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Free and cheap things to do over the Memorial Day 2011 weekend with NYC kids

Ways to keep busy but stay on budget during the three-day holiday.

Kids—and adults—always look forward to Memorial Day. After all, the holiday marks summer's unofficial kickoff. But an extra day of play often means blowing your budget. Well, not this year. We've found tons of things to do on all three days that go beyond block parties and barbecues, and none of them will cost you more than 15 bucks (most are free!).

Saturday, May 28

FREE Fleet Week Ship Tours
Sat May 28 8am--5pm.
*Pier 88, W 48th St at the West Side Hwy (fleetweeknewyork.com). Subway: C, E, 1 to 50th St; N, R to 49th St.
*Stapleton Homeport Pier, Staten Island (
fleetweeknewyork.com). Travel: Staten Island Ferry.
Check out one of the many Fleet Week festivities to add a little patriotic flair to your Memorial Day weekend. Your brood will get a kick out of exploring the large-deck amphibious assault ship and Coast Guard cutter at Pier 88, and the Navy cruiser and destroyer stationed at the Stapleton Homeport Pier in Staten Island. All ages.

FREE 16th Annual Lower East Side Festival
Sat May 28 1pm--1am. Theater for the New City, 155 First Ave between 9th and 10th Sts (212-254-1109, theaterforthenewcity.net). Subway: L to First Ave, 6 to Astor Pl.
Although the venerable East Village institution's annual arts bash goes on all weekend, most of the performances are geared to adults. Saturday, however, is family day, featuring a cultural street fair jam-packed with vendors, food and entertainers on East 10th Street, as well as a cavalcade of youth performers inside the theater. All ages.

FREE Kayaking on the Hudson
Sat May 28 10am--5pm.
*Riverside Park at 72nd St. Subway: 1, 2, 3 to 72nd St (downtownboathouse.org).
* Pier 96, Twelfth Ave at 56th St (downtownboathouse.org). Subway: A, C, D, 1 to 59th St--Columbus Circle.
* Pier 40, West St at Houston St (downtownboathouse.org). Subway: 1 to Houston St.
It's no fun being taken for a ride...unless, of course, it's a free family boat trip. The New York City Downtown Boathouse offers complimentary kayaking every weekend through October at three Hudson River docks. No need to make a reservation; just walk right up and wait in (a bit of a) line. Never kayaked before? Not to worry: The nautical experts provide the equipment and the know-how—although they do ask that you sign a liability waiver, be able to swim, and wear a bathing suit, or shorts and a T-shirt. Kids under 16 must be accompanied in the boat by an adult. Ages 2 and up.

FREE Sculpture Workshop
Sat May 28 noon--3pm. Socrates Sculpture Park, 32-01 Vernon Blvd at Broadway, Long Island City, Queens (718-956-1819, socratessculpturepark.org). Subway: N to Broadway, then walk eight blocks to the East River.
Every Saturday through the end of the summer, families are invited to create mini-masterpieces with one of the park's visiting artists. This week, kids will create gardens of objects, planting drinking straws, broom handles and other knick-knacks in the ground. Ages 4 to 14.

FREE DanceAfrica Bazaar
Sat May 28 noon--10pm. Brooklyn Academy of Music, 10 Lafayette Ave between Flatbush Ave and Ashland Pl, Fort Greene, Brooklyn (718-636-4100, bam.org). Subway: Q, 2, 3, 4, 5 to Atlantic Ave; D, N, R to Pacific St; G to Fulton St.
Part of BAM's 33rd annual fest celebrating the African Diaspora, this outdoor market features close to 300 vendors selling ethnic crafts, food and fashion. Kids' activities include face painting and arts and crafts; roaming street performers abound. All ages.

FREE Art Island Outpost: Fine Arts Workshops
Sat May 28 11am--3pm. Governors Island (212-274-0986, cmany.org) Travel: 1 to South Ferry, then take the Governors Island Ferry from the Battery Maritime Building, Slip 7.
Children's Museum of the Arts teaching artists lead gratis workshops at Building 14 on Governors Island. Opening weekend, kids can help create a collaborative mural and work with rope, string, yarn, netting and wire to explore the artistic use of line. Ages 1 to 8.

FREE Learn to Ride!
Sat May 28 10am--1pm. Riverside Park, Riverside Dr between 72nd and 158th Sts (212-408-0219, riversideparkfund.org). Subway: 1, 2, 3 to 72nd St; 1 to 157th St.
Kids who are new to cruising on two wheels will get instruction on balancing and riding their big-kid bikes. Call 212-260-0400 to reserve a free bike rental from Bike and Roll NYC. Lessons take place at the Greenway and 135th Street. Ages 5 and up.

