NYC in August: 34 Uniquely Fun Things to Do + Tips for Visiting

A ferry on water, a silhouette of buildings from afar, and the sunset in NYC

August is the peak travel season in New York City! Summer activities are in full swing this month, with events like outdoor festivals and concerts taking over the city. The hot weather also makes August the perfect time to visit water attractions ranging from the best beaches in New York to sailing tours along the Hudson River. The options for uniquely fun things to do in August are nearly endless. Here are my favorite highlight attractions during August in NYC.

NYC Weather in August

August in NYC is super hot and sticky, with temperatures averaging in the mid-eighties and extreme humidity. Remember, NYC naturally used to be swampy woodland. So any activities that involve extended time outdoors or are cardio-inducing should be saved for early mornings before the sun peaks or for those lucky cooler days. 

Tips for Traveling to NYC in August

  • Fashion: As to what to wear in New York in August, I suggest sticking to lightweight, breathable fabrics. Summer dresses and linen pants will work perfectly; and of course, comfortable walking shoes are essential!
  • Packing: Since you’ll likely be spending a lot of time outside, pack a smooth and non-sticky sunscreen like this one. I also love carrying a UV umbrella to stay protected during especially hot days under the spicy sun. Staying hydrated is extremely important in the August heat, so make sure you have a water bottle with electrolytes whenever you’re out exploring.
  • Air Conditioner: This is a must for visiting NYC in August. Double-check that your accommodation offers an air conditioner! Due to the heat island effect, the city stays hot at night.

Things to Do in NYC in August 

August is when New Yorkers make the most of the remainder of the summer. The city is flush with summer-only events, like outdoor movie nights and weekly live music events, so there’s always something unique to check out. Day trips from NYC and weekend getaways are also popular options when an escape from the city heat is necessary. 

Regardless of what you’re in the mood for, we’ve got you covered with our list of New York in August: 35 Things to Do When Visiting NYC in August!

1. BEST Hidden Gem Parks & Gardens of NYC

One of the best things to do in NYC in August is explore the city’s wonderful parks and gardens. Many people don’t realize that our concrete jungle actually offers an array of lush, green havens. From riverside parks to carefully curated botanical gardens, these verdant hideaways are the perfect escape when the summer crowds start to feel overwhelming.

  • Brooklyn Bridge Park: This gorgeous, 1.3 mile long park in Brooklyn is a must-visit when you’re in DUMBO. Facing the East River, take in breathtaking views of the Manhattan skyline as you stroll along the lively promenade.
  • Domino Park: This 5-acre park along the East River in Williamsburg is actually a renovated industrial production plant. A favorite among locals, this unique park offers sweeping skyline views from the promenade, bocce and volleyball courts, elevated walkways and a delicious taco stand.
  • Fort Tryon: Fort Tyron is a gorgeous park along the Hudson River that contains 8 miles of pathways to explore. The park is known for its beautiful Heather Garden, the biggest public garden with unrestricted access in NYC.
  • Wave Hill: For a true oasis, head to the Bronx and visit Wave Hill, an incredible botanical garden that will make you completely forget you’re in a bustling city! With over 28 acres of gardens and woodland, you could spend the entire day exploring its wide range of flowers, herbs and foliage. 
  • Prospect Park: Located in Brooklyn, this stunning, expansive park contains an impressive botanical garden, zoo, boat house, and plenty of sprawling green lawns. There’s also a bandshell in the park where free concerts are often held throughout the summer!

2. Waterfalls & Swimming Holes Day Trips

If you’re visiting New York City in August, then a day trip to one of New York’s nearby waterfalls and swimming holes is the perfect way to get out in nature while beating the heat. Among these 31 Breathtaking Waterfalls in New York State, these are some of my favorite places to take a dip outside of the city.

