A Local’s Guide to Summer in NYC!

“In New York…Concrete jungle where dreams are made of…there’s nothin’ you can’t do!”

Ah, New York. I love it so. I’ve lived here for over seven years now, and I am SO EXCITED to share with you my personal summer guide to life in Gotham.

Hanging out on a fire escape – like a true local

And let me just tell you — spring and summer is THE BEST time in New York City.

One of the most reoccurring questions I get asked, is suggestions or itineraries for trips or long weekends in NYC.

Clearly, there’s a lot to see and do in this giant metropolis, so it’s always helpful to have an insider’s opinion.

First things first. I’m going to be letting you in on local’s New York. So, with this privileged information – you’ve got to act like a local. So that means two things:
Number One: Absolutely no photos on your iPad. Whatsoever. Phones — yes. Ipads — no way, buddy.
Number Two: leave your flip flops at home. I know — as a native Ohioan, flip flops were my go-to. But nothing screams “tourist” more than flip flops, or really, any sandal for that matter. Because true New Yorkers know, there’s nothing more disgusting than the streets of New York. So do yourself a favor, and wear a pair of comfortable flats.

Lastly — we’re going to be outside, so as always — wear your sunscreen and bring a hat.

Alright!! ONTO THE FUN!

An afternoon of golf and drinks at Chelsea Piers!

Chelsea Piers is home to so many fun and sporty activities — from bowling to rock climbing. But the most fun is the driving range! It overlooks the Hudson River, and you’re literally hitting golf balls into a yacht marina.

So hit some balls, and then hit up The Frying Pan next door for a cocktail. It’s within walking distance and it’s a super fun spot for a bevvy — you’re on a big boat – and you’ve got the water on one side and the Empire State Building on the other. It doesn’t get more iconic than that.

Photo: Google

Get gussied up and splurge on dinner

So typically, I wouldn’t advocate for an over-the-top dinner, but sometimes, a splurge is okay! Heck, you’re on vacation! And you’re in the dining capital of the world. So why not just treat yourself!!

Le CouCou is a newer restaurant in the East Village that is phenomenal. It’s Restoration Hardware meets French trendy hot spot. I went there on a date, and to say it was a dining experience would be an understatement. Get ready to feel like royalty. Don’t miss the oysters, or any of the fresh fish.

Photo: Eater

Or the Gramercy Tavern is another incredible restaurant. Don’t let the “Tavern” name fool you — it is a special treat. You can either dine in their beautiful bar cafe, or be seated in their white table cloth dining roof for the full five-course shebang.

Gramercy Tavern

OOH! Or The Wren is another great one in the East Village. I rang in the New Year here one year. Simply divine.

Live Music – The Hidden Gems of True New York

Sure, Broadway is amazing, but you can find some of the most talented individuals playing at underground live music spots in the city. Hit up these spots, and take note — one day you’ll be saying…”I heard them before they were famous!

Rockwood Music Hall is hands down, my all time favorite place in NYC. In fact, if you go, there’s an 80% chance you’ll bump into me.

The other great place to catch incredible music is The Bar Next Door — which is next door to La Lanterna — which is such a cute restaurant. Get a flatbread pizza and eat in their covered garden in the back. And then head next door to catch some phenomenal live music.

Visit the Museum of Jewish Heritage

Down on the most southern tip of Manhattan, lies this important museum. This summer, they have a powerful exhibit on Auschwitz. I would highly suggest adding this to your itinerary.

Rent a City Bike and bike the Hudson River

Biking can be straight up scary in New York, but along the Hudson River, there’s a beautiful park with a dedicated bike path that literally goes along the entire West Side of Manhattan. You’ll see some incredible views, including the Statue of Liberty, and the One World Trade building. (Itinerary tip: rent a bike in the West Village, and bike down to the Museum of Jewish Heritage, or the 9/11 Memorial).

