A view of the NYC Skyline above the Wollman Ice Rink in Central Park

Summer at NYU is the perfect time to take in everything New York City has to offer while at your own pace. Still, it can be daunting to think through the many, many options at your fingertips.

In fact, you may be asking yourself: How can I explore New York City without breaking the bank? Do I need to have a group of friends? Are there activities I can enjoy solo?

Fear not, friends! This guide will answer those questions and more!

For the Solo Adventurers

If you’re flying solo, here are two activities that may be perfect for you:

Get a Library Card!
A hand holding a New York Public Library card with the main library branch out of focus in the background.
This is my New York Public Library card. There are many just like it, but this one is mine.

OK, I know the last place you may want to be in the summer is the library, but HEAR ME OUT!

You should totally get a library card from the New York Public Library (NYPL). All students attending school in New York City are eligible for one. What’s more? It’s 100% free.

Why not take this opportunity to enhance your summer studies at NYU? The NYPL branches, particularly the main branch near Bryant Park, are wonderful places to explore. You’ll never find a more quiet—or beautiful—place to work than the Rose Main Reading Room. Your library card will also grant you access to Libby, a free audiobook and e-book platform. Now, you’ll have a constant companion to help you get through those long study sessions or solo adventures across the city. 

Explore the Hudson River Parkway
The Hudson River Park path on a sunny afternoon with Rockefeller Park to the right, and the Hudson River to the left
A shot I took of one of my favorite walkways in the whole city!

POV: it’s an unexpectedly comfortable early summer’s eve, and you’re in the mood to go for a stroll. Well, do I have the perfect route for you!

If you start from the Washington Square campus, take a downtown E train from West Fourth Fourth Street–Washington Square station to the World Trade Center station. From there, it’s a short distance to Rockefeller Park, where your journey begins. Follow the park path uptown (tip: keep the Hudson River to your left, just like in the photo), and enjoy exploring the Hudson River Parkway! There are art installations all along the path to enjoy. For the truly adventurous, you can even follow the path all the way to Little Island at Pier 55 and take in some gorgeous views of the Manhattan coast.

For You and Your Adventuring Party

You and your friends are looking for something to do on a day off from class? Here are some ideas:

After Hours at the Metropolitan Museum of Art
The front entrance of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
The Met at 7:32 p.m. Love that extra summer sunshine!

Every Friday and Saturday night, the Metropolitan Museum of Art stays open from 5:00–9:00 p.m. for Date Night at the Met. Don’t let the name fool you—bring whomever you want! The best part is, you can still take advantage of pay-what-you-wish admission (available to NY, NJ, and CT students and residents). So, you and your friends can get into the Met for as little as a penny each! In addition to the many, many exhibits on display, you can enjoy some live music at no additional charge.

Movie Nights at Bryant Park
A picture of a poster for Movie Nights at Bryant Park. The lineup includes Forrest Gump, The Talented Mr. Ripley, Boomerang, Gladiator, Old School, Funny Face, Cinema Paradiso, How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days, Arrival, and Titanic

Every summer, the city hosts free movie nights in Bryant Park. So, grab your picnic blankets and some snacks, then head uptown to enjoy a wonderful lineup of movies under the city lights. The lawn opens at 5:00 p.m., and the movie starts at 8:00 p.m. This is one of the city’s most popular events, so be sure to get there early to claim a spot! The movie schedule can be found on the park’s website.

There’s so much more to explore here in New York City, but I hope this small sampling is enough to jump-start your NYU summer adventures. Remember, this is your home now. Take these ideas, or let them inspire you to craft your own adventures! Be safe, remember to rest, and enjoy your summer in the city!

Hi, I’m Christian (he/him), and I’m an Operations Assistant in the Department of Undergraduate Admissions at NYU! I’m also a graduate of the Tisch School of the Arts (’22) with a BFA in Drama and minors in Applied Theatre and Child and Adolescent Mental Health Studies. When I’m not at work, you can catch me in action as a part-time Twitch streamer, painting miniatures, playing Balatro on PC, or wandering up and down Manhattan.