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What to Do in August in NYC

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This post lists the many great things to do in NYC in August 2021, including free, family-friendly, as well as nighttime activities and events.

For even more suggestions, see our comprehensive guide to Things to Do in NYC.


This is our list of the ten best events and things to do in NYC in August.

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:

(1) See a Sports Event! 

The season may almost be over, but there's still plenty of baseball to enjoy in August!

Although seating is limited due to the pandemic, they have welcomed fans back to the ballpark in 2021!

Yankees (click for ticket information)

TIP: The classic tour of Yankee Stadium is available with both the New York Pass and the Explorer Pass. For more information, check our post about New York tourist passes.

Mets (click for ticket information)

Football  (Games played at MetLife Stadium. For instructions on how to get there, click here.)


Soccer (Football)

For more fun with the family, check out the things to do with kids section below.

(2) Attend a Concert 

August has some amazing performers arriving in NYC. Here are just a few to see.

If you didn't already know, Madison Square Garden offers an All Access Tour where you can see behind the scenes.

(3) Take in a Broadway Show

Seeing a performance on Broadway is a must-do activity when you're in New York City! See what is playing when you are here.

Here are a few popular musicals running in August 2021:

See what else is playing when you are here.

(4) Take a Walking Tour 

August is an excellent month to take a walking tour pretty much anywhere in New York City.

Times Square Walking Tour Video

We offer pay-what-you-wish walking tours in several neighborhoods throughout the city, including:

For more ideas, check our schedule of pay-what-you-wish walking tours.

(5) Enjoy Free Shakespeare in Central Park

In 2021, this annual festival starts in early July and continues through late August, with performances of Merry Wives.

Getting tickets will take some planning and patience, but it truly is worth the effort.

NYC Travel Tips & Hacks Facebook Group

Check out our guide to Central Park which includes maps, activities, tours and more.

(6) Check out a Live Comedy Show

This month will bring a few notable comedians to New York City. One of the more famous of them all is Gabriel Iglesias, who will be performing at the Radio City Music Hall on August 19th.

In addition to this performance, you can also see Ricky Gervais at Madison Square Garden on August 13th. 

If you feel like taking a trip to Atlantic City, you'll also have an opportunity to see either Trevor Noah on the 13th or Tom Segura on the 28th.

TIP: Don't forget that there are tours of both Radio City Music Hall and Madison Square Garden, each of them included on at least one New York City Tourist Pass.

(7) Soar to the Top of a Skyscraper  

In summer, the city's tallest observation decks stay open late.

The Empire State Building is open until 2 am, and the Top of the Rock and One World Trade Center Observatory are both open until midnight.

If you aren't sure which view is best for you, read our post about the pros and cons of each of them.

There are also free options and you can find them in our post, where to get the best free skyline views of NYC.

(8) See an Outdoor Movie

New York City is full of magical views and lights. Where better to relax than with seeing a movie with a view?

Every Thursday in August you can see a free movie as part of Brooklyn Bridge Park's series Movies with a View.

Movies start at sunset, but if you want a good spot, plan on arriving when the lawn opens at 6 pm.

  • August 5: Shaun of the Dead (2004)
  • August 12: Patti Cake$ (2017)
  • August 19: Akeelah and the Bee (2006)
  • August 26: Karate Kid (1984)

Check out more free things to do, including more weekly outdoor movies, below!

(9) View Great Street Art

New York City is undoubtedly one of the best cities in the world to see street art and murals. You can see masterpieces for free if you know where to look. 

We can help you discover the latest, greatest pieces of street art around NYC if you join us on one of our pay-what-you-like Street Art Tours.

We have tours in both Manhattan and Brooklyn, including a tour of Bushwick and its highly-regarded Bushwick Collective Street Art Gallery.

If you can’t make it to one of our tours or prefer to move at your own pace, enjoy our Bushwick Collective self-guided tour to explore the area and find the best art.

(10) Utilize a City Pass

If you're looking to see and do as much as possible, using a New York City tourist attraction discount pass can help you save money and time.

New York City Passes

Attractions Available on Passes Include:

  • Museum of Modern Art
  • Empire State Building
  • Hop-On-Hop-Off Bus Tour
  • Madame Tussauds
  • 9/11 Memorial and Guided Tour
  • The Met
  • Madison Square Garden All Access Tour

These passes save you money by bundling dozens of popular attractions and tours into one discounted ticket (up to 55% off).

They can also save you time by allowing you to skip the ticket lines and numerous locations. Read our post comparing your options.


Below are just a few of the hundreds of free things you can do in NYC during August. And be sure to read the other sections of this post for more ideas.

