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This post covers things to do in New York City in July, including a Top 10 list, as well as family-friendly activities, things to do at night and free events, updated for 2018. Check out our master post on things to do in NYC for year-round ideas.
TOP 10 THINGS TO DO
This is our list of the ten best events/attractions in New York City in July. We will make sure to mention if any of these activities are either free, family-friendly or perfect after dark. For more ideas, check our other sections.
If you are considering visiting many of NYC’s top attractions, then you might want to consider a tourist discount pass, which could save you considerable money.
1) Celebrate Independence Day
On the 4th of July, New York celebrates the history of this country in style. There are several great places to enjoy this holiday, and you can check our post about where to see the fireworks in order to get the best seats in the city.
Many of the best viewing locations are actually found at some of our top 10 rooftop bars in NYC. In particular, you might want to consider spots such as The Jimmy and Top of the Strand.
If you’re looking for a more family-friendly location, consider a riverboat cruise instead. Circle Line provides a specialty cruise during the 4th of July, but even if they sell out, you can still get similarly priced tickets from competition such as SP & Big Apple and Get Your Guide.
2) See Shakespeare in the Park
Every summer, the Public Theater puts on a few wonderful Shakespeare plays in Central Park. Although tickets are offered through a lottery system, they are entirely free.
In years past, Shakespeare in the Park has welcomed veteran actors such as Patrick Stewart, Meryl Streep, Denzel Washington, James Earl Jones and Al Pacino – just to name a few!
This is a fantastic opportunity to experience the work of a master in one of the most famous parks in the world. Their run of the Twelfth Night will begin on July 17th and continue throughout the rest of the month.
3) Go to a Concert
There are a lot of concerts taking place in New York City in July. No matter what type of music you are into, chances are that one of your favorite artists will be performing this month. Most of these events will also be great nighttime activities.
4) Take a Walking Tour
July is an excellent month to take a walking tour pretty much anywhere in New York City. That being said, if you want to avoid being out in the sun during the middle of the day, we recommend planning to take either a morning or night tour.
We offer pay-what-you-wish walking tours in several neighborhoods throughout the city. Whether you want to see the Brooklyn Bridge, Lower Manhattan, Greenwich Village or Central Park, chances are we provide a tour of the area.
Some of our services are offered daily, but others are only available once a week or less. Please keep this in mind and make your reservations early to avoid missing out.
For more ideas, check our NYC walking tours post.
5) Take a Bike Tour
A great alternative to a walking tour! There are loads of places to explore and any companies who offer affordable tours. With expanded bike paths and a bicycle-friendly attitude, New York City by bike is a perfect way to spend a July day!
For more information about all your options (including tips on discounts on bike tours) as well as bike rentals and self-guided tours, see our post, New York Bike Tours + Rentals. How about coming with us on one of our pay-what-you-like bike tours?
6) Grab a Bite During Restaurant Week
Starting on July 23rd, hundreds of restaurants in New York City begin to celebrate an event known as Restaurant Week. Note: The list of participating restaurants will be announced on July 9th.
During this time period, they will offer prix-fixe menu options and lower prices on several meals. A two-course lunch will cost $26 and a 3-course dinner will be $42. These prices are fantastic for the quality of the food you will enjoy.
For more details, take a look at our post about Restaurant Week.
7) Celebrate Bastille Day
There are a lot of celebrations taking place in New York City on Bastille Day. In addition to various stage and street performances, there will also be live music, family events, and even a Citroën car show! They also have a kids corner with face painting, arts & crafts, and other activities.
Many of the events taking place during this holiday will be entirely free and family friendly, so feel free to bring your kids along for the fun.
Click here for a full list of Bastille Day activities.
8) Go to a Yankees/Mets Game
July is one of the best times to attend a baseball game. Whether you’re a Mets fan or a Yankees fan, there are plenty of great home games during this month.
