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Things to Do

Summer NYC bucket list: Festivals, water activities, outdoor music, more

Don't let the rest of summer pass you by.

If you keep yourself busy, whether it's chilling by the pool, hitting an amusement park or kayaking in the East River, you'll get the most out of the season.

So for those susceptible to FOMO (the fear of missing out), we've gathered a list of our NYC musts for these steamy months:

Eat and drink on the water

The breeze coming off the water will cool
Photo Credit: Corey Sipkin

The breeze coming off the water will cool you down while you enjoy a drink or a meal. Some of our favorite bars and restaurants to watch the sun set include City Island Lobster House (691 Bridge St., the Bronx) Grand Banks (Pier 25), The Frying Pan (Pier 66A) and Greenpoint's The Brooklyn Barge (3 Milton St.).

Go to pop-up exhibits

Whether themed around color, illusions or food, there
Photo Credit: Color Factory

Whether themed around color, illusions or food, there are quite a few pop-up exhibitions that promise to immerse you in out-of-this-world scenes this summer. Check out the Color Factory (pictured), which is opening in mid-August, the Rosé Mansion on through October, and an augmented reality experience featuring an underwater Times Square by Mel Chin.

See live theater in the great outdoors

A number of enterprising troupes (usually full of
Photo Credit: Richard Termine

A number of enterprising troupes (usually full of young actors working in informal settings with limited production costs) perform Shakespeare and other classical theater during the summer months, including "Antigone" (pictured) by the Classical Theatre of Harlem. These options are free and performed outdoors around the city, and some do not require tickets or even reservations. Here are some alternatives to Shakespeare in the Park, which typically requires standing in a long line for tickets.

Use your library card to get into museums

If you haven't heard, cardholders from any of
Photo Credit: Vincent Barone

If you haven't heard, cardholders from any of the city's three library systems can get free admission to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum, The Museum of Modern Art and 30 other cultural institutions across the five boroughs. The program is open to people who have cards for the New York Public Library -- which serves Manhattan, the Bronx and Staten Island -- the Queens Library or the Brooklyn Public Library. So don't wait -- reserve a time to hit up that exhibit you've been waiting for at culturepass.nyc.

Get out and see the city's free art

The city is its own art gallery, so
Photo Credit: Linda Rosier

The city is its own art gallery, so head outside while it's warm to find intriguing pieces that can be viewed for free. From The Public Art Fund across Manhattan to Socrates Sculpture Park in Long Island City and points in between, we've created a guide of some of the best temporary artworks, forthcoming installations and where you can see them across the five boroughs, including "Narcissus Garden," Yayoi Kusama's 1,500 mirrored stainless steel spheres that lives inside a former train garage at Gateway National Recreation Area at Fort Tilden in the Rockaways (pictured).

Go to the coolest bar there is

Go for the cold at the Mehanata Bulgarian
Photo Credit: Melissa Kravitz

Go for the cold at the Mehanata Bulgarian Bar, which features an "ice box" section where, for $20, you get to dress up in authentic Bulgarian army uniforms and drink as many shots of vodka -- up to five -- as you can for two minutes -- while everyone watches. It's only open Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays from 8 p.m. to 4 a.m. (113 Ludlow St.)

Get on a boat

If you have to be outside, you might
Photo Credit: Grand Banks

If you have to be outside, you might as well be on a boat. It's usually cooler down by the water, so check out restaurants and bars on boats (such as this oyster bar aboard the historic hand-built wooden schooner the Sherman Zwicker) and don't be afraid to try sailing around Manhattan on a yacht.

Scoop up relief at the Museum of Ice Cream's shop

This is a no-brainer. The Museum of Ice
Photo Credit: Marisol Diaz-Gordon

This is a no-brainer. The Museum of Ice Cream has a new grocery store that sells its own line of ice cream -- The Pint Shop. The grocery store features immersive installations, a reservation-only tasting experience, a series of weekly workshops and seven branded ice cream flavors through the end of August, from noon to 9 p.m. On Thursdays, it even hosts workshops called "Pint Sessions" that will cover subjects such as designing the museum's next flavor, making your own stop-motion GIFs and crafting ice cream-themed accessories. It's a pretty sweet way to keep cool. (459 W. 14th St.)

Go glamping

There is a new camping ground at Governors
Photo Credit: Shaye Weaver

There is a new camping ground at Governors Island, except that it's all about the glamping (glamorous + camping) experience. Think luxurious accommodations, chef-created breakfasts, vast and beautiful views of the city... it's probably the closest thing you'll get to "roughing it" in nature and seeing a beautiful and unique view of the city. Collective Governors Island gives you the chance to have the island to yourself if you get up early. You'll have three hours to run, bike and be alone before the public comes by boat and the whole day will be full of activities like zip-lining and more if you choose. Learn more about what to expect if you glamp on Governors Island here.

