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.
Covid-19 Notice: Please follow government advice. There may be changes to some of the attractions and events due to coronavirus, so please double check before visiting.
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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 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 a afternoon thunderstorm, so an umbrella might come in handy.
17 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 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.
#1 Visit Central Park
Central Park is one of the places you must visit whenever you are in NYC. In the spring, the flo.wers 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
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 to 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 perferences 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
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 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
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 has been delayed to July due to the pandemic.
#5 See the Orchid Show at NY Botanical Garden
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.
#6 Go to Sakura Matsuri at Brooklyn Botanic Garden
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 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.
#7 Walk Along the Highline
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 you time and enjoy the scenery. The Highline is free to visit.
#8 Check out the Street Art
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.
#9 Walk Across the Brooklyn Bridge
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 Williamsburg Bridge. I still prefer to walk on the Brooklyn Bridge.
#10 Go to Smorgasburg
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
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 your 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 Visit 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 building, 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.
#13 Check Out a Rooftop, Outdoor, or Floating Bar
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 outdoor bars include:
#14 Go Hiking
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.
#15 Take Long Island Wine Tasting Day Trip
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.
Unfortantely the wineries are not easy 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.
#16 Check out the Vessel
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 free. You can get them the day of your visit at interactive kiosks nearby starting at 9:30 or you can reserve online up to 14 days in advance here.
#17 Visit a 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 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.
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 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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