Summer NYC Bucket List

Summer NYC Bucket List

Summer stormed into the city this year on full blast. Basically, I woke up one morning, walked outside, and the temperature was about 20 degrees hotter than the day before. As much as I hate the heat, I’m so excited for my first summer as a real “New Yorker.”

When I interned in New York in 2016, I created a summer bucket list just in case (God forbid of course) I didn’t end up moving here after graduation. That summer, I unintentionally entered myself into an Instagram contest an won three-day passes to Panorama music festival, experienced Sleep No More, brunched and happy-houred on numerous rooftops, visited all the islands around Manhattan, museum hopped, explored Brooklyn, picnicked in Central Park, went to as many speakeasies as possible, watched comedy shows and Broadway shows, and attended Yankee games. It’s safe to say I did it all and more.

But what I love about this city is there is always more. More to see, more to hear, more to taste. Unfortunately, I’m moving to a new apartment mid or end of July. This means a large portion of my summer is dedicated to fighting every fresh college grad and big city dreamer for an apartment, cleaning, and packing and unpacking. Despite it all, I am determined to completing my summer bucket list!

For those who are itching to discover more of the city or for those who are here for a summer and want to soak up as much of the city as possible, here’s my bucket list for us this summer:


1. Get Tickets to NYC Specialty Events

Whether it is The Belmont StakesPanorama music festival, Shakespeare in the Park, a ballet or opera, or a classic Broadway show, take advantage of the events that only take place in New York! There is no other city where you can easily hop on a train to witness history, attend a music festival that incorporates music with art and technology, watch a Shakespeare play in Central Park, or score seats to see Tony Award nominees and recipients perform.

2. Eat All the Insta-Famous Food

I love savory foods and don’t have a big sweet tooth, but I do love looking at Instagram photos of aesthetically pleasing dishes and desserts! So far, I’ve tried Spot Dessert Bar, got tipsy at Tipsy Scoop, shoved my face into numerous Ramen Burgers, licked the inside carton of Magnolia Bakery banana pudding, and bought boxes of Ladurée maracons. I’ve witnessed friends guzzle a Black Tap milkshake and Taiyaki fish cone ice creams. This summer, I’m going to attempt for a Dominique Ansel cronuts.

In terms of restaurants, I’ve hit up a few favorites like Momofuku Milk Bar, Sarabeth’s, Artichoke Basille’s Pizza and Joe’s Pizza, and more. This summer, I want to try a Michelin star restaurant, actually make the trek out to Flushing for good Asian food, and go get myself a Dan-Humphrey sized order of Veselka pierogies.

If you’re new or interning this summer, I high recommend making a list of restaurants and bakeries with food of your preference. Budget out how much you can splurge on eating out or getting a treat and spread it out over the course of summer!

3. Go to as Many Free Events as Possible

The city’s website often provides information about events in the city. If you love summer nights and movies, there are always free movie screenings around town. Parks often host many other interactive events too, such as salsa dancing. They’re announced on their website, allowing you to plan ahead. It’s a great way to spend time with friends or an S.O. without breaking the bank. It’s also a great way to meet new people! The Skint is also another place for you to see what other fun and free things you can do each day.

4. Spend Time Outdoors

I can’t tell you how many great summer memories took place in Central Park. I’ve eaten at Tavern on the Green for restaurant week, visited the numerous locations in the park, day drank at Sheep Meadow, and walked from the bridge to the fountain to simply enjoy the sunshine. Whether you go to the zoo with friends or just read a book and sit down in the meadow, Central Park is the perfect escape from the bustling city on weekends.

Don’t limit yourself to Manhattan though! Prospect Park is beautiful in the summertime. You can also take a walk down the streets by the park and see beautiful classic Brooklyn brownstones. If a park bores you, check out the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens, go kayaking on Pier 26 in the Hudson, or rent a Citi bike and go for a ride around town.

If you’re not the outdoors type, just remember to not miss Manhattanhenge! (see last photo)

5. Explore the Islands and Boroughs

I love Manhattan and all my go-to places, but it’s time to really see what else is out there.Do this smartly and safely, of course. Not all the boroughs are as safe as most of Manhattan is, so be sure you do a lot of research before you just drop yourself off into a new neighborhood.

