Summertime is here and your kid probably wants to play outside all day, but when parks and playgrounds get boring, what else is there to do? Keep little tykes busy with drop-in activities happening all summer long in NYC parks and other unique locations. From art workshops to yoga sessions, read on for a dozen outdoor drop-in classes to cure those boredom blues, all with a side of fresh air.
Turn the park into art – If your budding artiste is looking for inspiration for their next creation, they need look no further than Madison Square Park’s program, Art in the Park. Each week future Picassos will join playground assistant, Annie, to create park-themed projects such as: ladybugs, kites, garden pots, trees and more. All ages; Tues.–Sat. through Oct. 17; 10 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. and 2 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.; Free; Madison Square Park
Play down by the river – if you want your tot to get a taste of the great outdoors this summer one of the best places to make that happen is down along the banks of the Hudson River, specifically the River Tots on Pier 25 program at the Hudson River Park. They’ll learn from real environmental educators through story time and interactive play including eco-craft projects, music and of course, water play. Ages: 2-5; Thurs. through September 26, 10 a.m.-11 a.m.; Free; Hudson River Park at Pier 25 in Tribeca.
Calm the kids with yoga in the park – Your little yogis will love practicing their mountain, mermaid and rag doll poses at Yoga for Kids in Washington Square Park. In conjunction with Sacred Sounds Yoga, little ones will tap into their inner peace as they learn all the yoga poses. Be sure to bring your own mat. Wed., through August 13, 10 a.m.–11 a.m.; Free; Washington Square Park, meet at the nook/seating area opposite the small playground.
Create museum-worthy art on the Hudson – New York City has some of the most amazing views of the Hudson River. Little passionate painters have the opportunity to use this beautiful backdrop for their creations through the Children’s Museum of Art’s Popup at the Hudson River Park’s Pier 25 with hands-on family art programs. Wed. & Thurs. through August 30, 2014, 3 p.m.-6 p.m.; Free; Hudson River Park’s Pier 25, cross at N. Moore St.
Discover plants and animals – Even though you’re city dwellers, it doesn’t mean your kid can’t explore nature right in his backyard. Drop in to a Nature on the Go! session at Prospect Park’s Audubon Center. A naturalist will lead kids through the park pointing out flora and fauna on the way. Thurs & Fri., 2 p.m.-3 p.m., Free, Prospect Park Audubon Center near the Lincoln Rd. & Ocean Ave. entrance.
Story time in Central Park – What better way to take advantage of the outdoors in New York City than to bring the little ones to Central Park. Before you let them run free around all the great playgrounds, be sure to drop by and hear fairy tales from around the world courtesy of the Hans Christian Andersen Storytelling Center. Look for the crowd gathered around the Hans Christian Andersen statue to join the fun. Ages: 6 and older; Sat. during June, July and August; 11 a.m.–12 p.m.; Free; Central Park, near 72nd St. and Fifth Ave.
Play at a toy store – Specialty toy store, Norman & Jules, has just made little ones (and their parents) all over New York City so happy by adding an outdoor play space in their backyard. As if their toys and books weren’t awesome enough, you now have the option to drop-in and play. While they offer story time, sing-a-longs and yoga, if all your little ones want to do is play, they can – and what better place than a toy store. Ages: 6 months – 5; Mon.–Wed., 10 a.m.-12 p.m., Mon.–Fri., 1:15 p.m.-3:15 p.m., Sat. & Sun., 9:30 a.m.-11:30 a.m.; $12 for first child and $6 for additional children, package of 10 for $108; 158 7th Ave., Park Slope.
Go fishing off a pier – Just because you live in a city doesn’t mean you can’t introduce the great outdoors to your kiddos – and this includes fishing. Big City Fishing is designed to teach little fisherman (and big fisherman) how to fish and all about the Hudson River and its many fish species. This is a catch and release program and rod, reels and bait are provided. Ages: 5 and up; Sun., Mon., Tue. & Thurs.; times vary; Free; multiple locations.
Play and get back to nature with art – For parents looking for a big grassy area for their kiddos to run, play and get creative, Battery Park City offers two different drop-in programs over the summer. Using paper, clay, paint and nature supplies, including recyclable materials, watch your little ones create their masterpieces at Preschool Art. For the more active child, Preschool Play offers interactive play with toys and other age-appropriate equipment – on a great big lawn. For both, be sure to dress for fun and a big mess. Preschool Art: Ages: 1-5; Thurs., 10:30 a. m. -12: 30 p.m.; Free; Nelson A. Rockefeller Park in Battery Park City; Preschool Play: Ages 1-5; Mon., Tue. & Wed., 10 a.m. – 12 p.m.; Free; Robert F. Wagner, Jr. Park in Battery Park City.
Get on your bike and ride – With a city as bike-friendly as New York; it’s important for little ones to not be afraid of their two-wheelers. Learn to Ride is a program presented by Bike New York to help kids lose the training wheels for good. This group lesson helps parents teach their kids proper biking skills and etiquette and get them ready to bike through the streets of New York in no time – well at least the five-block radius around their apartment. Sat. & Sun.; multiple times available; Free; various locations, Registration is required.
Play with your kid high above the city – Head up the stairs at The High Line for a baby and toddler Lawn Time for Little Ones session featuring storytellers and musicians from organizations including Posman Books and the New York Public Library. Besides storytelling and sing-alongs, kids can build with blocks and chase bubbles across the lawn. Ages: 5 and younger; Thurs. in July & August; 10 a.m.-11:30 a.m.; Free; the High Line 23rd St. Lawn, Chelsea.
Create original art in the park – Bring the family (and your imagination) and join a different artist every Saturday in Socrates Sculpture Park. You and your little ones will create original art from molds and sculpt, carve, plaster, paint and decorate your new masterpiece. Upcoming themes include: summer solstice, rainbows, puppets and tin cans. Ages: 5-13; Saturdays through September; 11:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.; Free; Socrates Sculpture Park 32-01 Vernon Boulevard, Long Island City.
Photos courtesy of Madison Square Park Conservancy, Children’s Museum of Art, Bike New York
Did we miss anything? Tell us about your favorite outdoor drop-in classes for summer in a Comment.