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Photograph: Courtesy Luciana Golcman Arthur Ashe Kids Day

Summer bucket list for NYC families

NYC is packing in the kid-friendly fun this season, so start working on your family's summer bucket list

By Allie Early and Danielle Valente

If you thought the school year was busy, try cramming the best things to do with kids into two short months. We're here to help make your summer bucket list better than ever, so prepare for an epic July and August. 

From gorgeous playgrounds, fun golf courses and free kayaking (yep, right in NYC), your family is going to have a packed schedule. Don't be intimidated—we're here to guide you through the best summer activities for kids so you know what's worth it and what deserves a pass. Grab your sunglasses and get ready for an adventure! 

While you're planning your itinerary, make sure to pay a visit to NYC's best water playgrounds and family attractions

Summer bucket list for families

Photograph: Courtesy Etienne Frossard

1. Free kayaking in NYC

Things to do

This summer, explore the best free kayaking NYC has on its roster. The season wouldn't be complete without a few rowing sessions across the East River.  Contrary to popular belief, you don't have to enroll the kiddos in sleepaway camps or pack up for family weekend getaways to enjoy a taste of nature. Even the greatest city in the world is home to some of the best outdoor activities for kids! All you need to do is grab a lifevest and hit the water.

Photograph: Courtesy Etienne Frossard

2. Water playgrounds for kids

Things to do

There’s nothing quite like New York’s summer heat—but thankfully, the city's best water playgrounds for kids are unmatched! Choose from fun splash pads with sprinklers, playgrounds with water cannons, spots with exciting play structures to climb and other great stuff not far from home. 

Photograph: Courtesy Alex Roche/ Manhattan Youth

3. Mini golf in NYC


If you're looking to get competitive with the best mini golf NYC has to offer, you've come to the right place. We've rounded up the very best teeny putting greens in the area, ranging from courses with sophisticated scenery to quirky, kitsch-filled adventures involving plastic animals, statues and tiny windmills.  

Domino Park Playground
Photograph: Courtesy Daniel Levin

4. Gorgeous NYC playgrounds

Things to do Playgrounds

Kids' playgrounds in NYC are works of art in their own right. Intricate details, whimsical features and scenic locations abound, catapulting these play spaces to a top spot on our list of favorite outdoor activities for kids. As the warm weather creeps in, we're always up for extending our playground visits well into the evening. We've tracked down the prettiest new, renovated and classic spots that are totally worth a visit this summer.

Photograph: Shutterstock

5. Kids' amusement parks in NYC

Attractions Theme parks

Nothing says summertime like a trip to NYC's action-packed kids' amusement parks! Whether you have tykes in tow who might prefer the gentle rides of Sesame Place and Victorian Gardens, or older kids who love the hair-raising adventure rides at Six Flags New England, Luna Park and Morey's Piers, one thing is certain: There's something on this list for everyone—and a wide range of price points!

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