Roosevelt Island, albeit residential, is a great place to spend an afternoon! You can experience taking the tram and walk around FDR Four Freedoms Park. For fun events, a beautiful view, and a large natural playground with hammocks and slides off of boulders, take a trip down to Governor’s Island via the ferry!

Williamsburg is another classic spot that many Manhattanites love to visit. From Smorgasburg food fair to the Brooklyn Brewery to clubbing at Output to craft fairs, there is so much to do, see, eat, and drink in this neighborhood. Another one of my favorite areas in Brooklyn is DUMBO. You can go by subway or walk the beautiful Brooklyn Bridge over the East River. While it’s not as exciting as Williamsburg, there are great restaurants and beautiful photo ops! If you’re into indoor rock climbing, be sure to also check out Brooklyn Boulders. There’s also Brighton Beach if you love Russian food and a good beach.

Queens has tons of neighborhoods with authentic cuisines. For authentic Greek or Italian food, hop on the subway and gett off in Astoria. If you’re ready to trek through the craziness of Flushing, you can find some of the most authentic Chinese restaurants there.

6. Visit Museums, Exhibits, & Pop-Ups

New York is full of both famous museums and fun exhibits or pop-ups. While it’s hard to predict what exhibits or pop-ups will be in town and when, try to check as many out as you can while they’re in town like Dream Machine, Refiner 29Rooms, Museum of Ice Cream, and so on. Don’t forget the classics like the Whitney, the Met, MoMa, Museum of Natural History, and Guggenheim that are always here for you to take a tour through. Many of these establishments also have “After Dark” events for those 21+ too!

Whether or not you’re into museums, I still recommend choosing at least one to visit. I’m personally not highly fascinated with museums, but I have to say I thoroughly enjoy my visits to the classics as well as other ones like Cooper Hewitt, Museum of the City of New York, Brooklyn Museum, and The Frick Collection. I never walked out of any museum not learning something new or not feeling inspired. You won’t either!

Samsung Store, Meatpacking

The Egg House Pop-Up, Soho

7. Take Classes and Learn a New Skill

I’m going to challenge myself to pick something up this summer. Ideally, it would be cooking since I need some help in that area. Knowing me, I’ll probably end up becoming a bartender before I become a great chef… whoops!

Many studios or academies offer pay-as-you-go classes. To try new workout classes, I use ClassPass each month. I also make it a point to take a dance class from Broadway Dance Center whenever I can, hopefully to prepare myself for conquering a Yanis Marshall heels class by the end of the year. There are so many things to learn such as aerial yoga, bartending, pottery, cooking, art, and more! Sometimes the best way to pass time is learning a new skill. Maybe you’ll discover a hidden talent along the way…

8. Spend Money on Experiences, Not Things

I’m slowly approaching my one-year mark in the city and very unhappy with the amount of money I’ve wasted. It would be one thing if I barely saved because I was out experiencing the city, but to be honest I have not spent money on things I actually want to experience like comedy shows, drinks at a jazz club, Broadway shows, another interactive theatre experience, sports games, or taking classes. Instead, I spent it on cab fares home, nights out at the same places, and overpriced clothes, makeup, and accessories.

Everyone’s preferences for what they want out of a city like New York are different, but I highly encourage you to build memories and knowledge rather than fill up your closets or purchase tons of tech gadgets. Even if nothing I listed appealed to you, find one thing you’re interested in and one thing out of your comfort zone and do both this summer!


That’s all for now, mes chéries. I’m sorry I haven’t released many new posts. I’ve been so drained from personal life stressors as well as a poorly planned social calendar that does not seem to take into account my body and mind’s need for a break. I’m hoping the second half of this year slows down, allowing me to be as creative as I want to be, because I have so many posts in my drafts for you all! With an apartment move coming up, I’m hoping to dive into all things home decor (finally). In the meantime, look out for a lookbook and a personal post or two!

But until then, it’s back to taking things day by day for now. I’ll talk to you very soon. Bisou bisou…






Erica Huang
Erica Huang

Based in New York City, Erica Huang is the creator and voice behind Bouge & Rouge. This blog is a playground of her thoughts where she invites you to join her on her journey through her 20s. Erica shares her lifestyle, fashion and beauty tips, adventures, and personal thoughts with the goal of inspiring others to always persevere and be unapologetically yourself.

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