Free and Fun Things to Do this Weekend for NYC Kids: Muppets, Dan Zanes, Laurie Berkner, City of Water Day, Legos July 16 - 17
We realize that seeing the final Harry Potter film may be the main event for many families this weekend. But catch it early in the morning! Not only will you beat the crowds, you'll also have leave plenty of time to check out some of the other cool things going on this weekend, like the opening of the Jim Henson’s Fantastic World exhibit at the Museum of the Moving Image, live concerts by Laurie Berkner and Dan Zanes, water-centric festivals City of Water Day and Tug & Barge Week, and an amazing display of animals made entirely from Legos at the Bronx Zoo.
Of course, you may be looking to cool off, too, so save time to hit a beach, a pool or a water playground. And if you're looking for a little inspiration, we've compiled 42 summer outings (some in NYC, others nearby) recommended by our readers. You can find that plus a lot of other seasonal fun in our Summer Fun Guide.
Our best bets for the weekend are below. You can find additional options in our Event Calendar.
The Muppet Movie and the opening of Jim Henson’s Fantastic World – Astoria
Marvel at the Museum of the Moving Image's brand-new exhibit (we got a sneak peek earlier this week and just loved it), then catch a screening of The Muppet Movie on Saturday or Sunday at 1pm. If you can't make the opening weekend don't worry: The exhibit stays open through the end of the year, and there will be special family programming every Saturday and Sunday. FREE with museum admission: $10 for adults, $5 for kids.
The Great Summer Zoofari: A Lego Wildlife Expedition – the Bronx
Head to the zoo to see all of the amazing animals...made out of Legos! Afterward, kids can make their own creations, and this weekend, they can even learn how to construct a crocodile courtesy of a visiting Lego Master Builder.
The Mow-Down: A Garden Hoedown! – the Bronx
Celebrate Wave Hills' grassy lawns at this festival, where you can try your hand at basket weaving, take guided garden tours, and participate in lawnmower races and other fun activities. On Sunday, bluegrass band Astrograss plays a cool concert. FREE
Tug & Barge Week – Dumbo
Take a tour of the historic 1914 Lehigh Valley Barge No. 79 (better known as Red Hook’s Waterfront Museum) while it's docked at Brooklyn Bridge Park alongside the tugboat Pegasus. On Saturday, there will be complimentary nautical workshops on deck. FREE
Firefighter Appreciation Weekend – Midtown West
Got a kid obsessed with the FDNY? Then head to the Intrepid. There, you can watch New York's Bravest battle it out in a cooking competition, learn how they use the Jaws of Life to rescue victims from car wrecks, see the Marine 1 Water Boat shoot streams of water into the Hudson River and more. FREE with museum admission: $24 for adults, $19.00 for children ages 7-17, $12 for ages 3-6, free for kids under 3.
Saturday July 16
City of Water Day Festival – Governors Island and Liberty State Park
Celebrate our awesome waterfront at this eco-fest, which takes place on Governors Island, in Liberty State Park and the river in between. Families can go kayaking and canoeing, take historic boat tours, learn about reptiles and aquatic creatures, and go fishing. There are even activities for landlubbers like arts and crafts, and bouncy castles. Bonus: There's a free ferry between the two locations, so you can enjoy the fun on both banks. FREE
Celebrate Brooklyn's Ezra Jack Keats Family Concert: Dan Zanes with Special Guests – Prospect Park
Hear children's music legend Dan Zanes and his talented friends play fan favorites and new songs from his upcoming Little Nut Tree album. Also on the bill: the Brooklyn Youth Orchestra summer camp, the Bed Stuy Veterans dancers and storyteller Angeli Rasbury. FREE (suggested donation of $3).
The Laurie Berkner Band – Midtown West
Catch the kiddie rocker and her band mates in concert at Town Hall in honor of the release of their new DVD Party Day. As of this writing, tickets are still available but we suspect it may sell out. $27.50-$37.50
Midsummer Nights Swing: Kids' Dance – Upper West Side
Put on your dancing shoes! Rodney Lopez from Dancing Classrooms will teach little movers and shakers the basics of swing, meringue, tango and more in Lincoln Center's Damrosch Park. Ages 6 to 10. FREE
Extraordinary Moves — Financial District
The River to River Festival presents a lineup of amazing performers at the World Financial Center: Brooklyn dance company STREB's acrobatic new dance piece Human Fountain inspired by the over-the-top fountains at the Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas, Australia's Strange Fruit and gravity defying juggler Michael Moschen. FREE
Come Out & Play Field Day – Governors Island
Ready, set, play! This unique event is also on the River to River Festival roster today. Hit the isle for 15 interactive games with intriguing names like Hoola Hoop Obstacle Loop, Live Action Spy Party and Hunter-Gatherer. Admittedly, this all-day fun fest tends to attract adults, not families. But adventurous tweens and teens should find something to engage them. FREE
The Brooklyn Hip-Hop Festival's Family Day – Dumbo
Calling all future MCs! At this veteran festival's annual family day, kids can learn how to beat box, write songs, DJ, break-dance and more. $15 for adults, $5 for kids.
NYC Musical Saw Festival – Astoria
When's the last time you were serenaded by a saw? We thought so. Highlights of this kooky gathering include contemporary and classical compositions for a string quartet with hand bells and saw, musical saw poetry, art and educational workshops. $10
Sunday, July 17
A Clearing in the Forest: Stories – Upper West Side
Catch Play Me A Story's production of The Magic Goldfish featuring imaginative handmade sets, costumes and props. Afterward, kids can make some aquatic crafts. FREE
Harlem Meer Performance Festival: The Ebony Hillbillies – Central Park
Stomp your feet to this excellent multi-genre band, which plays bluegrass, country, rockabilly and other American music styles on a washboard, banjo and additional rootsy instruments. FREE
Grab a scoop of sweet ice cream on Long Island, which has an amazing assortment of shops.
Looking for a fun day trip? Check out the charming town of Kent, Connecticut, which is located right over the New York border. There you'll find great eats, interesting museums and a 250-foot waterfall.
Don't forget: There's more fun to be found in the Mommy Poppins Event Calendar.
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Photo by Julie Larsen Maher