Every New Yorker knows you spend more time outside than in your apartment. Once the summer season comes around there are an infinite amount of places to go and things to do. The trick is deciphering which are worth your visit. This is our list of beautiful, cultural, and exciting destinations to visit this summer 2024. 

Outdoor dining is an easy way to spend time outdoors. Summer is the perfect season for people watching. With that said, not all outdoor dining is alike. These are our favorite spots for stress-free experiences that will not have you fighting the crowds. 

Gitano originated in Tulum, bringing New Yorkers a tropical island set-up and lively atmosphere. This is their second year at Governors Island. For a relaxing summer afternoon, come sit at the lounge or have a fun dinner amongst the palm trees. Gitano’s tropical paradise feels like a mini getaway. The menu offerings range from small plates like Lobster Tostada or brunch options like French Toast and Breakfast Tacos to main courses like Branzino in Banana Leaf. The cocktails are delicious. All you have to do is sit back and vibe to their vacation playlist. 

While here, make sure to get to know the rest of Governors Island. They are currently hosting an oyster and whale sounds exhibition, Oth­er of Pearl by Jen­ny Kendler. The exhibit sends a powerful message about climate change. We think it’s worth the 5-10 minute boat ride on a ferry. 

Gitano 125 Carder Rd (On the Waterfront), Governors Island 

Experience what it feels like to dine on a historic fishing boat with Grand Banks. While the boat stays docked, it does move with the waves so make sure you can stomach the experience. Coming here is all about the ambiance. Nothing says summer like spending time on a boat with a view. In their own words, this spot is “inspired by the floating oyster barges that lined Manhattan’s waterfront in the 18th and 19th centuries.” It goes without saying that ordering oysters is a must, but their other dishes are just as delectable. We especially enjoyed the Tomato and Watermelon Salad, Crudo, and Sea Scallop dishes. 

Grand Banks Pier 25 on the Hudson River, Enter on Moore St., Tribeca 

For an old New York atmosphere, head to Barbetta. The Theatre District restaurant is known for being one of the oldest restaurants in the city, and for providing guests with an elegant event venue. Many events have been held here over the years, including weddings and fashion shows. If you enjoy historic places and Italian food, this is the place for you. The romantic ambiance and decor translates all the way to their back patio, which will remind you of dining in Italy. The relaxing atmosphere will allow you to feel like you are vacationing with an Italian wine in hand. Barbetta specializes in cuisine from the Piemonte region of Italy. You can expect classic dishes, like Risotto and house-made Agnolotti. 

Barbetta 321 W 46th St (betw 8th/9th Ave) Theatre District 

Summer in New York means cocktails at a historic venue. Lotte New York has one of the most recognizable courtyards in the city due to its landmark status and the popular show Gossip Girl. The 19th-century mansion has been expertly restored and is the perfect backdrop for events and TV moments. Now you can make it a part of your summer itinerary. The hotel opened their Summer Bar, serving cool cocktails and dining al fresco. For an even more elevated experience, try their cviar picnic. Summer in New York just doesn’t get more iconic than this. While here, make sure to take notice of Roman Feral’s latest art installation, “Hermes Bronze Monumental, 2023,” 

Lotte New York 455 Madison Ave (at 50th St), Midtown

Finding a natural and cultural retreat in the city often means a trip to Central Park or the museum, but if you look to visit a free and green space that is not world-famous, follow this list. 

Conservatory Garden might be a part of the Central Park family but it has its own distinct style and grand entrance near the northeastern corner of the park. In fact, the garden’s entrance is a historic wrought-iron gate. The ornate Gilded Age gate was designed for the mansion of Cornelius Vanderbilt II by the American architect George B. Post. Upon the demolition of the mansion, the gate was gifted to the city. Entering through the gate and down the steps you can easily see why this garden is so special. To start, the design is inspired by English, French and Italian gardens. Each corner of the garden is thoughtfully designed, keeping peace and balance in mind. 

Walking through the garden you will notice plenty of interesting details and quiet areas. Among the garden’s jewels is the Burnett Fountain, which is a memorial to the children’s book author Frances Hodgson Burnett. This free and serene green space looks like it belongs at Versaille and we have spent more than a few contemplative moments here. Spending a summer day here means getting to be a part of history. Don’t be surprised if you see the occasional photo shoot or a wedding. 

Conservatory Garden 1233 5th Ave (betw 104/105th St) Upper East Side

Studying and observing public art is an easy way to get out and get your body moving, without having to make a reservation. Get your steps in and walk the city while exploring its hidden and not-so-hidden artwork. One of our favorite exhibits is along Park Avenue, between 23th and 38th Streets. This part of Murray Hill brings in a yearly exhibit, and this year’s sculptures, “Travelers” by Bruno Catalano, are world famous. The sculptor’s work began in 1995 and has been in some major cities. The bronze figures are meant to depict people frozen in the middle of a journey. Their destination – unknown. 

