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This post covers the best things to do in New York City in September, updated for 2018, including a top 10 list, nighttime activities, free and family-friendly things to do. Be sure to check out our master post, Things to Do in NYC, for even more ideas.
TIP: If you are looking to save money on attractions, think about getting a tourist pass. For some help deciding, read our post “Which is the best tourist pass?“
TOP 10 THINGS TO DO IN SEPTEMBER
This section will feature our top 10 activities to enjoy in New York City throughout September. Whenever possible, we will make note of attractions and events that are free, family-friendly or great after dark.
Several of the items below are already included for free with the purchase of a tourist discount pass.
We offer approximately 40 different tours, including free, self-guided, guided, and GPS-enabled audio tours of every neighborhood that you will likely visit as a tourist in NYC.
In addition to the Brooklyn Bridge, we cover Greenwich Village, Central Park, Harlem, the High Line, Brooklyn Neighborhoods and much, much more. We also offer food tours, bike tours, and occasional special theme tours.
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.
(2) Go to a Concert
September’s concerts will satisfy every age range from the 3-day alternative rock festival Electric Zoo to the tried and true classics like Paul Simon. Here are our picks for the best concerts:
TIP: Madison Square Garden offers All-Access Tours so you can see how this iconic arena has become a world landmark.
(3) See a Sports Event! (family-friendly)
Three thrilling sports to choose from this month (not including the U.S. Open Tennis Championships – see below). We’ve got good old baseball, pre-season ice hockey, and pre-season American football.
For more information, check our post about New York tourist passes.
Ice Hockey (Pre-season)
(4) San Gennaro Festival in Little Italy September 14 – 24 (family-friendly)
After 90 years, this Festival is still going strong, attracting a million people over the course of 11 days every September.
Mulberry Street, the heart of Little Italy, will be the host of parades and religious processions celebrating Italian heritage. There’ll be carnival rides, live music, and more Italian street food than you have ever seen in one place.
For more details about this incredible New York experience, see our post on the San Gennaro Feast.
Click here for more information about Little Italy. Learn more about Little Italy and its neighborhood, by taking one of our pay-what-you-wish tours that include Little Italy:
(5) NYC Broadway Week September 3-16 (family-friendly)
Get two tickets for the price of one, or get upgraded seats for select shows. Not all shows participate and tickets are subject to availability. There are also some blackout dates.
Shows will be announced here on August 15. Prices vary.
TIP: If you don’t have any luck getting two-for-one deals, then read our detailed post on How to Get Cheap Broadway Tickets.
(6) September 11th Tribute in Light (family-friendly)
The Tribute in Light is an inspired tribute to the victims of the tragedy. From dusk through dawn, two majestic, massive beams of light are projected into the sky and can be seen from as far as 60 miles away.
The Memorial Plaza is closed on 9/11 to the public until 3 pm when you can pay your respects and also see the Tribute in Light from a different perspective.
We offer several tours that include the 9/11 Memorial. Check out our schedule.
(7) U.S. Open Tennis Championship September 1- 9 (begins August 27)
See the top-seeded tennis players in the world at one of the most exciting annual tennis matches. Many of the ‘usual suspects’ will be there for thrilling matches.
Click here to get tickets.
The Open is held at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing, Queens.
(8) Atlantic Antic September 23 (family-friendly)
Known by locals as the Antic, this is one of the biggest and oldest street fairs in New York City. The blend of the communities in the surrounding neighborhoods offer you the chance to try foods of different cultures – Middle Eastern food dominates, followed by Jamaican and African food and lots of desserts Look for the Key Lime Pie truck – they are the best in the city.
More information can be found here.
The Antic is on a Sunday and is located in Brooklyn Heights, so why not join us for our 2 pm pay-what-you-like Brooklyn Heights Tour after hitting the Antic!
(9) Museum Day Live September 22 (family-friendly)
On this day, some Smithsonian museums offer free admission for you and a guest. For a list of participating museums and to get tickets, click here.
Of the museums included, the best deal is the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum which normally costs $25 and up. If you cannot get tickets on Museum Day Live, you can still find discounts on tickets to the Intrepid (pictured on the left) by reading our post on discount tickets to the museum.
TIP: For a list of museums that are free or almost free year-round, click here.
(10) New York Caribbean Carnival Parade September 4
It’s hot, hot, hot with the colorful, flavorful and lively parade in Crown Heights, Brooklyn. There will be floats with fantastic dancers shaking their stuff to the sounds of Caribbean culture. You will hear a lot of Calypso, Reggae and steel drums. Grab a Tamarind juice and a Beef Patty.
Find out more information here.
NOTE: This parade can get pretty wild, even a bit risque, and extremely crowded. We don’t recommend you bring children. If you do not like crowds, you should skip this event.
If you want to savor the flavors of the Caribbean in a more subdued manner, try our Flatbush Brooklyn Food Tour.
Below are our sections on things to do in at night, for free, or for families in September.
For more ideas for any time of year, be sure to read our master post on things to do in NYC.
THINGS TO DO AT NIGHT IN SEPTEMBER
We have summarized a few of the things to do at night in September below, but do check out more ideas on our main things to do in NYC at night post.
These are in addition to the items in the top 10 section, such as the Tribute in Light, or the sport and concert events, most of which take place in the evening.
Metropolitan Opera Summer HD Festival September 1 – 4 (begins Aug. 26)
See an amazing past performance by this world-famous opera for free on a huge HD Screen set up in the heart of Lincoln Center’s Plaza. There will be more than 3,000 seats set up in front of the opera house each night, as well as the additional standing room around Lincoln Center Plaza. If you are interested in learning more about Lincoln Center, you can take a tour. Find out more here.
