Maybe it’s just us, but we’re feeling a little extra #NYtough as the city, and the state, re-open following a very challenging time. (We’re not getting cocky though—masks up and six feet, people.) No doubt your family is excited to get out and do things in NYC with the kids these days. Here’s our guide to what’s open, or re-opening soon in NYC and any adjustments that have been made to keep everyone healthy. Have fun and stay safe!
Lots of NYC's museums are opening their doors again, and many of them are even free for a bit.
Across the board, you'll find reserved, timed ticketing, required masks and reduced capacity, and many other precautions like temperature checks and some new ventilation systems.
Bowling alleys can open as of August 17. Masks are required, and capacity is reduced by half (there must be an empty lane between groups). All food must be ordered by bowlers at lanes and delivered to them there. Need a refresher on the best bowling alleys for kids in NYC? Click here for our roundup!
NYC's free outdoor pools got a late start this summer, but a reduced number of pools (15) are opening, starting July 24. (Some will open August 1.) Masks will be required when people are not in the pool, so don't forget yours!
While its true that much of the event calendar has been put on hold at Governors Island, there's still tons to do—and you can feel like you've escaped NYC after taking a quick eight-minute ferry ride!
Click here for our updated guide of things to do on Governors Island, Summer 2020.
Yes, you can stroll The Highline again, and it's still free, but you have to reserve a timed ticket for your trek. The Highline reopened with limited capacity and reduced hours July 16, and is currently offering tickets for dates through July 26, with times for dates beyond that released in batches. Click here to reserve.
You must enter at Gansevoort Street, and foot traffic is one-way, to 23rd Street. (All other access points are exit only.) Concessions on The Highline are currently suspended and the park is now open noon- 8 p.m.
Face coverings are requested, as is social distancing. Click here for additional safety precautions on The Highline.
The Bronx Zoo
The Bronx Zoo will be open for a members' preview July 20-23, and will open to the public July 24. Tickets are by advance purchase and timed-entry only. Click here to buy tickets. (Entry will be contact-free.)
Expect some changes and new rules: face coverings and social distancing are required, and some exhibits may be closed. You can check what's open on the day you visit via the Bronx Zoo app. (Note that the Bug Carousel, Carter Giraffe Building, Children’s Zoo, Nature Trek, Komodo Dragons in Zoo Center and Camel Rides will temporarily remain closed.)
Also: All the Zoos!
It's not just the Bronx Zoo that's opening. All of the Wildlife Conservation Society's zoos are open, with similar reservation and public health policies. (See individual sites for ticketing info.)
New York Aquarium
Like the Bronx Zoo, The New York Aquarium in Coney Island is opening for members on August 24, and will be open to the public on August 27. (This is after an initial plan to open in July, which was pushed back.) Admission will be by timed entry, and you must reserve tickets in advance; the new ticketing system support contactless entry. You can purchase tickets here.
Face coverings are required, and animal viewing areas will have limited capacity to maintain social distancing. You'll find hand-sanitizer stations will be throughout the aquarium, and some paths may be one-way.
Check out our story on the new Sharks! exhibit and building at the New York Aquarium here.
Hudson River Park Fun
Things are starting to open up at the West side park: mini golf at Pier 25 is open, the skate parks in Tribeca and at Pier 62 are open, and hey, even the Trapeze School is open! See the full status across the park here.
The place to dine is outside now, whether it's at a restaurant that's always welcomed outdoor diners, one with a newly-established sidewalk cafe, or one taking advantage of the city's Open Streets: Restaurants program, which allows restaurants to set up al fresco dining in closed streets. (Popular comfort food spot Melba's in Harlem, pictured here.) P.S. If you've ever wanted to experience legendary Katz's Deli as a sidewalk cafe, now's the time—it's serving pastrami al fresco for the first time in 132 years!
These are some of our favorite places to eat outside with kids in NYC.
Here's a map of all the restaurants participating in the Open Restaurant program, which you can filter by borough, zip code etc.
Here's the official list of blocks participating in the NYC Open Streets: Restaurants program.
Smorgasburg's Smorg to Go
The largest open-air food market in America returns with a tweak for Summer 2020. "Smorg to Go" will feature a weekly rotating roster of food vendors at the market's Williamsburg location, with online ordering through Smarter Takeout exclusively. (Order online here.) The debut week includes Burger Supreme, Lobsterdamus, Mao's Bao, The Good Batch and The Whole Bowl. Smorg to Go is open seven days a week, from 11:30 a.m. - 8 p.m.
