New York City: What to See and Do in the Spring

New York is gorgeous in the spring. With the cold weather fading away, the city comes to life as outdoor activities start to come alive. Markets open, flowers bloom in the parks, museums have outdoor events, concerts bring people out for a good time... it's a magical time to visit the city that never sleeps. And now it's your turn, so we've assembled the best places to visit and things to do in the spring in New York City below.
St. Patrick's Cathedral
St. Patrick's Cathedral
St. Patrick's Cathedral is a historic Neo-Gothic-style Roman Catholic cathedral which is also a prominent landmark of New York City. Located on the east side of Fifth Avenue between 50th and 51st Streets in Midtown Manhattan, it sits directly across the street from Rockefeller Center, and is a popular place for visitors and locals alike. The building is one of the finest symbols of the Roman Catholic Church in New York City and the entire United States. Built in the 1800's, it is constructed of marble and features a large rose window flanked by two large spires.
625 5th Avenue, NYC, New York, 10035
Little Italy
Little Italy
Little Italy is a popular tourist neighborhood with its traditional Italian restaurants, bakeries, and cute shops. The neighborhood has narrow streets that fill with people during the frequent festivals. The main thoroughfare through the neighborhood is Mulberry Street, which becomes a pedestrian mall on summer weekends.
New York City has plenty more to offer, so see also our other articles: The Best Places to Run in New York City and The Best Neighborhoods For Shopping In New York City.
Battery Park City
Battery Park City
Battery Park City is another major tourist area in New York. This is where you pick up tours for the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. There are also street performers and boat tours, as well as impressive waterfront views. The neighborhood is right by the Hudson River and there are a number of upscale high-rise apartments as well as restaurants and shopping areas. There's also running and bike paths along the river.
Prospect Park
Prospect Park
Prospect Park is located in Brooklyn and is a family-friendly place to explore with a carousel, a zoo, and Greenmarket. There's plenty of grassy areas and green space where you can enjoy a picnic or meet some friends at the ball fields for a pick-up game. During the warmer months you can also catch some outdoor music or even a show at the Prospect Park Bandshell.
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum
This world-class museum opened in 1959 and is recognized not just for its impressive collection of modern art, but also for its architectural design, created by the famous Frank Lloyd Wright. The inverted ziggernaut breaks the mold from the typical clean square museum style of the time. This price is steep ($25 for adults), so make sure you allow yourself plenty of time to fully enjoy the experience.
1071 5th Ave, Upper East Side, New York, NY, 10128
Chelsea Market
Chelsea Market
Chelsea Market is an impressive food hall that is one block long and one block wide. This was one of the first major food halls, a concept that has taken off not just in New York City, but in other cities around the country as well. Chelsea Market has more than 35 vendors and includes a number of unique cuisines including Japanese inspired Mexican tacos and homemade donuts.
75 Ninth Avenue (between 15th & 16th St.), New York, NY, 10011
New York Botanical Garden
New York Botanical Garden
Located in the Bronx, this 250-acre site is on the list of historic landmarks in addition to housing a huge and gorgeous collection of flora and stunning landscapes. Open every day except Mondays, this destination in of itself draws large crowds, especially in the warmer months. It also operates molecular labs, educational programs, cooking classes, kid-friendly events, art exhibitions, and other events to bring in crowds. The building itself is architecturally significant, as it combines a historical beauty with a practical approach to protecting and growing the plants. (Admission on Wednesdays is free!)
Belmont, NYC, New York
Bethesda Terrace & Fountain
Bethesda Terrace & Fountain
In the heart of Central Park sits the Bethesda Fountain and the Terrace which overlooks it along with the lake. This scenic spot has appeared in multiple films and TV shows over the decades, and it's a very popular spot with tourists and locals alike.
Central Park, NYC, New York
Planning a trip to New York City? You might also be interested in What to Do in Queens and Must-See Monuments and Memorials In New York City.
Fort Tryon Park
Fort Tryon Park, in Hudson Heights, has 67 acres of forest area that overlooks the Hudson River and George Washington Bridge. A certain 3-acre section resembles an English estate garden. Other areas have a unique collection of trees which bloom during various seasons.
63 Margaret Corbin Drive, Fort George, NYC, New York, 10040
Tavern on the Green
This famous restaurant in Central Park serves American cuisine to locals and visitors. It has had multiple owners over the last few decades, but has continued to draw a crowd because of its terrific setting in the park and its delicious food and friendly service. Many visitors to New York enjoy a meal here while exploring the various sites and activities in Central Park.