Photoville September 13 – 23
This is certainly one of the most unusual ways to see contemporary photographs. This free photography exhibit is held in “Photoville”, a small village of cargo containers, each serving as an art gallery. Though opening hours each day vary, Photoville stays open until 9 pm every night. There’s a beer garden, nighttime art projections and of course the surrounding skyline of Manhattan. You can find all the details here.
It’s located in Brooklyn Bridge Plaza right under the Brooklyn Bridge in DUMBO. Make a full evening of it with a stroll over the Brooklyn Bridge before or after. (See information just below).
Walk over the Brooklyn Bridge (family-friendly)
The Brooklyn Bridge can be walked over 24 hours a day. We definitely do not recommend you taking a 4 am stroll. But a sunset stroll or a walk at 9 pm when the sun is down and the city is sparkling is a one of a kind experience.
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 Tuesday, Fridays and Sundays at 7:30 pm.
Take a Night Walking Tour (pay-what-you-like)
New York is really two cities – one by day and a very different one by night. September is a great time to take a night walking tour. You’ll need a sweater or light jacket, but it will be comfortable weather and you’ll catch the city as it turns from day into night. We offer night tours and you can see what is available in September by looking at our full calendar.
If you want to explore on your own at night, here are our suggested places to take in the New York skyline.
TIP: Be sure to check out more night ideas on our main things to do in NYC at night post.
FREE THINGS TO DO IN SEPTEMBER
Many of our free things to do take place outdoors. That’s because September’s temperatures are comfortable and many outdoor activities are still open to the public. The same is true of many of the events above, like the San Gennaro Festival and Walking over the Brooklyn Bridge, so be sure to look at the other sections in this post.
For even more free activities, see our Guide to Free Things to Do in NYC.
Brooklyn Book Festival September 10-17,
Well-known and up-and-coming authors from around the world gather for one of NYC’s largest free literary events. This week-long festival is filled with panel discussions and individual readings. Some of this year’s attendees include Pete Hammill, Jennifer Egan, Simon Winchester, Laura Lippman and so many more.
Events take place throughout historic buildings in Brooklyn Heights. There is a Children’s Day is on September 15. But the highlight is Festival Day on Sunday, September 16.
Find all the details of the Festival here.
TIP: Why not join us on our pay-what-you-like Brooklyn Heights tours since you are already in the neighborhood.
Ride the Free Staten Island Ferry (family-friendly)
Take a free ferry ride from Manhattan to Staten Island and back again. Whether you ride it during the day or at night, you will get spectacular views of Lower Manhattan and the Statue of Liberty. The weather is still warm enough to be out on the water.
Our guide to Riding the Staten Island Ferry should come in handy.
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.
Brazilian Day September 2
In 1984, in a small enclave in Midtown Manhattan known as “Little Brazil”, the first Brazilian Day was held. It celebrated Brazil’s Independence Day from Portugal. There will be free entertainment including popular Brazilian musicians and vendors serving up traditional Brazilian Food.
Find out all the details here.
Washington Square Outdoor Art Exhibit September 2-4 and 9-10
For decades, the streets surrounding Washington Square Park have been the home to this art show with more than 100 artists displaying their works. You’ll see lots of NYC-themed and affordable original paintings and sketches. Find out more information here.
Autumn Moon Festival September 22 (family-friendly)
The Autumn Moon Festival marks the fall equinox. Traditionally, families go out to admire the big autumn moon, light pretty paper lanterns, eat elaborate moon cakes (sweet, doughy dessert cakes with elaborate designs on the top).
With this festival, you will enjoy traditional Asian music and dance, storytelling, tours, demonstrations of martial arts and Tai Chi, food, lessons in Chinese calligraphy. The festival takes place along Mott Street below Canal Street in the heart of Chinatown. Get more information here.
Also, learn about what there is to do and see in Manhattan’s Chinatown.
For even more free activities, see our Guide to Free Things to Do in NYC.
Here are just a few fun activities that will keep the kids and adults amused. Many of the events listed above are family-friendly, such as the Atlantic Antic or going to the San Gennaro Festival.
Governors Island is a small, recreational, vehicle-free island just 7 minutes by ferry from Lower Manhattan, which 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!
Read our post on Governors Island for information on ferry hours, how to get there and what activities are offered.
One of the highlights is The Hills, where you will you will have one of the best views of the Statue of Liberty and all of New York Harbor.
Neverland: Peter Returns at the Swedish Cottage Marionette Theatre Sept. 8-9 and Sept. 15-16
The kids will love the puppets and the adults will love the history of this magical theatre in Central Park. The Swedish Cottage Marionette Theatre was imported to the U.S. in 1876 as Sweden’s exhibit for the Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia.
The enchanting design caught the eye of Frederick Law Olmsted, the architect of Central Park. Olmstead brought the theatre here and kids have been delighted for well over 100 years.
For more ideas on how to enjoy this amazing park, read our post 27 Things to Do in Central Park.
Visit Bronx Zoo for the Harvest Festival Various dates in September
Sometimes it is easy to forget that New York City, the “urban jungle” has places where you can see animals from the real jungle! The Bronx Zoo is one of the best zoos in the country and September is also the best month to visit as the animals are more active this time of year.
The natural landscape of the zoo is beautiful in the Fall and the Zoo’s Harvest Festival gives kids the chance to do more than see the animals. They will hear bluegrass music, participate in apple-tasting, learn about composting and pressing flowers, and other activities relating to the Fall harvest.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Film Locations
The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles have always made their home in the sewers of New York City, so it shouldn’t surprise you that a lot of their films have been shot here. Our self-guided tour includes some popular destinations around the city that Ninja Turtles fans might enjoy.
Written by Courtney Shapiro