Brunch like a boss

Brunch is a way of life in Manhattan. Truly. It is a culture. And if you’re going to be in New York on a Saturday or Sunday, you just need to experience it. My personal itinerary recommendation: hit up Mass at St. Patrick’s Cathedral – (a MUST experience, especially now that it’s been renovated!), and then make your way to one of these hot spots.

Balthazar in Soho is the gold standard when it comes to brunch. Enjoy their homemade breads and then hit the shops. It’s quite the experience.

Or Valerie is another great option — you’ll feel like you’e in The Great Gatsby.

Rooftops are where it’s at

You simply cannot come to New York during the summer, and not have a beverage on a rooftop. Honestly. The sweeping views of the skyline are simply breathtaking. So do yourself a favor and take it all in. Preferably at sunset.

Mr. Purple is a fun spot on the Lower East Side — although definitely more on the “club” side of things. So only go if you’re willing to bump into some twenty something hedge fund babies, vying for the perfect “Skyline Selfie.”

But The Fleur Room at the Moxy Hotel is a spectacular rooftop. As well as Gallow Green – often described as a fairy tale come to life.

Photo: Gallow Green

Cool off with a cone, and take a walk

One of my favorite things to do in the summer is to grab my camera and just get lost. Explore the city on foot. And what better way to do it than with an ice cream cone in hand.

Van Leeuwen is an amazing homemade scoop shop. They even have a couple vegan flavors too! But they have a few shops throughout the city, so grab a scoop — with their organic homemade sprinkles — and the explore the neighborhood.

Or if you’re more of a dairy-free ice cream fan, try Pressed Juicery! They have healthy soft serve that’s a real treat!

Watch a movie under the stars

During the summer, New York offers outdoor movies! It’s free – they play the classics. Bring a blanket, some bug spray, and your favorite movie snacks! You can check out the schedule here.

Bust out the boat shoes

I have a secret favorite spot if you’re looking for an interesting and beautiful spot for a cocktail or meal: Grand Banks. It’s an adorable yellow and white striped boat on a pier in Tribeca, that is in the shadow of One World Trade. The view of the Statue of Liberty is absolutely breath taking. Plus, it’s a really romantic place to talk a walk with a loved one afterwards. Not to be missed.

Visit the 9/11 Memorial

I cannot recommend this one enough. The 9/11 memorial is incredibly powerful, and so well done. It’s always good to remember what this country has been through, and pay our respects to the lives lost, that terrible day.

Dine Outdoors

Nothing beats a sidewalk cafe. The people watching. The open air. It’s the perfect excuse to linger a little longer over dessert.

Rosemary’s in the West Village is the perfect spot for just that, overlooking the historic Greenwich Village library.

Or, Barbuto, also in the West Village, is that perfect mix of urban cool. Part garage, part cafe — word on the street is that this is where the celebs like to grub.

Walk the High Line, Explore the Whitney, and Wash it Down at the Standard Biergarten

I just planned your perfect Saturday afternoon. The High Line is this beautiful elevated park that runs along the west side of Manhattan. It used to be a railroad that they’ve since converted to an urban garden/walking path, that conveniently ends at the brand new Whitney art museum. Take in some art, and then go next door to the Standard Biergarten for a drink and a ginormous, homemade hot pretzel. Clearly, it’s a German spot, so trust me, they know how to make a mean pretzel. And spoiler alert — it’s larger than your entire head.

Photo: Trip Advisor

Shop 5th Ave and Catch a Delicious Breakfast

Fifth Avenue is a one-in-a-million shopping experience. But all that walking and trying on the latest fashions can leave one ravenous.

Thankfully, the City Bakery is right there on 18th street. They have a delicious gourmet-casual lunch buffet filled with southern favorites (think fried chicken, okra, and green beans with bacon). But let’s be real: you go there for their famous (and award winning) chocolate chip cookie. A close second: their hot chocolate with homemade marshmallow.

