It’s officially summer in New York City—are you ready to rumble? We’ve compiled the ultimate list of things to do with kids in New York City, with options for high-octane fun, mellow afternoons, places to cool down, getaway, and more! From classics (hello, Coney Island) to fresh fun for summer 2019, here’s our NYC Summer Bucket List for Kids!
SPECIAL EVENTS & RETURNING CLASSICS
Get Tickets for the Big Bounce America
Yes, the Guinness-book certified, world's largest bounce house is on tour, and it's coming to Brooklyn. (Aviator Sports & Events Center, to be exact.) Along with this massive inflatable fun featuring confetti canons, a ball pit, climbing towers, and more, is The Giant, an inflatable obstacle course, and Air Space, more air-filled, bouncey fun with an intergalactic theme. To keep things sane, there are slots for little kids three and younger with caregivers; slots for those seven and younger with parents, and slots for 15 and younger. (There are adult only sessions as well.) Pricing starts at $17 for a three-hour visit.
The Big Bounce America
July 26-28 & Aug. 2-4
Try the Newest Zipline in Town
Wild Play Element Park opens at Jones Beach on July 4. This new extreme fun spot features a 700-foot zipline along the beach, and there are four ziplines side-by-side, so you can zip as a family if you like. (Kids must be seven or older and minimum height is 4' 8".) There's also adventure courses (rope ladders, platforms, ziplines, etc.) for all levels—classic, extreme, and a kids course, that's just 15 feet in the air. In search of even more thrills? Try the WTF Jump (What's To Fear? Jump), a quick, but safe descent from 40 feet off the ground. Regular zipline is $19.99; kid's zipline is $24.99, and adults can come along to help.
Open July 4 to Sept 2
Wild Play Jones Beach
2600 Ocean Parkway
Hop on the Nostalgia Train
You may have walked through the old-timey trains at the New York City Transit Museum, but have you taken a ride on one? It's not cheap ($50 for non-members of the museum; $35 for members) but it's a super cool experience the kids won't forget anytime soon. Upcoming dates include July 20 (Coney Island-bound) and August 18 (on the now-defunct Myrtle Avenue elevated train). Too rich for your blood? The annual Parade of Trains featuring the vintage cars takes place on September 28 and 29, and all you need is a Metrocard to swipe.
The fest's free Family Movie Night is screening Coco at Hudson River Park's Pier 45 on June 21 at 6:30 p.m.
The Children's Museum of Manhattan celebrates all month long with visitors helping to make a community pride flag and community bracelets, which kids can trade with each other during their visit. The Museum's LGBTQ Pride Night is on June 6 this year.
Head to Brookfield Place and check out the colorful installation Thrive, as well as other pride events throughout June.
Stop by StoneWall Park on June 21 for Make Music New York performances.
Visit the Goats of GOATham in Riverside Park
A herd of goats has been imported to Riverside Park to help control invasive weeds! (Brooklyn's Prospect Park has also used goats to keep weeds at bay.) They'll be there all summer, munching away on greenery such as poison ivy, wineberry, bittersweet, and more. The goats can be found in the northern part of the park, and New Yorkers are welcome to visit them. You can even cast a vote for the Greatest Of All Time (GOAT) goat.
May 21- Aug. 30.
120th Street and Riverside Drive
Hit Up a Free Concert
So many concerts, so little time! Check out Hudson River Park's Sunset on the Hudson series at Pier 45 downtown; Celebrate Brooklyn in Prospect Park (family concert is 3 p.m. on June 15, with Rich Medina/Shareef Keyes & the Groove); a concert series in Union Square, and the free lunchtime series from Lite FM, Broadway at Bryant Park.
That's really the tip of the iceberg. Find a free summer concert near you here!
See Dinosaur Safari at The Bronx Zoo
This popular attraction, featuring a ride through a forest filled with animatronic dinos is back, and it's only here until November 3, so don't delay! Read more info about the exhibit and Bronx Zoo here!
Visit Governors Island
This happening summer spot is in full force, with art, events, and all the kid faves this summer. Read our guide to Governors Island with kids here!
Take Advantage of Free Fun
So many festivals, events, concerts—and all free, all summer long. We round up the best free things to do with kids in NYC every month right here!
Summer is prime U-pick time. If you're in search of berries—strawberries, raspberries, blueberries—these are our favorite farms to pick them near NYC.
More of a flower type? Try these spots (where, you can often also pick berries).
See a Free Movie Under the Stars
The Incredibles 2! Ralph Breaks the Internet! Mary Poppins! Frozen! These are just some of the movies screening in parks in every borough this summer. Find what's playing near you here!
Play the Day Away
So many playgrounds, so little time.
Check out one of our favorites in Manhattan.
Want to stay in Brooklyn? We love these playgrounds in the borough.
Enjoy Free Fun on Thursdays in Union Square
Every Thursday, from June 13 to August 8, kids can have tons on fun for free in Union Square through Citi Summer in the Square. Activities include animals with The Art Farm, yoga storytime, live music concerts, a bubble garden, chess with Chess at 3, soccer with Soccer Shots and more! Kids activities take place in the south plaza, except Soccer Shots, which is in the north.
Head to Coney Island
The surf, the sand, the thrills, and of course, the Mermaid Parade, which is June 22 this year. Plus, fireworks every Friday night at 9:30 p.m.!
Visit Lady Liberty
Never been to The Statue of Liberty or Ellis Island? Not only is it really fun an interesting, it's also a great way to beat the heat—with both the boat ride and the museums, which are air conditioned. Plus: there's a brand new museum on Liberty Island now!
