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Top 10 Family-Friendly Summer Activities in NYC
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Top 10 Family-Friendly Summer Activities in NYC

Picture of Holly Rosen Fink
Updated: 24 April 2017
There is nowhere quite like New York City in the summertime for families. From off-the-beaten-path to more mainstream destinations, there are many places to visit; all you need is sunscreen, bottles of water and a zest for everything the city has to offer. Here’s a short list of 10 family-friendly summer activities in NYC for both big and small, culture and adventure vultures alike.

Enjoy a Day at Coney Island/Brighton Beach

For a great day out, head to Luna Park in Coney Island for a throwback to a time long past. It’s a 3.1-acre amusement park on the site of the old Astroland, featuring 19 child-friendly rides in addition to extreme thrills like the famed Cyclone. It’s right near the legendary Nathan’s Famous, where you can grab a cheap lunch. Families can easily spend a day on the beach, in the New York Aquarium and end up at Brighton Beach for a truly authentic dinner, like at Tatiana Restaurant, where they serve up traditional borscht and other Russian dishes. Photographers and storytellers will take great delight in the eclectic groups of people hanging out on the boardwalk.

Luna Park, 1000 Surf Ave, Brooklyn, NY, USA, 718 373 5862

Get Outside Playtime at Brooklyn Bridge Park’s Pier 6

Cultural and adventurous kids will love Pier 6 Playground right inside Brooklyn Bridge Park. The 1.6-acre playground is worth the trip for the ropes and swings of Swing Valley, the 20-foot-tall Slide Mountain jungle gym and the enormous, 6,000-square-foot Sandbox Village – all right on the water with views of NYC from across the way. Throughout the summer, they offer family concerts, dance performances, storytelling, art activities and puppet shows.

Brooklyn Bridge Park, Joralemon St, Brooklyn, NY, USA, 718 222-9939

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Explore and Eat in the Lower East Side

If you’re looking for an adventure full of history and culture and have little foodies, head to the Lower East Side for some old time delicacies starting at the Museum on Eldridge Street, the first house of worship built by East European immigrants in America. If you were to smart enough to plan in advance, head to the Tenement Museum to further your children’s education about the new immigrant’s experience. Then indulge in traditional pickles direct from barrels at The Pickle Guys on Essex Street and next at Kossars Bialys on Grand Street, where they make homemade bialys and bagels on the premises.

Museum on Eldridge Street, 12 Eldridge St, NY, USA, 212 219 0888

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Take a Trip to the Cloisters in Washington Heights

The Cloisters are like a piece of art with its views of the river and its medieval museum. Perched high above its northern grounds on the Hudson River is this branch of the Metropolitan Museum that house nearly 5000 medieval works in a reconstructed medieval monastery. A visit will keep your family entertained and educated for several hours. The surrounding grounds offer stunning views, tall trees to sit under and windy paths to walk or ride your bike on, as well as perfect spots to picnic. There is also plenty of space for children to run around, as well as two playgrounds and a dog run. During the summer, the Met offers hour-long children’s workshops in the museums and gardens.

The Cloisters, 99 Margaret Corbin Drive, NY, USA, 212 923 3700

Take the Ferry to Governors Island

This summer, if you’re looking for a day full of culture and beautiful scenery where the kids can spend ample time outdoors, Governors Island is for you. There are free ferries from the Battery Maritime Building downtown every half-hour in addition to bike rentals, mini golf, food carts, festivals all summer long, hammocks, a tree house, teaching gardens, a compost learning center, badminton, kite flying, an outdoor bocce, unicycling, trapeze flying, swimming… and much, much more, including original art installations and sculptures created by local artists scattered around the island.

Governors Island, NY, USA

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Walk the High Line

Located near the meatpacking district and Chelsea market,The High Line is a 1.45-mile New York City park built on an old train track above the streets of Manhattan, with gardens, lounge chairs, hosts nature walks, dance performances, art installations and more for kids to explore. Local vendors sell delicious summer drinks and treats while musicians perform throughout the summer. Other seasonal activities include art classes, lawn parties with storytelling and musicians, nature lessons and construction classes.

The High Line, NY, USA

Ride the Waves at Rockaway Beach

Kids will love a trip to Rockaway Beach to walk on the boardwalk and ride the waves along the Atlantic side of the sliver-shaped Rockaway peninsula. There are also seven playgrounds within walking distance from the beach and a local taco stand. Kids will love the sand and water, strolling on the boardwalk and watching surfers do their thing. It’s also the city’s only legal surfing beach, located between 67-69 Street and 87-92 Street. There are also a variety of playgrounds and other outdoor activities including City Parks-hosted programming.

Rockaway Beach, Queens, NY, USA

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Spend Time in Staten Island

Staten Island is not just the home to the Staten Island Ferry, so don’t just go and return home without disembarking. Once you get there, there is a lot for kids to see and do from the Staten Island Zoo to the Staten Island Children’s Museum, where kids can explore and learn. The Snug Harbor Cultural Center hosts a Hedge Maze. Kids can roam carefree through the Botanical Gardens and ride the Carousel at Willowbrook featuring 51 hand-carved, colorfully painted figures ranging from mythical creatures to familiar zoo animals such as zebras, giraffes and gorillas.

Staten Island Zoo, 614 Broadway, Staten Island, NY, USA, 718 442 310

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Roam the Gardens at Wave Hill in the Bronx

Wave Hill is a beautiful 28-acre estate in the Hudson Hill section of Riverdale, Bronx. During the summertime, they offer family programs that interweave art and education. They offer weekend programs in horticulture and the visual, performing and literary arts, for visitors of all ages.

Wave Hill, 249th St, Bronx, NY, USA, 718 549 3200

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Riverside Park

A great, easy, blissful summer day is spent grabbing your bikes to ride up and through Riverside Park along the west side of the city. From family play dates to picnics to kayaking to free dance lessons, there is something for everyone, including multiple playgrounds for kids. Every summer the city offers Summer on the Hudson, an annual outdoor arts & culture festival that takes place from 59th Street to 153rd along the Hudson River and features a mix of music concerts, dance performances, movies showings, DJ dance parties, children’s shows, special day-long events, wellness activities, and more. All programs and events are free to the public. Find your bliss in Riverside Park.

Riverside Park, NY, USA, 212 870 3070

Holly Rosen Fink