  • Kaaterskill Falls: Located in the Catskill Mountains, Kaaterskill Falls is a gorgeous, two-stage waterfall that can be reached by a 1.4mile round trip hike. This is a very popular site for both tourists and locals, so try to head there early, especially on the weekends.
  • Peekamoose Blue Hole: Also found in the Catskills, the Peekamoose Blue Hole is a unique, natural swimming hole in Sundown Wild Forest. Formed from a depression in the streambed rock of the Rondout Creek, this has become a popular summer day trip for New Yorker’s looking to cool off in nature. Parking is very limited and not allowed on the side of the road, so be sure to get there early.
  • Awosting Falls: In Minnewaska State Park, Awosting Falls are about a 2 hour drive from the city and reached by a 1.1 out and back trail. The short trail passes by a peaceful stream before reaching a small pool and Awosting Falls, which are about 60-feet tall. 
  • Fawn’s Leap: Located in Kaaterskill Creek, Fawn’s Leap is a 24-foot waterfall that cascades over large boulders, with a crystal clear swimming hole that is ideal for an afternoon dip. Fawn’s Leap is very close to Kaaterskill Falls, so if you have time it’s worth seeing both while you’re nearby!

3. NYC Beaches for Events, Surfing & Swimming

With heat and humidity soaring in the city, August is the best time to enjoy a day at the beach. Whether you want to take a nap in the sand, hop on a surfboard, or experience a one-of-a-kind evening, many of the best beaches in New York are only a subway ride away!

  • Rockaways: Not far from Jacob Riis, this is the only beach where you can legally surf in NYC. Beginners can come here to sign up for surfing lessons! Afterward, head to the many restaurants to eat in the Rockaways.
  • Jacob Riis: This very popular beach in Queens has a thriving LGBT community, and the far end of the beach also happens to be the only nude beach in NYC. To reach Jacob Riis, you can either take a subway/bus combo or hop on a ferry from Manhattan or Brooklyn.
  • Coney Island: Ride the famous ferris wheel in Luna Park or visit on a Friday night for their weekly fireworks show over the water. There are also tons of events lined up for August, including a monthly Drag Retrospective at the Coney Island Boardwalk Bizarre, Coney Island Open Mic Night, and more! This one WILL be crowded on weekends.
  • Brighton Beach: For a more relaxed day of swimming and lounging in the sun, head to Brighton Beach, which is just East of Coney Island. The neighborhood is known  for its Eastern European community, so I recommend having lunch at one of the many nearby restaurants. 

4. NYC Flea Markets

There are countless outdoor flea markets scattered throughout NYC, where you’ll find everything from timeless vintage pieces and jewelry to artisanal crafts and furniture. Not only are these markets a great place to find local artisans and small businesses to support, but they’re also a perfect place to find a unique momento to bring back from New York! Most of my craft jewelry are from NYC markets!

  • Chelsea Flea Market: The only NYC flea market that exclusively sells antiques and vintage items. Open every Saturday and Sunday from 8 AM to 4 PM this is the ideal market to visit if you’re searching for a one-of-a-kind souvenir.
  • Brooklyn Flea Market: This is Brooklyn’s largest flea market, and takes place every weekend underneath the archway in DUMBO. You’ll find everything from artisanal crafts and jewelry to vintage clothing and furniture, as well as tons of delicious food stalls.
  • Bushwick Flea Market: This small, quirky market is open everyday, and located among the many lively bars and restaurants of Bushwick. Here, you’ll find an abundance of plants and furniture, as well as vintage trinkets, clothing and records. 

5. Kayaking Delaware River + Wine Tour (From NYC)

Don’t have a car? No problem. Join this kayaking + winery guided tour. This experience includes a delightful visit to a winery. On the tour, you’ll kayak along the picturesque Delaware River for approximately 2 to 2.5 hours. Then, a picnic lunch will be arranged for you. Afterwards, the tour continues with a visit to a winery, where you’ll have the chance to sample five different wines.

To reserve your spot on the kayaking tour this August, you can book it here.

6. Helicopter Tour Over NYC

For a birds-eye-view of the iconic Manhattan skyline, book a helicopter tour and see the city like never before! This tour takes you up in the air for approximately 15 minutes, where you’ll soar over the Brooklyn Bridge, Ellis Island and Wall Street. You’ll have to go to New Jersey to begin your tour, and they offer a number of timeslots from 10am to 5pm. 

7. Shakespeare in the Park (FREE)

Shakespeare in the Park is an annual event that begins in NYC in June and lasts through August. Each summer, a production of a classic Shakespeare play is held in Central Park, and tickets are completely free. Line up early in the morning to snag first come, first serve tickets on the day of the show, or enter an online lottery. This year, Hamlet is the chosen play and the last day of performances will be August 6th.

