20 Best Things to Do in NYC in the Spring

spring flowers with nyc skyline in the background
by Anisa // 2 Comments

Once the Christmas season in New York City is over, everyone starts looking forward to spring.  After a few months of cold and grey, the flowers of spring are such a welcome sign.  It’s nice to be able to enjoy the outdoors without freezing.

While there is plenty to keep you busy in NYC all year, there are certain activities that are ideal for the spring.  They are the things I looked forward to each year when I lived in New York.  Let me share some of my favorite things to do in NYC in the spring.

Note: This post contains affiliate links.  Please see disclosure for more information.

What is Springtime like in New York City?

After the long NYC winter, the change of seasons was always welcome.  While the weather can be a bit unstable, in general, spring brings warmer temperatures and lots of blooms.  It’s a wonderful time to be in New York City.

High temperatures during the day will range from the 50s to the 70s. You will still need a light jacket on most spring days and it does still get quite chilly at night, but snow is quite rare.  It’s more likely that you will have to deal with an afternoon thunderstorm, so an umbrella might come in handy.


20 Best Things to Do in NYC in the Spring

NYC has a lot to offer visitors during the spring months.  With the weather improving in New York City, outdoor activities are more appealing. Plus, there are several annual events that are scheduled in the spring.

Depending on what items on this spring list you plan on checking off, you might want to consider getting either the NY Pass or NYC Sightseeing Pass to save money.  In planning your trip, you might also want to read my tips for visiting NYC for the first time and grab my free traveling planning checklist.

#1 Visit Central Park

central park in spring with cherry blossoms in bloom
Spring is the best time to see the flowers in Central Park.

Central Park is one of the places you must visit whenever you are in NYC.  In the spring, the flowers will be in bloom and the weather shouldn’t be too cold so it’s the perfect time to explore this gem.  Remember it is bigger than you might expect so be prepared for a lot of walking or think about biking around Central Park.

If it’s your first visit, start by checking out some of the top areas in Central Park like the Great Lawn, Sheep Meadow, and the Lake.  The best spots to see the blooms are Shakespeare’s Garden and the Conservatory Garden.  There are also lots of cherry blossoms around the Reservoir and the Conservatory Water.

#2 Enjoy a Dinner Cruise

view of manhattan from a boat
The views during a boat cruise around NYC are lovely.

One of the most romantic things to do in New York City is to go on a dinner cruise and spring is one of the best times to do it.  A boat ride gives you another perspective of the skyline.  You can see NYC in the daylight, and then as the sun sets you can see all the city lights.

There are many different options when it comes to a dinner cruise in NYC.  Some offer a buffet style dinner while others are more formal.  A number of the cruises offer entertainment in the form of a dj or live band.  Most of these boats have an inside section as well as an outside section so that if it’s too chilly you can just stay indoors. 

When it comes time to book your dinner cruise, you can’t go wrong.  Consider your personal preferences and budget.  While my favorite is Bateaux, I have tried several and have never been disappointed.  See New York City dinner cruises options here.

#3 Go to the Easter Parade

dog dressed up at the NYC Easter Bonnet Parade
You never know what you will see at the NYC Easter Bonnet Parade.

I only discovered how much fun the Easter Bonnet Parade is after living in NYC for almost 10 years.  On Easter Day, crowds flock to Fifth Avenue between 49th and 57th streets to show off their Easter bonnets.  It’s been a New York tradition since sometime in the 1870s!

It’s not a religious event, more a spectacle of fashion.  Don’t worry if you’re struggling to get the creative juices going, you can go to the Parade without a bonnet.   I always went in regular clothes, but I still loved seeing everyone else’s masterpieces.

#4 Attend the Tribeca Film Festival

buildings in tribeca in NYC
The Tribeca Film Festival has grown into quite the event.

Movie buffs will love the opportunity to attend some of the events of the Tribeca Film Festival.  It was founded by Robert De Niro, Jane Rosenthal, and Craig Hatkoff, in 2002 to help the Tribeca neighborhood recover from the September 11th attacks.

Typically, there are over 600 screenings, awards for artists in 23 categories, and approximately 150,000 attendees.  They have recently expanded to included games and podcasts.  You can buy tickets for individual events, which take place all over the city, or an all-access pass.

Note: While the Festival typically takes place in the spring, the 2021 Tribeca Film Festival was moved to July due to the pandemic.