The Portal by Benediktas Gylys in the Flatiron District has caused quite the stir, but once relaunched, things have been a lot calmer. While the hours changed from being on 24/7 to the livestream running from 6:00 AM to 4:00 PM (11:00 AM to 9:00 PM in Dublin), it is still a sight to behold. Portals are interactive sculptures that use technology and allow people to connect on their own terms. We have seen visitors use many ways to connect with the people in Dublin, including dancing, waving, and even by exchanging phone numbers through notes. Visit or walk by to see it for yourself. You can find it at 33 E 23rd St. As you make your way downtown, swing by Union Square Park. Here you can see, or sit by, a vibrant sculpture called “Love-Ego=LOV” by artist Pasha Radetzki. As described by the artist, this sculpture articulates the notions of egoless love, unity and interdependence of human lives placed within the context of current volatile social and ecological conditions. 

If you find yourself in the Financial District, make sure to stop by 28 Liberty Street and take a picture on a bronze couch. The Wild Couch by Gillie and Marc Schattner is a large bronze sculpture that depicts wild animals sitting on a couch. This public artwork puts the spotlight on mass extinction of animals. It invites observers to come and sit with the animals, creating an intimate picture of love and support. 

Get your body moving to music at Lincoln Center. Lincoln Center’s outdoor Silent Disco events offer the largest outdoor dance floor in the city, and at the center of it all is a 10-foot disco ball. The free evening DJ sets get transmitted through high-fidelity headphones so there is no worrying about the neighbors. The free silent disco events are planned all the way to August 10. From 80s and 90s dance music to Salsa, there is something for everyone. For upcoming events check the Lincoln center’s event page. 

Lincoln Center  Lincoln Center Plaza (Colombus Ave/63rd St) Upper West Side

If your summer bucket list includes recreational activities, four miles of Hudson River Park piers offer plenty of options. Among them volleyball, dancing, yoga and kayaking. While there are other places where you can rent a kayak, Downtown Boathouse is an all-volunteer nonprofit organization that offers a free kayaking adventure on the Hudson River to anyone willing to try it for themselves.The cleanliness of the water has improved greatly, and organizations like Downtown Boathouse have made it a lot easier to say yes to kayaking. They provide everything, you simply have to show up. The free kayaking program runs from May 18 to October 14. Visit The Hudson River Park and the Downtown Boathouse websites for more details. 

Downtown Boathouse Kayaking Pier 26 Boathouse at N Moore St. Hudson River – Meatpacking District

When it comes to enjoying summer sunset views, New York City rooftops provide an unmatched experience. For a more exclusive experience that prevents overwhelming crowds we recommend a smaller terrace or a lesser-known rooftop venue. For even more rooftop suggestions read 10 Best and Most Iconic Rooftops in New York City

L’Avenue at Saks feels like a secret place in the middle of midtown’s hustle and bustle. It is the perfect post-work or shopping day lunch spot for anyone who enjoys an elevated experience. They offer fun cocktails, like “Saks and the City,” made with togarashi tequila, grapefruit, lime, agave and soda and a food menu that has something for everyone. We especially enjoy the Foie gras and Escargots dishes. You can find the terrace on the Le Chalet level, which is L’Avenue’s après-ski bar and lounge. The terrace overlooks Rockefeller Center, and you can even spot one of our favorite event venue, 620 Loft & Garden. 

L’Avenue at Saks 8 E 50th St (betw 5th/Madison Ave) Midtown

Balcón Rooftop at The Marmara Park Avenue ensures you get a front row seat to the NYC skyline. Their wraparound terrace and bar is a sophisticated way to enjoy a cocktail without a big party crowd. Fans of HBO’s House of Dragon will find that this is the most ideal spot to see the Empire State Building’s inflatable dragon wrapped around the building’s tower. If you want to make it a self-care day, visit the hotel spa for a traditional hammam treatment beforehand. We simply cannot think of a better way to cool off or spend an afternoon. They even have a saltwater pool. 

Balcón Rooftop at The Marmara Park Avenue 114 E 32nd St (betw Park/Lex Ave) Nomad

Pier 57 on the Hudson River is equal parts culinary and recreational destination. The community space wows visitors with a rooftop park that provides unbelievable views and green spaces for picnicking. When the park opened it was considered an open secret, and while people have caught on, it still continues to be one of those special places where you can come and find a seat or patch of grass to watch the sunset. Grab something to eat at their food hall, helmed by the prestigious James Beard Foundation, then make your way up to the park. We especially love the famous Nom Wah dumplings. 

Pier 57 25 11th Ave (enter on W15th St) Meatpacking District

Cool things down in the garden. Gallow Green is a restaurant rooftop and a garden oasis that provides guests with a relaxing atmosphere and refreshing libations. The hidden entrance rooftop belongs to The McKittrick Hotel, which is also the home of the famous Sleep No More experience. As you can imagine, the lush decor makes this a dreamy place to bring a date or a place to day drink with your friends. It feels like spending time in someone’s back yard, expect you get the city views and craft cocktails. 

Gallow Green 542 W 27th St (betw 10/11th Ave) Hudson Yards