At long last, going outside is once again a pleasant affair. Sunshine floods the city grid past 4PM, sundresses and sandals have emerged from their winter homes (aka the back of tiny apartment closets) and there's finally more than potatoes and the wheatgrass guy at the farmers' market. Summer in the city gets a pretty bad rap (think Do the Right Thing or 12 Angry Men) but there are way more things to do in NYC than look for the coldest AC.

By Jes Ware
The Surrey—New York City

HEAD TO A ROOFTOP BAR

Cocktails pair perfectly with sunshine and a summer breeze. We recommend ordering a Roof Garden Fizz (vodka, St. Germain and club soda) or the Strawberry-Mint Mojito at The Surrey's private 17th-floor perch overlooking Central Park and the Upper East Side.

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HIT THE PARK

New York puts its 1,700 parks to good use in the summer. Top picks? Central Park for all sorts of reasons—but mostly for Shakespeare in the Park and SummerStage—and Brooklyn’s Prospect Park, which hosts 100 food vendors at Smorgasburg every Sunday and has an awesome line-up of concerts at the Bandshell, featuring everyone from The Shins to Youssou N’Dour to Pilobolus. (That 1,700 number seems incredible but it includes all the boroughs ... and those odd little triangular patches of green at random intersections.)

The Greenwich Hotel

CHECK INTO A SUMMERTIME SPA

If you find yourself wanting a break from the sun (or relief from the kids), it's time for a visit to the Shibui Spa. Tucked inside the The Greenwich Hotel, the spa is all about finding a balance (nature vs. city, modern vs. traditional, etc.). Any treatment is a good bet, but it will be even better if you factor in an extra hour or two to lay by the pool, which sits inside a 250-year-old barn that was disassembled in Japan and painstakingly rebuilt in Tribeca. Tack on one of their Seasonal Soaks, like the "Summer / L’Été Essential,” full of skin-repairing salts, minerals and magic.

US Open—Billie Jean King National Tennis Center

THE US OPEN

From August 28 to September 10th, bouncy yellow balls will be flying at the Billie Jean King Tennis Center. Heads up: tickets go on sale this Monday, June 12th.

Jazz Age Lawn Party

GOVERNORS ISLAND

Head over to Battery Park or Pier 6 in Brooklyn to catch the ferry out to this little islet in the middle of New York Harbor. Architect Adriaan Geuze's transformative redesign is officially complete—and worth the trek. Governors Island is the host of a beloved summer tradition: the Jazz Age Lawn Party (June 10–11 and August 26–27). Dress up like you're Daisy Buchanan or Zelda Fitzgerald and learn the Charleston. As the late, great photographer Bill Cunningham said, "I can’t think of a more delightful way to spend a weekend in the city."


LOS ANGELES

Yes, the City of Angels has seasons. You might not experience fall foliage, snow or spring buds, but we swear, LA has seasons! In summer, that means longer days, different fruits at the market and—maybe it's a hard-wired thing—happier people.

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WHAT TO DO

  • OUTDOOR MOVIES: There are a ton of venues across town with open-air screenings, from Griffith Park to the Hollywood Bowl to the Santa Monica Pier (Thrillist put together a great list). If you're heading to the beach, swing by Gjelina Take Away for a picnic fixings. Park-averse? Mr. C Beverly Hills hosts Poolside Cinema every Tuesday.
  • NEW EXHIBITIONS: Alejandro González Iñárritu (The Revenant, Birdman, Biutiful) will be showing his new virtual reality installation, CARNE y ARENA at LACMA (limited tickets will be available soon, the show starts July 2nd). The Getty will revive extended summer hours and at the end of the summer, the Annenberg Space for Photography will open Cuba Is, an extensive collection of photographs ranging from archival prints to candid snapshots.
  • THE POOL SCENE: Year-round sunshine + the home of Hollywood = a whole lot of stuff strutting. Be sure to book a hotel with a pool. Viceroy L'Ermitage, Beverly Hills is running a summer special: when you book a suite, you get 2 reserved loungers and 2 hours of bottomless poolside mimosas or bloody Marys. Another favorite? The gorgeous saline rooftop pool at Montage Beverly Hills. Enjoy a 360-degree view of the city—and consider renting a cabana for some full-fledged LA pampering (Evian misters and flat screen TVs included). 

SAN FRANCISCO

Summer in San Francisco isn't as sun-soaked as one would expect upon hearing the words "California" and "summer" in the same sentence. But the city is bursting with festivals, exhibitions, races and events all season long. Just bring a sweater.

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WHAT TO DO

  • MUSEUM SPECIALS: After a three-year closure, SFMOMA re-opened last year with three times the gallery space. This summer, check out the new Edvard Munch and Mike Mandel exhibitions. (Note: try to visit on a weekday afternoon. The initial opening buzz has quieted down, but it's still drawing crowds.) Want something different? While sipping sake, tour the collection of artifacts at Takara Sake and learn the process of making the rice wine.
  • FESTIVALS AND FAIRS: There are film, food, even kite festivals (also wine fests: Pinot Days, Rhone Rangers). There's the Nor Cal Corgi Con, Hemp Con and the Yerba Buena Gardens Festival, with circus acts, dance performances, and concerts all summer long. This year also marks the 50th anniversary of the Summer of Love. The Fairmont San Francisco in Nob Hill has gotten into the spirit with 20% off their daily rate and Summer of Love–themed welcome gifts.
  • THE GIANTS: Catch a home game—the old-fashioned way at AT&T Park or, rent a kayak and see if you can catch a "splash hit" in the cove.