67th Street & Central Park West, NYC, New York, 10023
Snug Harbor Cultural Center and Botanical Garden
On Staten Island this 83-acre garden and cultural center is home to not just gardens, but also historical buildings from the 19th century which were a home to retired sailors. Tudor and Victorian style buildings are mixed in with interesting garden areas representing different environments. A Chinese garden area has a koi pond and bamboo paths which make for a scenic walk. The cultural center hosts events and educational programs as well.
Cottage Road, West New Brighton, NYC, New York, 10301
Queens Botanical Gardens
Located at 43-50 Main Street in Flushing in Queens, the 39 acres of the Queens Botanical Gardens features rose, bee, herb, wedding, and perennial gardens, as well as an arboretum, art gallery, and more. They also host seasonal events, children's activities, and community classes.
13598 Elder Avenue, Murray Hill, NYC, New York, 11355
Brooklyn Botanic Garden
The Brooklyn Botanic Garden was created in 1910 and is situated in the Prospect Park neighborhood. Here you can find a number of special plant collections a s well as the Steinhardt Conservatory which is home to the Bonsai Museum. Also in the Conservatory are several themed areas featuring various climates, a glass aquatic plant house, plus an art gallery. While admission is not free, a huge number of visitors enter every year making this a popular and well-visited destination. They host events, children's activities, and classes, too. While an admission fee is usually charged for entry, it's free on Tuesdays, Saturday mornings, and a few other days of the year, too.
1000 Washington Avenue, Prospect Heights, NYC, New York, 11238
Wave Hill
Once a private estate with a beautiful garden dating back to 1843, this home is now owned by the city and is open to the public, and listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Visitors can tour both the gardens and the house for a small admission fee. The gardens consist of a variety of flora along with a few spots with magnificent views over the river. Also on the premises is an art gallery and gift shop. An entry fee is normally charged, but it's free before noon on Saturdays and Tuesdays.
665 West 252nd Street, Riverdale, New York, New York, 10471
Planning a trip to New York City? You might also be interested in The Best Science Museums in New York City and The 17 Best Children's Museums in New York City.
The High Line
This popular urban walking trail is located high above the city streets on an old rail line. It's a linear public park that has been lined with plants and trees that are particularly beautiful during the spring months. There are also benches and art work that give the trail a fascinating atmosphere. From the park there are impressive views of the city and access is available at various points along the route.
The High Line, NYC, New York, 100014
Central Park Conservatory Garden
Flowers bloom across multiple seasons in this quiet area of Central Park located between 104th and 106th streets by Fifth Avenue. The Conservatory Garden spreads across 6 acres and opened to the public in 1937.
1230 5th Avenue, NYC, New York, 10035
Cold Spring Harbor Fish Hatchery & Aquarium
Located on Long Island near Huntington, this aquarium's goal is to educate the public about the waters of New York in order to help the freshwater ecosystem. Surprisingly, it has the biggest collection of New York state's reptiles, fish, and amphibians. It's run by a non-profit, and admission is very affordable. You can feed the fish and browse both indoor and outdoor exhibits.
1660 Route 25A, Cold Spring Harbor, New York, 11724
Riverside Park 91st Street Garden
The curated garden at 91st Street in Riverside Park was made famous from a final scene in You've Got Mail starring Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan. Located right by the water, this small but scenic garden hosts a variety of flowers blooming throughout the warmer months.
Riverside Drive at 91st St, New York, New York, 10024
Hester Street Fair
Hester Street Fair offers themed markets including things like "Lobster & Beer", "Vintage Extravaganza” and “Ice Cream Social” fairs.
Lower East Side
Louise Nevelson Plaza
Located by William St. and Liberty St., this plaza is where you'll find the seven sculptures called "Shadows and Flags." You'll likely pass by it on your way to catch a boat to see the Statue of Liberty. There are several glass benches in the area as well where you can relax for a bit before continuing to explore Lower Manhattan.
Planning a trip to New York City? You might also be interested in The Best Parks, Gardens, and Things to Do Outdoors in New York City and The Best Iconic Skyscrapers to Visit in New York City.
