Outdoor Activities And Other Cool Things To Do In NYC Post Covid

By Camila Perez on Jun 10, 2021

One full year into the COVID-19 pandemic, some of the major cities in the world are inching closer and closer to normality. With restaurants slowly opening back up, socially-distanced music venues allowing shows, and plenty of outdoor activities to take on during the warm spring and summer days ahead, we’ve rounded up some of the best things to do in NYC as COVID rules ease up.

So grab your mask and some hand sanitizer, and get ready to dive into the exciting world of culture, history, music, food, and fun that’s waiting for you in New York City!

In this guide, we'll take a look at:

  • 1. When is the best time to visit NYC?
  • 2. What’s currently open in NYC during COVID?
  • 3. Some of the best outdoor activities in NYC
  • 4. Sign up for a New York City walking tour
  • 5. Take an open-air bus tour of NYC
  • 6. The best outdoor & rooftop restaurants in NYC
  • 7. The best outdoor & rooftop bars in NYC
  • 8. More unusual things to do in New York City...
  • 9. Where to stay in NYC

When is the best time to visit NYC?

Depending on what you’re into, the best time to visit NYC can vary greatly. Most people prefer to visit the city during the spring or summer because the weather is more forgiving, the parks are fully open, and there are plenty of open spaces to enjoy some time away from home.

Spring and summer are also great times to visit the local museums and galleries, especially since a lot of new exhibitions go up during these very popular travel months. Music festivals – when allowed – are also a great experience that draws in crowds from all over the country (and sometimes from outside of it!).

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A lot of people ask “Is New York City less crowded in the winter?” and, to be honest, the answer varies. Although winters tend to be a time where less people in the US travel, New York City is a popular destination for local and international travelers over the Christmas and New Year’s holidays. From ice skating at the Rockefeller Center to watching the ball drop over Times Square, there are still plenty of activities to enjoy – even when the temperatures dip.

What’s currently open in NYC during COVID?

As residents continue to be vaccinated, a lot of the restrictions in and around NYC have eased significantly.

As well as most restaurants, bars, and other venues around the city, there are also a lot of other places that are currently open in NYC. Some of these include: Prospect Park, The Met, Madison Square Garden, Rockefeller Center, the Bronx Zoo, MoMA, Grand Central Station, and many more. For a full list of what’s open in NYC, check out this handy website.

Some of the best outdoor activities in NYC

The great thing about traveling to New York City is that there are plenty of wide, open, and natural spots where you can remain socially distanced while still enjoying the vibe of the city.

Plus, for those traveling on a budget, staying outdoors and checking out the city’s parks is one of the best free things to do in NYC!

Take a walk through Central Park

Without a doubt one of the best outdoor activities to do in NYC, checking out Central Park should be at the top of your list. With 863 acres of space to explore, you’ll have plenty of things to see that will keep you entertained. From the iconic Bethesda Terrace & Fountain to the Alice in Wonderland statue, Shakespeare Garden, Bow Bridge, Strawberry Fields (with the famous Imagine mosaic), and The Great Lawn, make sure you pin all the spots you want to check out.

Oh, and most importantly: wear comfortable shoes and carry water.

Check out The High Line

Built on the remnants of an old railway, the High Line stretches for just over 2 kilometers (1.5 miles) and is brimming with artists, street food performers, vendors, and other quirks. Open year round to the public, it’s a great way to soak up the vibe of NYC and enjoy the weather on a sunny day.

Hop on the Staten Island Ferry

Technically still an outdoor activity, the ferry runs every day, 24 hours a day, and travels between Manhattan and Staten Island. Hop on free of charge and enjoy watching the city from a different perspective, plus a first-seat look at the Statue of Liberty.

Get lost in the buzz at Times Square

A must-do for most people who visit the city, stopping by Times Square (especially at nighttime) feels like a scene out of a movie. With the neon signs shining bright above your head, the street performers making their way through the people, and the tourists trying to get their best shot, you’ll be surrounded by action everywhere you look.

End your night with a retreat inside to catch a play or grab a snack at one of the many restaurants located just steps away.

Sign up for a New York City walking tour

If you’re the type of traveler who prefers a little more structure, another great way to see the city and get to know more about its history is by signing up for one of the New York City walking tours that are available.

With so many options available – from a walking tour of Central Park to a ghost walking tour that involves all the most haunted spots in the city – you’ll be sure to find one that best fits your needs and your likes.

The great thing about these tours is that they’re usually free – all you have to do is show up at the meeting place and walk alongside the group and the guide. At the end of the walk, guides and companies usually ask for tips (sort of a pay-what-you-want scheme) in return for the guidance.

Joining a walking tour is a great first-time experience for visitors to get acquainted with the city and start to understand more about it from the ground up – especially if you’ll be spending more than a few days there. Once you have the ropes, it’ll be easier to head out on your own and see what you missed.

