Free & Fun Things to Do This Weekend for NYC Kids: Sandcastle Contest, SummerStage and Lincon Center Family Days July 28-29
There's plenty of family fun this weekend, both indoors and out in case storms or sweltering heat drive you inside. Head to Rockaway Beach to build your best sandcastle at the spot's annual competition or soak up some outdoor culture at Lincoln Center Out of Doors Family Day and SummerStage Queens Family Day.
If you've got to stay inside, there are two cool new museum exhibits opening this weekend: Spiders Alive! at the American Museum of Natural History and the Museum of Modern Art's Century of the Child: Growing by Design, a retrospective of 100 years of designs for kids.
Our best bets for the weekend are below. You can find additional options in our Event Calendar and our Summer Fun Guide, which is jam-packed with seasonal fun including roundups of the best NYC beaches, pools, water playgrounds and other ways to cool off.
Thunderbird American Indian Mid-Summer Pow Wow – Douglaston
Watch more than 40 Native American tribes perform traditional dances at this annual competition at the Queens County Farm Museum. There will also be a market with Native American items, including jewelry, crafts and food. Afterward, check out all the things you can do on NYC's only historic working farm. Per day: $10 for adults, $5 for children under 13. All weekend: $15 for adults, $7 for children under 13.
Spiders Alive! – Upper West Side
Get ready for arachnomania! The American Museum of Natural History debuts its latest exhibit featuring a wide variety of live spiders. In addition to face time with 19 different species, kids can learn about their anatomy, venom and silk spinning skills through videos, large-scale models and fossils. Free with General Admission Plus One: $25 for adults, $14.50 for children ages 2-12.
Maker Weekend – Corona
Get a preview of New York Hall of Science's awesome annual Maker Faire (coming in September) at Maker Weekend, the first in a series of creative fests for families. Kids can play with Zoob, build a buzzer and repurpose items in the RePlayGround, or hit Maker Space to tinker with a Bucket of Junk. There will also be a Bubble Trouble workshop where kids can make bubble wands and experiment with soapy orbs. All programs except Bubble Trouble are free with admission: $11 for adults, $8 for children ages 2-17, free for kids under 2. Bubble Trouble is $8 extra per family and requires preregistration.
Ropes, Whips, and Songs about Cows – Soho
It's the final weekend to catch Wild West performer Chris McDaniel at the Canal Street Playhouse. Mommy Poppins blogger, Blythe, and her family saw the show last weekend and said it makes you feel like you're traveling down the lonesome cowboy trail with songs and lore of the Old West. The kids in the audience really loved getting a chance to try out their roping skills. $20
Saturday, July 28
Lincoln Center Out Of Doors Family Day – Upper West Side
Enjoy offbeat kid-friendly performances like the Bindlestiff Family Cirkus, Chinese acrobatic troupe From Chinatown With Love and interactive installation Tangle, where families get in on the action by helping the experimental Polyglot Theatre company weave colorful elastics around poles on the plaza. FREE
The Muppet Movie Sing-along – Park Slope
Come croon Paul Williams' glorious tunes at Celebrate Brooklyn!'s sing-along screening of the classic 1979 kids' flick at the Prospect Park Bandshell. Before the film, popular cover band Loser's Lounge will play a concert of famous Muppet tunes by Joe Raposo and others. FREE but there's a $3 suggested donation.
Drop-in Moving Image Studio – Astoria
Head to the Museum of the Moving Image to create flip-books, stop-motion shorts, computer animation and even video games. For children 7 and up. Free with admission: $12 for adults, $6 for children ages 3-17.
Books Ahoy – Tribeca
Young bibliophiles should enjoy this floating book fair on the historic steam-powered lighthouse tender The Lilac docked at Pier 25. Meet top kid-lit authors and hear them read their work on deck, then learn the art of bookmaking with staff from the Church Street School for Music and Arts down below. Wear your best sea-themed costume and you'll score a free face painting session. FREE
Eco Art Family Day – Stuyvesant Cove
Solar One, the green education center adjacent to the East River’s picturesque Stuyvesant Cove, hosts an environmental art workshop where kids can craft animal masks, estuary puppets and leaf people. FREE
Sunday, July 29
SummerStage Kids: Queens Family Day – Springfield Gardens
Head to Queens' Springfield Park for an afternoon of cool kids' entertainment, including soul singer Randolph Matthews, LuckyBob's Magic Juggling Comedy and a dance party hosted by Little Club Heads. FREE
Annual Sandcastle Contest – Rockaway Beach
Pack your shovel and bucket for this family-friendly contest. As you can see from these photos of previous entries, competition is fierce, but you can always just come and gawk. Prizes will be awarded for winners in multiple age categories. FREE
Orbis Pictus: Sound and Shadow Play – Upper East Side
In conjunction with the Czech Center's fabulous interactive exhibit featuring funky instruments and crazy lighting installations, families are invited to collaborate with artists to create their own audio and visual displays. FREE
Century of the Child: Growing by Design, 1900-2000 – Midtown West
The Museum of Modern Art debuts a new exhibit showcasing 100 years of designs for children, everything from schools and playgrounds to toys and games to furniture and books. Free with admission: $25 for adults, free for children under 13
Clearing in the Forest: Poetry and Haiku – Upper West Side
Kids will use Central Park as their muse to pen poetry in this week's edition of the outdoor family performance series. FREE
Seining the River Wild – Dumbo
Learn about the ecosystem under the Manhattan Bridge with staff from the Coastal Marine Resource Center, who'll help kids catch, log and release fish and other East River creatures. FREE
Nostalgia Ride: Coney Island Bound – Brooklyn Heights and Coney Island
Families can head to the beach the old-fashioned way on the R1/9 cars of the former Independent Subway System, courtesy of the New York Transit Museum. Once at your destination, get off and explore everything Coney Island has to offer or ride the train all day! $50 for adults, $25 for children ages 2-17.
The QuickChek Festival of Ballooning takes over Readington, New Jersey's Solberg Airport with hundreds of hot-air balloons, live music and fireworks.
Head to the Sweet Corn Festival at Harbes Farm and Vineyard on Long Island to enjoy delicious corn, live music, hay and pony rides, and face painting.
Are you a member of Kids Club Thirteen? It certainly has its privileges, including free admission to 13 tri-state area events throughout the year. This Saturday, members can catch a performance of Rapunzel: A Tangled Fairytale at the John W. Engeman Theater in the harborside village of Northport, Long Island. Read our post about Kids Club Thirteen for details on member benefits and how to join.
Don't forget: There's more fun to be found in our Event Calendar.
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