Yankees (ticket information)
Mets (ticket information)
You can get reasonably priced tickets for between $15-$30, but it’s worth noting that the Freestyle Pass offers free tickets to either a Mets or Yankees game. If you are interested in getting a tourist pass, this could be a great way to save money.
9) Get out on the water
New York City is surrounded by water so there are so many ways to get out there and enjoy the cool breeze and the amazing views. You can choose between single ride tourist boats, hop-on-hop-off all day boats, speedboats, and sailboats. There are also nighttime rides and dinner and music cruises.
Don’t forget that you can take the Staten Island Ferry for free and pass right by the Statue of Liberty!
Our post on NYC’s boat tour options can help you navigate all the choices
10) Go Swimming at a Pool
Speaking of water, why not consider cooling off at a pool in New York City. One of the best options is just to get a hotel with a pool, but there are also public swimming pools in NYC that you can use. If you do choose to go the hotel route, consider a building that offers a rooftop pool for excellent views as you swim.
Click here for a list of the most popular hotels with pools in New York. Expect an average price of about $200-$400 per night.
If you’d rather save some money and visit a public swimming pool, click here for a list of locations in the Bronx, Brooklyn, Manhattan, Queens and Staten Island.
Attend a Hip-Hop Festival
Too good to not let you know about is the 14th Annual Brooklyn Hip-Hop Festival running between July 9th – 14th. In addition to plenty of great music, this event also hosts a lot of panels, exhibitions, and even a block party. Located at Brooklyn Bridge Park, there will be plenty of great views of the Lower Manhattan skyline as well.
Tip: If hip-hop is not your thing but great skyline views are, see our post, Best New York Skyline Views.
FREE THINGS TO DO
This section will provide a few different ideas for free events and activities that you can enjoy in New York City during July. If you’re looking for more, make sure to check our top 10 list and other sections for free things to do like swimming at a public pool, seeing Shakespeare in the Park and celebrating Bastille Day with the family.
For year-round free things to do see our comprehensive post about Free Things to Do in NYC.
Watch the Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest
The biggest and most famous hot dog eating contest in the world is held at Coney Island each summer, and you can attend this event for free on July 4th. What’s more American than eating as many hot dogs as possible on Independence Day?
Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest seems to inspire more and more people each year to attempt a feat that few can accomplish and take home the championship for most hot dogs eaten. The current record holders are Joey Chestnut and Miki Sudo, but all of that could change this year!
Even if you do decide to spend some money on food, chances are you won’t break the bank by buying a few hot dogs. In addition to this attraction, there are several other activities to enjoy in the area. Read our post about Coney Island for more information.
See a Good Morning America Concert
There are a lot of concerts taking place in New York City this July, but the concert series put on by Good Morning America may be one of your best free options. Although you’ll have to wake up early, you will also have the opportunity to see some pretty impressive acts playing in Central Park. Every concert begins at 7 am and runs until 9 am. Here is a list of the performers who will be playing in July:
Attend the Lowdown Hudson Music Festival
If you can’t get enough music and the artists playing in Central Park aren’t of interest, consider going to the Lowdown Hudson Music Festival instead. Taking place on July 18th – 19th, this event will feature music from artists such as Common, Lion Babe, OK GO and Flint Eastwood. Both shows are entirely free to attend, but there will only be standing room available.
The Lowdown Hudson Music Festival will take place at Brookfield Place, right next to One World Observatory and Wall Street. We offer two pay-what-you-like walking tours in the area which you may want to consider before attending this show. Take a tour of the 9/11 Memorial or learn more about Lower Manhattan while you’re here.
You may also want to consider walking a few blocks south to Battery Park. From here, you can take the Staten Island Ferry and get incredible views of the skyline and the Statue of Liberty for free.
See a Broadway Show in the Park
Even if none of the concerts are of interest, you might be surprised to find that you can also enjoy a Broadway Show for free. Broadway in Bryant Park brings big titles to the public, giving everyone the chance to enjoy popular shows that you usually need a ticket to see.
