The Roundup

The City Is Back! How to Have Fun in New York This Summer

by California Chaney
Governors Island's new QC NY spa. Photo courtesy of QC NY Spa.

NEW YORK CITY — Some are calling it the summer of love. Others the roaring '20s. You can feel an infectious (too soon?) joy for the magic that is New York in the summer. We are embracing all that we've missed in the past two years. Concerts. Festivals. Beach days. Roller jams. The Mermaid Parade. You name it: New York is alive. ALIVE!

As we navigate these still-weird times and let our freak flags fly, let's remember that kindness and thoughtfulness are always trending. Now let's get to the fun stuff.

Brooklyn Navy Yard's new rooftop vineyard. Photo courtesy of Rooftop Reds.

What's New in NYC

Forget the fancy dinner reservations and social clubs, when it comes to summer in New York City, the biggest privilege is access to a pool. A brand new day spa, QC&NY has opened on Governor's Island with not one but two outdoor infinity pools with panoramic views of Lower Manhattan and the Brooklyn Bridge. To sweeten the deal, there's also saunas and steam rooms along with an Italian cafe with magnificent views. Day rates start at $88 and include access to the entire spa and a roundtrip ferry ticket from Manhattan or Brooklyn.

Throw on your flare pants and give your free spirit a spin on the revived rollerskating rink at Rockefeller Center, Flipper's Roller Boogie Palace. The iconic ice skating plaza was first transformed as a summer roller rink in 1979 by Ian 'Flipper' Ross, who brought the disco-queen culture to Midtown for three years (when Studio 54 was at its heyday). In the spirit of the summer of love, the rink is back with tunes (with 'boogie' in the name, the expectation is high), kaleidoscopic light shows, and a pizza truck. Timed tickets must be reserved online and start at $20. Some proceeds support the Saks Fifth Avenue Foundation, a mental health non-profit.

Every summer, New Yorkers head to the roof for cocktails and a breeze, and now, vines. Rooftop Reds is the first rooftop vineyard to open in NYC at the Brooklyn Navy Yard. Two hundred grapevines grow in the 15,000-square-foot space with seating throughout and panoramic views of the Manhattan and Brooklyn skylines. To kickoff their first summer, the vineyard is hosting several events including Ribs & Rosé (every third Sunday from June through September) along with movie and pizza nights (Thursdays), late-night chocolate and wine tastings (Fridays and Saturdays, ongoing) and Wednesday night vineyard tours with cheese pairings.

A Rockaway beach day is a summer essential and now is a way to support a great cause. The Campaign Against Hunger has opened a new café in Far Rockaway, Beach Dunes Eats and Arts, which will donate all profits toward the organization's efforts to support food insecurity in NYC. The affordably priced menu — portable sandwiches and picnic goods for the beach — is focused on seasonal ingredients from urban farms and products from local businesses. The space will also serve as a culinary hub for aspiring chefs.

In hopes to revitalize and celebrate the city's fitness community coming out of the pandemic, NYC is hosting its first-ever Fitness Week. Purchase a buy-one-get-one-free deal to workout at a variety of studios and gyms across all five boroughs and explore a new way to sweat in the city (aside from the inevitable walk to the subway). The event is supported by several organizations to improve fitness accessibility for everyone.

You've seen all the shows, collected the playbills, and memorized every song, now head to the new Museum of Broadway dedicated to it all. The interactive experience highlights Broadway's star-studded history from its birth to present today, explores how the theater has traveled all over NYC's map, and lifts the show curtain to give you a peek at what goes into making a theatrical experience.

If rosé-all-day is your summer vibe, snag a pool pass to The Summer Club, a newly opened rooftop day club atop Ravel Hotel in Long Island City with a 50-foot outdoor pool. Live DJs will spin until the sun goes down as frozen cocktails make the rounds. To have your own retreat from the party, several private shaded cabanas are available to rent. A day pass costs $75 and includes pool access, a towel, and a lounge chair. Private cabanas start at $375 and go up to $750.

Bryant Park's summer-long picnic performances return. Photo by Ryan Muir/courtesy of Bryant Park.

