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You don’t have to go too far from home this summer to entertain the entire family. Whether you want to splash around with your kids, enjoy Shakespeare in the Park or watch a movie under the stars, New York has it all and so much more. Here is a comprehensive list of things to do in NY this summer. Many of them are free of charge.
Free and Family Friendly
Brooklyn Children’s Museum
Free Thursdays 3 to 5 pm and every third Thursday of the month, 3 – 7 pm
Spend a few hours at this Crown Heights institution, home to around 30,000 artifacts and objects with an emphasis on hands-on learning. If you’ve got little ones, check out Totally Tots, a special section for children 5 and under.
The Bronx Zoo
(Suggested donations on Wednesdays)
The Bronx Zoo is one of the most famous zoos in the world. It is one of the largest wildlife conservation parks in the United States, housing 4,000 animals representing more than 650 species.
Brooklyn Botanic Garden
There are few things as beautiful as the flowers at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. Flowers that bloom in July and August are orchids, sacred lotus, native wildflowers and water lilies.
Free Art Island Outpost Program
on Governors Island
Sundays through August
The Children’s Museum of the Arts sponsors this summer-long program on Governors Island; young artists can immerse themselves in workshops, in which they will learn to paint, make collages, take part in theater activities and more.
Kids Events at the High Line
Thursday Mornings July & August
Every Thursday morning in July and August, on the 23rd Street lawn, the littlest kids (ages 0-3) are invited to enjoy music, stories, bubbles, and blocks while listening to storytellers and musicians.
Madison Square Park
Between 24th and 25th Streets
Madison Square Park hosts a special series of free outdoor entertainment for kids and their families. Quirky crooners Danny Weinkauf & His Red Pants Band kick off the fun on July 9. Tot-friendly sing-a-long group Songs for Seeds will perform on July 16. Joyful songstress Suzi Shelton will be there on July 23 and there will be an interactive JazzReach program, introducing youngsters to American blues, on July 30. Although these programs are primarily for tots, the whole family will enjoy them.
Another highlight of Madison Square Park is the Pier 6 Playground, which is a wonderland of water, sand and swings. Kids love the WaterLab play, getting soaked by a field of water jets. Once they’ve had their fill of getting sprayed and climbing the surrounding rocks, you can move on to the Tarzan ropes and swing sets to dry off. Plan on spending hours, so slather on the sunscreen and bring plenty of water!
From baseball to bird watching, and skating to nature programs, there are thousands of ways to enjoy Prospect Park. Many of the Park’s playgrounds offer water features, but the newest destination, the LeFrak Center at Lakeside, is the home of the Park’s largest water play area, Splash Pad, with 41 sprinklers.
Located in the Park’s Children’s Corner, the Carousel is one of the Park’s most popular attractions. Its 53 magnificent horses ride alongside a lion, a giraffe, a deer and two dragon-pulled chariots. Check out the Bandshell for concert information.
This massive compound has had a home in the southwestern corner of Central Park since 1927. Tots can scale a climbing pyramid surrounded by bridges, moats and tunnels. Have them wear grippy, water-resistant footwear. They’ll need it as they work their way to the pyramid’s peak, sloshing through a steady stream and chances are they won’t be able to resist stomping on the fountains that spray up from its base. The fun is located at Seventh Ave, at Central Park South.
Pier Kids 2015
Brooklyn Bridge Park
Catch family concerts, storytelling, art activities and more at Pier 6 throughout the summer. Come by each week for performances from kid-friendly bands, dance troupes and puppet companies. See Puppetmobile on July 26. Close out the summer with a jammin’ concert with the Dirty Sock FunTime Band August 9; fun for all ages.
Movies at Brooklyn Bridge Park
This is arguably the most exciting lineup in years. It’s for adults. Each movie is accompanied by a short.