In years past, they have had shows such as Stomp, Wicked, Chicago, Cats and Phantom of the Opera. The events will begin on July 6th this year and continue on until August 10th. (If you miss these performances, find out how to get discount tickets for Bradway shows here.
If you’re looking for more to do in the area, consider taking our pay-what-you-like walking tour of Midtown Manhattan. For official dates and showtimes, make sure to check the Bryant Park website during the weeks leading up to July.
Go to Lincoln Center Out of Doors
During the summer, Lincoln Center holds a special event called Out of Doors which is free to attend. Over the course of 2-3 weeks, they will host several outdoor shows including musical acts, spoken word artists, and even professional dancing.
Starting in late July and running through mid-August, visitors are welcome to join in on the fun and enjoy some unique artwork without paying a dime.
Keep an eye on the Lincoln Center Out of Doors events page for details on each show when they are announced.
Although New York is very far from Stonehenge, there are times when the stars seem to literally align with one specific location in Manhattan. During Manhattanhenge, the sunset aligns with the east-west streets and the buildings on either side seem to perfectly frame the sun. This event takes place on July 12th – 13th, and you can see it pretty well from the following locations:
TIP: Whatever you do, just remember that it’s never a good idea to look directly into the sun. Manhattanhenge is a great opportunity to get some pretty interesting photographs, but be prepared to wear sunglasses and be careful about exactly where you look.
Get Free Tickets with A Tourist Discount Pass
Admittedly, these passes have a cost. However, 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.
This section will focus primarily on events that are perfect for families and their children. If you’re looking for more ideas, make sure to check other sections for activities such as the Good Morning America concerts, the Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest, Yankees/Mets games and going swimming.
Celebrate City of Water Day
Starting on July 15th, the Waterfront Alliance will host an event known as the City of Water Day. The festivities will include a variety of water-based activities such as kayaking, paddleboarding and boat tours.
Taking place on Governor’s Island, guests will also be treated to a variety of live music, family activities, and games.
Although most of the activities during the City of Water Day are free, the boat tours require a reservation and you might miss out on that activity. Thankfully, several boat tours and cruises are either free or discounted with New York tourist passes. For more information, make sure to visit our post on New York Boat Tours.
Take the Family to WWE Summer Slam
One of the biggest wrestling events of the year is actually taking place at Madison Square Garden on July 7th. WWE Summer Slam brings the most popular WWE Superstars to the center stage to battle for supremacy in one of the most intense shows of the year.
Whether you or your kids are fans of sports entertainment, this is an activity that you definitely won’t want to miss. That being said, it will be important to purchase tickets ahead of time if you want to make sure that you won’t miss out.
Ticket prices can range from $42 all the way up to $999, but most seats will be under $100. Click here to purchase tickets.
TIP: If you want to see even more while you’re in the area, consider taking a tour of Madison Square Garden.
Take a Trip to Coney Island
Even if you can’t make it out for the Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest on July 4th, it’s still a good idea to head out to Coney Island later in the month. In addition to all of the history attached to this location, there is also Luna Park – an amusement park with several fun rides for your family to enjoy. You can also take in a minor league baseball game or visit the New York Aquarium.
There is a good reason that this is a popular destination for New Yorkers during the summer. Read our post about Coney Island to learn more about the neighborhood and everything there is to do in the area.
TIP: Tickets to Luna Park are included with the New York Sightseeing Pass, the New York Pass, and the Explorer Pass. Considering that these tickets can usually cost $69 on their own, this could be a great way to save money. Check our post about NYC attraction passes for more information.
See a Movie at the Park
Hudson River Park hosts a special event called RiverFlicks each summer allowing families to see a movie by the river. Each of these films will be free to come and enjoy, but the location where they are shown will change from one week to the next. Here is a list of the movies you’ll have the opportunity to see during the month of July and the specific piers where you will find them:
Enjoy Restaurant Week With the Kids
Although many of the restaurants that will offer discounts during this week typically cater towards a more adult audience, there will undoubtedly be a few with menu options for the kids. Our kid-friendly recommendations for 2018 are:
Massoni How do meatballs with garlic knots sound? Follow it up with supremely-made pizzas or classic pasta and you will have a happy family. Room for dessert? Order the cannoli or assorted ice creams. Masoni is located walking distance from the Empire State Building, so why not schedule your lunch on the same day to get an incredible view of New York City!
