As the world starts reopening and we approach a new normal, New York City is once again becoming the place to be — safely, of course. There are plenty of safe things to do in NYC that help you avoid crowds and follow pandemic protocols while still having a great day or night out.

Remember to check with the venue ahead of time for the latest updates and follow the latest government advice to keep you and your family and friends safe.

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01Visit the "Friends" experience

Central Perk from the series Friends Photo by Ilse Orsel on Unsplash

The one where they did it safely! Fun for tourists and locals alike, this pop-up exhibition includes props and sets from the iconic TV series Friends. There’s even a Central Perk mock-up where visitors can sit on that couch and put the world to rights. Plus, the experience promises “Monica Clean” health and safety protocols, making it a safe trip out in NYC.

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02Get cultured at a museum

Black and White photo of a Mammoth at the American Museum of Natural History, New York, United States Photo by Aditya Vyas on Unsplash

When you’re trying to find safe things to do in NYC, you must look at the startling array of galleries and museums. Many are opening up at a limited capacity with various reassuring safety protocols in place. Brooklyn Museum hosts KAWS with bizarre yet appealing giant cartoon-style characters — watch out for them popping up across the city, too.

The Frick Collection has moved to a new home on Madison Avenue while the Frick Mansion is renovated – be sure to get the Bloomberg Connects App to make the most of the collection. And the American Museum of Natural History is open once more, with exhibitions for all ages, including a brand-new planetarium show.

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03Embrace your childhood nostalgia

A range of artists and craftspeople have come together to recreate the beloved children’s book "Goodnight Moon" as a life-size exhibition called "Goodnight House."

You can now walk around entire pages of Margaret Wise Brown, and Clement Hurd’s book brought to life in loving detail at Fort Makers on Orchard Street, Manhattan. A perfect antidote to the stress of city life.

04Test yourself with an immersive game experience

The Game of 1000 Boxes is a new and interactive experience combining the best aspects of a high-octane game show with socially distanced, safe party-style fun.

Tickets accommodate just four people who play with a real-life console and a range of 3D projections for an immersive game that’s quite different from anything else out there. A great way to get social again!

05Make a splash at the aquarium

Support your local aquarium — safely! The NY Aquarium is back, with a special event called “Spineless,” highlighting the weird and wonderful world of oceanic invertebrates like jellyfish and octopuses.

For reassurance, guests have to book in advance and must follow safety protocols within the aquarium. For those who can’t visit in person, the aquarium and the Bronx Zoo are still offering virtual access to some of its inhabitants.

06Put your hands in the air at Coney Island

Coney island - pink and white ferris wheel under blue sky at day Photo by Dan Gold on Unsplash

Can you go on a rollercoaster right now? Yes, you can! Plenty of the rides at Coney Island are back up and running, with safety protocols in place, such as gating off certain areas and limiting the number of visitors.

Ride high with Deno’s Wonder Wheel, or brave the Cyclone at Luna Park. Check with each individual provider for more details.

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07Browse the New York Botanical Garden

Of all the safe things to do in NYC, being outdoors is one of the safest. And one of the lushest, greenest places to enjoy the outdoors is the New York Botanical Garden.

Now open for visitors, there’s a variety of events to look out for. 2021 brings an astonishing display of colorful sculptures from Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama. Suitable for all ages.

08Read – alfresco style

woman sitting on bench reading a book with her dog during the daytime Photo by pparnxoxo on Unsplash

Twenty-two branches of the Brooklyn Public Library are encouraging safe use of its services by opening up alfresco reading rooms, including $55,000 of outdoor furniture and even some laptop computers.

Users will also have access to free Wi-Fi, making these an ideal spot to relax and unwind, catch up on the latest books by your favorite author, or simply enjoy being outdoors in some of NYC’s best spots.

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09See a socially distanced show

The Open Culture program provides even more safe things to do in NYC, with a range of ticketed shows, classes, and workshops taking place right on the city streets.

Every performance and event will be socially distanced, and because they’re outdoors, this makes them safer to attend with several people. More than 100 streets have permits to hold events, so keep up to date via the event permit website to see what’s coming up next.

10Do dawn at the Empire State Building

Empire State Building Manhattan, New York, United States Photo by Oliver Niblett on Unsplash

The observation deck on the 86th floor of the Empire State Building is finally reopening, hosting just 50 guests at a time to see a unique and breathtaking sight — sunrise across NYC.

In 2021, guests of this incredible daily event can also take home a unique gift bag celebrating the 90th anniversary of this iconic building.

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11Catch a cabaret outdoors at Lincoln Center

Restart Stages is the outdoor performance art project from Lincoln Center, providing 10 new spaces to bring the show outside. Dance, jazz, art, and more are now all safely accessible, plus there’s a ticket lottery available!

12Tweak your Twitch subs to include Elsewhere by Peter Smith

New York’s alternative art and music scene is thriving thanks to initiatives like Elsewhere, hosted by trans actor and comedian Peter Smith.

Expect sci-fi-themed comedy, music, and incredible imagery, plus behind-the-scenes treats like interviews with the stars of the show—a great way to stay connected to the NYC underground scene.

13Get skilled at an arts and crafts class

Workshops and classes are starting up again, and in the city of culture, why not learn a new artistic skill in 2021? Head over to the Brooklyn Craft Company for courses on everything from skirt-making to mending your old denim.

Or try out something really funky with risograph screen printing classes at a number of locations, including Lucky Riso.

14Have tea among antiques

If you’re looking for safe things to do in NYC, restaurants might not be top of the list yet. But this glorious tearoom in Prospect Heights could change your mind.

Brooklyn High Low on Vanderbilt Avenue is a hidden gem offering High Tea or Low Tea by reservation only, giving them complete control over their capacity. They serve a huge menu of teas amongst velvet chaises and beneath stunning hanging lamps while you sit surrounded by alluring antiquities sure to keep the conversation going.

15Immerse yourself in Central Park

Central Park, New York, United States Photo by Josh Couch on Unsplash

Of course, NYC’s most famous green area is still a brilliant place to go at any time of year. Avoid the crowds and take a rowboat or gondola on the lake, or look out for shows in the park — a New York mainstay that’s sure to be even more popular as locals look for more safe things to do in NYC.