat like you would at home—or even better—with the help of New York farmers.
Tribeca Saturday Greenmarket may be the most easygoing shopping experience you’ll have in a neighborhood known for trunk shows and flash sales. Take your time sifting through artisan cheeses and fresh produce like a local.
You might be surprised to hear that veggie vendors make it all the way up to the Bronx, but it’s true. Every Tuesday between the second to last week of June and the last week of November, Poe Park Greenmarket has a little bit of everything. Take your nose on its own vacation through potted herbs and freshly baked breads.
5. Free events fill the calendar. NYC may be known for its high price tags, but you can plan an entire trip around free—yes, free—activities and attractions in NYC. Join the Public Theater for the 2017 season of Shakespeare in the Park. “Julius Caesar” is running May 23-June 18. You’ll need to plan ahead to get tickets, but if you’re OK with standing in a line or playing the lottery, they won’t cost a dime.
In addition to world-class theater, the City Parks Foundation also generously puts on a musical party all summer long, kicking off the 2017 series on May 17, with a new concert each week. This year’s SummerStage lineup includes Margaret Glaspy and the Metropolitan Opera—no big deal.
This year’s events in Brooklyn include a free comedy series called Side Ponytail, featuring Brooklyn’s up-and-coming comedians every Monday at 8 p.m. in Crown Heights. After a late night out, hit refresh on your trip with Waterfront Workouts. Yes, the morning class times are a bit early, but they’re free and you can pick from a wide selection of ways to shake away the fog—with a breathtaking view of the Brooklyn Bridge. Check brooklynbridgepark.org for the latest schedule and get moving.
When was the last time you visited New York City?