Summer Streets Returns This August: Explore Car-Free NYC with Kids

It's NYC at its best: Cars are banished, and pedestrians and bikes rule the streets!
NYC Summer Streets in August | Park Avenue Closed for Festival with Zip Lines, Fun for NYC Kids

Summer Streets, easily one of our favorite NYC seasonal festivals, returns for its 11th season of car-free Saturdays on August 4.

The annual Summer Streets event gives New Yorkers three consecutive August Saturdays of car-free summer fun, with a seven-mile stretch of city streets from the Upper East Side to the Brooklyn Bridge closed to cars and open exclusively to pedestrians and bicycles. Sadly, one major change in 2018 is the absence of the giant slide—a big hit of the past few years. But while the slide may not be returning, there is still plenty of fun in store, all aligned with this year's Summer Streets theme, "Finding Joy in Unexpected Moments."

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

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

Held August 4, 11, and 18, Summer Streets closes Park Avenue and Lafayette Street from 72nd Street to the Brooklyn Bridge from 7am-1pm.

There are five rest stops along the way, each offering different entertainment and activities. This year's Children's Corner is at the Uptown Rest Stop, on the northern edge of the route at 51st and Park. You'll find a Kids Fitness Zone with kid-friendly obstacle courses, as well as a mobile gym from the NYC Parks Department. GoGo Squeeze offers free treats, and arts and crafts stations will be sponsored by some of the city's top cultural institutions. Catch a show on the performance stage, explore NYC with a walking tour (advance registration required), and visit the DOT Safety Zone. You can pick up a FREE bike rental here, too.

Another thing to expect a lot of here, and at each of the other rest stops, is corporate advertising...

The Midtown Rest Stop, located on East 25th Street between Madison and Park Avenues, has a City Picnic theme, with food and beverages to sample from vendors like Lifeway, NUUN, Krave Jerky, and Skinny Pop. Bike rentals are also offered here, along with FREE bike repairs courtesy of the Five Borough Bicycle Club, and a pop-up Citi Bike Museum.

RELATED: Something for Every Day: Summer Fun Guide for NYC Kids

Brooklyn Boulders Foundation will have an 8-foot climbing wall at the Astor Place section of the fest.

Further downtown, the Astor Place Rest Stop, at Astor Place and Lafayette Street, taps into the spirit of the great outdoors with its Outdoor Adventure theme, and it's easily as kid-friendly as the Children's Corner uptown. Adventurous kids will get a kick out the Clif Kids Park, where they can try their hand at mountain-bike-like trails under the supervision of trained coaches. A soccer skills zone, operated in conjunction with the New York Red Bulls, gives kids a chance to participate in drills. The Brooklyn Boulders Foundation will run an 8-foot climbing wall and obstacle course, with adaptations for climbers of all levels, while the Gazillon Bubble Show's Bubble Garden dazzles kids of all ages. Show your love for New York at the mobile tourism visitors' center, which provides photo ops, trivia, and opportunities to win prizes. 

As in years past, the Soho Rest Stop, at Spring and Lafayette Streets, invites you to feel the burn with its Fitness Zone theme. True to the theme, it hosts a variety of fitness classes including yoga, Zumba, dance, and boot camp. Dogs can get in on the action too, with an on-site dog park.

RELATED: 50 Ways NYC Kids Can Stay Cool this Summer

Fly down Centre Street as part of the Foley Square Rest Stop. 

The Foley Square Rest Stop, located at Duane and Centre Streets, has an Extreme Sports theme. Though the giant Vita Coco beach slide isn't returning this year, it's here you'll find the perennial favorite zip line, 165 feet long and soaring 30 feet above Centre Street. The Chinatown Partnership will sponsor a Street Games installation, with large-scale versions of board games to play. Other fun at Foley Square includes adaptive basketball and hand-cycling demos. You can also learn to juggle or hula hoop and enjoy live performances. More FREE bike rentals are also available here.

Organizers are actively looking for volunteers to man rest stops and help keep everyone safe. For more details on specific entertainment for each date visit the Summer Streets web page as details are finalized. As always, Summer Streets will feature tons of public art installations and performing arts to enjoy.

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