For year-round free things to do see our comprehensive post about free things to do in NYC.

Hear Broadway Showtunes in Bryant Park

Every summer, Broadway in Bryant Park allows the public to hear some fabulous Broadway tunes for free.

There are a total of 25 events scheduled for 2021 which will run through September 20th and feature performances from New York City Opera, Carnegie Hall, and many other notable names.

They will be observing all local laws and regulations regarding Covid-19, so there is a chance that space will be limited and masks will be required.

If you miss these performances, find out how to get discount tickets for Broadway shows here.

Read about some of the other ways to get cheap Broadway show tickets.

Charlie Parker Jazz Festival in Harlem 

August 28 and 29, 2021

This annual free event offers the public two evenings of free music featuring the music of jazz legend Charlie Parker.

On August 28th, you can see The Donald Harrison Quartet and the Harlem Symphony Orchestra. On August 29th, Willie Jones III offers the Charlie Parker Centennial Celebration.

Both shows are held in Marcus Garvey Park in Harlem. Find out the details here.

You might find our post on things to do in Harlem or come along on our pay-what-you one of our Harlem Tours.

Kayak under the Brooklyn Bridge 

Head over to Brooklyn Bridge Park in DUMBO to enjoy a free 20-minute kayak ride.  You can get an up-close look at the Brooklyn Bridge.

It's safe and unlike anything you have done before.

Click here for more information.

This photo of The Brooklyn Bridge is courtesy of TripAdvisor

Find out about some other ways to get out on NYC's waters for free or cheaply, such as riding the Staten Island Ferry.

Summer Streets

August 7 and August 14

Every August, NYC closes off to vehicular traffic for Summer Streets. While cars are not allowed, every other mode of transport is!

People can walk, run, bike, play and generally enjoy nearly 7 miles (11 km) of Park Avenue between the Brooklyn Bridge and Central Park.

In 2021, the event will be held on Saturday, August 7 and Saturday, August 14 from 7:00 am - 1:00 pm.

Dragon Boat Festival 

August 7, 2021  

This annual festival is a great excuse to check out the borough of Queens! There will be hundreds of colorful dragon-boats racing on Meadows Lake, in Flushing Meadows Park in Queens.

Besides the race, there will be traditional dance, martial arts, music, folk art, and Chinese food.

The event takes place between 9:00 am - 1:00 pm. More information can be found here.

Good Morning America Concert Series

Great for early birds and lovers of top pop stars! The 2021 lineup is set and will include popular acts like BTS, Chance the Rapper, Dierks Bentley and more!

To find out more about attending or possibly getting VIP tickets, see our post, Good Morning America Summer Concert Series VIP Tickets.

To see a taping of Good Morning America, see our post on how to attend a live TV show taping.

For year-round free things to do see our comprehensive post about free things to do in NYC.


Many of the activities included in our other sections can be enjoyed at night as well, but here are a few more ideas on how to spend a great night in August in NYC.

For even more ideas, see our post, Things to Do in New York City at Night.

Take a Night Bus Tour

A night tour on an open-top double-decker bus is a wonderful way to see more of the city while giving your feet a break from all that walking!

With so many tours out there, you may want to read our post comparing New York City bus tours as you might decide this is a good way to spend your night in New York.

Many tourist passes include a night tour by bus, so you may want to look at our post comparing NYC Tourist Passes before buying tickets.

Walk over the Brooklyn Bridge 

The Brooklyn Bridge can be walked over 24 hours a day. We definitely do not recommend you taking a 4 am stroll.

Virtual Brooklyn Bridge Walking Tour

But for those who want some guidance to enjoy the Bridge when the sun goes down, join us for our combined 911 Memorial and Brooklyn Bridge Night Tour.  

It runs Tuesdays, Fridays and Sundays at 7:30 pm (19:30) from March through October.  

Free Outdoor Movie Screenings 

Practically every night of the summer months you can find a free, outdoor movie screening. Here are the best series:

  • Movies on the Waterfront - Many of the parks around NYC host nightly, outdoor screenings of famous films -- all of which are free!
  • Movies with a View - Every Thursday, you can see a free movie in Brooklyn Bridge Park's Pier 1’s. Movies start at sunset but arrive early as the open lawn fills up quickly.
  • Bryant Park Movie Night - Every Monday. Go early if you want a spot on the lawn and watch some great films surrounded by the city's shimmering lights.

Although Movies on the Waterfront and Movies with a View have been scheduled for 2021, Bryant Park Movie Night is still up in the air.

For even more choices see our New York City Summer Guide

Free Outdoor Concerts 

There are numerous free, outdoor concerts in NYC all summer. Click here for even more options.

