16 Cool Things to Do in NYC

End spring with a bang and kick-start the best summer ever with these cool things to do in NYC.

Second-floor Aperture at The Richard Gilder Center for Science, Education
Second-floor Aperture at The Richard Gilder Center for Science, Education | Photo by Iwan Baan, courtesy of the American Museum of Natural History
Second-floor Aperture at The Richard Gilder Center for Science, Education | Photo by Iwan Baan, courtesy of the American Museum of Natural History

Longer days and warmer weather in New York City bring both a pep in our step and eagerness to get out there and enjoy the city. And as we await the unofficial start of summer with Memorial Day Weekend, the months of May and June are already looking top notch with no shortage of events, music festivals, immersive experiences, and of course, food and drink options galore.

Along with the top Upper East Side restaurants with celeb spotting potential for the Met Gala, we've got all the details on how to end spring with a bang and kick-start your best summer ever. Here’s everything cool to do in NYC between now and the end of June.

The FRIENDS Experience
Photo courtesy of The FRIENDS Experience

Gather your squad, whip out the vintage 2000s fits, and head to The FRIENDS experience where you can all crowd on the orange sofa, enjoy interactive experiences, wander Rachel and Monica’s apartment, see props like Chandler’s bunny suit, and relive your favorite episodes, characters, and story lines. Could this be any more iconic!?
Cost: $70

The Staircase in the Kenneth C. Griffin Exploration Atrium
The Staircase in the Kenneth C. Griffin Exploration Atrium at The Richard Gilder Center for Science, Education | Photo by Iwan Baan, courtesy of the American Museum of Natural History

Opens May 4
Upper West Side
Spanning four floors of stunning architecture, The Richard Gilder Center for Science, Education, and Innovation is the latest addition to the American Museum of Natural History. Expect cool immersive experiences like Invisible Worlds and the Davis Family Butterfly Vivarium showcasing 160,000 butterflies and moths. These two exhibitions require separate tickets but other exhibits at the Gilder Center are included with general museum admissions, like the Insectarium.
Cost: General admission is on a Pay-what-you-wish for NY, NJ, and CT residents

Enjoy tasty AAPI Heritage Month menu specials

To take advantage of tasty AAPI menu specials, head to Leland Eating and Drinking House for Chinese and Filipino recipes like Pork Sisig and Roasted Duck paired with a Lychee Daiquiri or Mai Tai. The dumpling staple, Mimi Cheng’s, will offer Dan Dan Noodles, Pork and Chive Dumplings, and hand-made Taiwanese dumplings. And on May 11, join the Generations Project for Hoy! What’s the Bubble Tea? for AAPI and LGBTQ storytelling depicting the intersection through music, art, and stories between both demographics.
Cost: Varies

Yayoi Kusama
Yayoi Kusama's 'I Spend Each Day Embracing Flowers' | Photo courtesy of David Zwirner

Starting May 11
Yayoi Kusama’s contemporary art will be showing at the David Zwirner galleries in one of her largest gallery exhibitions to date. Go see her famous Infinity Mirrored Room, the iconic giant yellow and black polka-dotted pumpkin, and new paintings and sculptures with her familiar motifs. Pick off-peak times to best enjoy this colorful and immersive exhibition without crowds.
Cost: Free

May 10
Lower East Side
Celebrating its 21st year, Taste of the Lower East Side brings together neighborhood restaurants and vendors in support of the mission of Grand St. Settlement. The group was founded in 1916 and provides essential services to low-income demographics at communities and schools across the LES and Brooklyn. Participating restaurants include PLNT Burger Huerta, Clinton St. Baking Company, Claw Daddy, Doughnut Plant, and dozens more.
Cost: From $100

For all the tech and art enthusiasts out there, the MoDe is New York City’s first all-digital museum and features 14 interactive art installations fused with technology. Make a visit and get a glimpse into how museums of the future will look. The museum is open Thursday through Sunday and you can view all installations within 40 minutes.
Cost: Between $17.60 and $27

Head In The Clouds Festival
Photo courtesy of Head In The Clouds Festival

May 20 & 21
Forest Hills 
The Head in the Clouds Music & Arts Festival is one of the biggest AAPI celebrations in the country. The 2-day festival features notable musical acts and DJs of Asian descent, Asian-centric food vendors, art, and plenty of elbow space. The event also coincides with the centennial celebration of Forest Hills Stadium, the original home of the U.S. Open.
Cost: $121

Tiny’s Gumbo
Tiny’s Gumbo | Photo courtesy of File Gumbo Bar

May 23
Enjoy The Big Easy vibes at this Tribeca restaurant known for its Creole and Cajun cooking. To celebrate NOLA, File Gumbo Bar will offer a traditional Louisiana crawfish boil event on May 23 (that also celebrates their 1 year anniversary in NYC) with corn and all the fixings to get down and dirty with seafood. If you prefer regular Creole/Cajun dishes, you can’t go wrong with their must-try lunch or dinner platters like Andouille and Shrimp Jambalaya, Char-grilled Oysters in spicy garlic herb butter, and Gumbo. Save room for Brown Butter Bourbon Bread Pudding.
Cost: $125

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Courtesy of Moulin Rouge the Musical

Baz Lurhmann's revolutionary film comes to life in Moulin Rouge! The Musical, winner of 10 Tony Awards, including Best Musical. Platinum-selling recording artist Joanna “JoJo” Levesque stars as Satine, the “Sparkling Diamond” performer at the Moulin Rouge who catches the eye of a young Bohemian writer. Great seats are available this spring — get your tickets now.