FREE Memorial Day Fair at Sunnyside Gardens Park
Sat May 28 11am--7pm. Sunnyside Gardens Park, 48-21 39th Ave at Barnett Ave, Sunnyside, Queens (718-672-1555, sunnysidegardenspark.org). Subway: 7 to 52nd St.
The members-only Queens park opens its gates to the public for this annual community shindig. Children can roam the park's playgrounds, baseball field and basketball court, then take in a number of special events, including bounce houses, a rock-climbing wall, live music and a kiddie nail salon for little fashionistas. Rain date: Sunday, May 29. All ages.

FREE Opening Day Family Festival
Sat May 28 noon--4pm. Governors Island (212-440-2202, govisland.com). Travel: 1 to South Ferry, then take the Governors Island Ferry from the Battery Maritime Building, Slip 7.
The quintessential New York City summer spot opens this weekend. Awaiting families are magicians, musicians, face painters and storytellers, as well as harbor ecology lessons for kids all across the island. Look for a workshop hosted by the Children's Museum of the Arts, too, in which participants help create a diorama of the island, complete with trees, houses, boats, birds and more. All ages.

The Wizard of Oz
Sat May 28 at 12:30, 2:30pm. Puppetworks, 338 Sixth Ave at 4th St, Park Slope, Brooklyn (718-965-3391, puppetworks.org). Subway: F, G, R to Fourth Ave--9th St . $8, under 18 $7.
The classic L. Frank Baum story is told using Nicolas Coppola's gorgeous hand-carved marionettes and an original country & western score. The puppets will romp along the Yellow Brick Road and through other familiar scenes, including the meeting with the Great Oz mask and the Wicked Witch of the West's melty demise. Ages 3 and up.

Shear Madness
Sat May 28 1--4pm. Staten Island Zoo, 614 Broadway at Frost Ave and Victory Blvd, Staten Island (718-442-3100, statenislandzoo.org). Free with zoo admission: $8, $5 children 3--14, children under 3 free.
Professional sheep shearers will shave, clean and spin wool before onlookers' eyes. Following the event, families can hit up the rest of the zoo's exhibits. All ages.

Sunday, May 29

FREE Fleet Week Ship Tours
Sun May 29 8am--5pm.
*Pier 88, W 48th St at the West Side Hwy (fleetweeknewyork.com). Subway: C, E, 1 to 50th St; N, R to 49th St.
*Stapleton Homeport Pier, Staten Island (
fleetweeknewyork.com). Travel: Staten Island Ferry.
Check out one of the many Fleet Week festivities to add a little patriotic flair to your Memorial Day weekend. Your brood will get a kick out of exploring the large-deck amphibious assault ship and Coast Guard cutter at Pier 88, and the Navy cruiser and destroyer stationed at the Stapleton Homeport Pier in Staten Island. All ages.

FREE Kayaking on the Hudson
Sun May 29 10am--5pm.
*Riverside Park at 72nd St. Subway: 1, 2, 3 to 72nd St (downtownboathouse.org).
* Pier 96, Twelfth Ave at 56th St (downtownboathouse.org). Subway: A, C, D, 1 to 59th St--Columbus Circle.
* Pier 40, West St at Houston St (downtownboathouse.org). Subway: 1 to Houston St.
It's no fun being taken for a ride...unless, of course, it's a free family boat trip. The New York City Downtown Boathouse offers complimentary kayaking every weekend through October at three Hudson River docks. No need to make a reservation; just walk right up and wait in (a bit of a) line. Never kayaked before? Not to worry: The nautical experts provide the equipment and the know-how—although they do ask that you sign a liability waiver, be able to swim, and wear a bathing suit, or shorts and T-shirt. Kids under 16 must be accompanied in the boat by an adult. Ages 2 and up.

FREE Art Island Outpost: Fine Arts Workshops
Sun May 29 11am--3pm. Governors Island (212-274-0986, cmany.org) Travel: 1 to South Ferry, then take the Governors Island Ferry from the Battery Maritime Building, Slip 7.
Children's Museum of the Arts teaching artists lead gratis workshops at Building 14 on Governors Island. Opening weekend, kids can help create a collaborative mural and work with rope, string, yarn, netting and wire to explore the artistic use of line. Ages 1 to 8.

FREE DanceAfrica Bazaar
Sun May 29 noon--8pm. Brooklyn Academy of Music, 10 Lafayette Ave between Flatbush Ave and Ashland Pl, Fort Greene, Brooklyn (718-636-4100, bam.org). Subway: Q, 2, 3, 4, 5 to Atlantic Ave; D, N, R to Pacific St; G to Fulton St.
Part of BAM's 34th annual fest celebrating the African Diaspora, this outdoor market features close to 300 vendors selling ethnic crafts, food and fashion. Kids' activities include face painting and arts and crafts; roaming street performers abound. All ages.