Sarabeth’s West With its homestyle cooking and family-friendly service, Sarabeth’s is a great place to bring the kids. It is located on the Upper West Side and is within walking distance of the American Museum of Natural History and the Children’s Museum of Manhattan.
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!
TIP: Both Sarabeth’s and Tavern on the Green are right near Central Park. Walk off your meal with one of our pay-what-you-like walking tours of Central Park.Or explore the park with our self-guided tour and GPS-Audio Tour!
For more information and to see how to make reservations, see our Restaurant Week post for more information.
Attend a Formula E Race
If you’re familiar with Formula One racing, Formula E may also be of interest. These races feature electric vehicles traveling at insane speeds around difficult tracks. The Brooklyn Circuit, in particular, includes several sharp turns, ensuring a very interesting trip for drivers. Kids and adults love the thrill of t
The event is on July 14th – 15th. Tickets range from $55-$85 per person.
Click here for more details.
THINGS TO DO AT NIGHT
This section will provide a few additional ideas for things to do after dark in NYC during the month of July. Don’t forget to check our other sections for things to do like going to the Lowdown Hudson Music Festival, seeing a concert, enjoying a meal during Restaurant Week or going to a Yankees/Mets game.
Be sure to check out our master post on things to do at night in NYC.
Take a Night Tour
Needless to say, it can get pretty darn hot during the summer in New York City. As a result, one of the best times to take a tour is after the sun goes down when it starts to get cooler outside. We offer a lot of pay-what-you-like walking tours which take place at night, allowing you to explore some of the most popular locations in New York after the crowds have dissipated. Here are a few tours to consider:
Make sure to read our post on New York City walking tours for more information.
See a Movie on a Flight Deck
Most major cities have outdoor film events during the summer, but New York City definitely does things a bit differently. One of their big attractions is the Intrepid Museum’s Summer Movie Series, where you can watch movies on the flight deck of a large ship! Admission to this event is entirely free of charge.
On July 13th (conveniently a Friday), they will be showing the original Friday the 13th. Two weeks later on the 27th, you’ll have the opportunity to see Dunkirk.
If neither of these films is of interest, you may want to consider a different outdoors movie. Hudson River Park hosts their own movie nights known as RiverFlicks. Check our family section for more information about this option.
TIP: You might like to visit the Intrepid Sea, Air, and Space Museum — it is one of the best attractions in New York City. To find out about discounted tickets, click here.
Go Stargazing on the Highline
As with any major city, it can be somewhat difficult to see the stars from NYC with all of the lights constantly shining and ruining the view. This is why the Friends of Highline have taken it upon themselves to set up a special stargazing event every Tuesday.
Thanks to the Amateur Astronomers Association of New York, high-quality telescopes are provided to ensure that visitors can get a really good look at the stars regardless of any light pollution from the city.
This activity is entirely free to attend. Click here for more information.
Read our Guide to the High Line to learn more about this innovative city park.
Go on a Night Cruise
New York City offers one of the most beautiful skylines after dark and the best way to see it is on the water. Thankfully, there are several boat tours and cruises offered at night. Some of these options are available for free with attraction passes, so make sure to read our post about NYC boat tours for more information.
Get a Drink at a Rooftop Bar
If you’re looking for another way to enjoy incredible views of the NYC skyline, consider visiting one of the many rooftop bars in the city. If you visit at the right time, you can catch the sunset and watch as all the lights turn on in New York.
Top of the Strand and Cloud Social are both excellent options, but we recommend taking a look at this list of the best rooftop bars to get an idea of where you might want to go. Some of these locations are also hot spots for the best views of the fireworks on Independence Day. Take a look at our top 10 section for more information on this activity.