Open air in Times Square
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If you want to stay in the heart of the city, head to The Knickerbocker. The classic rooms are simple yet refined, but the real drawcard is St. Cloud, the rooftop bar overlooking Times Square serving impressive cocktails and plenty of sunshine.
Living the park life
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When the temperatures soar, Central Park can be a pleasant escape from the heat of the concrete jungle that is New York. Lay your towel down in Sheep Meadow for a sunbathing session, picnic under a tree or perch in the shade on a park bench and spy on the squirrels. Washington Square and Bryant Park are also popular spots to take in the sun or eat lunch.
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For a few hours of cool bliss, hit one of the city’s numerous cinemas for a summer blockbuster and relief from the daytime heat. Film Forum, Landmark Sunshine Cinema and Nitehawk Cinema (in Brooklyn) are great for indie films, or pop into the most popular movie theatre in Manhattan, the AMC Empire 25 on 42nd Street.
While away the hours
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Schedule in some quality museum time on those super-hot days – plan it right and get a bit of sunshine in between culture hits. The Museum of Modern Art has a peaceful sculpture garden, while the Guggenheim Museum’s Cafe 3 has windows looking out to leafy Central Park and The Met has a rooftop garden bar with stunning views. Look into getting a CityPass if you're looking to save money and see a few different hotspots.
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Summer is the best time to raise a glass in one of New York’s many outdoor bars. Head to the Brooklyn Barge (thebrooklynbarge.com) moored at Greenpoint, Westlight at the top of the William Vale Hotel for views of Manhattan, or one of the many rooftop bars on the island – try Roof at Park South (roofatparksouth.com), St. Cloud (theknickerbocker.com/dine/st-cloud) or Salvation Taco Rooftop Bar (salvationtaco.com).
Dining out, out
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Take advantage of the warm weather and dine in amazing outdoor spaces with equally great food. In Brooklyn, head to Roberta’s for pizza or Sauvage for a killer drinks list. For views of the Hudson, there’s the casual Pier I Cafe or Beaubourg for something a little smarter. For something quick, Blockheads Mexican and Shake Shack in Madison Square Park are a good bet, and for sidewalk table service try Lafayette or Gemma, a neighbourhood favourite. Other great open-air dining spaces include Industry Kitchen and Barbuto.
Luxury with benefits
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For impressively colourful surrounds, on-point service and super-luxe finishes, The Whitby Hotel can’t be beat. During the summer, look no further than the terrace suites, with their open-air spaces for lounging and dining, for respite from the heat.
Play under the stars
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The Public Theater has been running their Shakespeare in the Park program at the open-air Delacorte Theater in Central Park since 1962. Plays run throughout the summer and tickets are free. The easiest way to score a seat is through Today Tix.
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You’ll find New Yorkers sure do love a fresh juice and quality juice bars are a dime a dozen. Look out for branches of stores such as Juice Generation, Pressed Juicery, The Juice Shop and Juice Press – all of which have several locations in Manhattan and Brooklyn.
Sand, sun and fun
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Jump on the train to Coney Island and take a refreshing ocean dip, stop by Nathan’s Famous for a hot dog, ride Luna Park’s historic Cyclone roller coaster, see the Coney Island Circus Sideshow, indulge your sweet tooth at Williams Candy, down a cold Coney Island Brewing Co. beer and, if you’re lucky, you might also get to gawk at the annual Mermaid Parade.
Dip in anytime
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Bypass the fuss of clubs or one-off access fees and stay in a hotel with summer’s hottest commodity: a pool. The designer cool Sixty LES has one with Andy Warhol’s face on the bottom, plus, a hip and happening rooftop tiki bar and an open-air beer garden.
On a high
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A wander along the High Line, an abandoned elevated train line on Manhattan’s West Side repurposed as a green walkway, is ideal during the warmer months: there are vendors selling cold drinks and frozen treats along the way and you can also stop off at Chelsea Market beforehand or afterwards for an air-conditioned shopping session or quick bite. Los Tacos No.1 never disappoints.
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Gourmets and foodies rejoice! No trip to New York is complete without sampling the city’s cuisine and the summer months are host to NYC Restaurant Week, which sees over 300 venues providing incredible value three-course lunches (US$29) and dinners (US$42). Book early to avoid disappointment.
Light it up
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If you’re in New York for Fourth of July celebrations, don’t miss Macy’s annual fireworks display, a spectacular pyrotechnic display launched from barges on the East River – for about 20 blocks starting at East 24th Street.
Out and about
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As well as movies and concerts, there are other seasonal events to drop in on over the New York summer. Lovers of a good grill might be interested in attending the Big Apple Barbecue Block Party, while art lovers might want to attend the Museum Mile Festival. To experience quiet city streets without cars, hit the road during Summer Streets.
Get on the water
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Summer is the best time to get onto the water, and with the city’s new ferry services, it’s easier than ever to get between Brooklyn, Queens and Manhattan. You could also take the free Staten Island ferry to see the Statue of Liberty or jump aboard a Circle Line cruise to see more of the city skyline.
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Hot summer days in New York call for gelato. Try Amorino’s flower-shaped servings, try the daily selection of flavours at Il Laboratorio del Gelato, go natural at Grom [https://www.grom.it/en/gelaterie.php], drop by Eataly for a quick gelato/coffee/pastry stop or L’Arte del Gelato for something artisanal.
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Embrace those warm summer evenings and enjoy a classic oldie or current Oscar-contending film outdoors. Try the Rooftop Cinema Club, take advantage of NYC Parks Movies Under the Stars or check out Movies With A View in Brooklyn Bridge Park.
Shop up a storm
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Escape the hot pavement and head into one of New York’s famous (air-conditioned) department stores for a bout of fashionable retail therapy. For high-end luxury goods, drop by Saks Fifth Avenue, Bergdorf Goodman or Barneys. Look around Bloomingdale's , Nordstrom and Macy’s for more well-known brands, and head to Century 21, Neiman Marcus Last Call, Nordstrom Rack and Saks Off 5th for a great bargain.
Sound it out
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Take in a cool evening breeze at an outdoor summer concert or festival – many are free. Annual favourites include City Parks SummerStage, the Brooklyn Hip-Hop Festival, Celebrate Brooklyn!, The Met Opera’s Summer Recital Series and the New York Philharmonic’s Concerts in the Parks.