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Longer days, warm temps, plenty of outdoor festivals, concerts, and special events—summer is a great time to take the family to the Big Apple for a vacation you’ll all remember. Here are a few ways to spend this summer in New York City.

1)  Sharks at the New York Aquarium

Get a close-up look at 18 different kinds of sharks and rays at the brand-new exhibit, Ocean Wonders: Sharks! This 57,500-square-foot pavilion houses over 115 marine species, a colorful coral reef, and an amazing walk-through tunnel that puts you right in the center of the action!

Enjoy a hot dog on Coney Island’s Boardwalk and then head over to the aquarium, where tickets are half-price for the summer.

2)  New York’s Famous SummerStage Arts Festival

This City Parks Foundation series features free outdoor concerts, theater, ballet, and opera, all over New York’s five boroughs. You’ll see performances by hip-hop artists, indie rock bands, jazz ensembles, and even famous names like Grammy-award winner, Angélique Kidjo. This summer’s lineup also includes benefit concerts, featuring Jason Mraz and others, with proceeds helping to fund free programming.

Several kid-friendly events are on this season’s calendar, including dance workshops by the famous Alvin Ailey Dance Theater and Kyle Abraham’s A.I.M Special Youth Matinee.

3)  Ice Cream, Natural History, and Art Museums

Ice cream? Definitely! Museum? You be the judge. The Museum of Ice Creamstarted as a Manhattan pop-up shop that has now, due to popular demand, been reinvented as The Pint Shop. Drop by their new home near Chelsea Market for fun installations, interactive workshops, and tastings of their seven original flavors.

Uptown, at the world-famous Museum of Natural History, walk beside a T-Rex in the spectacular Hall of Dinosaurs or test your powers of perception in Our Senses, an experiential exhibit of 11 funhouse-like spaces.

Right across Central Park, is the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Don’t miss the imaginative costumes of the Heavenly Bodies exhibit (theme of the 2018 Met Gala), paintings by Monet and Picasso, and the tenth-century-BC Egyptian Temple of Dendur.

4)  Red Pandas and Penguins at the Bronx Zoo

As seen on Animal Planet’s hit TV show, the Bronx Zoo has something for everyone—penguin feedings, camel rides, a farmyard Children’s Zoo, and the ever-popular sea lion pool. Explore Tiger Mountain, the Congo Gorilla Forest, the Himalayan Highlands (home to snow leopards and red pandas), and see 4,000 animals representing more than 650 species.

Ready for more adventure? Climb or zipline your way above the trees and river at the zoo’s Treetop Adventure, featuring an aerial ropes course and sweeping views of the park!

The Bronx Zoo is a short bus or train ride away from Manhattan.

5)   Outdoor Movies in New York City

You survived the Winter indoors. Now enjoy free, open-air movie screenings with the iconic NYC skyline as your backdrop. Pack a blanket and picnic basket (your Affinia Hotel concierge can help arrange it for you) and get ready to enjoy films like The Princess Bride and Black Panther beneath the stars.

For movies aimed at younger children, RiverFlicks is hosting Family Fridays in Hudson River Park, Friday evenings in July and August.

6)  Art and Community at the Highline

Built on the site of an old elevated rail line that runs from the Meatpacking District to W. 34th Street, this public park is brimming with sculptures, murals, live music, dance performances, and an array of botanical wonders.

Summer is prime time for free programs that foster community engagement, so check their website for scheduled tours and activities like weekly tai-chi, Latin dance parties, poetry festivals, and garden tours.

Tip: Free 75-minute tours of the park are offered twice a week between May and September (Tuesdays at 6:30 pm; Saturdays at 10:00 am).

7)  Governors Island in New York Harbor

Take a ferry from Manhattan or Brooklyn to this 172-acre, car-free park to enjoy free kayaking, art exhibits, cycling, ziplining, and New York’s longest slide at 57 feet!

Channel your inner Great Gatsby for the 13th Annual Jazz Age Lawn Party held the last weekend of July or take the kids to an educational session organized by the Billion Oyster Project (BOP)—an initiative to restore oysters to NY Harbor.

Ferry rides are free on Saturdays and Sundays before noon.

8)  Staten Island Ferry Rides

What better way to soak in the skyline of Lower Manhattan than with a free ferry ride in New York Harbor? The Staten Island Ferry cruises between Lower Manhattan’s Whitehall Terminal and Staten Island’s St. George Terminal daily, every half-hour, nights and weekends (every 15 minutes during rush hour). Sit back and enjoy inspiring sites like the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island from a unique vantage point.

The Affinia Hotel is the perfect home base for your summer stay in NYC. Check rates here

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