This Memorial Day weekend marks the unofficial start of summer in New York City as pools, beaches, and amusement parks reopen for the season! Here, we’ve compiled 10 unique ways to celebrate the beginning of warmer, leisurely days and also honor the memory of men and women who lost their lives in service to the country. From a cemetery concert to pop-up dance performances, check out our pick for things to do this Memorial Day weekend:

1. Take a Plunge in a 1930s Pool

Playland Park Pool
Photo Courtesy of Playland Park

Are you ready to cool off this spring? On May 25th, the newly renovated 1930s pool at Playland Park reopens for the season. With improvements like zero-depth entry, a dedicated children’s splash zone, and new lounge furniture, the historic pool just an hour outside New York City is the place to be this summer. If pools are not your style, and you prefer a nice tan at the beach, then you will be pleased to hear that New York City beaches reopen on May 25th too.

Rides & Restoration: Playland Park Tour

People on a roller coaster at Rye Plaland

On June 5th, join Untapped New York Insiders for a behind-the-scenes tour of Playland Park where you’ll learn more about the Art Deco pool restoration, experience rides from the 1920s, and uncover fascinating stories from the park’s 96 years of history! This tour is free for Untapped New York Insiders. Not an Insider yet? Become a member today with code JOINUS and get your first month of membership free.

2. Barbecue in Central Park

Harlem meer

Barbecuing sounds like a pretty basic thing to do on Memorial Day, but the holiday presents a unique opportunity to do it in Central Park. The park only allows guests to barbecue three days out of the entire year: Memorial Day, July 4th, and Labor Day. Be sure to check the park’s website and follow all the rules! You’ll need to bring your own grill (no propane) to prepare your food and you can only do so on Memorial Day (not all weekend) and only in certain areas.

3. Celebrate the 60th Anniversary of the 1964-65 World’s Fair


On May 26th at 2 pm, modern culture and history come together at Flushing Meadows-Corona Park in celebration of the 60th anniversary of the 1964-65 World’s Fair. Join Untapped New York’s Chief Experience Officer Justin Rivers, Queensboro Dance Festival, and Queens Theatre for a historic tour filled with pop-up dance performances and live music! Although the park looks very different than it did 60 years ago, we’ll reveal what was once there during the years of the fair. The tour kicks off with a flag parade led by a New Orleans brass band. Each dance performance will represent a different international pavilion present at the fair. For a sneak peek of the tour route, check out our companion guide with photos of each site in the 1960s and today. This free event is presented in partnership with World’s Fair Historian Bill Cotter and the Queens Economic Development Corporation. No tickets are required. Meet us by the Unisphere to join the flag parade!

4. Tour a Historic Ship

A Navy member stands facing two incoming ships
New York City, Fleet Week, 2016

Fleet Week brings a jam-packed lineup of events and activities to New York City through May 28th. Throughout the week, New Yorkers can tour vessels from the Navy and Coast Guard in Manhattan and Staten Island. Public tours end on May 25th. Other exciting Fleet Week events include Navy diving demonstrations in Times Square, neighborhood parades, and band concerts. See a full list of activities here!

5. Explore the Gilded Age Mansions of Fifth Avenue

GIlded Age Mansion TOur

Want a relaxing day this Sunday? Join Untapped New York’s tour of the most famous Gilded Age Mansions along Fifth Avenue. Your expert tour guide will bring you to 19th-century mansions that still stand today, and revive lost structures with stunning photographs from the era. From insane stories of wealth to the art of architecture, this tour will feed your inner history buff. You’ll also hear about glamorous balls, society scandals, and more secrets of this opulent age.

Mansions of Fifth Avenue Tour

Cornelius Vanderbilt II house, one of the largest lost Gilded Age Mansions

6. Have a Drink on the World’s Smallest Aircraft Carrier

The USS Baylander, once the world's smallest aircraft carrier, docked at West Harlem Pier
Photo by Ilka Muller

The USS Baylander is a Vietnam War-era ship and a great place to grab a drink! The Baylander went into service for the US Navy in 1968 and was converted into a helicopter landing trainer in the 1980s. The vessel, now docked at West Harlem Piers near 125th Street, opened as a restaurant in 2020. Military artifacts are incorporated into the restaurant as furniture and decor. Reservations can be made on RESY and all service members get 25% off during Fleet week. Discover more places to eat and drink on the water here!

7. Get Your Thrills at Luna Park

Luna Park
Image Courtesy of Luna Park

Born in 1903, the iconic amusement park Luna Park in Coney Island reopens this Memorial Day Weekend! This year, classic coasters that have entertained New Yorkers for generations, like the Cyclone, are joined by new attractions. Be the first to experience the new Electric Eden Raceway on Friday, May 24th, New York City’s first sustainable electric-powered go-karts. If you’re booked all weekend, don’t worry. Luna Park will be open every day starting this weekend. Buckle up because the summer is almost here, and it’s going to be a rollercoaster ride.

8. Uncover the Secrets of Grand Central Terminal

A group of tourgoers at an Untapped New York Event at Grand Central Terminal

Grand Central Terminal is one of the most famous buildings in New York City and the place where many soldiers have said goodbye to their loved ones before shipping off into battle. During World War II, part of the terminal was converted into a Servicemen’s Lounge. This Memorial Day Monday, join Untapped New York to unveil more Secrets of Grand Central Terminal. From hidden artifacts to a secret speakeasy, there is so much to reveal in this one building. Even if you commute through Grand Central every day, you’ll find something new to learn!

Secrets of Grand Central

Grand Central Clock information booth

9. Attend a Concert in a Cemetery

Main entrance Green-Wood Cemetery

For the past 24 years, Green-Wood Cemetery has hosted a free Memorial Day concert on the bucolic burial grounds and the tradition continues in 2024. This year, high-school musicians of the ISO Symphonic Band at Third Street will play works that honor those who served in the armed forces. The music selections also highlight works by some of Green-Wood’s permanent residents, including James Weldon Johnson, Fred Ebb, and Leonard Bernstein, as well as a diverse range of contemporary composers. This event on May 27th is free but advance registration is recommended.

10. Visit a War Memorial

Prison Ship Martyr MOnument

Across the five boroughs, you’ll find memorials for service members who fought in conflicts dating back to the American Revolution. This Memorial Day Weekend, take some time to acknowledge the meaning of the holiday by visiting one of New York City’s many war memorials, from the Prison Ship Martyrs Monument in Fort Greene Park to The Hiker Statue in Tompkinsville, Staten Island.

Next, check out more things to do in NYC this week!