What's Returning

Summer in New York is all about spontaneity, especially when that involves free, outdoor events. Bryant Park is bringing back its free-to-the-public Picnic Performances throughout the summer including three orchestrated operas:The Barber of Seville playing on May 27, La Traviata on August 12, and Lucia di Lammermoor on September 2. Afro Latin Jazz Ensemble kicks of Carnegie Hall's July musical series on July 1st. Other musical highlights will include Latin Jazz legend Bobby Sanabria along with his 21-piece Multiverse Big Band (July 23) and Habibi Festival, a Middle Eastern and North African music showcase on August 26. The American Symphony Orchestra will celebrate its 60th anniversary on September 17th and cap off the musical summer.

SummerStage is reviving its free Central Park concerts, showcasing established and emerging artists across all music genres: salsa, jazz, hip-hop, indie rock, reggae, and Afrobeat. This summer's highlights include Modest Mouse, Big Freedia, Fitz and the Tantrums, and a screening of Summer of Soul, the behind-the-scenes documentary about the 1969 Harlem Cultural Festival that brought Nina Simone, Mahalia Jackson, and Stevie Wonder to Harlem.

Non-profits Asian Americans for Equality and Think!Chinatown are partnering up for the second year in a row to bring Chinatown Night Market, a cultural food and art series featuring Asian Pacific Islander vendors and artists showcasing their crafts and respective cuisines. This year's vendors include Cambodia Now, Momo Delight, Pho Master, Twisted Potato, and Alimama. Choy Commons, a farmers association dedicated to supporting food-insecure Asian American families, will have a booth to raise awareness of their community work and support families in need. Several artist booths will also showcase traditional crafts including paper cutting, sugar painting, and braiding straw figures. The event takes place at Forsyth Plaza with five Friday night events throughout the summer.

Governors Island's most glamorous fete, the Jazz Age Lawn Party, returns this year and is set to revive the roaring '20s across all of New York. Live jazz will fill the sprawling dance floor all day long, as food trucks serve fanciful picnic fare and Prohibition-style cocktails are served throughout the park. C.O. Bigelow will set up a pop-up lounge to refresh with rose-themed products between swing acts.

Last summer, Brookfield Place unveiled The Bungalow, a new outdoor waterfront space meant to resemble a Montauk summer share house with pop-up vendors including Blue Ribbon Sushi Bar, and Umami Burger, along with bocce-ball courts and sunbathing loungers. It's the perfect post-work retreat to kickoff the summer, and feel like you're in the Hamptons without sitting in torturous hours of traffic on the LIE.

New Yorkers take rooftop sunsets seriously, especially at Pier 17, which returns its summer rooftop concert series with an impressive roaster of performances including Simple Plan, Sum 41, Pusha T, Elvis Costello & The Imposters, Blondie, DEVO, The Head and the Heart, and Jason Mraz.

Unpack your costume box and stock up on some glitter, the largest art parade in the United States, Coney Island Mermaid Parade, drawing over half a million people returns after a two-year hiatus to celebrate its 40th anniversary and kickoff the start of summer. On Saturday, June 18th, thousands will flock to Surf Avenue — Coney Island's main drag — to watch King Neptune and Queen Mermaid process the boardwalk, making their way to Steeplechase Plaza with thousands of other glitter-adorned sea creatures in tow. The celebration is simple: to cheer and honor individuality, artistry, and self- expression. While you're there, take a spin on Coney Island's iconic Cyclone rollercoaster celebrating its 95th birthday this summer or its newest, The Phoenix, a suspended steel thrill ride that’s inspired by Coney Island’s history as “the people’s playground.”

The immersive augmented-reality art exhibit, Arcadia Earth, designed to inspire environmental action, returns with 15 rooms that are each designed to spotlight the changes our planet is facing (climate change, overfishing, food waste) and inspire action among its viewers. A ticket to the exhibit supports Oceanic Global, an organization devoted to healing and raising awareness of the ocean's aquatic ecosystems. A tree will also be planted for every ticket sold.

To pair your summer fun with the latest restaurants, bars, and art galleries in NYC, head to this guide: The Reboot: What's New in NYC