Summerstage in Central Park

Every year, this annual festival in Central Park draws famous and talented performers. Some concerts are held in Harlem and some in Coney Island.

Most performances are free and the few concerts that require tickets are benefit shows to raise money to keep the festival free.

Celebrate Brooklyn!

This annual festival of free concerts is held at the Bandshell in Prospect Park in Park Slope.

Opening night of the 2021 season is July 31 and it runs through September 18. You can see the impressive line-up here.

Stargaze with an Astronomer

Every Tuesday in August, head to the one-of-a-kind High Line Park to gaze at the stars, planets, and moon through high-powered telescopes.

This photo of High Line Park is courtesy of TripAdvisor

Experts are on hand to answer any astronomical questions. Arrive by dusk. There is no charge for this activity. Click here for more information. 

NOTE: As of July 2021, there are no August dates scheduled though this is subject to change, so keep checking their calendar.

An alternative free activity at the High Line is to take a free High Line Tour!

Learn more about the High Line, with our guide to the High Line or our GPS audio tour.

Enjoy Free Admission to the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum

On select nights, you can visit this highly interactive and engaging museum for free between 5 pm (17:00) and 9 pm (21:00).

This museum is housed on an aircraft carrier whose exhibits include a Concorde, a submarine, a space shuttle, and much more.

This is a fun way to spend an evening in NYC. This is also a kid-friendly activity. Plan your visit and learn about additional discounts.

Note: This opportunity may not be available in 2021 due to the pandemic.

For even more ideas, see our post, Things to Do in New York City at Night.


Many things in the other sections of this post are certainly family-friendly. Below are a few more things to do with kids in August in NYC.

Check out our posts Top 10 Things to Do with Kids in New York City or our 3-day itinerary for families.

Summer Fun at Coney Island

Visit Coney Island and find out just how much there is to do at this legendary New York seaside spot.

You can go to Luna Park, one of the best amusement parks in the NYC area. Ride the Thunderbolt, a 115-foot-tall roller coaster that reaches up to 55 miles per hour.

Don't worry there are plenty of rides for those weak of heart and toddlers like water rides and the classic Steeplechase.

Afterward, walk along the Boardwalk to the New York Aquarium, where you can see penguins, harbor seals, otters and more.

TIP:  Luna Park is included with the NY Pass, while both Luna Park and the Aquarium are included in the Sightseeing Pass.

Get out on the water! 

Cool off with cool views of New York City. It doesn't cost much to get out into the beautiful NYC Harbor.

check out the many New York Boat Tours and Excursions you can take, such as the Circle Line and other affordable, fun cruises.

Consider taking a ride on the East River Ferry which costs the same as a subway ride but with a much nicer view.

Hudson River Flicks Fridays

The movies are shown outdoors at Pier 46 in Greenwich Village. For information on the Pier and the movie series, click here.

While you are in the Village, take the time to stroll the gorgeous streets and historic sites using our guide, What to See and Do in Greenwich Village.

NOTE: This event has not yet been scheduled for 2021.

Restaurant Week With the Kids

Restaurant Week isn't just for adults. Our kid-friendly recommendations are:

Tavern on the Green

This iconic New York restaurant located in Central Park has an uncomplicated but tasty menu that should satisfy palettes of all ages. And you cannot beat the setting!

Sarabeth's West 

Sarabeth's is known for its homestyle cooking and family-friendly service. It is on the Upper West Side and is within walking distance of the American Museum of Natural History and the Children’s Museum of Manhattan.

Bill's Bar & Burger

This family-friendly restaurant located in Rockefeller Center serves both classic burgers that kids will love and burgers with a twist for daring adults. Wash it all down with a thick milkshake!

For more information and to see how to make reservations, see our Restaurant Week post for more information.

Jazz Age Lawn Party 

You don't need to dress in your finest flapper dress or seersucker suit to come out and enjoy fabulous music by the Dreamland Orchestra.

The party takes place on Saturday, August 14th and Sunday, August 15th, between 11:00am and 5:00pm, 2021. There will be a Charleston dance contest (along with lessons), food, 1920s cars, croquet, and fun for the kiddies.

Get the low-down on their website. This is a ticketed event and is held on Governors Island, a kid-friendly destination itself.

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About The Author


Courtney is a lifelong New Yorker fascinated with the city’s history, culture and cuisine. She loves exploring the world, as well as sharing her travel expertise with others. She joined the Free Tours by Foot team in 2011, first as a guide and then as a writer. She has a law degree, a teaching degree and a worn-out passport. Her motto is “Have backpack, will travel”.
Updated: October 11th, 2021
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