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The best attractions and things to do in New York in every season

The City That Never Sleeps is wonderfully exciting at any time of year, but the list of things to do in New York can seem overwhelming. To help you plan your perfect vacation, we've selected our favorite things to do in New York in summer, fall, winter and spring.

Best things to do in New York in the summer:

See a Central Park concert

Central Park is a great NYC attraction whatever the season or weather, but in the summertime it welcomes SummerStage, the city’s largest free performing arts festival. It brings together every sort of genre you’d want; from opera and hip-hop to circus and film. The majority of events are free, aside from a few of the special benefit concerts, and they’re all held at Rumsey Playfield. The program runs from June through August. Check the schedule here.

Take a boat trip on the Staten Island Ferry

As with most things to do in New York, the Staten Island Ferry is a wonderful activity all year round. But if you’d rather sail across the water in sunshine than rain, do it in the summer! Not only does the boat trip give you wonderful views of the city and the Statue of Liberty, the best part is it’s free! Board at the Whitehall Ferry Terminal in Manhattan near to Battery Park. You can’t stay on the boat to do the return journey, you’ll need to get off and queue again to come back. Or you could explore a little of Staten Island?

Opening times: The ferry runs from 12am through 11.30pm from the Whitehall Terminal in Manhattan and the St George Terminal on Staten Island all week, with more regular ferries running on weekdays. The ferry runs either every 15 or 30 minutes depending on the time of day. Check the timetable here.

The Staten Island Ferry gives you great views of the Statue of Liberty

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Best things to do in New York in the fall:

Find a farmers’ market

You’re spoiled for choice for farmer’s markets in the fall in New York (actually, you’re spoiled for choice in any season). There’s usually only a matter of hours between the foods being harvested and you buying them at a market so it’s about as fresh as you’ll ever get. The fall sees the best garlic, green onions, apples (SO many varieties of apples!), cauliflower, peppers, beets and other root veggies. Some of it will obviously need cooking in a stove so unless you’re staying in a hotel apartment or holiday rental which has one, stick to the ready-to-eat goodies. Grow NYC has a useful map of its markets in the city. Fall is also all about the pumpkin (think Hallowe’en) so the markets and shops will be filled will all sorts of pumpkin-related foods like bread, cakes and pies. It’d be a shame to say no!

Walk over the Brooklyn Bridge

You can walk over this New York bridge any time of year, but in fall you’ll avoid the possible tourist crush of the summer. You can either just walk over the bridge yourself – starting at either the Brooklyn side at the intersection of Adams Street and Tillary Street, or in Manhattan by the Brooklyn Bridge/City Hall subway stop – or choose to join a guided tour. It offers great views of the city – sunsets are particularly striking – so have your camera or smartphone ready for a selfie or two!

Walk over Brooklyn Bridge, New York

Visit Central Park (again)

If you’re visiting New York in the fall, you must visit the city’s parks and see the glorious colors of the trees and shrubs as they turn to every shade of orange imaginable. Other great parks to take a fall stroll through are Prospect Park in Brooklyn, the New York Botanical Garden in the Bronx, and Bryant Park.

Central Park in New York turns every shade of orange in fall

Best things to do in New York in the winter:

See New York’s famous Christmas tree

The Rockefeller Center is one of the most popular places to visit in New York all year round. But in winter, it’s something very special; not least because of the famous Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree, which draws crowds of more than 500,000 a day when it’s lit up from the end of November to early January. The Center itself is also adorned with thousands of twinkling fairy lights which help light up the legendary Rink at Rockefeller Center, as featured in many a Christmas movie, including Elf!

Opening times: The Rink at Rockefeller Center opens between October and April, with 90-minute sessions available between 8.30am and midnight.

Check out New York’s best Christmas window displays

The big department stores in New York go all out during the festive season, turning the city into a sea of sparkles, snow and lights! The most famous displays are at Saks Fifth Avenue, Macy’s, Barneys and Bloomingdale’s. Each store chooses a theme and pulls out all the stops to make theirs the most magical and show-stopping display. Barneys attracted a lot of attention during Christmas 2016 because, unusually, it didn’t feature a Santa Claus. Instead it employed artists such as Nick Cave and Matt Stone (probably best known for South Park) to design their own displays along the themes of "Love, Peace and Joy”. And what better excuse for visiting New York’s best shops than seeing their Christmas windows?!

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Best things to do in New York in the spring:

Catch a baseball game

New York is home to two big baseball teams – the New York Yankees and the New York Mets. The Yankees’ season runs from around April to October, so watching a game is a fantastic thing to do in a New York spring. The atmosphere at the Yankee Stadium, in the Bronx, and Citi Field, in Queens, is very family oriented so if you’ve got kids in tow, add a baseball game to your best things to do in New York bucket list.

Opening times and ticket prices: Check the New York Yankees website for the fixture list and to buy tickets. Prices vary depending on the game and seats you choose so if you happen to know a baseball fan it’s worth getting some advice about good/bad spots. Visit The Mets homepage to buy tickets for Citi Field.

Have fun at Luna Park, Coney Island

This New York institution comes out of hibernation in early April, making it the perfect thing do in New York in spring. Luna Park opened in 1903 and has been an integral part of spring and summer in New York ever since. It has more than 50 attractions, including old-school carnival games (think Grab A Duck and Ring Toss!), the famous Coney Island Cyclone roller-coaster, Air Race and Endeavor.

Opening times and tickets: Opens at 11am or 12pm most months but check the calendar here as it can differ from day to day. Park tickets cost from $29 (Dh107) for children and $42 (Dh154) for adults online.

Luna Park and Coney Island are New York institutions

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*Published June 2017. Prices correct at the time of publication but may be subject to change and/or availability.

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