This post lists the top things to do in New York in May, updated for 2023. Below we list free, nighttime, as well as family-friendly events and activities that can be found in New York City this month.
May is a lovely time of year to New York City. Spring is fully here, and the city is alive with activity.
Layers aren't needed any longer as the weather has finally turned a corner and it's comfortable outside during the day.
Daytime temps tend to be in the mid-60s early in the month, and the low to mid-70s by the end of the month.
A jacket would be good for the evenings, which tend to be in the mid to high 40s early in the month, and the mid to high 50s late in the month.
It's not a bad idea to pack a small umbrella in your bag as there are around 11 days when rainfall can be expected.
Read more about the weather in New York in May here.
This is our list of the ten best events and things to do in NYC in May. For even more suggestions, see our comprehensive guide to things to do in NYC.
Several of the items below are already included for free with the purchase of a tourist discount pass.
For tips on the most popular activities in NYC, check out the following posts:
This month you have a diverse range of music to choose from - from old school greats like Billy Joel and Janet Jackson to new folks like Phoebe Bridgers and Paramore.
See a full list of May concerts and events here.
Concerts in NY (around a 30 minute drive or less)
Concerts Further Afield
- Commodores | May 4th | Staten Island
- Amy Grant | May 4th, 5th | Englewood, NJ
- Morgan Wade || May 5th
- Anita Baker | May 10th, 12th | Newward, NJ and Emont, NY
- The Wallflowers | May 11th | Asbury Park, NJ
- Kool & the Gang | May 12th | Westbury, NY
- Temptations/Four Tops | May 14th
- Cheap Trick | May 17th, 18th | Morristown, NJ
- Morgan Wallen | May 19th, 20th | East Rutherford, NJ
- The Righteous Brothers | May 17th | Englewood, NJ
- Taylor Swift/Phoebe Bridgers | May 26th, 27th, 28th | East Rutherford, NJ
Also in music, Bono of U2 is on a book tour. He'll be in NYC at the Beacon Theatre on May 4th, 7th, and 8th with his "Stories of Surrender."
Check out who else is performing in NYC in May.
In May, baseball is in full swing and the New York Liberty, the national women's basketball team comes to town. There are several soccer matches as well.
See what sports events are on in this month here.
Yankee Stadium offers fun and insightful guided tours. Find out more here.
- Monster Jam | May 13th | MetLife Stadium
See what other sports events are on in May here.
There are too many plays, musicals and other shows playing to list here. Check out what's playing while you are in NYC.
Here are a few of the more noteworthy musicals to see on Broadway this month:
- Lion King
- Funny Girl
- Moulin Rouge
- Six: The Musical
- The Book of Mormon
- MJ The Musical
- Chicago The Musical
- Sweeney Todd
See what else is playing this month.
Our post on how to get cheap tickets to Broadway shows is a must-read.
4. See the Metropolitan Opera
The world famous Metropolitan Opera will be performing multiple shows throughout the month of May, providing fans of the theater with an excellent opportunity to see some of the best operatic tales of all time.
Here are the operas that you can expect to see during this month:
- La Boheme
- Don Girovanni
- Die Zauberflote
- Der Fliegende Hollander
If any of these shows sound interesting, make sure to get your tickets in advance to avoid missing out!
Purchase Metropolitan Opera tickets or learn more.
5. Take a Walking Tour
May is one of the best months to take a walking tour as the weather is absolutely lovely - both day and night.
Our guided walks are free to join and operate on a pay-what-you-like basis, which means you decide what a tour was worth or what you could afford (even free) when the tour is over.
We also offer self-guided and GPS-enabled audio tours of every neighborhood that you will likely visit as a tourist in NYC.
6. Take a Carriage Ride in Central Park
In May, Central Park's trees and flowers are blooming and a carriage ride through the park is an unforgettable way to enjoy the beauty of spring.
Our post on best Central Park Horse and Carriage tours in NYC can help you find the tour that is right for you.