  • Location: Central Park
  • Cost: FREE
  • Dates: Various Dates

8. Day Trip to Niagara Falls  

If you’re pressed for time but want to see the iconic Niagara Falls, then hop on this day trip tour! The journey is about 7-8 hours each way, and you’ll be taken to all the top viewpoints to appreciate the powerful Falls, including the Observation Tower. 

However, there are so many fun things to do in Niagara Falls, so I recommend staying longer if you’re able to. If you do, make the most of your getaway by staying in one of the many beautiful boutique hotels in Niagara Falls

9. Summerstage

Summerstage is an annual music festival and highlight of the summer for many New Yorkers. Throughout the summer, free and benefit concerts are held in Central Park, with a wide range of performers and genres showcased throughout the festival. Keep an eye out for the full lineup and get ready for a magical evening of free, live music.

  • Location: Central Park
  • Cost: FREE

10. Tubing Delaware River + Brewery Tour (From NYC)

This Delaware River tubing and brewery tour includes transportation from NYC to the Delaware River, where you’ll indulge in two hours of tubing down the river. After, you’ll enjoy a riverside lunch to relax and refuel. Then, you’ll visit The Drowned Lands Brewery, where you can savor a 12-ounce beer. To secure your spot on this tubing adventure, you can book the tour here.

11. Harlem Week

For nearly 50 years, Harlem Week has celebrated the vibrant heritage of Harlem, while highlighting its African, Caribbean, European and Hispanic history and culture. For 10 days, the neighborhood is celebrated with exciting music and dance performances. There are also numerous local vendors selling artisanal goods and incredible cuisine, making it a perfect opportunity to discover and support Harlem’s small businesses.

  • Location: 200A W. 136th Street ew York
  • Cost: FREE
  • Dates: August 10-20, 2023

12. Naumburg Orchestral Concerts

Held since 1905, the Naumburg Orchestral Concert series is now hailed as the oldest, continuous outdoor classical free concert series in the world. Throughout the summer, free orchestral concerts are performed in Central Park, and there are no tickets required. This year is  the Naumburg Bandshell’s 100th anniversary- making this an extra special season!

On August 1st, the East Coast Chamber Orchestra is scheduled to perform, where you’ll hear beautiful pieces from Mozart, William Grant Still, Eleanor Alberga and Josef Suk.

  • Location: Central Park
  • Cost: FREE
  • Date: August 1st

13. Bryant Park Movie Nights

Free outdoor movies in Bryant Park are a beloved weekly event in the summer. Throughout the season, the park hosts a free movie screening every Monday night. The films begin at 8pm, but the lawn opens at 5, so pack a picnic and show up early to snag a perfect viewing spot. Check out the film lineup to see what’s playing when you’re in town.

14. Afropunk 2023

Afropunk is a celebration of black culture and music, with a mission to bring people together and embrace their individuality. Taking place in Brooklyn, the weekend is filled with incredible live music, food, and culture, all while aiming to bring the community together. The festival dates are August 26-27, so keep an eye out for the official line up and ticket information.

  • Location: Brooklyn, NY
  • Cost: Varies
  • Date: August 26-27, 2023

15. Day Trips to Long Island (by train)

If the noise of the city starts to be too much, then hop on the train and head to Long Island. With picturesque beaches, gorgeous vineyards and plenty of charming small towns on Long Island, you can’t go wrong! 

  • Greenport: This charming fishing village located on the North Shore is a perfect summer day trip from NYC. Easily reached by train, once here you can spend your day visiting local wineries, try oyster shucking, and explore a stunning lavender field. Greenport is also an ideal base for getting out on the water, and one of the best places to go kayaking on Long Island.
  • Montauk: With so many things to do in Montauk, the 3-hour train ride from NYC to this idyllic beach town is well worth the effort. Spend your day laying on a soft, sandy beach, hike by the historic Montauk Point Lighthouse, or pop into the quaint shops on Main Street. Before you head back to the city, cap off your Montauk day trip with fresh local seafood at one of the many delicious restaurants in town.
  • Long Island Wine Country Tour from NYC: Explore the best of Long Island’s North Fork on this full day wine country tour, where you’ll visit 3 different vineyards, along with a catered picnic lunch. The tour provides roundtrip travel from NYC, so you can just sit back with your glass of wine, relax and enjoy!
  • Fire Island: This unique, car-free oasis off the coast of Long Island boasts pristine beaches, coastal hikes, and a breathtaking Sunken Forest. Easily reached by train and followed by a quick ferry ride, the journey from the city takes less than 2 hours and is well worth the trek. 

