Catch your breath from summer, because NYC goes into high gear in the fall. In addition to big shows and museum exhibits rolling out this month, festivals, free movies and concerts keep the fun going into the autumn. And of course, it’s time to get thee to an orchard and do some apple-picking. Read on for our picks for the best events for kids and families this month. All are fun, many are free!

The U.S. Open

Some of the biggest names in tennis (and their biggest fans) descend on the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Queens' Flushing Meadows–Corona Park for the U.S. Open. The Arthur Ashe Stadium and Louis Armstrong Stadium are considered outdoors. This year's tournament runs from August 30 to September 12. 

Tickets: $54 and up
Aug. 30-Sept. 12
USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center
124-02 Roosevelt Ave.

photo: Lois Segman

Richmond County Fair

Head to Staten Island for the Richmond County Fair, Historic Richmondtown's biggest fundraiser. It's three days of good old-fashioned fun, with carnival rides, games, live entertainment, vendors of food and unique goods, friendly competitions, living history demonstrations and a lot more! 

Buy your tickets online for reduced rates! 

Sept. 4- 6, Noon- 6 p.m.
Tickets: $9/12 and up; $4/ages 3-12; $7/seniors; free/kids 3 and under
441 Clarke Ave.
Staten Island

photo: Erin Feher

Family Camping with Urban Park Rangers

Always wanted to see what it was like to camp in an NYC Park? Now you can, for free, with the guidance of the New York City Park Rangers! There's limited space, so selection is by lottery. Camping is happening in Queens (9/5), Staten Island (9/11), Brooklyn (9/24) and Manhattan (9/25).  For info on registration dates for the lottery, click here


photo: Morningside Lights

Morningside Lights

This uptown procession of handmade lanterns with an artistic theme returns for the 10th year, and will be virtual to keep everyone safe. This year's theme is inspired by the intersection of Shakespeare and Duke Ellington,
exploring the spirit of play while finding meaning within collective traditions. Here's how to participate in the free fun: 

A limited number of "create your own lantern at home" kits will be made available to the general public, with reservations required on Kits will be distributed to registrants outside of Miller Theatre (Broadway at 116th Street) on September 9, 10, and 11. Kit recipients will be assisted in the creation of their lantern through video tutorials with Processional Arts Workshop, and will have access to virtual workshops to build their lanterns with the rest of the community via Zoom.

You can also build a mini lantern (aka nano-lantern) with materials available at home (see website for details) or submit a recitation of a line of Shakespeare featured on the lanterns. 

All participants are encouraged to share video and photos of their experience and progress, culminating in a video celebration on Tuesday, October 26 at 7 p.m. that will feature the shared content in a single captivating film.


photo: Lincoln Center

Big Umbrella Outdoors

Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts' Big Umbrella Outdoors is a weekend of programming for audiences with autism and other developmental disabilities and their families. Families can experience Big Umbrella Outdoors in a two-hour ticketed window which will begin and end with a live performance, allowing time to choose and explore several interactive installations in between.

Featured artists and works include: interactive puppet performance Squonk's Big Hands for Big Umbrella, sonic soundscape Swingset Drumkit (shown here), sensory sculpture OrchidsPlayscape, music and dance performances featuring artists with disabilities, plus a special event on Friday night welcoming teens and young adults. Tickets must be reserved in advance. Masks for all those 2 and older are required, as well as proof of vaccination or a negative Covid test 72 hours prior to the event for attendees age 12 and up. 

Demand is high, but Sun Runners, a free intergalactic audio adventure by Audioplay & Windmill Theatre Company is accessible via mobile device from September 13-19.  Created for young audiences with autism and other developmental disabilities, it is recommended for 8 to 12-year-olds.

Sept. 17-19
Lincoln Center 
Upper West Side 

photo: Wikimedia Creative Commons

Free Indie Rock Concerts

[Editor's Note: Yo La Tengo/Mountain Movers has been rescheduled to October 1.) 

We see you, hipster parents. If you haven't heard, Yo La Tengo and Mountain Movers are playing Central Park on September 1 and legend Patti Smith takes to the same stage September 19. Get there early: it's first-come, first-served. 

Yo La Tengo/Mountain Movers
Oct. 1, 7-8:30
Rumsey Playfield (enter at 72nd St.)
Central Park 
Upper East Side 

Patti Smith & Her Band
Sept. 19, 5-8 p.m.

