Summer Streets Returns Saturday: Explore Car-Free NYC With Kids

Summer Streets, easily one of our favorite NYC seasonal festivals, returns for a pair of car-free Saturdays on August 7 and 14.

The annual Summer Streets event gives New Yorkers two consecutive Saturdays of car-free summer fun, closing a seven-mile stretch of city streets from the Upper East Side to the Brooklyn Bridge to cars and open exclusively for pedestrians, skaters, and bicyclists. Four fun-filled rest stops overflow with fun activities, giveaways, and entertainment.

Most of the interactive stations are 100% FREE, but some require advance registration. Read on for all the details on this ultimate summer street fest.

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Held August 7 and 14, Summer Streets closes Park Avenue and Lafayette Street from 72nd Street to the Brooklyn Bridge from 7am-1pm.

There are four rest stops along the way, each offering different entertainment and activities. While there's no dedicated children's corner in 2021, each of the fun-filled rest stops offers some family-friendly action.

At the Uptown Rest Stop, located at 51st Street and Park Avenue, visitors can immerse themselves in its art and culture theme. Interactive art activities and workshops are geared toward children ages 2+. The Noguchi Museum helps visitors make models based on the work of its namesake sculptor, HONK NYC offers a marching band workshop, HYPOTHEkids teaches visitors the art of origami, and the Urban Studio offers lessons in Color Theory. An Uptown Performance Stage offers live entertainment throughout each Saturday, too. Big Onion Walking Tours also stages a tour of the Upper East Side, focusing on the elegant neighborhood's art, architecture, and history at 10am each Saturday. Reservations can be booked by calling 929-432-6800.

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Kids play with bubbles at Summer Streets
There are plenty of kids' activities at each stop.

The Midtown Rest Stop, located on East 26th and East 27th Streets between Madison and Park Avenues, is dedicated to cycling. FREE bike rentals are available courtesy of Unlimited Biking, though reservations are required. Visitors can also enjoy FREE bike repairs courtesy of the Five-Borough Bike Tour, learn-to-ride kids bike classes, plus bike safety activities for all ages and giveaways of bike maps, lights, and bells. When you need to give your cycling legs a break, enjoy a pop-up performance from the Fogo Azul Drumline and Marching Band, with three performances daily.

Further downtown, the Astor Place Rest Stop, at Astor Place and Lafayette Street, features a fitness and sports theme. Visit the Fitness Class Stage for a wide range of activities from yoga to family-friendly boot camp classes, or head for the ZING! Kids Fitness stage, where 15-20 minute classes are held every half hour. The Movement Creative is also on-site, bringing a parkour playground for families to explore on Saturday, August 14.

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Dance in the streets during a show on the performance stage.

The Foley Square Rest Stop, longtime home of the zip line, takes on a new bent this season with a health and safety theme to meet the moment. While you can't fly over the city streets, you can interact with the performers of the Bindlestiff Family Cirkus or catch one of its three performances each Saturday. Big Onion Walk tours uses this rest stop as a jumping-off point for its "Immigrant New York" tour, and reservations must be booked by calling 929-432-6800.

As part of the city's ongoing push to vaccinate New Yorkers, a walk-up COVID-19 vaccination clinic is set up at the Foley Square Rest Stop, offering FREE, no-appointment required doses of the Pfizer vaccine to everyone ages 12+. You'll also find plentiful hand sanitizer stations all along the Summer Streets route, plus hydration stations to refill your water bottles.

Here, you'll also find more FREE bike rentals from Unlimited Biking (again, reservations required) and the annual appearance by the DOT "Truck's Eye View," which lets visitors experience a driver's view of the roadway. While you're there, snap a selfie in front of the DSNY Trucks of Art, a roving fleet of five 23-ton DSNY trucks that have been turned into public art pieces and are set to start rolling down city streets in September.

For more details on specific entertainment for each date, visit the Summer Streets web page.

A version of this story was published in 2017; it is updated yearly.

All photos courtesy of New York City Department of Transportation via Flickr

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