Central Park is so large that even if you do take a carriage ride, you may want to revisit the park on foot.
Be sure to check out our guide of things to do in Central Park.
Though these passes are not cheap, they can save you a lot of money in the end. If you plan well, you will essentially get several tickets to attractions or tours each day for free.
Tourist discount passes work by bundling multiple tickets into one price, usually between 20%-50% the retail price.
Read our post comparing the different tourist discount passes.
If you already know which pass you'd like, you can purchase one here: All Inclusive - Go City New York | Explorer - Go City New York | Day Pass - New York Sightseeing | Flex Pass - New York Sightseeing
Several bus tour companies, including hop-on-hop-off buses, also offer discounts and deals.
8. Experience the New York Philharmonic
If you're more interested in classical music than some of the more modern artists performing concerts this month, you'll be happy to hear that the New York Philharmonic will be in the city this May.
Depending on which show you choose to attend, you can expect to hear the work of master composers such as Shostakovich, Rachmaninoff, and Mahler
There will only be a few opportunities to see them this month, and tickets are selling out fast, so we recommend getting yours as soon as possible.
Purchase New York Philharmonic tickets or learn more.
9. See the New York City Ballet
Believe it or not, the New York City Ballet will be performing a few different shows throughout the month of May.
If you're looking for a more traditional theatrical experience, this is an excellent time of year to see one of the more beloved ballet companies in the world!
Here are some of their more notable shows in May:
- Balanchine & Robbins
- Balanchine & Ratmansky
- 21st Century Choreography
- Copland Dance Episides
Purchase New York City Ballet tickets or learn more.
10. Mother's Day Brunch Cruise
What mother wouldn't enjoy having brunch while looking out at the beautiful New York City skyline?
There are several nice cruises to choose from and we review them in our post about which New York boat tour or cruise is best.
If you want to skip the meal, there are also hop-on-hop-off ferries which let you enjoy both the sights from the water and on the land.
Be sure to check our definitive list of things to do in NYC at any time of the year.
Fleet Week at the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum
Fleet Week is a time to celebrate America's men and women of our forces at sea as they arrive in NYC for a week of fun.
In 2023, Fleet Week runs from May 24th - 30th.
During this event, you'll be able to tour all sorts of sea vessels used by the Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard. Find out more information here.
The Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum typically hosts several special events like watching a movie on the flight deck or enjoying a night of swing dance. The full schedule can be found on their website.
There are many discounts available for tickets to the Intrepid Sea, Air, and Space Museum.
The Intrepid is also included in many tourist discount passes.
The 9th Avenue International Food Festival
Every May, since 1973, international food vendors and entertainers have lined 9th Avenue between 42nd and 57th Street in Hell's Kitchen.
In 2022, it takes place May 20th - 21st from 10 am to 6 pm. The festival is free to attend, but the food isn't. It is, however, pretty cheap!
Read more here.
NYC X Design Festival
Over 250 events celebrating NYC's design talent will be taking place throughout the city May 18th - 25th, 2023.
These events cover such areas as graphic design, television, film, urban desgins, architecture, fashion, and so much more.
Visit the NYC X Design Festival website for an up to date list of activities.
Below are some more nighttime activities to enjoy.
See a Free Concert, Movie or Theater Performance
Towards the end of May, the spirit of summer breaks out in the city and many of the summer-long music, theater, and movie series begin.
Take a Night Tour
Warm and comfortable evenings mean nighttime sightseeing is something to consider.
We offer several night tours, including our Midtown Manhattan Night Tour at least two times every week (Thursdays and Saturdays).
We also offer a night 9/11 Memorial and Brooklyn Bridge Night Tour, ghost tours, and evening tours of the High Line and Central Park.
See our full page of night tours in NYC.
Visit a Rooftop Bar
New York has dozens of rooftop bars of all atmospheres and price ranges. Here are our picks for the best rooftop bars in NYC.