16. Rooftop Reds Vineyard

If you’re visiting New York City in August, then be sure to visit Rooftop Reds. As the world’s first commercially-viable urban rooftop, this idyllic setting makes for a unique Brooklyn evening. In addition to enjoying wine and pizza from a gorgeous rooftop, the space also hosts movie nights, rooftop yoga, and summer-only events. Take a look at their website to see what they have planned while you’re in town.

17. Jazz at Pier 84

Jazz at Pier 84 is a beautiful summer music series, taking place in Hudson River Park. Watch the sunset over the Hudson River while incredibly talented jazz musicians show off their skills during this free event. No advanced tickets are required, so you can just show up with your picnic blanket and enjoy the show!

  • Location: Pier 84
  • Cost: FREE
  • Dates: Aug 9: Camille Gainer Jones & the Immortals || Aug 16: The Harmony Bartz Experience

18. NYC Summer Food Markets

Food markets are a wonderful NYC staple, and the perfect way to discover a range of local restaurants and small businesses. In addition to mouthwatering cuisine, the markets often host live music, art, and cultural performances. Since many of these markets are only open in the summer, August is a perfect time to check them out!

  • Bronx Night Market: This popular open-air market contains over 60 delicious vendors and aims to celebrate food, culture and community. Taking place in Fordham Plaza on August 26, from 1-7pm, this is one festival that foodies will not want to miss!
  • Queens Night Market: Celebrating the vibrant heritage and culture of NYC and Queens, this market takes place every Saturday at the New York Hall of Science, from 5pm to midnight. Along with cultural performances, over 100 independent vendors attend the market, selling both art and a diverse range of mouthwatering cuisine.
  • Smorgasburg: The biggest open-air food market in the United States, and has become a summer staple in Brooklyn. The market is open every Saturday in Williamsburg and every Sunday in Prospect Park, from 11am-6pm. 

19. Watch Sleep No More

Sleep No More is an immersive theatrical experience, based on Shakespeare’s classic tragedy.   Taking place in the McKittrick Hotel, audience members wander through different rooms as they wish, without any specific direction or timeframe. In each room, guests will stumble on various moments of performances, letting the story unfold in its own unique way. It’s truly a one-of-a-kind experience you won’t find anywhere else.

  • Location: 530 West 27th Street New York
  • Cost: Prices Vary
  • Date: Various Dates

20. Sailing Lessons or Guided Tour

For a magical evening on the water, book a sunset sail on the Hudson River. This 2 hour cruise on a schooner takes you along the river as the sun begins to set, giving you the opportunity to appreciate NYC’s iconic skyline in a whole new way. While you sail past famous landmarks like the Statue of Liberty and One World Trade Center, you’ll also be served your choice of champagne, beer or wine.

21. Visit Governor’s Island

Governor’s Island is a 172 acre island, reached by a 10 minute ferry from downtown Manhattan. Take in stunning views of the city skyline from this lush oasis, where you can picnic, ride bikes, or check out unique art installations.

Other interesting things to do on Governor’s Island:

  • Glamping on Governor’s Island: If you’re up for glamping in New York, then stay overnight at Collective Retreat– a luxury glamping accommodation on Governor’s Island that features a spa, on-site restaurant, and rustic tents overlooking Manhattan.
  • Spa on Governor’s Island: QC NY Spa is located in Governor’s Island and provides sweeping views of the city along with over 20 luxurious spa experiences. Be sure to take a dip in their pool overlooking the skyline. A spa day is the perfect way to escape the crowded summer streets of NYC in August. Consider adding one of their massage packages to your spa ticket.
  • Events: There are always various events happening here, so keep an eye out for what’s going on in August.