Catch an improv show at the People’s Improv Theater

Lastly, this is my favorite thing to do. Period. For less than ten bucks, you can catch a hilarious improv show every night of the week. Disclaimer — some of the humor can be…a little off color…but if you enjoy Saturday Night Live, then you’ll love this experience. Plus — this is where SNL scouts a lot of their new talent. And sometimes, if you’re lucky, a celeb will swing by and do a show for fun. Last time I was there, Ellie Kemper (Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, The Office) popped in to perform.

So there you go!

My official guide to summer in NYC!

Some last minute practical tips: don’t be afraid of the subway! Sure Uber is convenient, but you’ll be spending a fortune. Plus – traffic can be a real nightmare. So save time and money and take the subway. Google maps will tell you exactly which trains to take to get you where you need to go.

Plan for some “decompression” time every day. In NYC, it’s really easy to just go, go, go. Build in at least a 20 minute cat nap before dinner each day. I promise, it’ll make the culture shock much more manageable.

Hydrate. Sure, finding public bathrooms can be…annoying. But it’s hot, and you will be sweating, so stay hydrated.

And on that note, whenever you do come across a bathroom — use it. Even if you don’t need to. Because they’re hard to come across. Trust me.

On that note, I hope this helps inspire you to plan a trip to this amazing city! Let me know in the comments if YOU have any favorite spots in the city I may have missed!

“This is what the Lord says to these bones: I will make breath enter you, and you will come to life.” Ez 37:5

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83 thoughts on “A Local’s Guide to Summer in NYC!

    1. Thanks so much Broose!! Hahah i think you’re right! My love for the city is surely evident! 🙂 perfect! Hope you get here soon!! Hugs and love xox

  1. This made me even more sad I had to leave NYC to go home for the summer. 🙁 But I definitely can’t wait to hit up those music venues in the fall!

    1. Thanks Sami, aw definitely come back!! And yes! The love music is so fun! Hugs and love xox

    1. Thanks so much!! Awesome – I hope you can check some of these places out!! Hugs and love xox

  2. I had always wanted to visit NYC when I was younger, but my parents got mad at me for wanting to go there. After visiting Liberty State Park, I always was bummed when I do not have time to see more sights. I will say that Liberty State Park is always a moving place for me, but it would be great to see more of the city.

    1. Oh gosh I’m sorry about that JB. I hope you can get here soon. 🙂 Hugs and love xox

  3. Julie and I have been hard-core walkers in the past! We walked from The Grand Arch in Paris all the way to the Louvre and Notre Dame and back! Not anymore. Our first time to NYC saw us walking a lot, but the last time we broke down and used the subway. You’re right; not bad. We took it from our hotel to The Met and really enjoyed the museum.

    I wish I could remember the authentic Irish tavern we went to. I had shepherd’s pie to die for! On our first trip we stopped at a little pizza place, and guess whose autographed picture was on the wall? Lady Gaga’s, proclaiming it to be her favorite pizza place in NYC! Famous Amadeus Pizza is the name.

    We went to Serendipity per your suggestion our first night, and had a great meal there too. The waiter was great. Lots of Tiffany lamps all over. I might have sent you some pics.

    Maybe we’ll return some day and try some of tonight’s recommendations!

    1. Oh wow that’s a lot of walking! Ah yes! I remember! Gosh, i hope Notre Dame can recover from the most recent tragedy with the fire. Ah, love Paris. Serendipity is a great place – that should definitely be on the list. I guess it slipped my mind because it’s not an outdoor place and that’s where my mind was going for summer activities. But you’re so right – definitely worth it!! And haha that’s amazing about Lady Gaga! She also worked at a bar – Calico Jack’s Cantina — a total “Bro bar” but it’s always so interesting to see where they got their start. Yes! I hope you do!! Thanks Jeff for stopping by. Hope you and Julie are having a great week! Hugs and love xox

      1. oh that’s so awesome. worthy of a frame for sure 🙂

    1. Thanks so much Sam!! Oh yes – Taos awesome! And I’m not sure about Barbuto! I walked passed it yesterday and it was life as usual!! Thanks for these great suggestion! Can’t wait to try Banc this summer! Hugs and love xox

