The best things to do this Memorial Day weekend in NYC

May 21, 2019

The weather has finally gotten the memo, the city’s beaches, parks, and urban islands are open for the season and you’ve got a day off. There’s no need to get complicated; just head for the nearest beach with a picnic for two, attend an outdoor concert, find a BBQ bash or a rooftop rave–or celebrate the day with a parade. What you do with the long weekend is up to you, of course, but you’ll find some ideas below to get you started.

Parties, events and happenings

Image: Matthew Hurst via Flickr

Though the city may lose some of its long-weekend crowds to far-flung regions, there are still more than enough party people in town to get the job done. Some promising contenders this year include the always-interesting House of Yes, who are opening their Bushwick doors starting at 3 P.M. on Monday for a BBQ and more including “dirty dancing and delicious chillness,” “sunshine vibes on the inside,” and “indoor dancefloors + outdoor courtyard + hot tub surprises.”

On Sunday you’ll find a mixed and relaxed crowd at Mister Sunday, the weekly summer dance party that was born on the banks of the Gowanus and now happens at Nowadays in Ridgewood. You’ll find a food truck or two, a barbecue stand and a full bar with everything from margaritas and draft beer to kombucha and maté–and lots of happy folks of all ages (kids and pets definitely included) enjoying the longer days from 3 to 9 P.M.

green wood cemetary brooklynphoto credit: wallyg via photopin cc

If you’re in the mood for a symphonic serenade, you have a couple of Memorial Day traditions to choose from: The New York Philharmonic performs a free annual Memorial Day concert at The Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine. This year features Bruckner’s Eighth in an inspiring, spiritual way to remember those who died while serving in America’s armed forces. The program starts at 7 P.M. Monday, May 27th. Tickets are available on a first-come, first-serve basis starting at 5. If you don’t want to wait in line, the live concert will be broadcast on the Pulpit Green next door (weather permitting).

The annual Memorial Day concert at Green-Wood Cemetery features the New York City Symphonic Band in a free afternoon performance at 2:30 P.M. including a special program in honor of famed composer and conductor Leonard Bernstein and others; local vendors are on hand to provide food and refreshments. After the concert, you can take a trolley tour with a Green-Wood historian.

coney islandConey Island. Image via Wiki Commons

History nerds and New York City culture buffs get a special treat this weekend at Coney Island. It’s the 15th anniversary season of the Coney Island History Project; visitors can view historic artifacts, photographs, maps, ephemera and films of Coney Island’s past, and this year’s special exhibition Salvation by the Sea, which explores the era of history when the iconic beachfront saved lives and provided a livelihood for the waves of immigrants who arrived between the 1870s and 1920s.

What could be more in-season–and patriotic–than baseball? Catch the New York Yankees vs. San Diego Padres on Monday starting at 1:05 P.M. at Yankee Stadium.

Hit the beach, cool off at the pool, or just grill and chill

Rockaway Beach. Image via Flickr.

The half-mile section of Rockaway Beach that was closed due to safety issues from erosion is now on schedule to open for the season on Memorial Day weekend thanks to a $13.4 million beach replenishment project in which the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will dredge 300,000 cubic yards of sand.

The Sentry Club, American Copper Buildings, NYC pools
Photo by Max Touhey, courtesy of JDS Development Group.

A new Manhattan rooftop pool opens starting Memorial Day Weekend: The Sentry Club at the American Copper Buildings in Murray Hill will offer guests a private rooftop with poolside cabana service, event space for parties and classes focused on wellness. The down side? Memberships start at $1,600 for the entire summer and go up to $3,200 for the season.

If you’d rather search for just the right beach, check out our guide to the 7 best beaches in New York City, or pick a prime spot for a BBQ from one of the 15 best spots in NYC for outdoor grilling.

Celebrate the holiday

fleet week

If you’re looking for celebrations that honor the holiday and our servicemen and women there are many, of course. Pick a parade based on your borough or your preference: The Little Neck-Douglaston Parade in Queens is known as the largest Memorial Day parade in the United States. More intimate parade options include one of the nation’s oldest in Bay Ridge, Manhattan’s Upper West Side Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Memorial Day Observance, and Staten Island’s Memorial Day Parade. has more parade information including start times and intersections.

Fleet Week begins on May 20th with many events happening throughout the city during this seven-day celebration to honor the members of the United States Navy, Coast Guard and Marine Corps including the Parade of Ships along the Hudson River, ship tours, a Memorial Day ceremony and a Friday night screening of Top Gun aboard the Intrepid.


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