Head to a festival

Now's the time to make the most of
Photo Credit: The Battery Dance Festival

Now's the time to make the most of the summer heat and head to music festivals or head indoors for a weeklong film fest. Check out the Kew Gardens Festival of Cinema, the Site-Specific Dance Festival, the Battery Dance Festival (pictured) and more. You'll find more to add to your calendar here.

Discover other city neighborhoods

It's rewarding to get out and learn more
Photo Credit: Shaye Weaver

It's rewarding to get out and learn more about the city -- the different cultures that inhabit it and the businesses that make them thrive. Check out our neighborhood guides to find out which might be your newest hangout, such as Bay Ridge, Jackson Heights and others.

Go ice skating ... seriously

A new, state-of-the-art ice skating rink has opened
Photo Credit: The Trust for Governors Island

A new, state-of-the-art ice skating rink has opened on Governors Island. Mel's Rink, an 8,000-square-foot arena on the island's western promenade with views of the Statue of Liberty, is so slick it's like ice, according to the Trust of Governors Island. It will be open through Oct. 31, with free weekday morning skates between 10 a.m. and noon, and for those who can't make it until later, rentals are $20 per person until 5 p.m. on weekdays and until 6 p.m. on weekends.

Get out on the river

Get up-close and personal with the city's waterways
Photo Credit: Brooklyn Bridge Park

Get up-close and personal with the city's waterways this season with a little kayaking. Hit up the Downtown Boathouse, the Brooklyn Bridge Park Boathouse, Red Hook Boaters or Kayak Staten Island to enjoy free kayaking programs. Each location offers water activities on a walk-in basis, so no need to make an appointment when you're in the mood to get out on the river.

Walk the Brooklyn Bridge at night

Summer nights let you finally enjoy some pretty
Photo Credit: Getty Images / Henny Ray Abrams

Summer nights let you finally enjoy some pretty spectacular nighttime city views without standing in the cold to see them. Avoid the onslaught of tourists and bikers during the day, and head to the Brooklyn Bridge for a late-night stroll, where you'll see the skyline lit up in all its glory.

Take your workout outside

Bryant Park, Central Park, the High Line and
Photo Credit: Angelito Jusay

Bryant Park, Central Park, the High Line and Socrates Sculpture Park all offer outdoor workout classes through the summer. They're free, which might help give you the motivation you need to pick up a new hobby, like fencing, tai chi or group yoga.

Buy something unique at a flea market

Spend the day outside and discover something you
Photo Credit: Grand Bazaar NYC

Spend the day outside and discover something you didn't even know you wanted. Expect to find one-of-a-kind jewelry, eclectic décor for your apartment, and some of the markets have food, too. Start with LIC Flea & Food or Manhattan's Grand Bazaar NYC, but there are plenty of spots to check out.

Enjoy a movie under the stars

For a chill evening, head to your piers,
Photo Credit: Etienne Frossard

For a chill evening, head to your piers, parks and rooftops with a blanket and watch a movie. From Coney Island to Randall's Island, there are plenty of options across the city.

Enjoy a scoop (or two) of ice cream

Ice cream in the city is almost as
Photo Credit: Sundaes and Cones

Ice cream in the city is almost as diverse as its residents. Aside from the Mister Softee trucks manning the street corners, there's plenty of oddball flavors to eat your way through this summer. Stop by some of our favorite ice cream shops, like East Village's Sundaes & Cones, Williamsburg's Davey's Ice Cream and DUMBO's Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory.

Hit up a ball game

Grab your friends and those bleachers tickets and
Photo Credit: Getty Images / Nick Laham

Grab your friends and those bleachers tickets and cheer on the Mets or Yankees with a beer in hand. And don't forget to check out our favorite eats at Yankee Stadium and Citi Field.

Drink on a rooftop

There are so many amazing rooftops in this
Photo Credit: Loren Wohl

There are so many amazing rooftops in this city, you could spend every weekend at a different one and still not see them all. Every rooftop's vibe, view and cocktail menu is different, but they all come with that natural high from fresh air, city lights and the unbeatable feeling that you're on top of the world. Here are some of our favorites and some with pools.

Grab your bathing suit and head to the pool

While this isn't technically getting out of the
Photo Credit: NYC Parks

While this isn't technically getting out of the heat, going swimming is a good way to get your body moving in some (likely) cool water. Thankfully, the Parks Department's 56 outdoor pools are free. No matter your borough, there's a public pool nearby and if you want to get fancy, a lot of pools on rooftops too.

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