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#5 See the Orchid Show at NY Botanical Garden

orchids at the NY Botantical Garden
You will be amazed by all the orchids you can see at the NYBG

Established in 1891, the New York Botanical Garden is the largest botanical garden in any city in the US.  For the last 18 years, it has hosted an Orchid Show each year.  Thousands of colorful orchids are on display inside the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory.  It’s an enchanting and uplifting experience.

These Botanical Gardens are located in the Bronx.  Don’t worry it’s easy to get to the NYBG, you can take either the subway or Metro North train.  Plan on spending a full day there, you’ve got 250 acres of gardens to explore.   They also have lots of cherry blossoms.

**You could also visit the Bronx Zoo while you are in the area.  Buy a NY Botanical Garden/Bronx Zoo combo ticket and save money here.

#6 Go to Sakura Matsuri at Brooklyn Botanic Garden

cherry blossoms in bloom in the japanese garden at the brooklyn botantic gardens
The Brooklyn Botanic Gardens may be the best place to see cherry blossoms in the spring.

Speaking of cherry blossoms, the best place to celebrate them is the Brooklyn Botanic Garden during their Sakura Matsuri festival.  While you can enjoy the cherry blossoms throughout the spring months at the BBG, the two day Sakura Matsuri event (usually towards the end of April) also celebrates Japanese culture.

The festival salutes the end of Hanami (the season of Japanese cherry blossom viewing) with live music by J-rock bands, performances by Taiko drummers and samurai sword masters, a mini flea market, a Japanese tearoom, art gallery, and more.  Many of the attendees dress up in cosplay, so it’s also a fun event for people watching.

While you can easily spend a whole day just at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, it is located right next to the Brooklyn Museum, which is also worth visiting.  You can purchase tickets for the Brooklyn Museum online here.

#7 Walk Along the Highline

highline park in nyc
The Highline is a unique park and spring is the best time to check it out.

The Highline is a public park on the west side of Manhattan that was built on an elevated railway line.  It’s definitely not your typical park where you would take kids to play.  Instead you can enjoy the rustic gardens, view interesting pieces of art, experience a street performance, and try some delicious food while taking in some unique views of the city.

It runs from 34th Street to Gansevoort Street, so the walk is 1.45 miles.  You will want to take your time and enjoy the scenery.  The Highline is free to visit.

#8 Check out the Street Art

colorful nyc mural on building
NYC has some of the best street art in the world.

I think NYC is one of the best cities in the world when it comes to art.  With the pleasant weather, spring is the perfect time to see as much as you can.  You will find street art in many NYC neighborhoods, but I think the best areas are the Lower East Side, East Village, Long Island City, Williamsburg, and Bushwick.

While you can wander the streets looking for murals, consider taking a tour.  You won’t waste time searching for the artwork and you will learn more about the artists and their work.  I enjoyed doing a tour of the Bushwick Collective.

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#9 Walk Across the Brooklyn Bridge

brookyn bridge with lower manhattan in the background
The walk across the Brooklyn Bridge is one of those NYC things that you must do!

The walk across the Brooklyn Bridge is one of my favorites in the city.  The views are spectacular as you can see lower Manhattan, Midtown, the Statue of Liberty, and more.  The bridge is a little more than a mile but since you will want to stop and take pictures it’s best to allow an hour.

I like to start on the Manhattan side, the closest subway stop is City Hall, and make my way slowly to the Brooklyn side.  There I like to stop in at Juliana’s for pizza before heading back.  Depending on how I feel I might walk back over the bridge or catch a ferry back to Manhattan.

Note: If you want to avoid crowds, you can walk across the Manhattan Bridge.  I still prefer to walk on the Brooklyn Bridge.

#10 Go to Smorgasburg

view of manhattan from smorgasburg in williamsburg brooklyn
Go to Smorgasburg for the food and the views!

Smorgasburg is the largest weekly open-air food market in America, attracting 20,000-30,000 people each weekend to eat from 100 local vendors.  There are multiple locations but my favorite is the one in Williamsburg because of the panoramic views of the Manhattan skyline.

It’s hard to think of a nicer way to spend an afternoon than sampling new foods and drinks while enjoying the nice weather.  Be sure to arrive hungry as there will be many foods you will want to try.  Also, it’s best to go early as Smorgasburg is popular and some stands may run out of items. 

