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50 things to do with kids in NYC this summer

From outdoor movie screenings to Arthur Ashe Kids Day, we’ve found the 50 best things to do this summer in New York City.

Phyllis B. Dooney

Museum Mile Festival

Photograph: NY Hall of Science

Rocket Park mini golf at the New York Hall of Science

Photograph: Marielle Solan

Hip Tot Family Days

Photograph: Courtesy New York Transit Museum

100th Birthday of Brooklyn-Manhattan Transit at the New York Transit Museum


Make Music New York


Photograph: Etienne Frossard

Syfy Movies with a View

Photograph: Scott McDermott

The Golf Club at Chelsea Piers

Photograph: Rosalie O'Connor

American Ballet Theatre presents Cinderella

Photograph: Constance Faulk

Adventures NYC in Central Park

Photograph: Virginia Rollison

Jacob Riis Park Beach

Photograph: Grace Chu

Macy's Fourth of July Fireworks

Photograph: Dominic Perri

SummerStage Family Days

Photograph: Joan Marcus

TheatreworksUSA presents Skippyjon Jones Snow What

Photograph: Courtesy of Matt Murphy

Victory Dance at the New Victory Theater

Photograph: Sasha Arutyunova

Bastille Day


Photograph: Luciana Golcman

Come Out and Play Festival on Governors Island

Photograph courtesy CMOM

Frolic! Pop-Up Playspace at the Children's Museum of Manhattan

Photograph: Magalie Bonhomme

City of Water Day

Photograph: Evi Abeler

Block Party at the Rubin Museum of Art

Photograph: Courtesy of Courtesy of QCFM

Thunderbird American Indian Mid-Summer Pow Wow

Photograph: Courtesy Waterfight NYC

Waterfight NYC

Photograph: courtesy Children's Poetry Festival

New York City Children's Poetry Festival

Photograph: Jonathan Barkey

Kayaking on the Hudson


Hong Kong Dragon Boat Festival

Photograph: Alex Strada

Sand Sculpting Contest on the Coney Island Boardwalk

Photograph: John Haeger

The Great New York State Fair

Photographer: Jena Cumbo

Brooklyn Bridge Park Pool

Welcome, summer—we’re so happy to see you! NYC families, get ready to spend your days hanging at the coolest NYC beaches, splashing around at top-notch local swimming pools and dining out at the best kid-friendly rooftop restaurants NYC has to offer. It’s also a great time to chill out at nearby splash parkswater parks and amusement parks—after all, what says “New York Summer” more than a trip to Coney Island? To make sure the season is full of family adventures your kiddos won’t soon forget, check out some ideas for the best family vacations near NYC and track down these 50 essential summer happenings going on right in the city.


Explore NYC's Museum Mile for free

Now in its 37th year, New York’s biggest block party hits town once more, offering free access to nine museums (from the Met to the Guggenheim) along a car-free mile sprinkled with music, art and entertainment. Kids can color up the sidewalk with chalk, attend live model drawing classes, get their faces painted, and enjoy performances by clowns, magicians, jugglers, musicians and more. The festival starts on the steps of Cooper Hewitt's landmark building at 91st St and Fifth Ave. All ages.

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Take a tour of an urban farm

Every Saturday this summer, you and your little ones can take a break from the city streets and learn all about farming at the Urban Farm on Randall's Island. Chill with the chickens, learn about the rice paddies, and venture through all sorts of fruits and veggies on your self-guided tour around the grounds. There will be Urban Farm experts on site to answer questions along the way. All ages.

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26 Sep 2015

Play some space-themed mini golf

Critics' pick

Beneath the shadow of two retired NASA rockets, kids can tee off at this real outdoor course that mimics the path of a complete space flight. As they play the nine holes, little ones must take careful aim to avoid gravity wells, wormholes, warped space and asteroids; they'll also learn about the laws of motion that move spaceships through the air. The final hole, called "Splash Down," has players putt at a target on a rotating model Earth. Ages 6 and up.

