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The best free summer activities for kids

Fill your season with the best free summer activities for kids! Enjoy plays, fests, concerts and more.

Photograph: Courtesy Angelito Jusay

RECOMMENDED: Full guide to summer activities for kids in NYC

When hot weather hits NYC this summer, you'll certainly want to take off on a few weekend getaways from NYC with the family—but don't forget about free summer activities for kids right here! There's plenty of seasonal fun to be had, and we've rounded up tons free summer activities for kids to keep it cheap. From cool NYC street fairs and festivals to high-energy outdoor activities for kids, these events provide plenty of entertainment to ensure your summer days are jam-packed with exciting stuff.

Free summer activities for kids


Catch a free outdoor movie

In summertime, outdoor movies (all free!) 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 from our 50 best kids' movies or the best new kids' movies on Netflix under the stars!

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By: Allie Early

Partake in free fun at Bryant Park


Situated behind the New York Public Library is Bryant Park, a well-cultivated retreat that hosts a dizzying schedule of free entertainment during the summer, including the popular Monday night outdoor movies. The park hosts weekly kid-friendly programming such as storytime in the Reading Room and game socials in the 40th Street Plaza. Little ones with an interest in the circus can learn to juggle at juggling lessons held on weekdays in the Lawn or the 42nd Street Plaza. Additionally, on Saturdays over the summer, the park offers the Word for Word Kids series that presents special children's events, plus there's Broadway in Bryant Park and fun magic shows to look forward to. Check their site for more details.

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Midtown West

Jump around at a local splash park or water playground

Posting up at NYC beaches and swimming pools is a great way to spend summer days as a family, but sometimes you and the kids are looking for a quick and easy way to cool off. These low-key splash parks and water playgrounds let little ones romp through fountains and sprinklers without packing up the beach bag or waiting in line at a crowded pool.

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By: Hannah Doolin

Enjoy free summer activities at Habana Outpost

Habana Outpost is a favorite for families during the summer months (and that’s no surprise, especially since it offers delicious food and even free outdoor movies during the summer). On Saturdays and Sundays from 11am–3pm, the Outpost offers the following free craft-making activities for the kiddos (food is not free, but it’s available for purchase). Don't forget to visit our other favorite spots for outdoor dining and fun outdoor activities for kids too! 

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Fort Greene

Take a dip in a public swimming pool

Waterholes in all five boroughs open for the season on June, giving kids plenty of spots to splash around at no cost. Some of the best swimming pools for kids happen to be in NYC parks or right by Gotham's best playgrounds, making it easy to draw up an itinerary for some family summer day trips near the pool of your choice. Taking a dip is one of our favorite free things to do with kids, so pack up the suits and towels, slather the tots with sunscreen and dive in! 

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By: Hannah Doolin

Chill out on a beach

New York's plentiful swimming pools for kids are great and all, but it's doesn't truly feel like summer until there's sand between your toes. Many NYC beaches are an easy subway ride away, making them great destinations for summer day trips. From Memorial Day through Labor Day, you and the kids can while away the hours at these eight family-friendly spots splashing around in the waves, building a masterpiece for the Coney Island Sand Sculpting Contest and soaking up some rays. If you want to make a day out of it without spending money eating out, pack a picnic on the go and take it with you!

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By: Hannah Doolin

Sit in on free storytime

We've kept you plenty busy with our list of 101 things to do with kids in NYC, fun indoor activities for kids and even events at our favorite book stores—but have you attended a story time with the kids yet this season? If you haven't (or if you just can't get enough of them like us), these are the ones you really need to see; they're available year-round and are a great excuse to cool off in the AC during summer months.

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By: Allie Early

Go kayaking...for free!

When the sweltering summer heat calls for a calming paddle on the water, you'll be glad to know that your family can get afloat right in New York City. Instead of hightailing it out of town on summer day trips or shipping the kids off to outdoorsy summer camps, enjoy the easily-accessible, free kayaking NYC boathouses offer throughout the season. With kid-sized vessels, paddles and life jackets on loan, youngsters can practice their strokes and even catch a glimpse of NYC at sunset from the waves.

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By: Hannah Doolin

Enjoy more exciting activities for kids

Best outdoor activities for kids in NYC

There are plenty of outdoor activities for kids in New York City—many you'll even love doing as a family! Explore the coolest skating rinks, parks, family attractions, and campgrounds in cooler weather, and check out our favorite NYC beaches, swimming pools and berry-picking hotspots when it's toasty. 

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By: Allie Early


Hannah D
Hannah D

Awesome things to do on the cheap!