Celebrate the unofficial start of summer in New York for Memorial Day Weekend with something extra exciting.
From skyline views, sunny parks, museums and memorials, there’s something to suit every visitor.
If you’re looking for New York Memorial Day Weekend 2020 ideas, check out some of these local activities and fun things do in NYC in May, including…
- Enjoy skyline views from the Empire State Building
- Visit the world famous art museums
- Seeing the city from the water
- Tour the iconic Yankee Stadium
- Picnic in the sun at Central Park
- and more…
Save on Attraction Admission
Regular admission to a number of these attractions are available on the New York Explorer pass.
Choose as you go from dozens of New York attractions & activities and save up to 50% off combined admission vs paying at the gate.
Please note, some of these special May and Memorial Day weekend events may be separately ticketed and not available on the New York Explorer pass.
Special NYC Vistas
Head to the Top of the Rock for unreal views of the New York City expanse from 800 feet above ground level. You’ll get 360-degree views and a new perspective on the city.
If you want to go classic, then you can’t beat the Empire State Building. Both provide distinctive views, and they’re actually a lot of fun to visit as a pair, to see which you like better!
See the City From the Water
Or, see the city from the water on a fascinating sightseeing cruise. One of the most popular options is the Landmark Cruise by Circle Line Sightseeing!
This delightful excursion will escort you past many of the city’s top waterfront and skyline attractions, including the Statue of Liberty, One World Trade Center, Battery Park, the USS Intrepid, Wall Street, and many more.
Getting In: NYC Landmarks Cruise tickets are available as an option with the New York Explorer pass.
While you may be thinking, why bother spending the first weekend of summer inside, you should know that Memorial Day Weekend is one of the most popular days to visit museums across the city.
Consider a visit to the world-famous Metropolitan Museum of Art and its iconic collection of art across the ages, featuring everything from Dutch Masters to Ancient Egyptian artifacts to Modern Art.
Another popular museum of the Museum of Modern Art (or MoMA), which, you guessed it, features contemporary and modern works of art.
Or, if you’re on the lookout for something new and exciting, the exquisitely-curated Met Breuer is a must-see.
Learn About American History
Memorial Day is the perfect time of year to explore American History. What better place in NYC to learn about the history of our country and some of its most important moments than with a visit to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island?
So many of the heroes who serve in the military today are descended from people who came through Ellis Island, and it’s always an honor to see the names engraved on that iconic wall.
Hop aboard a ferry that will escort you from the mainland out to Liberty Island and Ellis Island. If you want to go up into the statue, be sure to reserve tickets in advance, as Memorial Day is a very popular weekend for visiting the city and most visitors love Lady Liberty.
Getting In: Statue of Liberty ferry tickets are available as an option with the Go New York Explorer pass.
Stroll Through Central ParkWith nearly 500 acres of grass, lakes and ponds, and woodland, there’s plenty of room to fly a kite, enjoy a picnic, or explore the monuments and statues throughout the park.
Not to mention the people watching, Central Park is one of the best places on the planet to sit back and observe.
For a quintessential Central Park experience, rent a rowboat from the Loeb Boathouse or try your hand at racing a remote controlled boat in the pond at Conservatory Water.
Movie buffs and first time visitors will also enjoy seeing sights they’ll recognize in the Central Park Movie Sights Walking Tour through the park.
Unique New York Food
Be sure to get a classic, New York hot dog from a street vendor or pizza, or noodles, or cannoli…
While there are plenty of corner hotdog stands all around the city – not to mention food trucks of all types – New York has a lot more to offer on a gastronomic level.
Take a culinary tour of New York, and get a real taste of the city’s diverse cultures and cuisines. You’ll get to sample the best of NYC’s street food from authentic vendors, not just the places that cater to tourists.
If you love food and love exploring new cuisines and food scenes in a new city, this tour is for you.
Getting In: Food on Foot Tour tickets are available as an option with the Go New York Explorer pass.
