50+ Ways to Keep NYC Kids Off Screens This Summer

"Brain drain." "Summer slide." No matter what you call it, the phenomenon of students losing months of math and reading skills during the eight-week summer vacation scares parents and teachers alike.  

Luckily, we live in a city that offers tons of opportunities for summertime excitement and learning, many of them FREE. We've put together a list of more than 50 of our favorite NYC activities, events, and even at-home challenges that get kids to exercise their brains, and keep them (and us) off our screens!

So get out there to try some of these ideas for enriching exploration and edu-tainment around NYC with kids this summer. You can find even more ideas in our STEAM Guide, and don't forget to check out our NYC Schools Guide as September approaches.

Family-Friendly Boat Rides on Long Island

All aboard! Set sail this summer for sightseeing, whale watching, marine critter catching, or just a good time out on the water. All across the shores of Long Island, you can sample a variety of boat tours that take you on nautical adventures sure to create lasting memories.

Here are voyages we think are especially worthwhile. 

For more Long Island adventures, check out our guide to summer fun, our list of 100 great things do with kids here, and even our guide to seasonal day trips from Long Island.  

On a budget? See our list of 50 FREE things to do with kids this summer

5 Free Outdoor Playgroups for Boston Babies and Toddlers

As soon as the weather turned warm, I couldn’t wait to get outside with my son. And while we love going to the park or playground by ourselves to swing or play with toys, it’s extra fun when a friend or two can join us. So when I started hearing about outdoor playgroups, an increasingly popular alternative to meet-ups in houses and rec centers, I knew we had to check them out. We’ve mostly been going to the Growing Center (see below) because we live in Somerville, but all of the groups look like really fun (not to mention no-cost) ways to soak up the sunshine and fresh air while meeting new friends.

8 Kid-Friendly LIRR Stops for a Fun Day Trip

Let’s face it. Traffic on Long Island is no picnic. In fact, sometimes the thought of taking a day trip to another part of this beautiful island makes us cringe when we think of the hours on the road and the challenge of keeping the kids in the backseat entertained.

But there is a another way to get from here to there…the LIRR! Taking the train is a convenient, fun way for families to get around the Island without the hassle of driving. From beach communities to charming downtowns to family-friendly museums, there are plenty of LIRR stops where families can hop off and explore the area for the day.

We’ve rounded up a few of our favorite family day trips reachable via the LIRR, highlighting the best attractions and sights in the area. All aboard!

Drive-In Movie Theaters near LA for a Classic Family Movie Night

Looking for something different to do with the kids? Something bucket list worthy? How about the drive-in? Remember the double features, staying up late watching movies in your jammies under the stars, tubs of popcorn from the snack bar, and, as the night wore on, crawling into the pile of blankets mom brought? Today's kids don't need to miss out on this American institution; though not as popular as they once were, several area drive-ins are still operating, plus LA has a pop-up drive-in, too. Drive-ins are generally cheaper than movie theaters, often show double features, and let you bring your own food. We're fortunate in the Southland to have oodles of free outdoor movies in summer, but there is something uniquely magical about the drive-in.

(Be sure to check out our movie reviews before you go.)

Great Places to Eat with Kids Near Camden Adventure Aquarium

Let’s face it, a day at the Adventure Aquarium can work up an appetite, especially if your experience is anything like mine: Frantically chasing my child through dimly lit exhibits to make sure he doesn't get away from me in his excitement. While there is plenty to eat at aquarium's newly remodeled Marketplace, an all-new eco-friendly dining experience with a focus on locally-sourced, seasonal options for the entire family. But if you want to explore more options, you’re in luck - there are a handful of local options within walking distance of the aquarium.

Visiting the Central Park Zoo with Kids: Best Things to See and Do at the Zoo

Nothing beats a day in Central Park with kids. From carriage rides to carousels, Central Park is full of possibilities for children of all ages, but the best way to spend a day in the park with kids might just be the Central Park Zoo, where children under three are always FREE

Nestled on the east side of the park near 64th Street and 5th Avenue, the Central Park Zoo feels like a natural extension of the tranquil green space. Limestone carvings of animals adorn the brick buildings, and are reminders of the history of this iconic spot. I recently visited the Central Park Zoo with my two toddlers on a Monday in the early summer. Here are our toddler-tested (and parent-tested) highlights, including where to see sea lions...and where to find bathrooms.

Family Fun at Port Aransas: Clean Beaches, Fishing & More

When it comes to beach getaways, we regularly pack up and head down to nearby favorites like Surfside and Galveston Island, sometimes for a day trip, other times for a longer weekend stay. However, it rarely feels like an actual vacation because it's so close to home and so easy to do. So when we're in the mood for a longer family-friendly beach vacation, our destination is always the same: Port Aransas. Clocking in at almost four hours away, it's far enough from home to truly feel like we're getting out of town and packed with plenty of coastal town charm and activities that appeal to all family members.

7 Drive-In Movie Theaters Near Boston

For me, a drive-in movie theater evokes memories of playing catch with family and friends on a warm summer night, then settling in to watch movies on the big screen until the kids fell asleep. Those were distant memories until I took my own family to the Mendon Twin Drive-in. The experience was exactly as I had remembered it, and we now try to make it to the drive-in at least once each summer. 

Read on for everything you need to know about a family night at the drive-in, including seven drive-in theaters in the region and five tips for enjoying your experience to the fullest. A few of them might be over an hour away, depending on where you live, but consider that a chance to pack PJs and send kids off to dreamland on the drive home.

25 Free and Inexpensive Summer Activities in Fairfield County

I’m no mathematician, but 3 little girls x2 weeks of summer camp x3 weeks of swimming lessons x3 new bathing suits = a whole lot of money.  So I’m on the hunt for summer activities that won’t (further) break the bank.  Happily, there are lots of options here in Fairfield County for summer fun that aren't prohibitively expensive! And, here's a list of 100 free things to do across the state this summer. 

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