#11 Attend a Baseball Game

Yankee Stadium field in the Bronx NYC on a spring day
New York City has a great baseball tradition. Go see a game if you can.

NYers are passionate about their baseball teams whether it’s the Yankees or the Mets.   The baseball season typically starts the end of March or beginning of April.  If you plan ahead, you will be able to get better seats but most games (not Subway Series or Red Sox) will have tickets available the same day.  The easiest way to get baseball tickets is through StubHub.

If you go to a Yankees game, I recommend arriving early.  Inside the stadium, you can visit the Yankees Museum.  Outside the stadium, there are several dive bars.  I have many fond memories of Stan’s!  If you can’t see a game while you’re in NYC but still want to visit Yankee Stadium, you can take a guided tour.

It’s also fun to go to a Mets game.  At the Mets Stadium, they do have a Shake Shack, but be warned the line will be long and they don’t have the full menu.  Under the outfield stands, they have a large bar called McFadden’s.

A cheaper alternative would be to see the Staten Island Yankees.  They are a minor league team but still a fun experience.  The stadium is walking distance from the Staten Island Ferry so it’s easy to get to.

During the spring, night games can get a bit chilly so be sure to bring a jacket.

#12 Take a Photo Tour

Why not see a bit of New York City and get some professional photos taken at the same time.  Photos are the best souvenirs because they are personal mementos. It’s not easy to take photos on your own because you can only take so many selfies and it’s hard to find a random stranger to take a photo. 

On a photo tour, you get a skilled photographer that knows the best photo spots in NYC.  Spring might be one of the best time for photos because the city is in bloom.  Since it’s a private tour, you can tailor the itinerary to your interests.  It will be a fun time and you will have the photos as a souvenir of your romantic trip.

**If you use the code TTTNYC, you can get $10 off any tour with NYC Photo Journeys.  Another option is Flytographer.  If it’s your first time using Flytographer, you can get $25 if you use the code TTTPHOTO.  Get more details here.

#13 Visit Governor’s Island

view of manhattan from Governor's island
Even on a cloudy day, you have fantastic views of Manhattan from Governor’s Island.

Governors Island is a 172-acre island in the heart of New York Harbor that has been turned into a park.  Not your typical park either, there are historic buildings, educational facilities, art installations, and a 22-acre National Monument.  You can enjoy a picnic or a bike ride with some of the best views of Lower Manhattan and the Statue of Liberty.

To get to Governor’s Island, you can take a ferry from either Manhattan or Brooklyn.  Select early ferries on the weekends are free, otherwise round trip ferry service to Governors Island costs $2 for adults, $1 for seniors, and children under 12 ride for free at all times.  Currently, Governor’s Island is only open seasonally but they are looking to expand it to a year-round destination.

#14 Partake in a Boozy Brunch

In NYC, brunch has become an institution.  It is part of the culture. I think it’s a fabulous way to spend a spring afternoon (or morning for those early birds!) in NYC.  If the weather is nice, grab a table outside.

Boozy brunches include unlimited alcoholic drinks for a set amount of time. Some will just include refills of the same cocktail while others will let you try different ones. Be sure to pace yourself, you still have some sightseeing to do. There are also places where you can just pay for what you drink.

Brunch in NYC
Brunch is a NYC institution!

Some of my favorite restaurants for boozy brunches are Poco, Hotel Chantelle, Maya, and Dos Caminos. Of course, you don’t have to have a boozy brunch but some places require everyone at the table to choose the same drink option.

#15 Check Out a Rooftop, Outdoor, or Floating Bar

wine glass with sunset and nyc skyline in the background
Why not enjoy a drink with a view?

Spring is the perfect time of year to enjoy an adult beverage outdoors.  In New York City, you have a variety of options including bars on top of buildings, on the river, or even in a park.  Some of my favorite spring NYC nightlife spots and outdoor bars include:

#16 Go Hiking 

Anisa taking a well-deserved break!
Anisa taking a well-deserved break on the Breakneck Ridge Trail!

With the weather warming up, it’s the perfect time to go hiking.  You may not think of NYC as a hiking destination but there are actually several parks in the city that have trails including Inwood Hill Park in Upper Manhattan, Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx, Prospect Park in Brooklyn, and Forest Park in Queens.  You can get more information about the trails here.