Times Square Wheel

Yes, there is a giant ferris wheel in Times Square, and no it is not cheap. But, if it's the type of thing your family goes for, you can find it on Broadway between 47th and 48th. Catch a ride before it rolls away September 12. 

Tickets: $15/ages 2-10; $20/general admission, $35/skip the line VIP. 


photo: Wikimedia Creative Commons

City Parks Foundation Puppetmobile Shows

The City Parks Foundation's Puppetmobile is visiting parks throughout the five boroughs in September and October. The marionette show, #LittleRed’sHood, is a fresh retelling of the classic “Little Red Riding Hood” tale updated with a modern sensibility. Little Red is a smart, young city dweller who is obsessed with her smartphone and she crosses paths with Wulfric, a misunderstood wolf with a sweet tooth. The story offers a comical lesson on the importance of disconnecting from our digital lives and enjoying real-life moments with friends and family.

Free shows are in English, Spanish and Mandarin; see the City Parks Foundation website for dates, times and park info. 

Through October

photo: Mimi O'Connor

Cosmic Camp: An Intergalactic Family Adventure

The ever-changing store/experience that is CAMP is switching it up again at its flagship Flatiron location. Starting September 6, behind the magic bookcase (i.e., the "real entrance") you'll find Cosmic Camp. This hour-long interactive, immersive experience occupying all 8,000 square feet, is a space-themed installation featuring game-based challenges. You get to name your team, and a cool wristband keeps track of your points as you test your skills. (See how you compare with other teams when you return to Earth!) Match patterns, operate a remote-controlled buggy, do the Floor is Lava thing, and even participate in a live game show! Advance ticketing is required to manage the number of visitors, and the surfaces are cleaned between each session. Masks are required. Recommended for kids ages three and up. And yes, it would make a great birthday party. 

Through Oct. 31
Tickets: $35/person 
110 Fifth Ave. 

Feast of San Genarro

The iconic festival returns to Little Italy this month, running from September 16-26. This year's Grand Marshall is NYC Fire Commissioner Daniel A. Nigro, in honor of the 20th anniversary of 9/11 and first responders. The event features lots of vendors selling delicious Italian treats, food-eating competitions (cannoli, zeppole, etc.), music, andg the Grand Procession of the statue of San Genarro. 

Sept. 16-26
Little Italy

photo: Wikimedia Creative Commons

The Isadora Duncan Dance Company at Fort Tryon Park

See The Isadora Duncan Dance Company perform inspiring dances from the modern dance pioneer. The Isadora Duncan repertoire, re-staged by Artistic Director Lori Belilove will be performed to the classical music of Chopin, Schubert, Brahms, C.W. Gluck, as well as contemporary music including Brian Eno and Czechoslovakian composer Smetana.

Sept. 12, 3-4:30 p.m.
Billings Lawn
Fort Tryon Park

Apple-Picking Season Has Begun!

Here's your friendly reminder that apple-picking season actually starts in September. To find your u-pick spot, click here

Art Picnic With Miss Tae

Join Miss Tae of the Portable Museum Project for an Art Picnic in Washington Square Park. Participants are given their own craft kit and a spot to get creating –  and no sharing of supplies is necessary.

(While registration is not required at this event, parents/guardians will be asked to fill out a COVID-19 contact tracing sheet onsite.) Unvaccinated individuals must wear a face covering and practice social distancing during this event.

Sept. 7, 2-5 p.m.
Northeast Playground Area
Waverly Place & Fifth Avenue
Washington Square Park

photo: Warner Home Video

Many Movies Under the Stars

Lots of kid-friendly flicks are screening throughout the city as summer winds down. Grab some popcorn and check out Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker on the Upper East Side on 9/10;  Frozen II in Carl Schurz Park on 9/17; Moana, in Staten Island's Ocean Beach, also on 9/17, and The Wizard of Oz at the Lower East Side's Pier 35 on 9/23.

To see all the outdoor movies in the park (for kids and adults) click here!

photo: © Jessica Bal

Photoville 2021

Photoville, New York’s free premier photo destination, celebrates its 10th Anniversary with 75 outdoor exhibits at 25 locations throughout the five boroughs. This year's exhibits explore the often intersecting social, cultural, political, and environmental currents today—both global and hyper-local. Visit the Photoville site to see the many, many places around town to see some photographic art for free. 

The fest kicks off with a free, event-packed Community Day in Brooklyn Bridge Park on September 18. Expect a family activity area, organized in partnership with the Stoop Stories, Brooklyn Children’s Museum, and Aperture; pop up music and dance performances by the Haiti Cultural Exchange; exhibition tours by featured artists; photo puzzles on the lawn; photo workshops with Leica Camera and Adobe, a Smorgasburg pop-up and more. 