22. Kayaking in NYC

Kayaking is one of my favorite summer activities, and there are a surprising number of opportunities to paddle out on the water throughout NYC. The best part is, many of the kayaking excursions in New York are completely free!

  • Manhattan: This tour begins in Jersey City and takes you on a 1 hour kayak trip during sunset, with the majestic NYC cityscape as your backdrop. This tour is beginner friendly, and your guide will walk you through a safety tutorial before you set out.
  • Hudson River on Pier 26: For a free kayaking excursion, head to the Downtown Boathouse on Pier 26 where you can kayak for 20 minutes on the bay. Just show up and hop on line, where you’ll have to confirm that you know how to swim.
  • Canoeing the Bronx River: Head to the Bronx to canoe down the Bronx River, where prior experience isn’t required. Various excursions are offered, ranging from a free 15 minute community paddle to a 3 hour trip along the estuary.  
  • Brooklyn Bridge Park: Head to Brooklyn Bridge Park to enjoy a free, 20 minute kayak ride along the East River Estuary. Available on Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays, you’ll need to make a reservation ahead of time through the Brooklyn Bridge Boathouse.
  • Kayak Staten Island: On August 13th and 28th, from 9-11am you can join in on 20 minutes of free kayaking in Staten Island. No advance registration is required, and volunteers will be available to help get you started!

23. Blues BBQ Festival 

If you’re visiting New York in August, then make your way to Hudson River Park for this free, all-day music festival. An impressive lineup of talented blues musicians will be performing, and there will be plenty of delicious BBQ and beverages to enjoy! The full list of performers and food vendors will be announced soon, so keep an eye on the festival’s website.

  • Location: Pier 76, Manhattan
  • Cost: FREE

24. Lower East Side Wine Tasting Tour

Wine and dine your way through the Lower East Side on this 2-hour wine tasting tour, which takes you to two local restaurants. You’ll sample a number of dishes and four glasses of wine, as well as get to know this vibrant, downtown neighborhood. The tour even brings you to a local wine shop, where you’ll be given a discount on their bottles- along with two more glasses of wine to sample!

  • Location: Lower East Side, NYC
  • Cost: $90
  • Book Here

25. Day Trips to Upstate New York Towns (by train)

Escape the heat of August in NYC with a day trip to Upstate New York, where the weather is still pleasantly warm, though noticeably less humid. Breathe in the fresh air on a gorgeous hike, spend the day exploring one of these charming small towns in Western New York, or museum hop along the Hudson River. No matter what you’re in the mood for, Upstate New York offers some of the best day trips from NYC.

  • Beacon, NY: Just over an hour from NYC by train, you’ll find this idyllic town along the Hudson River. Despite its small size, there’s a nearly endless list of things to do in Beacon, NY. Hike Mount Beacon Park, have lunch on Main Street, or if you’re a fan of modern art, stop by Dia Beacon.
  • Cold Spring, NY: With so many things to do in Cold Spring, you could easily spend way more than a day here. Only one hour away by train, the area boasts some of the best hikes near New York City, an impressive art museum, and Bannerman Castle, which you can reach by ferry.
  • Woodstock, NY: Only 2 hours from NYC, this picturesque town in the Catskills is one of the most popular small towns in Upstate New York, and for good reason. The town offers tons of gorgeous hikes, art galleries, and music venues to explore, along with delicious restaurants and a local brewery.

26. Hong Kong Dragon Boat Festival

As one of the biggest dragon boat festivals in the United States, this annual, multicultural festival celebrates the fifth moon, or month, of the lunar calendar. The festival features over 120 dragon boat teams from North America, as well as an abundance of traditional Chinese foods and performances, plus an opening parade. Come watch the teams compete for various prizes and trophies, while immersing yourself in a truly unique, cultural experience.

  • Location: 141-07 20th Ave., Ste 406, Whitestone, NY
  • Cost: FREE
  • Dates: August 12 & 13

27. Summer for the City

This Lincoln Center music festival showcases thousands of artists from various genres to celebrate the cultural communities of NYC. Most events are free, and can range from classical performances to weekly social dance nights on the city’s largest outdoor dance floor! Keep an eye on the full August events list, which includes a week dedicated to hip-hop. 

