This post lists the top things to do in New York in May, updated for 2024.
As both residents and tour guides in New York, we are excited to share just some of the activities you can take part in in this wonderful city.
Our guides have listed free, nighttime, and family-friendly events and activities that can be found in New York City and the surrounding area.
We think you'll find just the experience to create beautiful memories of your trip, and hope you'll return to visit us again and again.
- Top 12
- Free Things to Do
- Night Activities
- Tourist Discount Passes
- Where to Stay in NYC
May is a lovely time of year in 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:
Keep in mind that Memorial Day, a public holiday falls on the last Monday in May and some activities may be affected.
1. Enjoy a Broadway Show
There will be several great Broadway musicals in New York City this month.
While there aren't many new productions, you will be able to see some of the most popular shows of the last few years.
Check here to find tickets to the following shows as well as many others.
- The Lion King
- Aladdin: The Musical
- Moulin Rouge
- Sweeney Todd
- Six the Musical
Our post on how to get cheap tickets to Broadway shows is a must-read.
2. Attend a Concert
Many amazing performers come through New York City and its surrounding cities.
Whether you're a fan of hard rock, pop music, or even classic 80s tunes, there are plenty of great concerts to be found in the NYC area this May.
- Belle and Sebastian | May 1st
- Billy Joel | May 9th
- The Rolling Stones | May 23rd, 26th
- Norah Jones | May 16th, 19th
- R&B Love Fest | May 12 | UBS Arena in Elmont
For even more choices, check out the full list of May concerts.
3. See a Sporting Event
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.
To see New York's professional baseball teams in play, check out the Mets and Yankees.
Also, Yankee Stadium offers fun and insightful guided tours. Find out more here.
If you're in the mood for a dynamic and fast-paced basketball game, the New York Liberty will surely give that to you.
To really appreciate the speed of hockey, you might enjoy a live game with the New York City FC or the New York City Red Bulls.
Check here for even more NYC sporting events in May.
4. Eat Your Fill at 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 2024, it takes place May 19th - 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.
5. Take a Walking Tour
May is one of the best months to take a walking tour as the weather is 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.
If you're looking for a guided outing, consider taking a Central Park Pedicab tour!
6. Take Part in 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 2024, Fleet Week runs from May 23th - 28th.
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 deals available for tickets to the Intrepid Sea, Air, and Space Museum.
The Intrepid is also included in many tourist passes.
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 passes work by bundling multiple tickets into one price, usually between 20%-50% of the retail price.
Read our post comparing the different tourist 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 reduced rates and deals.
9. Enjoy Even More Events
There is no shortage of things to do in New York. Below are just some of the events that are on tap for May
Frieze New York | May 1st-5th
This international art fair takes place at The Shed in Manhattan.
New York Empire State Tattoo Expo | May 10th-12th
Over 500 tattoo artists gather at the New York Hilton Midtown for live tattooing, seminars, and workshops.
Japan Parade | May 11th
Both a parade and street fair take place in celebration of Japanese culture. There will be food, art, manga, and more.
NYC X Design Festival | May 16th - 23rd
Over 250 events take place throughout the city celebrating NYC's design talent in areas such as graphic design, television, film, urban design, architecture, fashion, and more
Dance Parade New York | May 18th
Over 10,000 dancers gather to perform, for the 18th year, over 100 styles of dance in a parade. It ends with a festival in Tompkins Square Park.
B.I.G. Salsa Festival | May 24th-27th
This is the place to go for all things Salsa dancing! Dancers, DJs, and classes take place at the New York Hilton Midtown.
Brooklyn Memorial Day Parade | May 27th
For 157 years this parade has taken place in Brooklyn. It ends with a memorial service in John Paul Jones Park.
10. Attend the Metropolitan Opera
The world-famous Metropolitan Opera will be performing multiple shows throughout the month of May.
This provides fans of the theater with an excellent opportunity to see some of the best operatic tales of all time.
Here are the operas they will be performing:
- Madama Butterfly
- Orfeo ed Euridice
- El Niño
- Fire Shut Up in My Bones
- The Hours
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.
Experience the New York Philharmonic
If you're more interested in classical music you'll be happy to hear that the New York Philharmonic will have several shows in May.
Depending on which show you choose to attend, you can expect to hear the work of master composers in both older pieces (such The Mozart Requiem) and newer productions (such as ET. The Extra-Terrestrial in Concert).
Tickets sell out fast so we recommend getting yours as soon as possible.
Purchase New York Philharmonic tickets or learn more.
See the New York City Ballet
The New York City Ballet will also be performing a number of shows throughout 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 just a few of their notable shows in May:
- All Balanchine
- All Stravinsky
- A Midsummer Night's Dream
Purchase New York City Ballet tickets or learn more.
Take a 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 that 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.
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 begins.
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.
Visit Little Island
There is nothing like this 2.4-acre park that you have ever seen. It is perched atop 132 concrete pillars that protrude from the Hudson River. The stacks resemble "tulip pots" the best.
As high as 62 feet above the Hudson River, some of the "tulip pots" provide breathtaking vistas of New York and New Jersey.
Green lawns, gentle slopes, and twisting paths make up the varied scenery. There are numerous varieties of plants and flowers in the park.
Moreover, there are two performance venues: the smaller Glade and the 700-seat Amphitheater. Free or affordable tickets are available for performances.
Temporarily Suspended: Washington Square Outdoor Art Exhibit
The Washington Square Outdoor Art Exhibit is a New York perennial favorite event.
On Memorial Day Weekend 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 artwork 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 are open by May 1st.
Find out more from our post on free boat rides and tours.
If you'd prefer something less unusual, see our post comparing the many paid boat tours and cruises in NYC.
Celebrate 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.
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.
Go to Fleet Week Events
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.
See a Special Exhibit at the American Museum of Natural History
Any of the exhibits should be engaging for children.
Kids would enjoy The Secret World of Elephants science exhibit which covers both modern and ancient elephants.
The world's "most advanced planetarium projection system" has a Worlds Beyond Earth show.
There are also immersive experiences and films on an ongoing basis. It's truly a lot of fun!
TIP: To see what savings and special deals are available, see our post about visiting the American Museum of Natural History.
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 the 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 to things to do in Central Park.
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 going on free Wednesdays.
Our post on ways to save at the Bronx zoo can also 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.