Outdoor Arts and Culture in NYC this Summer

As New York City enters phase four, larger public outdoor spaces are easing regulations. Here's what to expect.

Many New York City parks and green spaces reopened earlier this summer and now larger outdoor attractions are joining their ranks. 

Enjoy the City's Top Outdoor Experiences

Zoos, outdoor museums, landmarks, and cultural institutions throughout the city are welcoming back a limited number of guests later this month. Here is a list of places to go and the changes to expect.

The High Line

Free, timed-entry passes are now available for the High Line’s July 16 opening (passes are available through the 26th). Visitors can only enter the park at the Gansevoort Street entrance and move northward from there. All other access points are exit only and the park is only open from Gansevoort to 23rd Street. Face coverings are required and social distancing must be maintained. The High Line was originally a freight line used from 1934-1980, but it’s now the city’s only park with a dedicated multimedia contemporary art program. The park commissions artists from around the world and at various points in their illustrious careers. In the 25 years that the freight line stood dormant, plantlife grew naturally and was self-seeded. The gardens and planned plantings today were inspired by this self-seeding. The species were specifically selected for their sustainability and seasonality.

The Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island

Lady Liberty is arguably the most recognized New York City icon in the world. However, due to COVID-19, she has stood lonely and inaccessible in New York Harbor. Beginning July 20, tourists and residents can visit her once again. Only the outdoor grounds and exhibits around the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island will be open in this phase (the Museum of Immigration will remain closed until further notice). There will be some limited food and gift shop services available as well. The Parks Service is recommending prospective visitors buy their tickets in advance to avoid long lines at the Battery Park kiosks. They’re also asking that visitors adhere to one-way signage that helps control visitor flow and supports social distancing restrictions. Masks are required at all times on the island.

Governors Island is only 800 yards away from Lower Manhattan and the 172-acre island reopened to the public on July 15 | WhereTraveler

Governors Island

Governors Island is only 800 yards away from Lower Manhattan and the 172-acre island reopened to the public on July 15. The outdoor haven is accessible via ferry; there is a new mandatory advanced ticketing system in place. Free tickets are available to NYC Housing Authority residents and other community programs. The island is open for passive recreation only which includes hiking, biking, nature observation, and other socially distant activities. Many of the buildings and indoor art installations will remain closed until further notice. Visitors are encouraged to pack their own picnic to enjoy, but some Governors Island restaurants have reopened such as Taco Vista and Little Eva’s. Face coverings are required throughout the island and on the ferries.

NYC Zoos

The Wildlife Conservancy Society has reopened the Bronx, Central Park, Prospect Park, and Queens Zoos! Each zoo reopens to members on July 20 and to the general public on July 24. Advanced, date-specific tickets are now mandatory for all visitors. Tickets will not be available for purchase at the gate. Masks are required at all times on zoo grounds and prospective visitors are encouraged to check the “Know Before You Go” section of the zoo website for what exhibits are available daily. Limited food, gift shop, and restroom services will be available. A visit to any of the Wildlife Conservancy Society’s zoos is a great way to support their research and global conservation efforts. In one project, they are currently using remote camera traps to photograph the rare Cross River gorillas and have discovered promising signs that their population is recovering.

Snug Harbor Cultural Center

The Snug Harbor Cultural Center and Botanical Garden on Staten Island has reopened most of its outdoor spaces and gardens to the public. This adaptable community space has 14 unique gardens and incredible classic architecture dating back to the early 1800s. At this time the New House Center for Contemporary Art and the New York Chinese Scholar’s Garden remain closed. However, favorites like the Rose Garden and the Connie Gretz Secret Garden will be open for guests to peruse. Snug Harbor is now hosting “Wellness Wednesdays” that include drop-in movement and healing classes, farm stands, and free music from 4:30-7 from now through October. 

The Snug Harbor Cultural Center and Botanical Garden on Staten Island has reopened most of its outdoor spaces and gardens to the public | WhereTraveler