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Guglielmo Vedovotto / Columbia Daily Spectator

As everyone’s coming out of their wintertime slump, NYC’s entertainment and social scene are also coming back to life. If you haven’t already noticed from the ever-growing numbers of people lounging on Low Steps and Butler lawns, spring is finally upon us, making it the perfect time to finally venture off campus and explore the city. Whether you’re looking for cute, romantic dates or fun outings with friends, here are 10 things to do in NYC this spring.


Smorgasburg is the biggest open-air food market in the city. With around 100 local vendors, you’ll be able to gorge on a variety of foods ranging from lobster rolls to soufflé pancakes to grilled octopus, a healthy and delicious break from your typical JJ’s burger. It is free to attend and will be open every Saturday at East River State Park and every Sunday at Prospect Park from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Brooklyn Botanic Garden

Visit the Brooklyn Botanic Garden for a tour around the Japanese Hill-and-Pond Garden to marvel at the cherry blossom trees! Cherry blossoms usually start blooming at the end of March or early April, making this upcoming month the perfect time to take a stroll around the Japanese garden. You can also get tickets to attend the Sakura Matsuri, the Botanic Garden’s annual cherry blossom festival on April 27 and April 28, a festival that celebrates Japanese culture with a range of events while the cherry blossom trees are in full bloom.

Luna Park

Luna Park is an amusement park on Coney Island offering a range of rides and games for all ages. It’s a great way to take a break from all your problem sets for different type of adrenaline rush. You can also walk along the Coney Island Boardwalk, and enjoy local foods and entertainment with the sea breeze cooling you down as you enjoy the sun and warm weather. The New York Aquarium is also located right next to the park, which is another must-see destination on the boardwalk! When the weather gets even warmer, you can also tan on the beach and enjoy a full day of festivities.

Sunset Cruises

Now that the sun isn’t setting at 4 p.m. anymore, you can enjoy a sunset cruise at more reasonable hours with significantly warmer temperatures. Depending on which tour you book, you’ll be able to take in views of the Statue of Liberty and New York skyline at an incredible vantage point. There are numerous cruises and boat trips available, including the Manhattan By Sail Shearwater tour departing from the North Cove Marina at Brookfield Place starting at $45 for a ticket. For a more affordable option, you can ride the Staten Island Ferry, which is always free of charge, at sunset!

Eataly Rooftop

The Eataly rooftop is one of the most popular rooftops in the city due to its scenic views over the city and its lush, flowery decoration. The restaurant, Serra by Birreria, offers an Italian menu with seasonal dishes and drinks that you can enjoy with friends. Make sure to book a table early on, since seats tend to go fast during the rush hours. Of course, there are also cheaper alternatives like organizing your own picnics wherever your heart desires with your pals.

The Vessel

The Vessel at Hudson Yards is the newest tourist landmark of the city. The 16-story structure allows visitors to climb all the way to the top to take in magnificent views of the city and Hudson River. Free tickets are released online every day at 8 a.m. for future dates. Same-day tickets are available on-site every day at 9:30 a.m. To fully enjoy your visit at Hudson Yards, make sure to also walk along the High Line after walking up the Vessel, seeing as it starts right on 34th Street, where the structure is located.

Sheep Meadow

As Central Park is slowly coming back to life, enjoy some time in the sun with a picnic on Sheep Meadow. A favorite spot for family outings, kiteflying, and sunbathing, the meadow is very popular and can get easily crowded on a particularly sunny day. Surrounding the meadow, you can find volleyball courts, cafés like Le Pain Quotidien, and the Central Park Lawn Sports Center.

Boat Ride in Central Park

North of Sheep Meadow, you will find the Central Park Lake, where the Loeb Boathouse is located. There, you can rent out rowboats to explore the lake, admire the New York skyline, and listen for the calls of the different indigenous birds that live in the surrounding area. The boats are available for $15 an hour. Depending on the weather and availability, tours on Venetian gondolas are also available if you want to take it up a notch for your date.

Orchid Show

The New York Botanical Garden, located in the Bronx, is holding its annual Orchid Show, with Singapore as this year’s theme. The exhibit pays tribute to the country’s famed Supertrees and Arches, creating a magnificent display not to miss. The exhibit ends April 28 so make sure to get your ticket and enjoy a day at the Garden before finals start up again!

Hike at Van Cortlandt Park

The name might sound very familiar considering it is the last stop of the uptown 1 train. With just a 50-minute ride, take a break from the bustling city for a one-day retreat at the Van Cortlandt Park. Take on beautiful scenery as you hike along the various trails of the park. If you are looking to get into hiking, the John Kieran Nature Trail is a 1.25 mile long hike, perfect for beginners or people looking for a relatively easy hike. If you’re looking for a challenge, the 1.4-mile Cass Gallagher Nature Trail will take you along some of the hilliest areas of the park, making it a perfect choice for you experienced hikers out there.

Welcome to spring, and happy exploring beyond Morningside Heights and Manhattan!

Staff writer Lina Bennani Karim can be contacted at Follow Spectator on Twitter @ColumbiaSpec.

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