Union Square
Union Square Park is a popular place to tourists and locals alike. The park is a hub of activity and there always seems to be something going on. Locals are often in the park playing chess, and there are performers that entertain tourists and those passing by. The park also has lots of public artwork as well as the Metronome and Countdown Clock, which shows 24 hour time from left to right and also counts down the time that's left in the day. Various markets are also held here at different times of the year, such as Christmas.
Hippo Playground
The climbing equipment on this playground is a blast, but there's also a sandbox, swings, and, as the name implies, hippo statues that give the park a bit of personality. During the summer months they also offer a refreshing spray to cool everyone off.
Riverside Park at 91st Street, Upper West Side
American Folk Art Museum
The American Folk Art Museum features craft-based work from self-taught artists. There are quilts, early American portrait paintings, as well as performances and discussions that are open to the public.
2 Lincoln Square, New York, NY, 10023
Imagination Playground
This creative playground inspires kids to use their imagination. At the heart of the playground are foam blocks that kids can use to build structures or control the flow of water. They can even build their own boat for the wading pool. This playground is designed perfectly to get kids working together to come up if fun ideas and engineer their very own projects.
158 John Street at Burling Slip
Union Square Greenmarket
This Farmer's Market is held several times a week and offers local produce, flowers, and a variety of food items. It's located in Union Square and is popular with the locals.
LIC + Astoria Flea & Food
This is a weekend market that is a favorite of locals and tourists alike who are headed to Queens. The market has a number of food and beer vendors as well as vendors that sell antiques, art, fashion, furniture, jewelry and more.
5-25 46th Avenue, Queens, Long Island City, NY, 11101
Interested in more travel advice for New York City? Check out Famous Squares and Plazas to Visit in New York City and The Best Planetariums to Visit near New York City.
Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine
This beautiful cathedral hosts concerts and tours in addition to regular church services for locals and visitors alike. With construction beginning in the late 1800's and not completed until after World War II, this cathedral took quite awhile to finish, but it was well worth the effort given the gorgeous interior.
1047 Amsterdam Ave, New York, New York, 10025
Brooklyn Children's Museum
This is one of the earliest museums designed specifically for children. Established in 1899 it offers an impressive collection of fun, games, and activities that encourage kids to learn and play. There are musical instruments, masks, dolls, fossils, and more. There's even a kid's sized cityscape with pretend stores and activities where kids can make up jobs and pretend they're adults.
145 Brooklyn Ave, Brooklyn, NY, 11213
Jewish Children's Museum
This children's museum teaches kids about Jewish history, culture, and heritage in a fun and hands-on learning environment.
792 Eastern Pkwy, Brooklyn, NY, 11213
The Morgan Library & Museum
This institution began as the private library of J. Pierpont Morgan and it was donated to the city. It includes drawings by Michelangelo, Rembrandt, and Picasso. There are three Gutenberg Bibles, and a copy of Frankenstein annotated by Mary Shelley, as well as manuscripts by Dickens, Poe, Twain, Steinbeck, and Wilde. There's also sheet music handwritten by Beethoven and Mozart.
225 Madison Ave, New York, NY, 10016
Church of St. Francis of Assisi
This beautiful Roman Catholic church was built in 1892 and sits in the Garment District, and features architecture from the Gothic Revival style. It also features one of the largest mosaics in the United States, making it worth a visit. Another unique service the church offers is its breadline, which has been active since the Great Depression, feeding the hungry.
135 W 31st St, New York, New York
The Museum at FIT
The Fashion Institute of Technology has its own museum, which houses one of the largest collections of clothing, textiles, and accessories in the world. There are more than 50,000 costumes and fabric from time periods ranging from the 5th century to present day, with a portion of this collection on permanent display.
227 W 27th St, New York, NY, 10001
Governor's Island
Head to this island between the months of May and October (it's closed other times of the year). In addition to fountains where kids can play, there's a zip line, rock wall, and even a mini golf course. The national park service also offers educational programming, so it's fun and informative. The island spans 172 acres and it's the perfect place for walking, running, or cycling. There's also a lot of history here. As you arrive on the island, the first thing you'll likely notice is the breathtaking views of the city. Bring your camera and enjoy your day!
New York Harbor
Plaza 33
Located on 33rd Street between Seventh and Eighth Avenues, this square has a public amphitheater, some green space, and one of the Roy Lichtenstein Brushstroke Group sculptures. There are wooden bleachers where you can relax and there is often music or other activities going on by the amphitheater.
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