Summer in the NYC: Check out these arts & entertainment options as restrictions lift

New York Icons in Times Square at dusk
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With restrictions lifting around New York City, options for fun and entertainment will be more readily available throughout the five boroughs. 

On June 15, Governor Cuomo announced that with 70% of New Yorkers receiving at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccination series, state-mandated restrictions on gatherings, businesses and recreation activities are being relaxed. Federally mandated restrictions will still be in effect. 

Though the pandemic is not over yet, New York City is slowly returning to, as Cuomo said, ‘life as we know it’ with the lifting of the COVID-19 mandates. With plenty of institutions to explore and things to watch and listen to, New York City has no shortage of arts and entertainment to experience all summer long. Here are a few options that you can consider. 

Art & Museums

New York is home to some of the world’s most incredible museums and cultural institutions. From art and history to film and children’s museums and everything in between, there is truly something for everyone, with classic options such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) and the American Museum of Natural History, or more unique options like the Museum of Ice Cream, the Museum of Food and Drink, and the Museum of Sex, just to name a few.

Plus, there are several independent exhibitions that are hosting shows that the public can now enjoy. From now through Sept. 6, New Yorkers can dive head-first into the work of Vincent Van Gogh at the Immersive Van Gogh Exhibit at Pier 36. There are also several art installations that can be seen all throughout the city, including the Whitney Museum of Art’s new exhibit, in collaboration with Hudson River Park, titled “Day’s End,” which is located directly across from the museum.


Though you may have to wait until September, several Broadway shows are expected to reopen this fall, including fan favorites such as “Hamilton,” “Wicked,” and “The Lion King.” However, in the meantime, you don’t have to miss out on live theater.

Shakespeare in the Park is returning this summer after shifting to a virtual format last summer. The Delacorte Theater in Central Park theater will host a fresh adaptation of Shakespeare’s “Merry Wives of Windsor” with free shows that New Yorkers can enjoy from July 6 through Sept. 18. 

Additionally, Lincoln Center is offering several opportunities for outdoor programming as a part of its Restart Stages initiative. With 10 outdoor performance and rehearsal spaces, New Yorkers can have a shot at free tickets to enjoy not just live performances, but also family activities, and civic engagement events.


For music fans, Madison Square Garden is kicking off ticketed shows with a Foo Fighters concert for vaccinated New Yorkers. Later in the summer, more acts such as The Eagles will return to the MSG stage.

However, there are plenty of options for those who want to catch a free show through SummerStage. The annual summer tradition is coming back to stages at Central Park and Marcus Garvey Park starting on June 20 after going virtual in 2020. If you can’t make it to the park this summer, each show will be livestreamed so you can watch from home if you need to.


Though New York City is in the midst of the Tribeca Festival, that’s not the only way to see movies now that New York City is opening up. For the city’s film buffs, drive-in theaters are continuing to run throughout the summer for nights of fun with your family and friends. 

New York City is home to several drive-ins, including the Skyline Drive-in in Brooklyn, Radial Park at Hallets Point in Queens, and A Flick and a Feast in Staten Island, each offering a fun night out for a not-so-typical movie-going experience. Plus, several traditional movie theaters, including Brooklyn staple Nitehawk Cinemas, have reopened to the public for those who want the experience of watching a video on the big screen. So grab your popcorn and an extra-large drink!

Plus, the MoMA just announced a lineup of film screenings to check out this summer and you can always head to the Museum of the Moving Image to see what’s playing in the museum or at the drive-in at the New York Hall of Science.