Neat Burger
Photo courtesy of Neat Burger

At this new plant-based fast casual spot, Neat Burger’s mission is to create a planet-first, guilt free burger while focusing on sustainability. Their Neat patty is made from proteins and fiber like peas, corn, rice, and quinoa, and the entire menu is free of dairy, allergen, and GMOs. Signature menu items include the Neat Burger, Neat Dog, Cheez Burger, shakes, and much more.
Cost: Burgers start at $7.99

Silent Disco
Silent Disco | Photo courtesy of Lincoln Center

Starting June
Lincoln Center
For quintessential NYC summer activities, head to Lincoln Center’s Summer for the City. Programming included Mozart’s Don Giovanni at the Met; Jazz at Lincoln Center for Etienne Charles: The Sound of a People, blending American jazz with high energy sounds of Trinidadian carnival; and a twist on the classic play Camelot.

Lincoln Center’s Summer for the City events begin June 14 through August 12 with events like Second Moon, one of South Korea's best known folk pop bands; Social Dance, the largest outdoor dance floor with a 10-ft disco ball, Latin, hip hop, bachata tunes and tutorials; and the popular Silent Disco. July programming includes the American Ballet Theater’s Like Water for Chocolate and Giselle, free events at the Underground for Jazz; and lots of family-friendly workshops and events.
Cost: Most events are free while ballet and plays start from $35

Starting June 3
Central Park
Recharge and take in some vitamin D at one of the many SummerStage Festival events at Central Park. The festival features global music, dance performances, and family events, with beverage options available on-site. Grab a blanket, shades, and some friends for a relaxing day being introduced to new music. Performance acts range from Indigo Girls and Mt. Joy, to Noel Gallagher and Carl Cox.
Cost: From $59

Tribeca Festival | Photo courtesy of Tribeca

June 7–18
Celebrating its 22nd year, the popular Tribeca Festival has an exciting lineup of 109 feature films from 127 filmmakers, 36 countries, and 93 world premieres, comprising both emerging and established talent. The festival will continue its Juneteenth commemoration through the “Expressions of Black Freedom” program, which pays tribute to the 50th anniversary of hip-hop with the world premiere of All Up in the Biz, a documentary about New York hip-hop legend Biz Markie. Feature films include Stylebender from New Zealand and Q from Lebanon; documentaries on sports, food, war; and a performance by Gloria Gaynor, who also has a documentary showing.
Cost: Pass and ticket packages vary between $60 to $100

Hudson Yards
If you’re a die-hard Army member, this one’s for you. Find your way to this pop-up at Hudson Yards for official BTS merchandise like plushies, clothing, trading cards, posters and more. And don’t be surprised if you leave with a new crew of fellow stans.
Cost: Free to enter

Head to Harlem for a Juneteenth celebration

June 17
Organized by Official Black Wall Street to recognize the holiday of Juneteenth, the Juneteenth Freedom Fest NYC first launched in 2021. At this marketplace and festival at Harlem’s 125th Plaza, celebrate Black culture, Black businesses, and Black contribution to the American cultural fabric. Participating vendors include Liberated Eyewear, a woman-owned business; 3 some Chocolates; beauty services from Color Lab NYC; and Harp and Hare for any luxury picnics needs.
Cost: Free

Governors Ball
Governors Ball | Photo by Charles Reagan, courtesy of Governors Ball

June 9–11
Flushing Meadows Corona Park
Described as New York City’s biggest summer bash, the Governors Ball music festival is where over sixty artists on three stages perform to the screams of their fans. From regular general admission to platinum front-of-stage views, there are tiers of enjoyment for everyone. Belt out lyrics to Lizzo and Kendrick Lamar with sustenance from food vendors like Doughnuttery, Mac Truck NYC, Luke’s Lobster, Japanese Flair, and much more.
Cost: From $139

LilliStar | Photo by Michael Mundy

New York City is famous for its plethora of rooftop bars atop hotels and skyscrapers with 360 degree views of waterfronts, lush parks, and iconic towers. Gaze at the scenery with refreshing cocktails and posh bites in hand while swaying to the tune of the evening. There’s a rooftop for every vibe in this city, from the boisterous to the chilled: pick one and maximize the season.
Cost: Varies

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Kemi Ibeh is a contributor for Thrillist.