After a winter marked by nearly comical amounts of snowfall, New Yorkers are now embracing warm weather with open arms. The sun is shining, the birds are chirping, and the city is looking lovelier every day. In other words, it's time to get a head start on that massive summer bucket list you make every single year. (You know the one: it includes activities that you planned to do with friends last summer, and the summer before.) Although it's physically impossible to experience every outdoor concert, food festival, impromptu fire-hydrant sprinkler, and free event that the city has to offer, you can certainly try.
Since you have to start somewhere, we've partnered with Crocs to create a summer guide to New York City, highlighting the best of the best when it comes to food, fun, and everything in between. The seasons change quickly, and before you know it, you'll be lamenting the amount of unchecked boxes on your "summer fun" list ... and no one likes running around the city in an attempt to have as much fun as possible! (Just kidding: there are really no bad outcomes here.) So check out this seasonal guide, get outside, and enjoy this summer sunshine while we have it. After all, is there anything more magical than exploring the greatest city in the world in the summer? I think not.
Best Outdoor Dining
Narcissa, East Village
Located at the Standard Hotel in the East Village, Narcissa's outdoor dining area is hard to beat. Reminiscent of classic country picnics and childhood backyard bliss, this patio is perfect for an all-day hang -- accompanied by their cucumber-grape seltzer, of course. Come for brunch if you can, when their eclectic menu includes the likes of French toast bites, boxes of donuts, and iced cinnamon buns.
Riverpark, Midtown East
Riverpark is an al fresco dream. It's situated on the East River and offers you panoramic views of the water. Both the formal dining patio and outdoor biergarten are open to the public and vary in ambience, so you can choose just how fancy you want to be. Try out their spring chicken entrée or sugar snap peas to get in the spirit of the season. Their green lemonade is also worth the visit.
Best Outdoor Performance Venues
Celebrate Brooklyn, Dumbo and Prospect Park Bandshell
Celebrate Brooklyn! is a long-running series of free, outdoor performing arts festivals in its namesake borough. Brooklyn Bridge Park Dance Parties are hosted on the water's edge in Brooklyn Bridge Park throughout the month of May, and the concert series at Prospect Park marries well-known artists with a laid-back environment. The full summer slate hasn't been announced just yet, but the legendary Chaka Khan is confirmed for the June 3 opener. It's one of the simplest pleasures you'll find this summer: just pack a picnic, lay in the lush grass, and enjoy the show.
Shakespeare In The Park, Central Park
Shakespeare In The Park is one of the most beloved programs held in New York City during the summer, and it takes place in the always-magical landscape of Central Park. The Public Theater will be performing The Tempest from May 27 to July 15 and Cymbeline from July 23 to August 23. The lines can get long, but considering the tickets are 100 percent free, it's well worth the wait.
Best Place To Have Fun By Foot
The Greenbelt, Staten Island
Sometimes you need to get out of the hustle and bustle of the city, and while Staten Island is still technically part of New York City, it feels like a true escape from city life. The Greenbelt Conservancy of Staten Island offers more than 35 miles of hiking trails for visitors, spanning a 2,880-acre landscape of greenery and waterways.
Best Outdoor Nightlife
Pod 39 Rooftop, Murray Hill
Pod 39 Rooftop's beautiful brick patio is one you'll want to stay on all night long. Drinks are generally under $15 a glass, which is something of a bargain considering NYC rooftop prices. Located on the top of The Pod Hotel, this nighttime bar offers up a stunning view of Lower Manhattan and all of its lit-up landmarks.
Night of Joy, Williamsburg
Open until 2 a.m., Night of Joy is known for its signature (strong) margaritas and hipster decor. Covered in graffiti, Night of Joy's rooftop bar is one of the coolest in New York City. It's really no surprise, seeing as it's located in the ultra-hip neighborhood of Williamsburg.
Best Outdoor Festivals
Smorgasburg, Williamsburg & Dumbo
Smorgasburg, or "A Brooklyn Flea Food Market," is the place to be when you're looking to get your snack on during the weekends. Held in Williamsburg's East River State Park on Saturdays and Dumbo's Brooklyn Bridge Park on Sundays, there's no excuse to miss this. Get your fill of Brooklyn's best eateries and even try out some items that aren't normally sold in stores.
Brooklyn Flea, Fort Greene & Williamsburg
When it comes to outdoor flea markets, the Brooklyn Flea is the best in the city. You can find nearly anything at these markets, whether you're looking for vintage toys from the 1950s or modern, handcrafted signage for your apartment. Visit the Fort Greene location on Saturdays or the Williamsburg location on Sundays to get your flea market fix.
Best Places To Cool Off
Rockaway Beach, Queens
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While Coney Island may get all the hype, Rockaway Beach offers a calmer, cleaner escape for those looking to catch some waves. With over 170 acres of sand, this beach is one of the biggest. This getaway is a perfect summer destination for everyone: surfers, families, and everyone in between.
Also located in Queens, the Astoria Park Pool offers a free public pool for New Yorkers to cool off during the hot summer heat. Opening in late June, children can take part in free swimming lessons while adults can swim laps without interruptions. Of course, those looking to just hang out with friends and family while wading in the water are welcome as well.
Top of the Rock, Theater District
While the Empire State Building used to be a tourist's haven for the best views of Manhattan, Top of the Rock has pushed its way to the No. 1 spot for bird's eye view of the Big Apple. Take a visit to the top for breathtaking panoramic perspective of New York City during the day, or make your way up once the sun goes down to check out the city famous for its bright lights.
This post is sponsored by Crocs.