Fun is the star attraction at city parks, zoos, waterfronts and aquariums, where you’ll find bigger and better green spaces this year, sharks, glamping and free hot dogs.
The island playground is slicker than ever. Bring your own skates or rent them at a new rink with an ice-like surface made for gliding and cool views of the Statue of Liberty. Or sleep under the stars at the luxury glampground, where tents boast hotel amenities and fine dining. Rates start at $75. For frozen cocktails and more, refuel at the new Taco Beach. Hang longer on the island too. Through Sept. 14, you can stay late on Friday nights till 10 p.m.
New York Botanical Garden
American artist Georgia O’Keeffe takes you to Hawaii with 15 vivid paintings of island flora and fauna inspired by her sojourn to this lush locale. The exhibit at this Bronx landmark marks the first time these botanical wonders have been seen together in NYC since their debut in 1940. After you’ve experienced Hawaii through O’Keeffe’s eye, an exhibition in the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory continues the exotic theme. Adult Admission: $23-$28
Brooklyn Bridge Park
Hot dog! New York’s great outdoors get even better in July as this 1.5 mile waterfront park opens Pier 3 and adds five acres of parkland to the Brooklyn gem. Kayaking, fitness classes, basketball clinics, music, theater and movie nights are all part of the fun. Austrian artist Erwin Wurm’s yellow Hot Dog Bus — part funky art installation and part tasty food truck — doles out free franks on weekends from noon to 6 p.m.
Socrates Sculpture Park
This open-air oasis in Long Island City, Queens, showcases two eye-opening installations. “RRRolling Stones,” a moveable outdoor seating system made from 3-D printed concrete, will make you rethink the idea of a lawn chair (July 12-Sept. 12). “Built,” by Virginia Overton, transforms found materials like old trucks and roof trusses into large-scale constructions (through Sept. 3) Free.
The High Line
The popular elevated park has fresh ways to get a lift in the sunshine. Spice up the night with a little salsa and world music Aug. 7 with Arriba! Latin Dance Party, featuring the all-female Latin band, Cocomama. Family Festivals on Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. explore our changing world, sound and space, neighborhoods and different cultures. Also check out the monthly performance art series for a blast of hip downtown cool.
Summer Sunset Concerts, Riverside Park
You’ll be humming a new tune every Saturday evening at these free family-friendly events on the banks of the Hudson on the Upper West Side, near the tennis courts at 96th St. from June 16-Aug. 18. Picnic, dance or just kick-back to jazz, swing, reggae, classical and Middle Eastern groups courtesy of the Red Clay Tennis Association. The music starts at 7 p.m.
Domino Park, Williamsburg
(along the East River in Brooklyn, from Grand St. to South 5th St.)
How sweet it is. A waterfront esplanade and five-block long Artifact Walk with 30 large-scale relics from the Domino Sugar Refinery are star attractions of this new six-acre green space just off the Williamsburg Bridge in Brooklyn. An “urban beach,” with chaise lounges, a Japanese Pine Garden and two bocce courts complement the area.
New York Aquarium
(Admission $11.95 from age 3 up; nyaquarium.com)
Just when you thought it was safe to go to the aquarium, it’s shark week all summer. “Ocean Wonders: Sharks,” a new $158 million exhibit launching June 30, adds 18 species of sharks to the thousands of other sea creatures that call Coney Island home. Enter the interactive sea adventure through a 9-inch-thick acrylic see-through tunnel, wander though a shipwreck and explore the coral reef. Underwater divers converse with you and explain why sharks and this underwater world matters.
Fort Tryon Park
Meet your knight in shining armor at The Cloisters thanks to an installation by Icelandic sculptor Steinunn Thorarinsdottir on view through September. It features life-size copies of suits of armor from the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Staten Island Zoo
(Adult admission $10, kids 3-14, $6; statenislandzoo.org)