Even though summer doesn’t officially hit for another month, Memorial Day Weekend feels like the real start of summer in the city. The beaches re-open, parks are filled to the brim and all of New York starts to kick into gear. It’s also an important day, a time to appreciate the brave men and women who sacrificed their lives for the life of this country. If you’re in town for the long weekend, be sure to check out one of our Top 10 Memorial Day Weekend activities.
1. Memorial Day Parade
Spend some time honoring the men and women who have fought and died for this country during one of many NYC Memorial Day Parades. There are multiple throughout the city, in every borough except Manhattan, but the two most popular are the Little-Neck Douglaston and the Kings Country Memorial Day Parade. The first follows Northern Boulevard throughout the borough of Queens, the second through the neighborhood of Bay Ridge. Kings County is one of the oldest traditions in Brooklyn, currently running for over 150 years. Watching the parade is also a great excuse to check out the outer-boroughs and explore more local neighborhoods in the city.
2. Coney Island
Nothing says Memorial Day like the beach and the boardwalk. Take a trip to one of NYC’s most iconic destinations for its’ official opening weekend. Relax in the sand, check out Luna Park and ride the famous Cyclone over and over and over again. The best part is, you can just hop on the subway- no driving or taxis involved. The D, F, N or Q train all makes stops right next to the beach, just be sure to check for construction or changes in the train routes.
3. Yankees Game
This year the Yankees face the Houston Astros Monday, May 28th at 1:05 p.m. Grab a baseball cap and a hot dog, and your afternoon with the Bronx Bombers will be complete. Checking out Yankee Stadium is a great addition to any New York vacation, and what better time to do so than a holiday? No need to travel far, just hop on the B, D or 4 train up to Yankee Stadium. On the way you can take some time to explore the Upper East Side or the less-explored, more rustic, northern end of Central Park.
4. Free Concerts
There are two major concerts happening this Memorial Day, and both are an entirely FREE way to experience beautiful music. The first is the annual Memorial Day concert at Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn. Featuring the ISO Symphonic Band, the program will offer food and refreshments throughout the day and a special program celebrating Leonard Bernstein. The second is the New York Philharmonic concert at the Cathedral Church of Saint John the Divine. Considered one of the most beloved annual events in NYC, seating is on a first-come, first-served basis. Distribution begins at 6:00 PM so make sure to leave yourself plenty of time and get a good spot in line.
5. Family Fun Day Festival at Governor’s Island
Governor’s Island is a 172 acre island off the coast of Brooklyn and Manhattan. The ferry runs every year from May through October, allowing New Yorkers an escape from the city to enjoy the lush fields and rolling hills of the Governor’s Island landscape. Known for their all-out festivals, Memorial Day is no exception. Family Fun Day is meant to celebrate the green spaces and playful nature of the island. The festival is all outdoors, with theater, music, arts & crafts, treats, educational workshops, storytelling and playgrounds all included. It’s a super fun and FREE event, the perfect activity to enjoy with the whole family.
6. Washington Square Outdoor Art Exhibit
Happening only twice a year, the Washington Square Outdoor Art Exhibit is an event that is loved and anticipated by everyone throughout the city. Be warned, the exhibit isn’t actually in Washington Square Park, but rather along University Place- just off the park- from 13th Street down to Washington Square South. Stop on by to see paintings, ceramics, jewelry and more. All the artwork is showcased by men and women from the New York metropolitan area and all around the world .When you’re done, spend some time lounging in Washington Square Park or cooling off in one of the only immersive fountains in New York City.
7. Go to a Party
12 hours of dancing, barbecue, alcohol and music is the perfect way to relish your extra day off! Grab your tickets to the House of Yes Memorial Day BBQ + Party. On top of all the food and fun, there’s even costumes to complete the day. Red, white and blue of course. The event is 21+, so not a family-friendly gathering, but for those of you wanting to have fun while not breaking the bank, this is the perfect way. Tickets are only $8 and re-entry is free up until 6 p.m.
8. Fleet Week
Every year, NYC spends seven days commending the members of the United States Navy, Coast Guard and Marine Corps. The week begins with the Parade of Ships, a plethora of vessels and ships cruising through New York Harbor. Following that, the week will host a series of military demonstrations, ceremonies and activities around the city. Be sure to check out the Intrepid Museum for their full week of events. Saturday and Sunday features drinks at Bryant Park, a scavenger hunt and a silent disco- all including discounts for service members in uniform.
9. Tour Central Park
Central Park is a great place to spend Memorial Day weekend if you’re interested in having a picnic or just relaxing in the sun. But if you’re interested in learning a bit of history, consider joining the one-day exclusive Memorial Walk Tour. Tickets are free, but there are only limited spaces available, so definitely register in advance if possible. Enjoy one of the most beautiful and famous parks in the world while learning how millions of New Yorkers have used it throughout the years to remember our veterans. The tour takes place on Memorial Day itself, from 11:00 AM to 1:00 PM.
10. National 9/11 Memorial
The National 9/11 Memorial is a beautiful tribute, worth seeing no matter what time of year. But Memorial Day brings even more significance and meaning, by further commemorating those who lost their lives. In past years, the memorial has hosted numerous events and tributes on behalf of both veterans and the victims of the 9.11 tragedy. Family members will bring flowers, American flags, photographs and sentimental items to honor their loved ones. The impact of September 11th is felt every single day throughout the city, but even more so when recognizing those who this country has lost.