27 Things to Do in NYC on a Sunny Day

Andrew Rosenberg

We can think of a million activities for when skies are blue and the sun is shining, but we stopped at 27—the better to leave some room for your own creativity and imagination. The important thing is to get out to the parks, beaches and other outdoor attractions of New York City and start making the most of the warm weather.

Rockaway Beach. Photo: Ryan Struck

1. Check the surf at Rockaway Beach—and then master it. A few places offer lessons for hanging 10, including New York Surf School, Locals Surf School and Skudin Surf.

2. Browse the goods—and buy a few—at the Union Square Greenmarket. Scores of vendors line the park four times a week with fresh baked goods, produce and flowers.

Brooklyn Bridge. Photo: Julienne Schaer

3. Walk across the Brooklyn Bridge. Opened to foot traffic back in 1883, the graceful span connects waterfront Brooklyn with Lower Manhattan and is an easy, popular stroll.

Bohemian Hall and Beer Garden. Courtesy, Clayton Cotterell

4. Enjoy a pint and a brat in the Bohemian Beer Garden. This Astoria warhorse has been around for more than a century, and its umbrella- and grill-filled backyard is still a lively scene on a summer afternoon.

5. For that matter, have a cocktail or refreshing beverage somewhere outdoors. Between the City’s rooftops, piers and parks, we’ve got your sunny-day drinking agenda covered.

View from Empire State Building. Photo: Julienne Schaer

6. Go up in an observatory on a clear day to see as far as the eye can. The Empire State Building, Top of the Rock and One World Observatory provide vantage points for eyeing the skyscrapers, shorelines and boroughs of New York City.

Chinese Scholar's Garden. Photo: Julienne Schaer

7. Listen to a waterfall in Snug Harbor’s Chinese Scholar’s Garden. The expansive cultural center it’s part of has plenty of museums and attractions, but the tranquil spaces of this Ming Dynasty–era re-creation might be its most enticing features.

8. Board a ferry and ride somewhere—to Staten Island, or Governors Island, or just connect the dots along the Brooklyn and Queens’ waterfront. You’ll find some cool neighborhoods along the way.

9. Grab some handheld street foodtaco, pizza, hot dog…let’s face it, the list is long—from a sidewalk vendor or to-go joint and blend into the workaday scene.

Coney Island Boardwalk. Photo: Brittany Petronella

10. Stroll the Boardwalk in Coney Island. It’s as picturesque and carnivalesque a scene as you’ll find, flanked by the beach on one side and the vintage rides of the amusementparks on the other. May as well give the Cyclone a fling while you’re at it.

11. Take a close-up look at the Pepsi sign in Long Island City. It’s in Gantry Plaza State Park, a waterside green space and walkway that’s one of the jewels of this Queens neighborhood.

12. Get lost in the streets of the West Village. And we mean that; after all, West 4th and West 10th Streets intersect as the city grid loses its bearings in the area. Fortunately, nearly every block is picturesque and lined with historic town houses and charming restaurants.


Sunset Park. Courtesy, NYC Parks

13. Plan a picnic in Sunset Park. The crest of the hill in this Brooklyn green space marks one of the highest points in the borough, meaning you’ll have a great view of New York Harbor and the Manhattan skyline; plenty of Asian and Latin American takeout spots nearby can provide the sustenance.

14. Find a baseball, soccer or cricket game to watch. Or play a quick round of golf—mini or pitch and putt—in Flushing Meadows Corona Park. It’s a sporty city.

15. See some public art. NYC’s artistic side doesn’t only come out in museums: there are the Coney Art Walls, the displays in Madison Square Park, the installations on the High Line, the eye-catching pieces outside the United Nations and a certain Charging Bull near Wall Street for a very quick start.

16. Settle down in the High Line’s Tenth Avenue Square (at 17th Street), with its amphitheater-like seating. You’ll have a scenic place to eat lunch and watch the action on the street below.

17. Cool off in an outdoor public pool or, less ambitiously, a splash pad. The latter exist in Prospect Park’s Lefrak Center at Lakeside and Brooklyn Bridge Park’s Water Lab at Pier 6 and a half-dozen other spots around town.

18. Roller-skate the day away. Speaking of Lakeside and Brooklyn Bridge Park (this time at Pier 2), those are also two prime outdoor places for playing a disco soundtrack in your mind and trying your luck at shooting the duck.

Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir, Central Park. Photo: Will Steacy

19. See how many of Central Park’s 1,600 lampposts you can use as navigation. In other words, try to cover as much ground as possible in Manhattan’s favorite spot for recreation and relaxation.

20. Take a run around the Central Park Reservoir, which offers excellent skyline views in all directions. Make sure to go counterclockwise around the 1.58-mile oval, which you may recognize from its starring role in the Marathon Man.

21. Watch the yachts from City Island. NYC’s New England–style getaway is a small jewel of the Bronx: a fishing village that’s loaded with marinas and low-key lobster restaurants.

22. Bike your way along the Hudson River Greenway. The dedicated path here is among the City’s most popular for cyclists, but you can find other places to pedal throughout the five boroughs.

23. Paddle around in the rivers. Numerous piers and landings in Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens offer kayaking lessons that get you out on the water.

24. Explore the old-growth forest in the New York Botanical Garden. This section of the garden dates back centuries, when it was inhabited by the Lenape people; it’s always a good day to check out what’s in bloom here and at its counterparts, Brooklyn Botanic Garden and Queens Botanical Garden.

Taiyaki Ice Cream. Photo: Molly Flores

25. Find the City’s best ice cream spots—and sample some at each one. Ample Hills, Blue Marble and Big Gay Ice Cream (deservedly) get a lot of press, but poke around and you’ll find more, plus great Italian ice and gelato places (eggplant chocolate flavor, anyone?).

26. Listen to the buskers in Washington Square Park. This central hub is a quintessential piece of the Village, a place to relax by the fountain and take in the lively scene. Just don’t challenge one of the sharks in chess.

27. Wrap up your day with an outdoor movie or concert. These mostly take place in city parks during summer months.