Grab your sunscreen, walking shoes, eyes and ears, and get ready to explore the 12th Annual River to River Festival and uncover the hidden gems and variety of artists and activities on the southern tip of Manhattan (and Governor’s Island!) in a fresh new way. But with over 150 events in 30 days at 28 sites, you may have trouble choosing an event or two to see. Not to worry, we’ve pulled out our favorite (free!) picks for families to keep you busy every week of this month-long festival that runs from June 15 to July 14, 2013. Read on to find out what they are and get insider tips for making a day of each one.

R2R Map

1. Mantra Percussion’s The Great Learning
June 21, 12:00 pm – 9:00 pm

Information on locations coming soon

Fun Facts: This 1970 musical masterpiece by Cornelius Cardew will travel between six locations over nine hours in Lower Manhattan. You’ll hear everything from a pipe organ to percussion and everything in between. Check out one installation or travel to and from all six.

Insider’s Note: This is the first time this dynamic performance has ever hit New York City. Your family can see and hear the premiere!

R2R Jeffrey Broussard

2. Jeffrey Broussard and the Creole Cowboys
July 2, 5:30 pm
Brookfield Place Plaza
220 Vesey Street

Fun Facts: Jeffrey is a second-generation accordionist and leading the charge in Nouveau Zydeco. The brand brings soulful R&B to zydeco with guitar, bass, scrub board, and percussion. No one can stand still when they listen to this band!

Insider’s Note: Get there early and bring the kiddo’s scooter or trike, it’s the perfect large plaza for wheeled fun.

Where to Eat and Play Nearby: Check out our picks at the World Financial Center.

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3. Control Voltage 2013
July 6, Fair: 3:00 – 8:00 pm; Performances: 8:00 pm – 12:00 am
Cannon’s Walk, South Street Seaport

Fun Facts: This annual fair celebrates the intersection of art and science by studying and listening to the modular synthesizer, introduced in the 1960s.

Important Note: Skip the late concerts and hit the fair – “part exposition, part block party.” Hands-on exploration is encouraged and great for all ages. See, hear, touch and talk about the modular synth with synth makers, experts and musicians.

Where to Eat and Play Nearby: You must hit SmorgasBar (Front Street between Beekman and Fulton Street) for lunch or dinner, an offshoot of the popular Smorgasburg food vendor flea market. Nosh on goodies from 12 delicious food vendors from 11:00 am to 11:00 pm at Front and Fulton Streets. The Imagination Playground (2 Fulton Street) is just a block or from all the action and filled with innovative playthings.

R2R Family Day

4. Come Out and Play Family Day
July 13, 11:00 am – 5:00 pm
Parade Ground, Governors Island

Fun Facts: Governor’s Island turns into a giant playground for one day thanks to Come Out and Play. The festival of games and activities is based on a time travel theme, so you can find adventures in both the Dark Ages and in the space-age future!

Important Note: Games are especially geared towards kids age 6-11, but the whole family can have fun here. Check out our guide on what to see and do on Governor’s Island beyond the field day festivities.

Where to Eat: Find kid-friendly options at Perfect Picnic and Mister Softee at King Avenue Food Court on the north side of the island. At Picnic Court near Yankee Pier, try Fauzia’s Heavenly delight for Caribbean fare that’s vegetarian friendly. Of course, you can always bring your own picnic, too.

What River to River events are you going to take your family to this year?

— Sarah K. Choi

photos courtesy of River to River Festival, Jeffrey Broussard, Harvestworks via Flickr and Come Out and Play