There are two options when burning hot temps roll in, making New York City's sidewalks stuffy, smelly and vaguely unbearable. You can cling to your freezer mourning winter's snow flurries (no!) or you can embrace and plow forth with the kiddos in tow for some of NYC's most spectacular summer activities. These cool picks will have your kiddos jumping for joy (especially the ones that involve ice cream).
For more summer fun, be sure to explore our top summer activities for kids, the best NYC beaches and our list of the best kids' books. Check out our favorite ways to beat the heat, too (psst...eating ice cream and watching Frozen with the AC blasting are great ways to start).
Beat the heat with these summer activities for kids
Crank that AC and watch Frozen Fever on Netflix
Blasting the AC and watching Frozen Fever on Netflix (search the Walt Disney Animation Studios Short Films Collection—it’s at the 8 minute mark) is a great way to chill. The kiddos will love watching Anna’s birthday surprise unfold (which is not without its hitches…) and reconnecting with favorites like Elsa, Olaf and Kristoff. You can also find other fun family movies on Netflix with our detailed list of the best stuff that’s coming and going.
While our favorite ice cream shops can serve up some pretty cool customized desserts, you don’t need to leave the house to create these colorful treats. Depending on what your kids like, you can try one of these blogger-created popsicle recipes together and eat ‘em just a few hours later!
Go on a bubble tea adventure
Slurpees are cool and all, but have your kiddos ever had bubble tea? They’ll get a kick out of a trip to grab some of this sweet stuff—a delicious drink that includes tea, tapioca pearls and sometimes fruit. Try places like Vivi Bubble Tea (various locations) and Tea and Milk on for size—they offer great flavors and add-ons. Be warned—most contain some caffeine, so it’s probably not your best bet before bedtime (or for your toddlers).
Besides offering stellar educational offerings, NYC’s museums are also known for having excellent air conditioning. Spend an afternoon cruising the Hall of Ocean Life or visiting the Titanosaur at the American Museum of Natural History, or visit the Children’s Museum of Manhattan for some hands-on children’s activities.
Build your own ice cream bowl/cone at CoolMess
This ice cream option comes without the gooey, sprinkly, carpet-destroying aftermath. Here, you can chill out and make your very own ice cream at a family table. Kids will pick a base flavor from CoolMess’ selection, then they’ll have the option to pick a “messipe” to follow or create their own flavor. After picking ingredients, they’ll put everything in an ice cream machine and watch it being made right before their eyes!
Since many NYC parents don’t have the luxury of a kiddie pool or in-ground pool in their backyards (or backyards for that matter), splash parks like Brooklyn Bridge Park’s Water Lab are a great free way to enjoy the sunshine without burning up (don’t forget your sunscreen)! You can check out our list of the best sunscreen for kids for suggestions. Come prepared with towels, bathing suits and water shoes so kids can run around in the park’s water jets to their hearts desire—your kiddos will also dig the playground nearby.
Swim in sprinkles at the Museum of Ice Cream (if you can snag a coveted ticket)
Through August 31 2016, Museum of Ice Cream is gracing us with its presence in Meatpacking. It has some pretty insane stuff on offer, like an ice cream scooper see saw and a literal pool of sprinkles that you can crawl around in. There’s one catch though—it’s so popular that tickets are currently sold out! Sign up on the website’s home page via e-mail for ticket updates so you and the kiddos can grab your reservations. General admission + ice cream $18, two adults + ice cream $30, children under 10 and senior citizens + ice cream $12.
Little ones love making a splash? These swimming pools for kids are a perfect way to cool off when the city heat is too hot to bear—just get there early to grab a good spot and jump on in (and no running on the deck, please)! Though NYC's public swimming pools for kids may not have ALL the allure of a backyard (pool noodles, diving boards), they are an amazing way to meet new neighborhood families and duh, no pool maintenance! Taking a dip is one of our favorite free summer activities for kids, so pack up the suits and towels, slather the tots with sunscreen and dive in!
Every kid, no matter how tech-obsessed, loves an old-school game of bowling (and especially when it helps them escape crushing 90-degree heat). These family-friendly bowling alleys in NYC are the perfect spot for a cheap playdate, though with way-cool aspects like glow-in-the-dark lanes and NYC-themed decor, Mom and Dad might want to jump in for a few frames too! Many of the alleys listed also serve food, so you can while away an entire afternoon wearing some sweet bowling shoes.
More summer fun for kids
There are plenty of outdoor activities for kids in New York City—many you'll even love doing as a family! When you're not busy cuddled up with our favorite family movies on Netflix and our list of the best kids movies (come on—it's time to head outside!), you'll love exploring the coolest family attractions and the other amazing outdoor activities this amazing city has to offer.