If you don't really want a cocktail or beer, you can still get amazing skyline views from locations all over the city. See our post to find the best New York Skyline views.
Take a Sunset Walk Over the Brooklyn Bridge
You can walk over the bridge any time you want but a sunset stroll is especially beautiful. The weather in May is quite comfortable for a night stroll on this historic bridge.
We offer a night tour of the Brooklyn Bridge and the 9/11 Memorial several evenings each week.
Find out about more nighttime activities by looking at our post on things to do at night in NYC.
Here are a number of free things to do this May.
Taking place on May 20th, 2023, this is one of the most popular free events every May. Each stretch of the route emphasizes different global music.
There are 10,000 dancers and over 100 unique styles of dance.
The Parade starts at 1 pm at 6th Avenue & 17th Street. It passes down 6th Avenue and the down E 8th Street, ending at Saint Mark's Place Avenue A.
See their official website for details.
Washington Square Outdoor Art Exhibit
The Washington Square Outdoor Art Exhibit is a New York perennial favorite event.
On Memorial Day Weekend (May 27th - 29th) the streets surrounding Washington Square Park become mini art galleries of artists and craft artisans from around the world.
It’s a great place to purchase wonderful artworks at very affordable prices.
The event is right smack in the middle of Greenwich Village, so why not take one of our pay-what-you-wish Greenwich Village walking tours.
This may be the least expected activity you pictured yourself doing here. But you will not be disappointed by this free and fun activity.
There are many boat houses that offer free kayaking, usually for short amounts of time. Others offer longer excursions, which are also free. Most open by May 1st.
Cinco De Mayo
Cinco De Mayo is a traditional annual Mexican celebration always celebrated on May 5th. NYC celebrates with a parade that takes place along Central Park West between 97th-106th St.
Before or after the parade, you can head into Central Park and explore the beautiful green spaces.
Here are things to do with your family in May.
Other sections of this post also offer kid-friendly events like the Dance Parade, going to a sports event or seeing a Broadway show.
This video is for things to do with kids any time of year.
Visit Governors Island
On May 1st, Governors Island, a small, recreational, vehicle-free island just 7 minutes by ferry from Lower Manhattan, opens for the summer season.
You can rent bikes, kayak for free, picnic, visit the various playgrounds, and try out the longest slide in NYC — three stories high and 57-feet long. This is a very family-friendly place to visit!
Read our post on Governors Island for information on ferry hours, how to get there and what activities are offered.
Fleet Week is a time to celebrate America's men and women of our forces at sea as they arrive in NYC for a week of free fun!
During this event, you and your family can tour all sorts of sea vessels used by the Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard.
There will be a Parade of Ships on the Hudson River. You can get the best views from Battery Park.
T. rex: The Ultimate Predator
This exhibit at the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH) should be very engaging for your children.
It will include a virtual reality experience, fossils, life-size models, and interactive elements, life-size models, and fossils.
TIP: To see what discounts and special deals are available, see our post about visiting the American Museum of Natural History.
Take a Hop-on Hop-off Bus Tour
Hop-on-hop-off bus tours are especially good for young children who can tire easily from a day of sightseeing.
These tours are on double-decker buses with the top-level being open-air - surely something kids will love (and the grown-ups too!).
The weather in May is just right for outdoor seating on a bus tour. You can even enjoy one at night!
Our post on the best Hop-On, Hop-Off NYC bus tours can help you decide which is best for you and your family.
Visit The Bronx Zoo
This incredible zoo is the largest city zoo in the United States and houses 4,000 animals of more than 650 different species across 265 acres of land.
The cost of a ticket to all exhibits can add up for a family, so take advantage of either going on free Wednesdays or hunt down some discounts.
Our post, Bronx Zoo Discounts, Coupons, and Promo Codes can help you find some deals.
While you are in the Bronx, grab some authentic Italian food on Arthur Avenue using our self-guided tour.
Don't forget to look at our list of things to do with kids in New York City for many more activities for you and your family.