For a more challenging experience consider making a short trip to the Hudson Valley for hiking.  If you don’t have access to a car, consider doing the Breakneck Ridge hike since there is a train that will take you directly there.

#17 Take Long Island Wine Tasting Day Trip

rows of grape vines in a vineyard
The vineyards in Long Island make a fun day trip especially in the spring.

If you appreciate wine, there are plenty of quality wineries within reach.  Spring is the perfect time to sit outside with the vineyards in view and taste wine.  Some of my favorites wineries in Long Island include Macari, McCall, and Sparling Pointe.  

Unfortunately, the wineries are not easily accessible using public transportation.  Since you will be tasting wines, you don’t want to have to worry about driving.  It’s best to either hire a driver or join a tour. 

Check out options for a Long Island Wine tour here.

#18 Check out the Vessel

Vessel in NYC
The Vessel is quite an eye-catching piece of architecture.

UPDATE: As of December 14, 2022 the Vessel remains temporarily closed. You can still admire the structure from the ground level. Access is free and open to the public from 10AM to 9PM Monday to Saturday and 11AM to 7PM on Sunday (including Christmas Day and New Year’s Day), with no reservation required.

The Vessel is an interactive artwork designed by Thomas Heatherwick and Heatherwick Studio that allows you to  enjoy a new perspective of the NYC, the Hudson River, and more.  It is made up of 154 interconnecting flights of stairs with almost 2,500 individual steps and 80 landings.  There is an elevator for those that need it too.

Since it’s an outdoor attraction, spring is a good time to check it out.  The Vessel is located in Hudson Yards on the west side of Manhattan.  Tickets are $10 and can be bought in groups of 2-14.  You can get them here.

#19 Visit a Museum

inside the metropolitan museum of art in NYC
I could spend hours inside the Met Museum!

My favorite rainy day activity in New York is to go to a museum.  Actually, it can be a good idea to visit a museum even when the weather is nice.  There are so many world-class museums in the city that everyone can find one that interests them.

For art lovers, check out either the Metropolitan Museum of Art or MOMA (or both if time allows).  I think the Natural History Museum (get tickets here) is the best option for kids.  If you want a different type of experience, check out the Tenement Museum.  The National September 11th Museum is also worth a visit.

#20 Escape to Little Island

view of little island with downtown manhattan skyline in the background
Little Island is a unique public space that you need to see for yourself.

Little Island is a 2.4-acre public park on what used to be Pier 54 in Hudson River Park on the West side of Manhattan.  It offers breathtaking views, Instagrammable photo spots, artwork, an amphitheatre, food vendors, and more.  All features are accessible.

Historically, the pier used to be a safe haven for New York City’s growing LGBTQ community as home to the annual Dance on the Pier event.  In 1998, Pier 54 became part of the newly-formed Hudson River Park, where it became a venue for summer events and concert series. 

Where to Stay in NYC in the Spring

Location is key when choosing a place to stay in NYC as it can save you a lot of travel time. 

With all the different neighborhoods in NYC, it can be hard to narrow down where to stay when you are in NYC.  There is no one-size-fits-all solution, it is going to depend on your personal preferences.

I created a cheatsheet to help you choose the right accommodation in NYC for you.  It goes over the pros and cons of each neighborhood and provides a few hotel recommendations for various price ranges.  Grab your free copy of my NYC Hotel Cheatsheet here.

Is New York Worth Visiting in the Spring?

It can be expensive to visit NYC, so you may be wondering if it is worth visiting in the spring.  I think spring is an ideal time to visit New York.  You can take advantage of the improving weather, the spring events, and there will be fewer tourists than in summer months.  The only downsides are that you will not be able to see the fall foliage or the Christmas decorations.

Have you visited NYC in the Spring? I would love to hear about your experience.


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Tips for Visiting New York City in the Spring

  • Be prepared for changing weather and keep an eye on the forecast.  While the weather will start warming up in the spring, you could still have some cold days and nights.  You’ll also want to bring along rain gear just in case.
  • Popular attractions and events will sell out so plan ahead.
  • If you plan on doing a lot of sightseeing, consider getting a New York Pass to save money.

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About the Author

Anisa is an experienced international traveler with extra pages in her passport and stamps from 41 different countries across 5 continents (and counting). She was born and raised in Texas. After a 13 year stint in NYC, she moved to England to live with her husband.