  4. What a great post! I’ve actually never been to New York and Its one of the places I want to visit the most. Each time I try to plan a trip something comes up and I end up not going. I am looking forward to it even more now. Flip flops, I never thought to wear them in New York but I definitely won’t now, lol! I look forward to the delicious food and Broadway shows. I don’t like to shop but I will make an exception when i go there 🤗🤗. Rooftops sound great! Thank you so much for this post ⚘🌻

    1. Thanks so much Lane! I had so much fun making this post! Oh gosh – yes! You’ve got to get here! Haha oh yeah – closed toed shoes are a must. And yes! You can get pretty great day-of seats at the TKTS app or booth in Times Square! Hugs and love xox

    1. Thanks so much! Oh yes!! It’s such a fun trip – there’s something for everyone!! Hugs and love xox

    1. Thanks so much Lisa!! Oh that’s so exciting! I hope you have a great trip!! Being an appetite for food and fun! 🙂 hehe Hugs and love xox

  5. Oh I love this post! We spent a measly 4 days in New York and vowed to come back in the summer! So, we may be up there this summer and will totally refer to this post! Roof top beverages….good idea!

    1. Thanks so much! Ooh yes! Do come back and soak up the summer!! Rooftops are the best! Hugs and love xox

  6. Great read. NYC is def one of my favourite travel destinations (7 trips across all seasons). Love the contrast between the Summer and Winter months.

    1. Thanks so much David!! Oh wow that’s awesome! Yeah it’s for so many different personalities depending on the season! Hugs and love xox

    1. Thanks Shani! Yeah – i love falling in love with where we live! Hugs and love xox

  7. Bringing the grandkids in September, and being from Colorado, the stimuli might be a bit much. Thanks for great tips from an insider.

    1. Thanks so much Deb! Oh that’s so exciting! I hope y’all have a great trip!! September is a great time of year here!! Hugs and love xox

    1. Thank so much!! Haha yeah the pretzels are pretty world famous. Full disclosure – the cocktails are expensive. But definitely a good spot for a beer (it comes in a glass boot!) and a pretzel! 🙂 Hugs and love xox

    1. Awesome!! Thanks so much!! 🙂 it’s a great city and a great time of year!! 👍🏼💛 Hugs and love xox

    1. That’s so exciting!! Congrats to your brother! Oh how fun! I would love that! I’m going to be away for a few weeks in August – email me! 🙂 Hugs and love xox

    1. Thanks so much Carson! Yes! New York is the best 🙂 hehe Hugs and love xox

  8. I am of Caribbean heritage. With that said, my extended family live in the Crown Heights section of Brooklyn. I love ❤️ the West Indian Labor Day parade. I participated in it in 2010-2011. It was so much

    1. Hi Alicia! Oh that’s so awesome!!! I would love to attend! I’ll have to keep my eyes open for it! Hugs and love xox

    1. Oooh yes!! I’ve heard it’s awesome! Thanks for the recco! Hugs and love xox

  9. The first time I went to NYC in 2000 I booked an evening tour aboard one of the gourmet dinner boats that sails by the skyline, the Brooklyn Bridge and the Statue of Liberty. It turned out to be one of the coolest things me and my wife-to-be did there (other than seeing Tina Turner knocking ’em dead at Madison Square Garden!). We got to see the twin towers shining brightly and we’ll never forget that night. Highly recommended.