July 9th High Noon
July 16th Sharknado 2: The Second One
July 30th Clue
August 6th Friday
August 13th Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb
August 20th Dazed and Confused
August 27th Die Hard
Summer on the Hudson
Wednesdays at Riverside Park, Pier I, W 70th Street
Pack a cozy blanket and a picnic for a family movie under the stars at Pier I. This year’s theme is “Lawns, Parks, Estates and Forests,” featuring cult classics like Jurassic Park on July 1 and Edward Scissorhands on July 8, plus new kid-friendly favorites like Beasts of the Southern Wild on July 29 and Moonrise Kingdom on August 5. Movies start just after dusk (usually around 8:30 pm.) Get there at least an hour beforehand to claim a good spot.
More Free, Outdoor Movies
With the exception of one, or two, these films are for adults.
HBO’s Bryant Park Film Festival, Bryant Park
July 6: The Poseidon Adventure
July 13: I’m No Angel
July 20: Badlands
July 27: Footloose
August 3: Marathon Man
August 10: Desk Set
August 17: Chinatown
August 24: Back to the Future
Coney Island Flicks
on the Beach
During July and August, a giant 40-foot inflatable screen turns the beach at West 10th Street into an outdoor movie theater! Come on down for the day, walk on the boardwalk, lay in the sun, ride the awesome rides then relax while watching a great flick on the beach. The films represent a mix of modern, classic, and indie movies. Get ready for a great lineup.
SummerScreen, McCarren Park
July 8: Clueless
July 15: Wet Hot American Summer
July 22: Dirty Dancing
July 29: Dazed and Confused
August 5: Jurassic Park
August 12: Audience Pick
Intrepid Summer Movie Series, Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Complex
July 9: October Sky
July 16: Moon
July 23: Close Encounters of the Third Kind
July 30: Apollo 13
August 6: Wall-E
Central Park Conservancy
August 25: Fame
August 26: The Blues Brothers
August 27: Airplane!
August 28: Raging Bull
August 29: Superman II
Sundays July 5 – 26
Attend four free weekly jazz and classical music concerts at Summergarden, in the sculpture garden of the Museum of Modern Art.
Books Beneath the Bridge
Mondays, July 6 – August 10
Authors will read, answer your questions and autograph your book, as the sun sets at Granite Prospect in Brooklyn Bridge Park. There is no fee.
Broadway in Bryant Park
Thursdays, July 9 – August 13
Bring a blanket to watch the performers from popular Broadway and off-Broadway shows perform their biggest hits. Nowhere else in the world do you have the opportunity to sit in the park at lunch time and enjoy free show tunes performed by the actual Broadway actors.
Mostly Mozart Festival
July 28 – August 19, 7:30 pm
The Mostly Mozart Festival began in 1966 and it’s just as popular today as it was then. This year the festival’s in-house orchestra is joined by special guests. Concerts take place in Lincoln Center.
31st Annual Jazz in July Fest
July 21 – July 30
92 Street Y, 1395 Lexington Ave
This is the 31st Annual Jazz in July Fest. Among the highlights, is a highly anticipated return visit from vocalist Ernie Andrews in a program entitled Duke Ellington: Drop Me Off In Harlem; the Broadway themed program Jazz & Sondheim, Side By Side, showcasing vocalist Ann Hampton Callaway, saxophonist Steve Wilson and drummer/composer, Matt Wilson.
2015 GMA Concert Series
Every Summer Friday 7 – 9 am
This one is for early risers. Good Morning America’s sizzling 2015 Summer Concert Series returns for the sixth year to the Rumsey Playfield in New York City’s Central Park, where music’s biggest names will perform live every Friday. All concerts are free and will take place live during the show. Those interested in attending are encouraged to arrive at Rumsey Playfield via the 72nd street entrance on Fifth Avenue at 6 am, when the park opens to the public. Artists include Jason Derulo, Ed Sheeran and Luke Bryan.
The Jewish Children’s Museum
This year the museum is featuring an all new “Safety City” road course, where children will learn the basic rules of street and pedestrian safety in a mini-city complete with traffic lights, pedestrian crosswalks, a shopping strip and fleet of pedal go-carts.
There are a number of temporary exhibits including a yellow bus photo booth with safety information and tips. Children will also have the opportunity to meet and interact with community heroes. The program varies by day. The museum is located at 792 Eastern Parkway.