What to Do in New York City in May

This post is about things to do in NYC in May, including a top 10 list as well as sections on free, family-friendly and nighttime things to do, updated for 2019.




Several of the items below are already included for free with the purchase of a tourist attraction discount pass.

For tips on the most popular activities in NYC, check out these popular activities

1. 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.

Check out our homepage or look at our schedule to see what we have available when you are here.

2. Attend a Sporting Event 

May offers baseball in full swing! Basketball is heating up with the NBA Semi-Finals and the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team comes to town!

Seeing a sports game is a great way to spend an evening in New York City. For more nighttime activity ideas, see the things to do at night section below. 


Unfortunately, the Knicks aren’t in the playoffs.

TIP: If you see the Nets, be sure to check out our guide, What To Do In Brooklyn, will come in handy.


Yankee Stadium offers fun and insightful guided tours. Find out more here

Women’s Soccer

See the most successful Women’s World Cup team of all time!

The U.S. Women’s National Soccer team plays Mexico at the Red Bull Arena on May 26, 2019, before they head off to the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup. Get tickets here.

TIP:  For many sporting events, you can often you can find great deals on Groupon and on Living Social.

3. 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, 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.

We offer a number of pay-what-you-like Central Park Walking tours, as well as a GPS- enabled audio tour of Central Park, which you can take any time you like.

Be sure to check out our Guide to Things to Do in Central Park

4. See a Concert

This may you have some of the biggest names in Rock ‘n’ Roll rolling into town. You can also find alternative music gigs, music festivals and also some great comedy.

  • The Eels – May 1 at Irving Plaza
  • Joan Baez – May 1 at the Beacon Theater
  • Morrissey (former lead singer of the Smiths) – May 2-11 at the Lunt-Fontanne Theater
  • Cher – May 2 at Barclays Center
  • Al Green – May 5 at Radio City Music Hall
  • Björk – May 6, 12, 16, 25, 28 at The Shed
  • Billy Joel – May 9 at Madison Square Garden
  • The Who – May 13 at Madison Square Garden
  • Pink – May 21 + May 22 at Madison Square Garden
  • Governors Ball – May 31 – June 2



5.  Enjoy a Broadway Show

There are too many plays, musicals and other shows playing to list here. Check out what’s playing while you are in NYC.

In May you have the chance to catch two great shows before they close in early June– Network with Bryan Cranston at the Belasco Theatre and the surprise hit, What the Constitution Means to Me at the Hayes Theater.



The energetic Kiss Me, Kate! at Studio 54 is closing June 2nd, so May is the last month to catch this timeless musical. Tickets start at just $39.

An all-female production of the uber-masculine David Mamet classic, Glengarry Glen Ross, is scheduled to open in May, though a specific date hasn’t been announced yet.

If you are looking to save money on Broadway tickets, there are many ways how.

Our post on how to get cheap tickets to Broadway shows is a must read. You could save a ton of money if you know how. 

6. 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.

Between May 22-May 27, 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 hosts several special events you can purchase tickets to see performances of Broadway show tunes, watching a movie on the flight deck, or enjoying a night of swing dance. On May 31, you can visit for free between 5 pm and 9 pm. 

There will be a free event on the Pier on Monday, May 27. 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 attraction passes.

7. Annual Ethnic Festival in Harlem  

On May 18th this day-long celebration takes place in East Harlem and showcases Harlem’s unique culture through music, dance, arts and crafts, ethnic cuisine and educational activities. This is a great activity for kids as well! Click here for details.

While in Harlem, consider taking our pay-what-you-wish guided walking tour.



You can also try our GPS-enabled audio tour of Harlem to explore the surrounding neighborhood.

Check out our Harlem neighborhood guide which lists the Top 10 things to do, as well as a list of the best places to eat and shop.

8. Lower East Side Festival of the Arts

This free festival, which takes place over Memorial Day weekend (May 25, 26 and 27th), showcases dance, film, music, poetry, theater, and visual art at the Theater for the New City.

There will also be activities for youth including plays for kids by kids. 



If you would like to learn more about Lower East Side history, culture, and food you may be interested in our Lower East Side Food Tour

You can also find out about other things going on in this vibrant neighborhood with our guide to the Lower East Side.

9. 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. 

If you are on a budget, there are also free boat rides and tours, including the Staten Island Ferry.

Get Free Tickets with A Tourist Discount Pass

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.  Several bus tour companies, including hop-on-hop-off buses, also offer discounts and deals. 

For tips on the most popular activities in NYC, check out these popular activities

Be sure to check our definitive list of things to do in NYC any time of the year.


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Here is just a handful of the free things to do in May in New York City.

Be sure to check out the other sections of this post, as many of the activities, such as the Annual Ethnic Festival in Harlem, Fleet Week, and the Cinco de Mayo parade are free to attend.

For year-round free things to do, see our comprehensive posts on free things to do in NYC as well as free museums and attractions.



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. 

Washington Square Outdoor Art Exhibit

This is a New York perennial favorite event. On Memorial Day Weekend (May 25, 26, 27) 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 type of art shown includes Mixed Media, Oils & Acrylic and Watercolor paintings, Photography, Sculpture, Jewelry, Metal Work, Ceramics, Glass Mixed Media, Fiber, and Wood.

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.

