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 2, 9, and 16
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. Risa Puno's Course of Emotions the popular public art/mini-golf course returns to the 52nd Street rest stop, along with a new dog park where your furry friends can play with other canines. Like last year editionthe Park Avenue Tunnel will host an artistic installation, Dive by Norwegian artist Jana Winderen will recreate the various sounds of the world's waters and the creatures that inhabit them in an immersive 7 block sound-scape. New for 2014 are three interactive musical performance pieces. On August 2, musician Craig Shepard along with 91 trumpeters will play his hour long composition Park Avenue meant to mix nicely with the sounds eminating from the traffic filled streets. August 9 Chris McIntrye's Tilt Brass will combine live music and sound bites from the participants in a hig-tech presentation, and finally on August 16, participate in My (Our) Way by artist Nick Tobier by getting your hands on one of the hundred small music boxes he will be passing out for a communal concert near the Astor Place rest stop of the Frank Sinatra (or Sid Vicious depending on your musical taste) classic My Way. 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.
FringeJr 2014 – East Village
Friday, August 8-Sunday, August 24
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 four designated FringeJr productions that are specifically aimed at families: the wacky sci-fi romp Alienne: The Musical Adventures of My Little Martian; And Then Came Tango a play inspired by the famous pair of male chinstrap penguins from the Central Park Zoo that hatched and raised a chick named Tango in 1999; and a pair of bilingual musical shows from the Italian company ExtraTeatro, My Monster Friend a mash up of classic horror films and rock opera and the hysterical musical duo of Vagabond$. All four 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. $13
Hong Kong Dragon Boat Festival – Corona
Saturday, August 9-Sunday, August 10
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 17
Head to Marcus Garvey Park for SummerStage Kids' last entertainment-filled Family Day of the season. The lineup includes the soulful Shine and the Moonbeams performing classic and original tunes, the boppy bilingual Moona Luna band, jazz drummer and child musical prodigy Kojo Udo Roney and Friends, B-Love's Hip Hop Jazzy Groove dance performance inspired by the Harlem Renaissance and live DJ KS 360. 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 16
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. 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 Luna Park and their new roller coaster The Thunderbolt, the New York Aquarium and the carousel. FREE but preregistration is recommended to compete.
Arthur Ashe Kids Day – Flushing
Saturday, August 23
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 like country star Hunter Hayes.) All tennis and sports activities are FREE
West Indian American Day Carnival and Children’s Parade – Crown Heights
Saturday, August 30
The five-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 30-Sunday August 31
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. Also of note: Brooklyn Unicycle Day on Friday, August 29 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 30-Monday, September 1
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. $16 at the door, discounts available online as the dates gets closer, FREE for kids under 30 inches tall
Great North River Tugboat Race & Competition – Midtown West
Sunday, August 31
Watch a dozen or so tugboats race from the 79th Street Boat Basin down to Pier 84, where there will be line tossing and spinach-eating contests and other family fun. The races and competitions take place in the Hudson River and can be viewed at no cost between West 44th and West 79th Streets on the waterfront, though Pier 84 is where the action is. For an up close view, you can buy tickets for the Circle Line spectator boat that follows the tugs. FREE from the shore, Circle Line tickets are $25 for adults, $12 for children under 15
Potions & Planting Children's Tea Party--Chelsea
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
Wind up Circus Toy Show
Take the A train uptown for the various Harlem Week festivities, including the Children's Festival on Saturday, August 17-Sunday, August 18. FREE
Hindu Lamp Ceremony
Wizard of Oz
Little Red lighthouse
Brooklyn Chess Festival
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.