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Best Things to Do in NYC During Summer: The Best and Brightest

a large body of water with a city in the background

New York City is full of exciting activities and venues to participate in, especially during the warm months of summer. Nevertheless, activities and venues slated for NYC summer 2020 look very different compared to previous years because of COVID-19. To protect the public, Mayor de Blasio canceled all venues and other nonessential events happening in June. Currently, it is unclear how far this policy will extend into summer. Meanwhile, fun is where you find it, and there’s still plenty of it to go around if you know where to look. The following guide contains some of the best and brightest things to do in NYC summer 2020.

Note: Closures due to the pandemic are in a state of flux so make sure you check for potential closures before heading out.

Macy’s Fireworks Display

Macy's Fireworks

If you’re wondering what to do in NYC in summer, Fourth of July extravaganzas never disappoint. This holiday, New Yorkers are looking forward to ushering in the United States’ 244th birthday with lots of panache. The biggest and most widespread fireworks displays in the country happen in NYC every year, including Macy’s huge Fourth of July Fireworks event. The Macy’s Fourth of July spectacular will take place as planned, but it will be handled differently for summer 2020.

Beginning on Monday, June 29, a smaller set of fireworks will be launched in all the five boroughs and last about five minutes. To better promote safety and prevent crowding, locations won’t be announced before the light shows happen. According to, a televised event on July 4 will highlight the best moments from the prerecorded five fireworks displays, along with a grand finale that’s set to take place atop the Empire State Building.

“Sea” The City

Jet skiing in New York
New York City summers are all about fresh air, spectacular views and longer days. But how to do that and observe social distancing measures that are in place? By taking a jet ski excursion, of course. Riding the waves on a jet ski makes meeting social distancing requirements a breeze, while still allowing you excellent ways to see the breathtaking views NYC has to offer. You’ll never get a better view of Gotham’s land and waterways than with premiere jet ski company, Sea The City.

Sea The City places you on the Hudson River, where you can soar past the NYC skyline, breathtaking in its own right. From beginners to experienced riders, navigating the waterways by jet ski provides the ultimate opportunity to learn, gaze, and breathe in the sights and sounds of the Big Apple. Slap on your water shoes and get ready for the best time you can have! Take a look to see the fun-filled activities that Sea The City NY has to offer here.

Have a Hotdog in a NY Minute

Nathan's Hot Dogs
From newly married couples at Times Square stopping to munch on hot dogs for a photo op to famous hot dog eating contests at Coney Island, New Yorkers love to destroy their beloved mystery meat on a bun – often in record times, too. For instance, Nathan’s Annual Hotdog Eating Contest is a huge attraction, and its competitors demolish as many hot dogs as they possibly can in ten minutes. The big event hasn’t been canceled due to the coronavirus, but this year’s faceoff between hot dog titans will be held without its usual gathering of live crowds. Also, the hot dog contest will take place at an undisclosed NYC neighborhood location vs. the usual one on Coney Island.

In previous hot dog gorging competitions put on by Nathan’s, there were typically 15 people participating per group. This year’s event sees just five men and five women wolfing down as many dogs as they can. On July 4 at 12 p.m. ET, be sure to pull up a chair to tune in to ESPN, who will televise the popular event. Don’t forget to place that stack of plain beef hot dogs on buns and a glass of water in front of you to compete and eat with the best of ‘em.

Dine Alfresco at Valentino Pier

Valentino Pier
The Redhook district had humble beginnings as a shipping industry in the 1600s, and today it is a much-visited and popular attraction. As of June 26, 2020, all New York City parks are open, including the ever-popular Louis Valentino Junior Park & Pier. Located in a cove off New York Bay, this park boasts a million-dollar view of the Statue of Liberty, Downtown Manhattan, Governors Island and historic Red Hook Store buildings.

Destination eateries are also abundant and open nearby, including Red Hook Lobster Pound. After scoring one of their sensational lobster rolls for take-out, you can head to Louis Valentino Junior Park and dine alfresco while enjoying the sights and sounds of the waves lapping against Valentino pier. Later, take a stroll in the park while basking in the summertime weather and gorgeous scenery.

Hit the Beach

New York Beach
Summer is about being outside in the water, and NYC beaches are a favorite go-to for recreation. In some excellent news for New York sun and surf worshippers, beaches in the tristate area will be open for swimming July 1. That means 14 miles of public beaches where you can cavort and enjoy the lazy days of summer. From surfing in the waves of the Rockaways in Queens to strolling along the famous boardwalk of Coney Island, NYC beaches will be bursting with fun activities.

Keep in mind to cool off at the beaches responsibly. The Parks Department beach patrols and the NYPD and will be out in force to ensure that everyone’s summertime fun stays safe. NYC fun lovers must follow social distancing rules, which will be in effect at all the beaches.

Ready To Ride With Us?

Our Jet Ski Tours Launch Just 10 Minutes from Manhattan.

Starting at $169

Sea the City Jet Ski tours offer a unique way for tourists and New Yorkers alike to get up close to the sights and attractions on their very own Jet Ski. Book online today!

What you’ll see: Statue of Liberty, Brooklyn and Manhattan Bridges, Governor’s Island, Ellis Island, Freedom Tower, Janes Carousel, One Brooklyn Park, South Street Seaport, Empire State Building, and more!