51 N. Kent Ave.
Beer gardens are an NYC summer tradition, and massive Ridgewood, Queens hot spot Nowadays is opening up again with reserved seating for a $5 cover. Diner by Izakaya serves up savory grub from a food truck and you can sip a wide variety of cold beverages here. (Just eat and drink only at your table.) Reservations can be made for groups of up to 10 and kids are welcome. Make yours here!
56-06 Cooper Ave.
Riis Beach Bazaar Concessions
Speaking of food...It's been a slow open for NYC beaches this season, but following the addition of lifeguards in early July, now the excellent eating and drinking options are back up and running at the Riis Beach Bazaar in the Rockaways.
This includes favorites like The Dropout (burgers, hot dogs and chicken fingers) and Rockaway Clam Bar (lobster rolls and all things seafood). Plus, expanded beer gardens allowing for social distancing are open at Bay 9 and The Bathhouse; you'll find take-out at Sparky’s Brooklyn Subs and the Wiseclock Cafe at the latter.
New York Botanical Garden
The New York Botanical Garden open for members preview days July 21-26, and opens to the public on July 28. Tickets will be sold in advance for timed entry, and will be available for online reservations in two-week installments. Admission is for the outdoor gardens and collections and the outdoor courtyards of the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory. NYC residents get a break on tickets ($15/adults, $4/kids 4-12), and many community programs and partners offer free admission. Plus: the garden is free to NYC residents every Wednesday!
2900 Southern Blvd.
Brooklyn Botanic Garden
The Brooklyn Botanic Garden will host a special members' week from July 31 to August 6, and then will open to the public, with timed entry tickets sold in advance. Following Member Appreciation Week, visitors will be invited to participate in four special Welcome Weeks featuring free admission for all. Thereafter, the Garden’s regular admission fees will be in place, with a percentage of tickets each day dedicated to free admission. Mask-wearing is required for visitors over the age of two, there will be contactless-entry and numerous entrances to reduce crowding. Areas where social distancing is not possible will be closed.
Visitors will be able to enjoy new areas of the Garden, including the Robert W. Wilson Overlook and Elizabeth Scholtz Woodland Garden, as well as the Japanese Hill-and-Pond Garden, Osborne Garden, Shakespeare Garden, Plant Family Collection, Fragrance Garden, and more.
150 Eastern Parkwy.
Wave Hill Public Garden
As of July 30, Wave Hill Public Garden in the Bronx is open, and for the first two weeks following re-opening, admission is free! Ticketing is in advance online, and masks are required when entering and exiting the garden, in restrooms, and when social distancing is not possible. No food is allowed, but you can bring water. Hours are limited to Thursday to Sunday noon- 5:30 p.m. Note that the visitor parking lot is not open.
4900 Independence Ave.
CAMP Fifth Ave.
CAMP offers ongoing online fun (and birthday parties), but you can also stop by the Fifth Avenue Flatiron location for activities and some tasty treats from Milk Bar.
110 Fifth Ave.
New York Public Library
As of July 13, the New York Public Library is offering grab-and-go service at eight library locations in Manhattan, the Bronx and Staten Island. You can see which locations here, and more may be added to the list. At each of these locations, patrons can access a limited area for returns and pick up materials that they’ve reserved. (You can place holds on physical materials via the library's online catalog or via phone; see full instructions here.)
The Brooklyn Public Library
The Brooklyn Public Library is offering a similar pick up and drop off service in seven branch libraries, including the central library at Grand Army Plaza. Click here to learn how to put an item on hold. The lobbies of these select branches will be open Mon., Wed., Fri. & Sat. from 10 a.m. - 4 p.m. and 1 - 7p.m. Tues. & Thurs.
The Queens Public Library
The Queens Public Library is offering to-go service at seven branches, with nine additional drop-off locations. Click here to watch a video showing how the library's to-go service works.
Biking, Boating and Splash Pad in Prospect Park
As of August 1, you can head to Prospect Park for biking, boating and cooling off at the splash pad at the LeFrak Center at Lakeside. (The Bluestone Cafe at LeFrak is also open.) Prospect Park is also rolling out Play and Go kits at the Audubon Center the Lefferts Historic House. (You borrow them for 45 minutes and they are sanitized between each use.) You can also register for a Green & Go kit to help collect trash on weekends and keep the park green! P.S.: Got a dog? There's a new dog run in Prospect Park, too!
Indoor Water Parks
Not all of the indoor water parks in and around New York State are open, but many are. Click here for the rundown on where you can slip and slide and cool off.
A beautiful, wide-open space filled with large-scale art where your kids can run wild? Yes, please! Storm King re-opened July 15 and is selling tickets for timed-entry on its site.
feature image: Rab’s Country Lanes