Best Things to Do with NYC Kids: August 2013 Go List
August is traditionally the month when native New Yorkers skip town. But if you're planning a NYC August staycation like we are, you're in luck! There's plenty of must-experience summer fun throughout the month, and we've got the scoop on the absolute best things to do with kids in this brand-new edition of our NYC Go List.
This month brings many of our big annual favorites like Manhattan's car-free but activity-filled Summer Streets, the incredible Sand Sculpting Contest in Coney Island, Historic Richmond Town's old-fashioned County Fair on Staten Island and the colorful Hong Kong Dragon Boat Festival in Queens' Flushing Meadows Corona Park. Plus, our very own Mommy Poppins Family Cruise Series with Manhattan by Sail kicks off this month with four fun excursions on New York Harbor.
As always, if an event piques your interest, be sure to click through to our listing for all the details, including address and time. And keep in mind: In NYC, really cool things to do with kids often get booked up quickly. So buy your tickets ASAP or, in the case of FREE events, arrive as early as possible to try to beat the crowds.
Now get your calendars ready! Here are the top 11 things to do with kids in New York City this August, seven of which are FREE.
Summer Streets – Manhattan
Saturdays August 3,10 and 17
For three consecutive Saturdays, New York families are encouraged to cycle, scooter or stroll down a car-free seven-mile route that takes you all the way from the Upper East Side down to the Brooklyn Bridge. You'll find plenty of fun along the way at interactive rest stops, including cycling lessons, bike tuneups, complimentary bike rentals, helmet giveaways, cool live performances, yoga sessions, parkour demos, even a zip line and a rock climbing wall. Two new additions I'm particularly excited about this year: Risa Puno's Course of Emotions, a public art/mini-golf course at the 52nd Street rest stop and Rafael Lozano-Hemmer's interactive light and sound installation Voice Tunnel in the Park Avenue Tunnel. Warning: Many of the special activities tend to get mobbed, especially later in the morning. So go as early as possible to avoid the crowds. Read our dedicated post with important tips about doing Summer Streets with kids. FREE.
Mommy Poppins Family Cruise Series – South Street Seaport
Sunday, August 4: Stories & Songs of the Sea
Tuesday, August 20: Pirate School! Sail
Mommy Poppins' brand-new Family Cruise Series with Manhattan by Sail kicks off this month with four activity-filled outings on New York Harbor. The series was inspired by our one-off sail in June, which sold out so quickly we decided to plan more. On Saturday, August 4, join us on the Civil War-style schooner Clipper City for incredible views of the Statue of Liberty, sea songs and stories by Bill Gordh, face painting, sailor skill demos and a free goody bag for every child. On Tuesday, August 20, we're hosting a pair of pirate-themed sail featuring David Engel's solo Pirate School! show, plus face painting, sailor skills and those always-impressive views. (One pirate voyage is aimed specifically at dads.) Tickets are going fast so buy yours today. Can't make either date? We have four more sails coming up this fall. $39 for adults, $35 for seniors, $25 for children under 13
FringeJr 2013 – East Village
Friday, August 9-Sunday, August 25
Every August, the massive New York International Fringe Festival takes over multiple downtown Manhattan venues with cutting-edge performances—most of which are not good for kids. However, this year there are three designated FringeJr productions that are specifically aimed at families: the dance theater piece Peter Pan and Stardust Dances; the large-scale puppet show Sarazad and the Monster-King, and The Young Olympians and the Most Amazingly Awesome Adventure Ever, a musical about the Greek gods. All three are playing on different dates at the Theater at the 14th Street Y but you can see excerpts and meet the casts in advance for FREE at Fort FringeJr. $15 for adults, $10 for children under 13
Hong Kong Dragon Boat Festival – Corona
Saturday, August 10-Sunday, August 11
Although it's been happening since 1990, my family and I only recently discovered this fun festival in Flushing Meadows Corona Park. Over two days, 170 dragon boat teams compete on Meadow Lake in colorful custom-made vessels outfitted with dragon heads and tails. In between races, soak up Chinese culture at the massive marketplace featuring ethnic eats (including kid pleasers like dumplings and bubble tea), live contemporary and traditional music, lion and dragon dances, crafts, martial arts displays and kite flying. Once you've had your fill, explore the wonderful Flushing Meadows Corona Park, which boasts a carousel, the Queens Zoo, the New York Hall of Science and mini-amusement park Fantasy Forest. FREE
SummerStage Kids Harlem Family Day – Harlem
Sunday, August 11
Head to Marcus Garvey Park for SummerStage Kids' last entertainment-filled Family Day of the season. The lineup includes high-spirited singer Robbi K, who performs classic and original tunes, gravity-defying hip-hop dance troupe Illstyle & Peace Productions, and live DJ Stormin' Norman. Disney Radio will also be on hand with giveaways, character photo ops and kids' activities. FREE
Sand Sculpting Contest and Unity Day – Coney Island
Saturday, August 17
Grab your buckets and shovels and hit Coney Island beach for its annual sand sculpting contest and festival. All are eligible to compete, kids and adults, amateurs and pros, and there are prizes in multiple categories. Last year actor and proud New Yorker Vincent D'Onofrio and his family took home an award! Not feeling creative? Gawk at the amazing entries and check out live entertainment on the boardwalk including face painting, clowns and live music. And of course, there are lots of other Coney Island attractions like amusement parks, the New York Aquarium and a brand-new carousel. FREE but preregistration is recommended to compete.