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Until Sun Dec 27

Journey into the deep blue sea

Embark on a journey into the depths of our planet's oceans during "Water World: Immersive Dome Experience" in the Milstein Hall of Ocean Life. Inside the Geodome, curious kids can take a ride through the solar system before diving underwater where they'll see high-res video and scientific visualizations of the oceans and marine life. Ages 5 and up.

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Jam out at Hip Tot Family Day

Celebrate the end of each month with Hip Tot–quality entertainment. In June, bring the kiddos to enjoy a few scenes of The Lion King Jr., performed by the students at Brooklyn's Community Roots Middle School before jamming out to tunes by Father Goose (June 14), then hit up a concert from Rolie Polie Guacamole and Dogs on Fleas, featuring Grammy-winning songwriter Dean Jones (July 12). Stay tuned for details on August's gathering (Aug 9), but make sure to come back in September for a fun-filled performance by The Trummytones (Sept 14). Ages 2 to 5.

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13 Sep 2015

Celebrate summer in Union Square

Summer in the Square is a great reason to visit Union Square Park on Thursdays. Get in some early-morning fitness with Yoga Storytime at 10am hosted by Karma Kids, followed by performances by popular kid's musicians at 11am, like Kidville Rockin' Railroad (June 18) and Sweet Beatz (July 25). Settle in for Storytime with The Strand each week at 2pm. On July 2, kids will be mesmerized by intricate puppetry at the Swedish Cottage Marionette Show. Watch your little ones play at the Children's Activity Pavillion each week, and leave time to play with ArtFarm Animals' furry friends throughout July. See the website for a complete schedule. All ages.

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Until Fri Aug 14

Build a LEGO masterpiece

LEGO fanatics, rejoice! The New York Hall of Science is hosting a week full activities, all surrounding those colorful bricks you love. Build and race a custom LEGO derby car, add your creative touch to LEGO cities, play video games in the gaming area, design an eye-popping mosaic and answer trivia questions. Don't forget to bring your cool masterpieces to the Glow Zone where you can put it under UV light. On weekends, youngsters can shop around for LEGO products. Want to win free tickets? Submit a name for Brick Fest Live's adorable LEGO mascot or upload a photo of your top-notch LEGO creation before June 14. All ages.

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Look back on 100 years of Brooklyn-Manhattan transit

To celebrate the 100th birthday of Brooklyn-Manhattan transit, little ones get the chance to ride historic trains, pose for vintage family photos, try cool mosaic crafts, hear live music and meet train conductors from the past. An extra perk? They’ll also enjoy bagels and chocolate birthday cake for breakfast…it is a birthday, after all. The proceeds from this fundraiser will directly benefit the Transit Museum's education programming.

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Hear live tunes during Make Music New York

Musicians flood NYC's public spaces during this daylong, citywide, entirely free festival. For tot-friendly tunage, make sure to catch kid-friendly acts like Amelia Robinson of Mil's Trills (2:30pm and 6pm) Laurie Berkner in Herbert Von King Park (4pm) or Lily Rose & Keith on Great Oval Hill in Central Park (11am and 1pm). Little ones can join free song and movement sessions in Bryant Park and big kids can pick up harmonicas, recorders and more to join in on group jam sessions alongside the pros. Visit makemusicny.org for the full lineup of events and happenings spanning the five boroughs (you can even search by 'hood!) All ages.

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Watch a movie under the stars

In summertime, free outdoor movies are a great new twist on your usual living room movie nights! Pack a picnic and your folding chairs and head for these amazing parks, piers and rooftops to see family favorites under the stars! Free outdoor movie picks include the likes of Frozen and classic Robin Williams movies, plus new takes on old favorites like Quvenzhane Wallis' Annie (2014). Keep checking back for more updates-we'll be adding events throughout the summer!

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By: Allie Early
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