  • Location: Lincoln Center
  • Cost: Various Prices
  • Date: June 14- Aug 12, 2023

28. Hudson River Cruise

One of the best ways to experience the city in August is from the water. On this 2.5 hour Hudson River Cruise, you’ll circle around all of Manhattan Island, taking in breathtaking views of the NYC skyline. A guide will also be there to explain the history of many of the landmarks that you’ll pass by, so it’s a great way to learn a bit more about the city. Food and drinks are not included on this cruise, though they are available for purchase.

29. Jazz at Lincoln Center

Jazz at Lincoln Center hosts a number of performances by incredibly talented artists. Their mission is to connect with the global jazz community, and in addition to unforgettable concerts, they also organize discussions and educational music programs. If you’re a jazz lover, then keep an eye on their schedule to see what’s lined up while you’re in the city.

30. Rock the Bells Festival 2023

Founded by LL Cool J, Rock the Bells is a can’t-miss festival for hip-hop lovers! Taking place at Forest Hills Stadium in Queens, this year is expected to be extra memorable, as the festival will celebrate the 50th anniversary of Hip-Hop. Keep an eye out for their official line up, and consider buying tickets early, as the festival is expected to sell out quickly.

  • Location: Forest Hills Stadium, NY
  • Cost: Varies
  • Dates: August 5, 2023

31. Seasonal Sports Events 

Beginning in the Spring in New York and lasting through October, baseball season takes over the city. Whether or not you’re a sports fan, you’re guaranteed to have a good time as you soak in the warm weather and lively stadium atmosphere while catching a game.

If you’re a tennis fan visiting towards the end of the month, then your timing is perfect for getting to experience the famous US Open!

  • US Open Starts: The US Open Tennis Championship takes place from August 28-September 10 in Queens, and is one of the most popular NYC August events. Prices vary and tickets can sell out quickly, so it’s worth booking in advance if you’re interested in going.
  • Baseball Games: August is a great time to catch a baseball game in the city, especially since many games take place in the evening when the temperature begins to cool down. If you’re a Yankee fan,  check out their schedule before heading to the iconic Yankee Stadium. If you’re rooting for the Mets, find their schedule here before making your way to CitiField Stadium in Queens.

32. Visit NYC Museums + Events 

If it’s too hot outside, then cool off by visiting one of the many museums in the city. Thanks to the numerous free museums in NYC, this is both a great option for beating the heat, as well as saving money. Whether you’re an art lover or history buff, you’re bound to find a museum you’ll love (and chances are, it will be well air conditioned)!

  • Brooklyn Museum’s First Saturdays: Every first Saturday of the month, the Brooklyn Museum opens its doors for free, beginning at 5 pm. You can peruse the exhibits, as well as check out live music and dance performances, attend talks, and view screenings. 
  • Metropolitan Museum of Art: The Met is an iconic art museum, and with over 5,000 years worth of art from around the world, you could easily spend your whole day here. Be sure to check out the museum’s impressive rooftop, with sweeping views of Central Park and intricate installations that change each year. On Tuesdays, admission to the museum is free after 5pm.
  • MOMA: Modern art lovers can’t skip MoMA, NYC’s renowned modern art museum. The museum features a mix of permanent and temporary exhibits, as well as special installations, live performances, and film screenings. On the first Friday of each month, MoMA is open for extended hours and features unique, special events. 
  • Whitney Museum of American Art: The Whitney is located downtown in the Meatpacking District, and showcases a variety of American artists. The museum boasts the longest-running survey of American art, and places a large focus on living artists. 

33. Hudson River Park Green Team

If you have a green thumb, then you’ll love this volunteer program. The Hudson River Park Green Team helps to maintain Hudson River Park through various landscaping and gardening activities. You’ll work alongside their experienced horticulture staff, so it’s a great way to learn more about gardening if you’re curious. 

  • Location: Hudson River Park, Manhattan
  • Cost: FREE

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About the Author: Shea Glaser

Shea was born in NYC and has called the city home for most of her life. Her work as a travel-focused content creator has taken her around the globe, but her heart always brings her back home to New York City. You can usually find her drinking coffee in Brooklyn, hiking somewhere Upstate, or running up to pet a stranger’s dog. Follow her on Instagram @sheaglaser.

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