Photoville Community Day
Sat., Sept 18, 1-9 p.m.
Pier 1
Brooklyn Bridge Park 

Sept. 18 - Dec. 1
All five boroughs

photo: Canterbury Renaissance Faire

New York Renaissance Faire

Huzzah! The New York Renaissance Faire is back, after skipping the 2020 season altogether due to Covid-19. Head to Tuxedo P for jousting, giant turkey legs, live music, shows of all kinds (animal, acrobatics, etc.) and plenty of souvenir shopping. (Fun, but not cheap.) Upcoming theme weekends include Time Traveler weekend on 9/11 & 12 (think Steampunk) and Pirate weekend, 9/18 & 19. There's even a kids' quest with fairies in the forest, and "boffer" training with foam weapons. 

Sat. & Sun. through Oct. 3, and Labor Day
Tickets: $30/adults; $13/5-12, free/0-4
600 Rt. 17A
Tuxedo, NY

photo: Brooklyn United Music and Arts

BAMkids Family Day

BAMkids Family Day is a free outdoor event, presented in collaboration with Downtown Brooklyn Partnership. It's a full day of exciting performances, interactive workshops, dance lessons, creative activities, live music, and more from local Brooklyn artists and organizations. 

Sat., Sept. 25, 10:30 a.m. - 4:30 pm.
Fort Greene

Push Pin & Play at Poster House

Join Poster House for a family-friendly, interactive poster tour and a related art-making experience for kids ages five to 11. This session is based on the work of Push Pin Studios, which is currently on display here. The studio was responsible for introducing the playful visual language of 1950s and 60s illustration to advertising. Tour the current exhibition "The Push Pin Legacy" to discover what it means for a poster to be playful. Then apply some of the techniques discovered to make a fun watercolor drawing of your own. (Don't miss the interactive coloring wall, pictured here!) Event is free, but you must register in advance. 

Sept. 26, 10: 30 a.m.- 12:15 p.m.
119 W. 23rd St. 

High Line Art's Insectageddon

Insectageddon is a free day-long festival celebrating insects, and a call to action to address global insect die-off. Conceived by artist and poet Cecilia Vicuña, Insectageddon will consist of interdisciplinary and interactive performances, poetry readings, workshops, and more throughout the High Line. The event addresses the devastating loss of insect populations around the world due to the immense scale of toxic industrial farming, pesticides, and habitat destruction. It is the culminating event for the High Line’s annual Horticulture Celebration, which takes place each September.

Note: The event is free. However, The High Line has a timed-entry reservation system on weekends. Visitors are encouraged to make a timed-entry reservation to attend Insectageddon programming. Reservations for September 25 will be made available starting September 13. 

Sat., Sept. 25
10th Avenue and Gansevoort St. to 30th St. 
The High Line 

Brooklyn Americana Music Festival

Make your way to Pier 6 at Brooklyn Bridge Park for the Brooklyn Americana Music Festival, two days of free live music. This year's gest features 20 women-identified singers, songwriters and musicians, singing original and traditional songs on fiddle, banjo, mandolin, upright bass, ukulele, and more. Expect a mix of genres including Country, Folk, Blues, Old-Time, Bluegrass and Jazz. The event is free for all ages and open to the public.

Sat. & Sun., Sept. 18-19, 3-7:30 p.m.
Liberty Lawn 
Pier 6
Brooklyn Bridge Park

photo: iStock

Sun Gazing in Riverside Park

Join the Amateur Astronomers Association at Riverside Park South's  Pier I and use solar telescopes specifically designed to safely look at the Sun. You'll see sunspots and prominences under a summer sky! Pre-registration for the event is required; to register, click here

Sun., Sept. 26, 1-4 p.m.
Pier 1 at 70th St. 
Riverside Park S. 
Upper West Side 

photo: New York Transit Museum

New York Transit Museum Is Back

It's been a long break, but the one-of-a-kind New York Transit Museum, housed in a retired subway station, is back! Once again your train-crazy kids can ride the rails, "drive" a "bus" and learn about the system that moves the city. 

Lots of other exhibits at museums around town are rolling out this month. Click here to see what's new!

To see when you can get into NYC's museums for free, click here! And did you know some NYC museums are free all the time? Click here to find those

—Mimi O’Connor


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