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Summer Streets 2013: Best things to do for families

The pedestrian paradise Summer Streets returns to NYC on three Saturdays this August, boasting free performances, art installations and activities for families.

  • Photograph: Luciana Golcman

  • Photograph: Luciana Golcman

  • Photograph: Luciana Golcman

  • Photograph: Luciana Golcman

  • Photograph: Luciana Golcman

  • Photograph: Luciana Golcman

  • Photograph: Luciana Golcman

  • Photograph: Luciana Golcman

  • Photograph: Luciana Golcman

  • Photograph: Luciana Golcman

  • Photograph: Luciana Golcman

  • Photograph: Luciana Golcman

  • Photograph: Luciana Golcman

  • Photograph: Luciana Golcman

  • Photograph: Luciana Golcman

  • Photograph: Luciana Golcman

  • Photograph: Luciana Golcman

  • Photograph: Luciana Golcman

  • Luciana Golcman

  • Luciana Golcman

  • Luciana Golcman

  • Luciana Golcman

  • Luciana Golcman

  • Luciana Golcman

  • Luciana Golcman

  • Luciana Golcman

  • Luciana Golcman

  • Luciana Golcman

  • Luciana Golcman

  • Luciana Golcman

Photograph: Luciana Golcman


Every year, the Summer Streets festival closes off almost seven miles of streets—from the Brooklyn Bridge up to Central Park—and invites New Yorkers to walk, run, bike and explore on the traffic-free pavement. The lack of honking cars and speeding cabs is reason enough to love the event, but it’s the fest’s family-friendly spirit and super lineup of free installations and activities that landed it a spot on our list of the best free things to do with kids this summer. This year’s Summer Streets takes place on August 3, 10 and 17 from 7am–1pm. Here’s our guide to the best of the fest.


Get active
In keeping with the event’s championing of fresh air and two-legged transportation, there are tons of opportunities for families to get some exercise along the route’s six stops and eighty-plus blocks. Rent a free bike from the Bike and Roll stations at the Uptown, Midtown, and Foley Square rest stops, and don’t forget to snag a helmet courtesy of the Department of Transportation. In Midtown, Bike New York will also be offering Learn to Ride classes, and Rollerblades will be renting out gratis skates. Several of the rest stops are offering fitness classes and running groups, but for the most kid-friendly athletic offerings, head downtown. Adventurous kids can scale the rock climbing wall at the Soho stop, then zoom down the zip line at the Foley Square stop. The Lower Manhattan area will also offer free yoga classes from Shape Up NYC, a GreenSports IQ challenge from Asphalt Green, parkour demonstrations by Movement Creative, and an opportunity to run the bases with the Staten Island Yankees.


Take a load off at a rest stop

After working up a sweat, your family can relax and cool off at some of the rest stops’ designated chill-out zones. Uptown, swing by the Fun in the Sun Zone at 52nd Street, where parents can lounge in comfy chairs while little ones run through water sprinklers. Kids can also get crafty with sand art or try out an interactive photo booth. Meandering down to Midtown, you’ll reach a rest stop featuring the Whole Foods Market City Picnic, offering yummy samples from Whole Foods vendors. At Foley Square, families can snack on treats from the Cooking Channel and try out the CoolStop Misting System, an efficient water mister made of PVC pipes and designed to look like a huge splash of water. Don’t forget to check out the Uptown and Foley Square stages for dance, theater and musical performances too.

 

Play an (emotional) game of putt-putt
The Uptown rest stop is home to Course of Emotions, an artist-designed mini golf course whose nine holes mirror a variety of human emotions including frustration, jealousy and anxiety. Face the steep upward slope of Depression and the wobbly putting platform of Insecurity before reaching the easy hole-in-one at the final hole, Relief.

 

Explore the Park Avenue Tunnel
For the first time ever, the Park Avenue Tunnel will be open to pedestrians during this year’s Summer Streets. The tunnel, which runs from 33rd Street to 40th Street, will feature a large-scale interactive installation called Voice Tunnel, in which the sound of participants’ voices influence the intensity of 360 spotlights lining the tunnel’s 1,400-foot walls. The sounds of voices will be projected from a loudspeaker next to each spotlight, filling the tunnel with sound and light.

See a cereal-puffing gun
The soon-to-be-launched Museum of Food and Drink will preview its first exhibit, “BOOM! The Puffing Gun and the Rise of Breakfast Cereal,” on August 17 from 7am to 1pm.  A 3,200-pound cereal-puffing gun will be displayed in Foley Square, demonstrating how food manufacturers created puffed cereal like Cheerios and Kix. Little ones can snack on cereal and be amazed by the gun’s explosive breakfast creations.

Summer Streets takes place during the first three Saturdays of August (Aug 3, 10 and 17) from 7am–1pm from the Manhattan side of the Brooklyn Bridge to Central Park, along Park Avenue and other streets. For a complete list of activities, click here.


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