    1. Oh that’s so awesome!! I love those cruises. Gosh – what an incredible opportunity. Thanks for sharing 🙂 Hugs and love xox

    1. Hey Laura Beth! Oh that’s so awesome 🙂 hope you guys can explore soon! Hugs and love xox

  10. This is very timely, though with the crowd I’m traveling to NYC with, I may have to save your suggestions. I’m very excited to take my oldest grand daughter (16), her 14 year old sister and their mom/my daughter to the Big Apple to celebrate her 16th birthday. None of them have been before. Of course, I won’t be doing any fine dining or late-night stuff with them, but your post fueled my excitement. I’m coming from Florida, they from NC. It’s going to be fun. We have tickets to Wicked. My grand daughter is very interested in theater and has been in a couple of school plays, so she’s pumped. We’ll be staying near Times Square. I’ll keep my eyes open for you in case I pass you on the street! We will be the ones wearing walking sandals. I can’t imagine wearing closed toe shoes, but I agree that flip flops don’t cut it. My Florida toes have been mad at me enough for going to cold weather the last few months.

    1. Hi Bonnie! Oh that is so exciting!! I hope you all have an amazing trip! Ah Wicked is absolutely phenomenal!! You all are going to love it! Haha yes! I’ll be the one in the hat! 🙂 Hugs and love xox

    1. Oh that is so fun! I love top of the rock – the view is absolutely breathtaking! And yes! The Cloisters is such a beautiful place!! Thanks Madeline for sharing!! Hugs and love xox

  11. Kewl ideas. I totally agree about the flip flops. For your “don’ts” how about Don’t shop at Target. NYC still has some fine stores that made it the city that it is. Target is a dull addition and you find it everywhere else. For a couple other add ons, Shop at an Indy Bookstore, and also Shop at a Cd/Record Store. Hand held books are actually on a bit of a comeback. E-reading is still there (the Nook totally flopped at Barnes and Noble) but people are re-discovering the beauty of book cover art, and in opening a book, holding it, and turning the pages. I was in NYC last weekend for my annual and I went to one I had never heard of til recently, called Word Up on 165th and Amsterdam. It, like many indies feature not only best sellers but also local NYC authors. Many offer live presentations too such as author appearances, and spoken word events. CDs may not be as big as they were some years ago but MANY people have rediscovered LP records. While the big stores such as Tower and JR Music World May be gone, there are still a number of shops that never actually closed. There are also some new ones. The neat thing about the Indy stores is that many are getting out their old LP collections that they might have put away back when CDs rapidly took over. So you might find a favorite “classic” cheaper than, say Barnes and Noble or other chains, that are selling “new reprints” for like $25-30 each. Plus new releases are coming out on record, as well as CD and digital too. Hugs and love Lovely Girl!! 🌹🌹🌹

    1. Hey Miguel! Amen about supporting local!! Word Up – I’ll have to check it out!! Awesome tips! Thanks so much!! 😘😘😘

  12. Add also, at least once ever, take one of the double decker tours or perhaps the Circle Line boat around the entire Island of Manhattan.

  13. It has been 26 years since I’ve been to NYC (this week, as a matter of fact!). Back then, I was not a fan. But I was also a 17 year old kid from a Colorado town of 500 people. I think there might have been a garbage strike going on too. Still, I’m thinking of seeing it again one of these days. Why not? Thanks for sharing. You’ve definitely piqued my interest in going back!

    1. Oh gosh garbage strike – yeah definitely would make a stinky impression. Definitely come back!! Hugs and love xox

  14. One of these days, I’ll go to New York. My wife is from Upstate New York, so the likelihood is high that we will go eventually. You definitely know the ins and outs. On a side note, I can’t help but think of the Lauren Daigle song “Come Alive” when I see your reference to Ezekiel 37 at the end of each post. If you have not heard this song, you MUST listen.

    1. Hi Matthew!! Oh I do hope you two make it to the city!! it is such a fun time! Yes! I absolutely LOVE that song 🙂 hope you’re having a great weekend! hugs xo

  15. I was there in June and July of 2001. I went over to Central Park, The Empire State, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Twin Towers, the Soho District, Brighton Beach, etc. I haven’t been there since, but maybe I should do it again!

    1. Oh how fun! Yes definitely!! Hope you get back. A lot has changed! Hugs and love xox

    1. Oh that’s so exciting Giselle!! I hope you have a beautiful time! Hugs and love xox

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