Here's our guide on visiting the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island with kids!
Let It Spray at One of NYC's Best Splash Pads
From gentle showers to sprayers and structures, these are our favorite playgrounds with water features!
Cool Off at One of NYC's Huge Free Pools
Some days it's so hot, you just gotta head to the pool. NYC is home to numerous free swimming pools, many of which are huge! they open to the public on June 27 this summer. Read about our favorite free outdoor pools in the city, as well as the rules you must abide by to use them.
Slip, Slide Away at a Nearby Water Park
Spend all day sliding, looping, and chilling at the wave pool. These are our favorite water parks near NYC, from the Hamptons, to the Poconos, and beyond.
Prefer you park indoors? (often with a warm-weather outdoor component). Check out these parks.
GET OUT OF TOWN
Hit the Beach!
Or make a longer trip of it and visit a special one further afield, such as Cape May or Fire Island. Click here for more of our favorites.
Head Out to The Hamptons
It's so much more than just exclusive parties and celebrities. These are our favorite activities for kids in The Hamptons, to keep them busy for a weekend, or a few weeks!
Everybody's doing it, with varying degrees of luxury. Find a ready-made campsite with Tentrr, sleep in a yurt, trailer, or treehouse, or spend the night on Governors Island with a view of downtown Manhattan.
Do Classic Jersey Shore at Wildwood and Morey's Piers
Looking for a casual, family-friendly spot for beach, boardwalk, waterpark and some rides? Let it all hang out at Wildwood. We went—here's our report!
Try a Farm Vacation
Get back to the land, learn to milk a cow, and get away from it all at one of our favorite places for family-friendly farm stays.
Hang With Elmo and Crew at Sesame Place
Lots of fun for little ones—plus there's a water park! Read our review here!
CHOW DOWN & DRINK UP
Get Your Licks In
It's not summer without ice cream. Check out our favorite places to get a scoop.
New York City is full of places to dine al fresco. (Bonus: it's often easier to accommodate a stroller outside.)
Grab a Cold Something
Beer, lemonade, fancy spritzer. Just make sure to sit down and chill out. We've got suggestions of family-friendly beer gardens here!
Get Your Fill at Smorgasburg in Prospect Park, Williamsburg, and FiDi
Smorgasburg, the taste-tastic convocation of incredible food vendors of all kinds and cultures is back in a big way. Find the vendors on Fridays adjacent to the Oculus from 11:30 a.m. to 7 p.m.; in East River State Park in Williamsburg on Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., and at Prospect Park's Breeze Hill on Sundays from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Get the full Smorgasburg scoop here!
Want More Food? Try One of These Tasty Spots and Events
Check out the family-friendly Queens International Night Market (pictured) with food, music, games, and vendors, all at the New York Hall of Science in Flushing Meadows Corona Park.
Head to the brand new Time Out New York Market in Dumbo at Empire Stores. It features 21 "food concepts" from some of the best local restaurants and esteemed area chefs.
Uptown? Make your way to the "global food celebration" of the Bronx Night Market, where you'll also find vendors selling local crafts and merchandise.
Don't miss the last ever Vendy Awards, recognizing the best in food trucks, taking place on Governors Island at the very end of the summer.
INDOOR FUN (AND RELIEF)
Take a Break From the Sun and Get Some Culture
These are the exhibits we're most excited about this summer.
And don't forget, there are lots of under-the-radar museums in NYC that are great too—and often less crowded!
Celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the Apollo 11 Mission
The New York Hall of Science is celebrating humankind making it to the moon with space-themed programming all summer long! "Above and Beyond – The Ultimate Flight Exhibition" uses flight simulation, augmented reality, touch-tables, design and skill challenges, virtual reality and more to immerse visitors in the wonders of flight, space travel and aerospace innovation, design and technology.
The film Apollo 11: First Steps Edition showcases the real-life moments of the first lunar landing, with never-before-seen footage and newly discovered audio recordings.
Kids can explore the principles of flight and space exploration through workshops making gliders, "grabbers", air-powered vehicles, and more.
New York Hall of Science
47-01 111th St.
Go to CAMP!
We're guessing the kids are going to some form of camp at some point—this is slightly different. A Flatiron District storefront filled with lots of cool toys and goods, CAMP also contains a bookcase that opens into a much larger space. (Going through this "secret" entrance is a pretty magical way to start a visit.) In this second space, which changes themes every few months, you'll find play areas, workshops, performances, and lots more toys for browsing. Camp's current theme is "Cooking Camp", which follows the journey of food from farm to table. Free fun includes jumping on a mini trampoline, getting down in the ice box disco, climbing aboard a truck to ferry some "food" and cooking it up in a deluxe play kitchen. You can also sign-up in advance for workshops and shows. Read our review from when it opened here!
.- 8 a.m.-8p.m.; Sat., 10 a.m. - 9 p.m., Sun., 11 a.m. - 7 p.m.
110 Fifth Ave.
Check Out Some Kid-friendly Pop-Ups
Go under water (Ocean Cube is pictured here), into space, enter a world of optical illusions, and more! Find your pop-up match here!
Head Inside for Some A/C
These are some of our favorite places to beat the heat inside, including pirate mini golf, indoor gyms, and spots for little kid water play.
Eat, Drink & Enjoy at One of NYC's Best Movie Theaters for Kids
Ninety degree and humid calls for a nice cool drink, some snacks (or a meal), and a double feature! Check out our roundup of NYC's best movie theaters for parents and kids!
Spend the Day at Liberty Science Center
So much to do, so nice and cool. Read our guide to visiting before you go!