Holi Hai

This traditional Indian festival, which takes place in May (exact date to be announced) celebrates the coming of spring on the most colorful way possible – by throwing colored powder all around, including on each other! 

The festival features musical performances, delicious Indian food, and an afternoon of messy, free fun! Perfect for the entire family!  Find out more from the official website.

Dance Parade

Taking place on May 18th, this is one of the most popular free events every May.

The Parade starts at 1 pm and passes through several neighborhoods between 21st Street/Broadway all the way down to the East Village. Each stretch of the route emphasizes different global music. 



At Astor Place, the parade stops for demonstrations of hula, stilt and break dance then continue along St. Marks Place to Tompkins Square Park where you can join in the free DanceFest.

See their official website for details.

Go Kayaking 

Seriously. Go kayaking in New York City! 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.

Find out more from our post about free boat rides and tours, which also includes the very inexpensive NYC ferries.

If you’d prefer something a less unusual, see our post comparing the many paid boat tours and cruises in NYC.

Fleet Week   

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.

Between May 22-May 27, you’ll be able to tour all sorts of sea vessels used by the Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard. 

There will be a Parade of Ships that includes a flotilla of visiting vessels and tall ships that cruise along the Hudson River. For best views, head down to Battery Park to see the harbor and greet the ships. 

Many of the activities during Fleet Week occur at the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum (see above in our Top Ten section).

The 9th Avenue International Food Festival

This is the oldest food festival in NYC.  Every May, since 1973, international food vendors and entertainers have lined 9th Avenue between 42nd and 57th Street in Hell’s Kitchen. 

The festival is free to attend, and there is more than just food to enjoy. There is live entertainment such as belly dancing, Celtic dancers and plenty of other live bands and performers. There is also a children’s pavilion.

Food is the big draw and though it isn’t free, it is very inexpensive. Some of the cuisines you can try are Argentinean, Brazilian, French, Greek, German, Indian, Italian, Turkish, Ukrainian, Thai, Vietnamese, and more! 

In 2019, it takes place Saturday, May 18 and Sunday, May 19, from 10 am to 6 pm. Get more information here.

TIP: While you are there, use our guide to Hell’s Kitchen to explore the neighborhood!

For year-round free things to do, see our comprehensive posts on free things to do in NYC as well as free museums and attractions.


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Several of the activities listed in our top ten and free things to do sections can be enjoyed at night. Below are a few more nighttime activities to enjoy. 

For even more ideas, see our post on Top 10 Things to Do in New York City at Night and our New York Night Tours



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.

In the evenings you can catch a free concert in Central Park at Summerstage, watch a free performance of Shakespeare in the Park, or see a free movie outdoors.

See Jerry Seinfeld Perform

Jerry Seinfeld will be playing at the Beacon Theater for 10 nights (2 shows per night!) through June. In May, the two nights are the 3rd and 4th. Buy tickets here.

Tickets are pricey, so for those on budgets, you can find comedy all over NYC for free or almost free.

See our post, Stretching Your Dollar at the Best NYC Comedy Clubs

Take a Night Tour

Warm and comfortable evenings means nighttime sightseeing is something to consider. We offer several night tours, including our Midtown Manhattan Night Tour at least 2x every week (Thursdays and Saturdays).

We also offer a night 911 Memorial and Brooklyn Bridge Night Tour, ghost tours, as well as 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 for the best rooftop bars.

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 out where 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.

Watch the city turn from day to night with an incredible view of Manhattan, Brooklyn and the harbor.

We offer a night tour of the Brooklyn Bridge and 9/11 Memorial several evenings each week.  

You could also walk the bridge yourself, or learn about the bridge’s fascinating history with our GPS-enabled audio tour of the bridge.

Find out about more nighttime activities by looking at our post on things to do at night in NYC.


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Here we list some activities that are family-friendly taking place in May or throughout the entire year.

Other sections of this post also offer kid-friendly events, so be sure to look through all the sections of this post so you don’t miss any great family activities! 

This video is for things to do with kids any time of year.


For many, many other family-friendly activities, see our posts Things to Do with Kids in New York City, our 3-day itinerary for families and our list of over 100 things to do in New York City which includes dozens of kid-friendly activities. 

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

On May 31, you can visit this highly interactive and engaging museum for free between 5 pm and 9 pm. This museum is housed on an aircraft carrier whose exhibits include a Concorde, submarine & space shuttle and much more.

Kids and adults will love this experience, one of the most popular in NYC.

Get more details here.

Cinco De Mayo

Cinco De Mayo is the traditional Mexican celebration of the date May 5. In NYC on that day there is a parade that takes place along Central Park West between 97th-106th St.

While you are in that part of the city, you can head over to Central Park and explore the beautiful green spaces and visit the wonderful playgrounds in the Park.

You might also like to join one of our pay-what-you-like Central Park Tours or try out our GPS-enhanced Audio Tour of Central Park.

You will also find our guide to Central Park helpful.

Kids Food Festival

This free food festival offers an engaging, fun environment that aims to teach kids about making healthier food choices. It’s good for kids of all ages.

It takes place on May 11-12, 2019 in Lower Manhattan at The Oculus near the World Trade Center. Find out more from their website.

Our food tours are very family-friendly so consider joining one if you are traveling with kids.

T. rex: The Ultimate Predator

This new 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 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.


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