Workshop at the Children's Galleries for Jewish Culture
Sun May 29 2--5pm. Children's Galleries for Jewish Culture, 515 W 20th St between Tenth and Eleventh Aves, suite 4E (212-924-4500, cgjc.org). Subway: C, E to 23rd St; 1 to 18th St. $8.
Kids can craft their own bling from sheet metal and beads and make miniature scenes. Ages 5 to 12.

Dinosaurs and More
Sun May 29 1:30--3:30pm. Staten Island Zoo, 614 Broadway at Frost Ave and Victory Blvd, Staten Island (718-442-3100, statenislandzoo.org). Free with zoo admission: $8, $5 children 3--14, children under 3 free.
Dinosaur enthusiast Richie Mirissis presents three-dimensional models and other artifacts from his collection. Kids can also dig for fossils in a temporary pit set up for the event, and make clay models of their findings. Ages 3 to 12.

Monday, May 30

Memorial Day at Moomah
Mon May 30 9am--5pm. 161 Hudson St between Hubert and Laight Sts (212-226-0345, moomah.com). Subway: A, C, E, 1 to Canal St. Free admission, but activities and food cost $12 and up.
Tribeca's caf-cum--creative-play-spot invites kids to get their red, white and blue on by dropping in for art projects such as making celebratory necklaces and decorating cupcakes. All ages.

FREE Fleet Week Ship Tours
Mon May 30 8am--5pm
*Pier 88, W 48th St at the West Side Hwy (cnic.navy.mil/cnrma). Subway: C, E, 1 to 50th St; N, R to 49th St.
*Stapleton Homeport Pier, Staten Island (cnic.navy.mil/cnrma). Travel: Staten Island Ferry.
Check out one of the many Fleet Week festivities to add a little patriotic flair to your Memorial Day weekend. Your brood will get a kick out of exploring the large-deck amphibious assault ship and Coast Guard cutter at Pier 88, and the Navy cruiser and destroyer stationed at the Stapleton Homeport Pier in Staten Island. All ages.

FREE Kayaking on the Hudson
Mon May 30 10am--5pm.
*Riverside Park at 72nd St. Subway: 1, 2, 3 to 72nd St (downtownboathouse.org).
* Pier 96, Twelfth Ave at 56th St (downtownboathouse.org). Subway: A, C, D, 1 to 59th St--Columbus Circle.
* Pier 40, West St at Houston St (downtownboathouse.org). Subway: 1 to Houston St.
It's no fun being taken for a ride...unless, of course, it's a free family boat trip. The New York City Downtown Boathouse offers complimentary kayaking every weekend through October at three Hudson River docks. No need to make a reservation; just walk right up and wait in (a bit of a) line. Never kayaked before? Not to worry: The nautical experts provide the equipment and the know-how—although they do ask that you sign a liability waiver, be able to swim, and wear a bathing suit, or shorts and T-shirt. Kids under 16 must be accompanied in the boat by an adult. Ages 2 and up.

FREE Memorial Day Observance
Mon May 30 10:30--11:45am. Soldiers' & Sailors' Monument, Riverside Dr at 89th St (212-870-3070, riversideparkfund.org).
Commemorate Memorial Day at this annual observance, which includes a concert by the U.S. Navy Band and a wreath-laying ceremony. All ages.

Raising Citizens: Memorial Day
Mon May 30 10am--5pm. Children's Museum of Manhattan, 212 W 83rd St between Amsterdam Ave and Broadway (212-721-1234, cmom.org). Free with museum admission: $10, children under 1 free.
In remembrance of the men and women who died while serving in the military, kids create an art installation to hang in the museum. Ages 5 and up.

FREE DanceAfrica Bazaar
Mon May 30 noon--8pm. Brooklyn Academy of Music, 10 Lafayette Ave between Flatbush Ave and Ashland Pl, Fort Greene, Brooklyn (718-636-4100, bam.org). Subway: Q, 2, 3, 4, 5 to Atlantic Ave; D, N, R to Pacific St; G to Fulton St.
Part of BAM's 34th annual fest celebrating the African Diaspora, this outdoor market features close to 300 vendors selling ethnic crafts, food and fashion. Kids activities include face painting and arts and crafts; check out the roaming street performers. All ages.

FREE Art Island Outpost: Fine Arts Workshops
Mon May 30 11am--3pm. Governors Island (212-274-0986, cmany.org) Travel: 1 to South Ferry, then take the Governors Island Ferry from the Battery Maritime Building, Slip 7.
Children's Museum of the Arts teaching artists lead gratis workshops at Building 14 on Governors Island. Opening weekend, kids can help create a collaborative mural and work with rope, string, yarn, netting and wire to explore the artistic use of line. Ages 1 to 8.

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