Free & Fun Things to Do this Weekend with NYC Kids: SummerStage Bronx Family Day, Fishing Fest, Historic Ships June 30-July 1
As Alice Cooper says, "School's out for the summer!" and you can kick off break with lots of awesome (and mostly free) activities. This weekend's offerings include some Independence Day-themed celebrations like Prospect Park's Freedom Strut and Tribeca's Historic Ship Festival. Outdoor fun includes the West Harlem Piers Fishing Festival, Bayswater Park’s annual School's Out for the Summer Fest and a jam-packed lineup of cool kids' entertainment at SummerStage's Bronx Family Day.
If you've just got to stay air-conditioned, try the Brooklyn Children's Museum’s Kiddies Caribbean Fiesta, a free indoor concert by the Pop Ups or take a ride on a nostalgia train to the Brooklyn Museum courtesy of the New York Transit Museum.
Our best bets for the weekend are below. Remember, you can find additional suggestions in our Summer Fun Guide—including a list of free things to do every day through the end of August—and our Event Calendar.
Historic Ship Festival – Tribeca
Head to Pier 25 to tour the historic Lehigh Valley Barge No.79 (better known as Red Hook’s Waterfront Museum), the 1904 tugboat Pegasus and the Coast Guard Lighthouse Tender Lilac—the last steam-powered boat made in the U.S. back in 1933. You can also hitch a ride on the John J. Harvey fire boat and the Pegasus, and catch Showboat Circus, a floating variety show aboard the Lehigh Valley. Historic boat tours are FREE. Boat rides are also FREE but require a refundable $5 advance reservation. Showboat Circus: In advance: $13 for adults, $10 for children; at the door: $15 for adults, $12 for children under 13.
Astoria Park Festival – Astoria
The popular park's parking lot comes alive with a colorful carnival, featuring rides, games, food and live performances. Free admission but there are fees for activities. FREE
Photoville – Brooklyn Heights
It's your last chance to see this funky photography exhibit in Brooklyn Bridge Park. Highlights include a greenhouse filled with colorful camera flowers and a photo-decorated dog run. Check out our full review and slide show. Afterward, explore everything Brooklyn Bridge Park has to offer, including a carousel and awesome playgrounds. FREE
Saturday, June 30
SummerStage Kids: Bronx Family Day – the Bronx
Head to St. Mary’s Park for an afternoon of fun for kids including a Little Club Heads dance party, juggling and acrobatic comedy team the Red Trouser Show, and the Bindlestiffs' Hell on Wheel Unicycle Club. FREE
Kiddies Caribbean Fiesta – Crown Heights
In honor of Caribbean Heritage Month, the Brooklyn Children's Museum celebrates island culture. The all-day fete features a rooftop party, a cooking workshop, an interactive steel drum concert and a festive parade through the museum. Free with admission: $7.50.
School's Out for Summer – the Rockaways
Celebrate the start of break at Bayswater Park with a summer-themed bash featuring games, a petting zoo, live entertainment and bouncy castles. FREE
Outdoor Summer Movie Series: Captain America – Roosevelt Island
Pack a picnic and tram over to the isle for an outdoor screening of last year's blockbuster Captain America. Make a day of it by arriving early and exploring the picturesque island. FREE
West Harlem Piers Fishing Festival – Harlem
Drop a line in the Hudson River with help from the Urban Park Rangers, and enjoy fish-themed arts and crafts, and other activities. FREE
Animal Tales Extravaganza – the Bronx
It's the final day of the Bronx Zoo's annual fest and the theme is Spider-Man. Come meet the webslinging hero and watch him perform spectacular stunts. Afterward, kids can try to spider climb up a rock wall and learn about arachnids with zoo educators. Free with general admission: $16 for adults, $12 for children ages 3-12, free for kids under 3. Bonus: For every full-priced adult ticket purchased, one child in a Spider-Man costume gets in free.
Orbis Pictus: Sound and Shadow Play – Upper East Side
In conjunction with the Czech Center's fabulous new 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
Justin the Magician – Midtown West
Head to the Bryant Park Reading Room for a performance by one of our favorite tricksters. Afterward, stick around for stories by Flaubert Frog and hit the carousel. FREE
Sunday, July 1
BAMcinemaFest: Family Movies: The Adventures of Prince Achmed – Fort Greene
Catch Lotte Reiniger’s silent 1926 animated treasure accompanied by 3epkano’s live music on the final day of BAM's film fest. $15 for adults, $10 for children.
Clearing in the Forest: Stories – Upper West Side
Celebrate the 4th of July a few days early with balladeer Linda Russell, who'll share patriotic tales of our country’s history. FREE
Summer Nostalgia Train: Brooklyn Cultural Treasures – Midtown East and Brooklyn
The New York Transit Museum offers an all-day, old-school trip on an early 20th century subway from Grand Central Station to the Brooklyn Museum and the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. Perfect for little railfans who want to experience a historic train in action. $50 for adults, $25 for children ages 2-17. Includes admission to the two Brooklyn cultural institutions.
Freedom Strut – Prospect Park
In addition to marking Independence Day, July 4 is also the 185th anniversary of the abolition of slavery in New York State. Honor this milestone at Lefferts Historic House by making crafts, hearing stories of slavery and survival, and joining a "freedom strut:" a loud and proud march celebrating emancipation. FREE
The Pop Ups: Radio Jungle – Morningside Heights
We were big fans of the kid rockers' last show, Pop Ups: Pasta, so we're excited about the duo's new interactive puppet musical Radio Jungle. Join the guys and their puppet pals on an ecological scavenger hunt through Mexico. FREE but advance reservations required.
You don't need to wait until next Wednesday's Macy's Fireworks Spectacular to celebrate the Fourth of July. Nearby towns in New Jersey, Connecticut and Long Island are hosting their own fireworks shows this weekend. Bucolic Randolph, New Jersey celebrates Independence Day with a three-day Freedom Festival featuring rides, games, food, live music and crafts. On Saturday there will be a parade and fireworks, too.
Long Island’s Eisenhower Park also hosts a huge fireworks show on Saturday night.
Finally, Candlewood Lake in Danbury, Connecticut shoots off pyrotechnics at dusk on Saturday night.
Don't forget: There's even more fun to be found in our Event Calendar.