Global Gardens Summer Harvest Celebration – the Bronx
Saturday, August 17-Sunday, August 18
The New York Botanical Garden's seasonal bash is a great reason to visit "the museum of plants" (as my son calls it). During this harvest celebration, kids can tour the five Global Garden to see Korean, Irish, Chinese, Italian and Caribbean plantings, meet professional gardeners and get their garden passports stamped. There will also be games, nature crafts, pickle samples and hands-on activities in the Ruth Rea Howell Family Garden. While at NYBG, check out the cool Four Seasons sculptures. Free with All Garden Pass: $20 for adults, $8 for children ages 2-12
Arthur Ashe Kids Day – Flushing
Saturday, August 24
Kick off the US Open at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center with a day of fun and games. Get active at free tennis clinics and an obstacle course; watch big-name pros practice; enjoy face painting, juggling workshops, hair beading and braiding, storytelling and a no-cost concert by young up-and-comers. (Note: There is a different ticketed concert at 1pm featuring better known performers that is close to sold out.) All tennis and sports activities are FREE
West Indian American Day Carnival and Children’s Parade – Crown Heights
Saturday, August 31
The four-day West Indian American Day Carnival culminates in one of NYC’s largest parades on Labor Day, and while it's a colorful affair it's also crowded and noisy. The Children’s Parade the Saturday before is a better bet for families. Kids of Caribbean descent don elaborate garb as they travel through Crown Heights and onto the grounds of the Brooklyn Museum for a costume contest and carnival. FREE for the parade, $2 to enter the museum grounds
NYC Unicycle Festival – Governors Island
Saturday, August 31-Sunday September 1
Head to Governors Island to give one-wheeling a try, or stay on two feet and watch unicycle basketball and hockey games, and pros in some grueling competitions. While on the island, check out all the other attractions including the can't-miss Fête Paradiso. Also of note: Brooklyn Unicycle Day on Friday, August 31 featuring a procession of riders making a one-wheeled trip from Manhattan's City Hall over the Brooklyn Bridge to Coney Island. FREE
Richmond County Fair – Staten Island
Saturday, August 31-Monday, September 2
Step back in time at this old-fashioned carnival at Historic Richmond Town, NYC's only living history museum. The three-day fest has been a Labor Day weekend tradition for decades and features something for everyone. There are several performance stages with local bands playing country, rock 'n' roll, and acoustic music; pig races; pie-, hot-dog eating and hula-hooping contests; three-legged races, a water balloon toss and a midway with rides. The best part? All attractions are free with admission. In advance: $15, more at the door; free for children under 30 inches
NYC always has so many incredible things going on, it's difficult to choose. So here are ten more cool events (mostly FREE) that are worth considering for your August calendar. Be sure to sign up for our FREE newsletters so you can get our weekend picks delivered to your inbox every Thursday morning.
Get hep at Central Park's annual no-cost Great Jazz on the Great Hill concert on Saturday, August 10. FREE
Cool off at Snug Harbor Cultural Center's annual SprinklerFest on Staten Island on Friday, August 16. FREE
Take the A train uptown for the various Harlem Week festivities, including the Children's Festival on Saturday, August 17-Sunday, August 18. FREE
Bring a box of tissues to Bryant Park for the final flick in its summer film series: E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial on Monday, August 19. FREE
Catch one of the family-friendly movies screening at Central Park's five-night Film Festival Thursday, August 22-Monday, August 26. FREE
Gawk at the last fireworks show of the season in Coney Island on Friday, August 23. FREE
Take a day trip to a nearby pick-your-own farm to grab some apples, which ripen for the season right around Labor Day.
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