Top things to do in NYC when you’ve already seen the tourist attractions, and want a real sense of the vibrant city.

No New Yorker ever plans what to do on a summer day. But we know what we want to do and where to do it. New York City is big, and it offers way more than Times Square and shopping on Fifth Avenue. The Big Apple has a reputation that everything is expensive, and it is. But there’s also so much to do for a lot less, do a bit of digging and you’ll find a treasure chest of enjoyable things to do in NYC from food crawls to free concerts. Best part about NYC is that everything is accessible by subway, so grab a MetroCard and start exploring!

Movie Night at Bryant Park

Every Monday the park hosts a movie night under the stars. Right off Time Square on 42nd Street, the park hosts a movie open to the public. You can bring some blankets and have a small picnic as you watch the movie. And the best part is you get to watch the movie as the sun sets against the beautiful skyline. Food is curated by Hester Street Fair on the Fountain Terrace, and beer and wine can be found on the eastern end of the Lawn. Here’s the official website for the program. 

Bryant Park is a hub for hundreds of cultural events, so you can visit any time of the year for free activities, dance parties and even Bingo!

Byrant Park NYC

Photo: Sarah via Flickr

New York Street Fairs

All five boroughs has some sort of street fair in the summertime. Little amusement rides, good food, and vendors selling different trinkets from vintage clothes to small souvenirs. These fairs go for blocks long, and have tons of things to see, watch, listen or do. But these fairs can get a bit crowded, so be wary of that. But the best part is that, you can go in and out of the fair as much as you want. See an interesting store up the block? Check it out! Want to go on that one ride across the street? Go ahead! Harlem Week Street Fair and Bleecker St- Pompeii Street Fair Festival are just the few that happen around summertime. 

Street Fair, New York

Photo: Rakesh A via Flickr

Spend a day in Coney Island

Coney Island literally has it all. Beat the hot New York weather with some roller coasters, beaches, hot dogs, and pizza galore, you can’t go wrong here. Take the N, Q, D, or F train all the way down to Coney Island Boardwalk, you’ll be surprised it’s even apart of NYC. Walk along the Atlantic, or watch a hot dog eating contest, there is a bunch to do!

coney island

Photo: Fred Pasquini via Flickr

Visit all the Chinatowns New York has to offer

Everyone knows about Canal Street in Manhattan, the most densely populated Chinatown there is in NYC. It’s packed with restaurants, stores, open fish markets, and grocery stores; and it’s conveniently located by Soho and Little Italy. But give the other two Chinatowns a go! Go on a huge dumpling crawl in Chinatown- Flushing in Queens, they offer the most variety of Chinese food as compared to the other two. And Chinatown- Sunset Park, in Brooklyn, definitely has the best Cantonese style food. And the best part, these are all pretty cheap too!


Photo: Mickey V via Flickr

Visit Columbia University and NYU

You don’t have to be going to college to visit these colleges. Both Columbia and NYU are essential to the city. NYU, down in Greenwich Village, is an open campus, meaning the school is branches further out into the city, into St Marks, Greenwich Village, Washington Square Park, and much more. You know you’re close to it when you see a bunch of purple NYU flags hanging on buildings. Columbia, on the other hand, is the oldest university in New York and the only Ivy League in New York. The university is located in the Upper West Village. The college is vast and beautiful with a ton of notable alumni.

columbia university

Columbia university. Photo: brianloebig via Pixabay

Enjoy a free summer concert

New York is known to welcome all kinds of music so it’s unsurprising for it to have a bunch of concerts. But in the summertime, there are a bunch of free concerts laced around the city. Central Park may have the most with all types of genres and artists performing at Summerfest. Feel free to take a break from roaming the city and give it a listen. You’ll also find some amazing artists playing at Prospect Park Bandshell, Brooklyn, Bryant Park, and other venues. 

Summer concert

Photo: Nora Kuby via Flickr

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