AWNY Gals Roundup of the Best Summer Activities in NYC

The AWNY gals recently caught up and were excitedly sharing plans as summer kicks off in NYC. After a few weekends of temperatures above 30C/86F and extra days off in the coming weeks thanks to some national holidays, the gals assembled their guide to spending summer in NYC. From free festivals, to eating competitions, to the best sites for a summer ride or camping spot, our AWNY members shared their favorite summer activities.

Central Park in the summertime Photo: Zoe Wetherall
Central Park in the summertime Photo: Zoe Wetherall

Outdoor Markets

It’s fair to say that everyone loves a chance to assemble a group of friends at an outdoor market, only to, seconds later, each run off in different sections to grab their samples of food, everyone trying to outdo each other to select the most unique options. Thankfully, to satisfy the crowds, NYC has plenty of outdoor markets to choose from across summer. Some regular haunts for AWNY members include Smorgasburg in Williamsburg on Saturdays from June; with a particular shout out to the fried pickles and fried anchovies for providing two options for fried salty treats, and the views back to Manhattan. But you can also check out Smorgasburg at World Trade Center on Fridays (11-7pm), Jersey City on Saturdays (11-6pm) and Prospect Park Sundays (11-6pm).

Outdoor Festivals, Music Events and Movies

A tried and tested fan favorite is the Outdoor Movie Nights at Bryant Park. Running from June to the end of August, hundreds of people gather to watch classics with a picnic on the grass. This year the theme is sequels. If nearby on July 18th, don’t worry if you hear screaming coming from the park, it’s just a couple of hundred people watching the late 1990s slasher movie, Scream 2. Pack a picnic blanket and sample food and wine from the nearby stalls. Lawn opens at 5pm and movies start at 8pm.

Outdoor Movie Nights at Bryant Park Photo: Zoe Wetherall
Outdoor Movie Nights at Bryant Park Photo: Zoe Wetherall

BRIC Celebrate Brooklyn! is one of NYC’s longest running, free, outdoor performing arts festivals located in Prospect Park. From June to early August, events will take place at the Lena Horne Bandshell showcasing an array of different music tastes and energetic atmosphere to boot.

Little Island, one of the newest public parks in NYC, hosts a variety of events across summer including live music, performances and kids activities. While last year they had a few false starts due to lightning, this year they have a full calendar packed full of free events.

Little Island music amphitheater during 2021's summer performances
Free live concerts during summer on Little Island Photo: Melanie O’Brien

AWNY recently assembled a list of Aussie music artists visiting NYC across the summer in our AWNY Summer Music Guide. One special call out is the Sounds Australia hosted Aussie BBQ 2022 at Central Park’s SummerStage on Saturday June 18th. There will be sets from Baker Boy, Electric Fields, G Flip, Haiku Hands, Peking Duk and You Am I. Entrance is free and gates will open at 3pm. I know I’ll be there – see you there!

Sporting Events and Eating Competitions

Now we admit, sporting events aren’t a summer-only activity but there are a lot of affordable, and free(!) ‘sporting’ events across the next few months. One of the famous of these is Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog Eating Competition, an annual event hosted on Independence Day at Coney Island, near to the location of the original Nathan’s Famous hot dog outlet. Promising loads of laughs, ridiculous hotdog shaped outfits and the most entertaining host, the event is a must-see, at least once. Join hundreds of others sampling the hot dogs for themselves post competition on the sand at Coney Island Beach.

Hot dog eating contest on independence Day at Coney Island
The annual hot dog eating contest at Coney Island on Independence Day Photo: Melanie O’Brien

Of course the US Open is a big ticket event that everyone is aware of, with some of our AWNY tennis faithful booking tickets as soon as they come on sale each year. However, a less known event is that the US Open Qualifying Tournament, taking place the week before the main tournament, allows fans to attend the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center at no cost! Fan Week also includes a Legends match, US Open player practice, as well as music and entertainment.

“the US Open Qualifying Tournament, taking place the week before the main tournament, allows fans to attend the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center at no cost!”

US Open
US Open in Flushing Meadow, Queens Photo: Melanie O’Brien

Bike Riding across the Boroughs

While we may have missed this year’s Five Boro Bike Tour, the 40-mile ride that takes riders through all five of New York’s boroughs and across five major bridges, a few of our AWNY gals spend the summer traversing the city on the many bike paths NYC has to offer – on bikes and roller skates! Many of the suggestions included catching a ferry to Governors Island to ride around the island (which is bigger than you think!), ride from Manhattan to New Jersey, following the Hudson River Greenway until you get to the George Washington Bridge or for the more adventurous, a longer ride is from Manhattan to the Tappan Zee Bridge (Gov. Mario M. Cuomo Bridge), a 28 mile ride from Central Park to the beginning of the bridge.

Another well known AWNY favorite urban ride includes following the bike paths from Williamsburg to Red Hook and treating yourself to some Hometown Bar-B-Que at the finish line.

Governors Island entrance from the ferry
Governors Island, via ferry from Manhattan Photo: Melanie O’Brien

Camping, Hiking and Beach Trips

Governors Island now offers plenty of accommodation options including Collective Retreats, a glamping retreat with wellness activities like yoga, wine tastings and a community nights program.

View back to Manhattan from Governors Islands
Governors Island Photo: Melanie O’Brien

Further afield camping spots include:

For most of the AWNY gals though a trip to the beach is the best respite for a hot summers day and who said moving to NYC meant you had to sacrifice long beach days. Rockaway provides the quickest option for those looking to jump into the Atlantic chill (a much better and cleaner option than Coney Island), and for those looking for more of an Australian style beach, a longer trip to Montauk can cure most bouts of homesickness.

Long Beach, New York Photo: Zoe Wetherall

Rooftop Bars

Some of our AWNY gals are lucky enough to have a rooftop pool deck and that’s where they plan to spend much of their days off over summer. But for the rest of us, the bars below offer great views and chilled out surrounds:

Now a word to the wise, rooftop bars can get super busy across the summer and some of them started to introduce cover charges recently so get in early. Let us know your favorite rooftop bars in the comments below!

And don’t stop there, let us know what you’ll be getting up to this summer below.

Magic Hour at the Moxy Photo: Zoe Wetherall
Magic Hour at the Moxy Photo: Zoe Wetherall

Author: Melanie O'Brien

Melanie has been an AWNY Volunteer since the first day she moved to NYC in 2021. After relocating through work and uprooting her Sydney life to NYC, she decided to give back to the community by sharing her stories and connecting with fellow Aussies who embark on a similar journey. Always open for a chat so reach out if you would like to get in touch!

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