Memorial Day ParadesThere are actually several different Memorial Day Parades that take place in NYC in honor of the holiday, including the historic Brooklyn parade that runs from Third Ave. to 78th St. at 10AM on May 25, 2020 ending at Fort Hamilton.
The biggest parade, however, is the Little Neck–Douglaston Memorial Day Parade, which departs from various locations at 2 pm on May 25, 2020.
Getting In: All NYC Memorial Day parades are free and open to the public.
Whether you’re taking a guided tour of the city’s most historic neighborhoods, or just meandering the expanses of Central Park, biking is a great way to enjoy the great outdoors and see more of the city.
New York Bike rentals are convenient and eco-friendly ways to explore the Big Apple. A favorite activity for kids!
There are rental locations throughout the city, including Central Park, the Brooklyn Bridge, and Harlem.
Getting In: Central Park Bike rentals are available as an option with the New York Explorer pass.
Check out DUMBO (Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass) in Brooklyn for some off-the-beaten-path fun.
You’ll get great views of the Manhattan skyline, from the Statue of Liberty all the way to the Empire State Building.
Pack a picnic to eat at the Brooklyn Bridge Park, check out the pop-up food stands under the bridge, or get in line to grab a slice of world-famous Grimaldi’s pizza.
Head to Pier 2 to shoot some hoops, grab refreshments, or take a spin on the full-size roller skating rink.
Take a stroll through the Pier 3 Greenway Terrace to admire the beautiful landscaping and check out the outdoor art exhibits.
Getting In: DUMBO Walking Tour tickets are available as an option with the New York Explorer pass.
Relaxing BeachesNew York area beaches will reopen for the summer season on Memorial Day, so be sure to spend a little time on the waterfront.
The water may be a little cold for swimming but you’ll be able to work on your tan or throw a Frisbee around. Trust us, the locals will be out in force after having made it through another bleak winter.
Coney Island Beach is a popular, family-friendly beach with its famous boardwalk and amusement park, and Rockaway Beach is another good option. If you love Coney Island, don’t forget to check out their popular retro rides at Luna Park! And don’t forget to enjoy a hot dog on Coney Island.
Getting In: Luna Park at Coney Island tickets are available as an option with the New York Explorer pass.
Tour Famous Sports Arenas
The Yankees are in town this Memorial Day Weekend with a series against the Los Angeles Angels and the Houston Astros. The Bronx Bombers are looking as good as ever this season, lead by Aaron Judge and Didi Gregorius they are one of the best teams in baseball. If you can’t get tickets, however, or don’t have the time to devote to a full game, get in the spirit with a tour of one of baseball’s favorite stadiums.
It’s a great opportunity to explore the history of the stadium, its landmarks, and the most famous players.
Or, if you prefer hockey and basketball, Madison Square Garden is another fun place to tour, with its long history and storied past. So many memorable events have happened at The World’s Most Famous Arena® through it’s 130-year history, whether or not you’re a fan of the Rangers or Knicks there will definitely be something about the tour that interests you. Fun Fact: all of The Beatles have performed there, but not at the same time.
The Brooklyn Museum & Botanical Garden
Stopover at the Brooklyn Museum, located on 52 beautiful acres of botanical gardens that have flourished in Brooklyn since the 19th century, it’s a great way to spend an afternoon in the sun.
Be sure to visit the museum itself, too, with its impressive collection of multicultural art and artifacts. There aren’t many places in the city with such a wonderful marriage of art and nature.
Getting In: Brooklyn Museum and Botanic Garden tickets are available as an option with the New York Explorer pass.
Remember to Save on Attraction Admission
There you go – plenty of fun ideas for things to do in NYC in May to help you plan your Memorial Day weekend itinerary.
With so many things to do in and around New York, you’ll probably end up having to choose between several excellent options.
Remember, many of these great ideas are available on the New York Explorer pass, where you can save up to 50% on combined admission vs paying at the gate.
We really hope you consider adding a few of these popular options to your upcoming plans. Enjoy!