Looks like the heat wave is going to break just in time for the weekend. And even if it rains that will be a relief! Regardless of what the weather brings, my family and I are excited to go on a FREE boat tour on Saturday as part of the City of Water Day festivities on Governors Island, and we plan to stick around to hit the rides at the awesome Fête Paradiso.
Other fabulous FREE fun this weekend includes the art-filled New Museum Block Party on the Lower East Side, top-notch entertainment at SummerStage Kids Queens Family Day in Long Island City and TheatreworksUSA's brand-new educational show The Civil War in the West Village.
All of our best bets for the weekend are below. You can find additional options in our Event Calendar and our Summer Fun Guide, including our favorite FREE places to cool off like public pools, beaches and water playgrounds. And if you're craving air conditioning, check out our Indoor Activity Guide for great ways to beat the heat.
View from the Vaults: Warner Bros. Today – Midtown West
As part of the Museum of Modern Art's month-long Warner Bros. retrospective, families can see new classics like The Lord of the Rings trilogy, Christopher Nolan's Batman series and all three Matrix films. This weekend, Harry Potter-obsessed kids can catch The Sorcerer’s Stone, Chamber of Secrets or The Prisoner of Azkaban. Afterward, get creative in MoMA Art Lab: People or wait on the inevitable line to get into the über-popular Rain Room, which closes this month. Each film is $12 for adults, free for children under 17, or free with museum admission: $25 for adults, free for children. Either way, separate tickets are required.
Wobble – Midtown West
Belfast's Replay Theater Company brings this offbeat family show to the Irish Arts Center, a wordless, two-man, dance theater piece aimed at very young audiences. $12
Firefighter Appreciation Weekend – Midtown West
Got a kid obsessed with the FDNY? Then head to the Intrepid to 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. On the job? Firefighters, paramedics and EMTs enjoy free admission and their families get 50% off. For the rest of us, it's free with admission: $24 for adults, $19 for children ages 7-17, $12 for ages 3-6, free for kids under 3 but you can save 20% with this BroadwayBox discount code.
The Tempest – Battery Park
Audiences literally follow the action at New York Classical Theatre's mounting of Shakespeare's masterwork, which is performed throughout Battery Park. Arrive two hours early for an interactive family workshop. Best for tweens and up. FREE
Golden Dragon Acrobats – Corona
Marvel at the gravity-defying antics of the Chinese acrobatic troupe as contortionists, tumblers, jugglers and other acts perform in spectacular costumes to traditional music. $32 per person, $99 for a family four-pack
Fête Paradiso – Governors Island
My daughter and I went to the opening of this vintage French carnival last weekend and were completely enthralled. The lines for the rides can get long so go early or in inclement weather, and remember, there are lots of other fun things to do on Governors Island if you just can't stand the wait. Free admission but rides are $3 each
Saturday, July 20
City of Water Day – Governors Island & Liberty State Park in Jersey City
This fantastic celebration of our local waterfront takes place on Governors Island, in New Jersey's Liberty State Park and multiple NYC parks. Enjoy kayaking and canoeing, historic boat tours, live entertainment, face time with reptiles and aquatic creatures, fishing lessons, and landlubber favorites like arts and crafts, and bouncy castles. There's a free ferry between the two main locations, so you can hit the fun on both banks. The no-cost boat rides are insanely popular and are currently sold out but there will be standby lines. FREE
New Museum Block Party – Lower East Side
The cutting-edge Bowery institution hosts live performances and interactive art in Sara D. Roosevelt Park all inspired by current exhibitions. Families can make their own zines celebrating the history of the Bowery, create underwater creature trading cards, participate in a collaborative drawing project, paint American landscape postcards and see avant-garde dance performances. Plus, all festival-goers snag free passes to the museum for the day. FREE
This event was canceled at the last minute due to the heat. EcoArt Family Day – Kips Bay
Solar One, the green energy, arts and education center in Stuyvesant Cove Park, leads environmental art activities like using natural and recycled materials to craft costumes. RSVP recommended. FREE
Harlem Book Fair – Harlem
While this 15th annual lit fest at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture is primarily aimed at adults, there is a Young Readers Pavilion with appearances by children's authors, plus spoken word, poetry and theater performances on the outdoor main stage. FREE
Happy 50th Birthday, Amelia Bedelia – Midtown West
More book fun: Help the kid-lit character celebrate her big day in Bryant Park with readings and interactive activities. Afterward, stick around for hilarious stories by Flaubert Frog and rides on the carousel. FREE
Making Books Sing: My City Park! – Midtown West
Celebrate urban green spaces at the Children’s Center at 42nd Street. In this educational musical, a boy and his animal pals stop their local park from being torn down and turned into a mall. FREE
Sweet Spot Festival Presents Peppa Soup – Harlem
Groove the day away at this family dance party. In addition to dancing to Afro beats, house, funk and soul, kids can try an interactive Bilingual Birdies French music class, do art projects with the Studio Museum of Harlem and snag goodies from Okayafrica. FREE
See all Saturday events.
Sunday, July 21
The Civil War – West Village
Catch the premiere of TheatreworksUSA's educational summer show, which explores the history of the Civil War through personal stories of soldiers on both sides. Aimed at children ages 9 and up. Tickets are given out on a first-come, first-served basis an hour prior to each performance. FREE
SummerStage Kids Queens Family Day – Long Island City
Head to Long Island City's waterfront Queensbridge Park for an afternoon of family performances including a tribute to Michael Jackson, the 10-piece PitchBlak Brass Band, which mixes hip-hop, jazz and rock styles, and a Little Club Heads dance party. FREE
Family Field Day – Brooklyn Heights
Get your game on at Brooklyn Bridge Park's Pier 5 with friendly soccer and volleyball play, an obstacle course and a tug of war competition. FREE
Summer Safety Obstacle Course – Crown Heights
Head to the Jewish Children's Museum to check out a real ambulance and tackle an indoor obstacle course. Afterward, explore the spot's Gallery of Games, including mini-golf. Free with admission: $13, free for children under 2
Clearing in the Forest: Puppets – Upper West Side
Catch a live performance by the wonderful Arm-of-the-Sea Theater in Central Park's Peter Jay Sharp Children's Glade, about the ailing grandfather river being nursed back to health. FREE
See all Sunday events.
Blueberry-picking season continues with pick-your-own farms throughout the tri-state area welcoming families. Make your day trip extra sweet by hitting Thompson, Connecticut's big Ice Cream, Blueberry & Bluegrass Bash at Fort Hill Farms on Sunday.
You'll find more sweet stuff at the 11th annual New Jersey State Ice Cream Festival in Toms River on Saturday.
Need to cool off? The other half of the aforementioned City of Water Day takes place in NJ's Liberty State Park.
Don't forget: There's more fun to be found in our Event Calendar.