Take an open-air bus tour of NYC

Good thing for travelers who aren’t giant fans of exploring on foot: bus tours are also available!

One of the most popular ways to see NYC, especially if you have the budget, is to purchase a ticket for one of the many open air bus tours there are.

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Join a community of like-minded people who live, work, and explore on their terms at Selina Chelsea NYC!

The great thing about these tours is that they’re sometimes hop-on/hop-off. This means that you can purchase a single ticket, get on the bus, and explore any sights you might want to take a closer look at. Starting from 39 USD, these companies do a loop around some of the best (and most popular) spots in the city with a guide pointing out fun facts such as what movie was filmed there, which famous actor lives around the area, and other quick bites of trivia you might enjoy.

The best outdoor & rooftop restaurants in NYC

Craving some NYC goodness, but looking to avoid crowded spaces? You’re in luck! With the pandemic, a lot of restaurants in NYC had to adapt and change to overcome the issues of overcrowding. Here are a few outdoor rooftop dining and rooftop restaurants in NYC that you can’t miss!

Time Out Market in DUMBO

A classic food-hall, Time Out Market is full of different flavors you can try without going too far. With two bars located on the first floor rooftop and fifth floor rooftop, diners can enjoy food from the different restaurants while still respecting social distancing measures.

Cantina Rooftop in Hell’s Kitchen

Open year-round, this zingy Mexican-style eatery has a continuous flow of tacos, enchiladas, and several types of guacamole. And, to wash them down, the margarita pitchers are always a must.

Zona de Cuba in the Bronx

Transport yourself to a whole new destination at this palm tree-lined rooftop in the Bronx. Open for brunch and dinner, the restaurant serves mouthwatering Caribbean dishes and has a wide selection of drinks. We recommend you book well in advance: tables fill up quickly.

The best outdoor & rooftop bars in NYC

In the same way, there are also now plenty of New York City bars with outdoor space for locals and visitors alike to enjoy.

Summerly in Williamsburg

This New England-themed bar is a great spot to retreat when you feel like the big city vibes are getting a little too much. With 360º views over the East River, lobster rolls, and fresh cocktails, you can spend hours tucked away at this spot.

A.R.T. SOHO in Soho

Overlooking the Hudson, the bar puts a quirky spin on classic cocktails that most people know and love. Hit up A.R.T. SoHo for sunset and cheers the day away as the sky turns from red to black above the twinkle lights and garden-like feel of the venue.

The Greens at Pier 17

This unique project allows people to rent out their private lawn (14×14’) – complete with deck chairs and a cooler – for just $1 (all donated to Bowery Mission). Grab a friend and head over to the South Street Seaport after booking your spot (they fill up!) for a summer day snacking on sweet treats and sipping on some truly refreshing cocktails.

Bar SixtyFive at the Rainbow Room (Rockefeller Center)

Looking to class things up? Hop over to Rockefeller Center for the ultimate NYC rooftop experience. Located on the 65th floor of this iconic building, this spot is well-known for its collection of rare scotches and whiskey. Sip, sip!

More unusual things to do in New York City…

If stepping off the beaten track is more your thing, there are plenty of things to do in New York City that are unique and unusual in their own way.

Although visiting some of the city’s hot spots is a must, you can still have fun outside of the tourist segment. How about a tour of the catacombs of the Basilica St. Peter’s old cathedral? Or what about challenging your mind along with some friends at The Escape Game? Or why not become a world-class spy after a visit to Spyscape? All these and more are fun and exciting things to do in NYC that take you away from the buzz of Times Square.

So, whatever it is you’re into, make sure you don’t miss any of the cool things to do in New York City that we mentioned above!

Where to stay in NYC

If you’re looking for where to stay in New York City, you’re in luck! The Selina Chelsea Hotel in Manhattan is equipped with everything you need to make sure your stay in the city is exciting, comfortable, and exciting.

With rooms available for every budget – from standard rooms to comfortable lofts – you’ll be sure to find one that fits your needs. Plus, with an on-site restaurant, rooftop terrace, garden, and café, you won’t have to go too far to get your fill after a long day of exploring New York City.

Completely pet-friendly, with wellness classes available, and other social events, it won’t be long ‘til you feel at home at Selina Chelsea NYC.
All in all, although the pandemic has slowed things down in NYC, the city can still be as vibrant and beautiful as ever…if you know where to look.

Make sure you stay up to date with any unexpected restrictions and do your best to stay apart from groups of people who aren’t in your circle – especially if you’re still waiting for your vaccine. Wash your hands frequently, mask up, and – most importantly – don’t forget to have fun.

Selina Chelsea NYC

Join a community of like-minded people who live, work, and explore on their terms at Selina Chelsea NYC!

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