Whether you're a New York native, a day-tripper, or a tourist from way outta town, summer is the perfect time to explore this action-packed city. And since there's certainly no shortage of warm-weather adventures for kids of all ages, we partnered with the Big Apple pros over at NYCgo to share some of the top can't-be-missed 'hoods worthy of a visit while the sun's out this season.
From sharks to new parks, make it a summer of adventure with these hot, family-friendly neighborhoods across all five boroughs!
Hot dogs and rollercoasters aren't the only reasons to head to the Brooklyn boardwalk this summer — although it never hurts to grab a bite at Nathan's Famous after a spin on the Cyclone while you're at it! Just beyond the rides and games, you'll find the freshly renovated New York Aquarium, featuring Ocean Wonders: Sharks! The 57,000 square-foot building is now home to over 100 species of marine life, including sharks, rays, and fish that will have kiddos and adults oohing and ahhing.
The Brooklyn Botanic Garden is a beautiful, super family-friendly urban oasis. Roam 52 acres of sprawling flowers and foliage, including rose, herb, and vegetable gardens; an indoor tropical pavilion; an extensive bonsai collection; and interactive areas specially designed for children. The garden also hosts a number of festivals and special events throughout the summer (and the rest of the year), along with tours and educational programming for all ages. BBG is conveniently nestled right between Prospect Park and the Brooklyn Museum, two other great attractions if you have more energy after your visit.
Brooklyn Botanic Garden photo by Tagger Yancey IV
Built on the grounds of the old Domino Sugar Factory by the Williamsburg Bridge, Domino Park is destined to become a Brooklyn family favorite. The expansive park features an elevated walkway with wow-worthy views, a one-of-a-kind factory-inspired playground, beach volleyball and bocce courts, a playing field, a dog run, and two fun-filled water features for those scorching hot city days. Once you've worked up an appetite, stop by Danny Meyer's Tacocina for tacos and snacks, and refreshing Mexican beers and cocktails for the grownups.
Not only is the Seaport District a peek into the city's fascinating maritime history — much of which can be learned about at the South Street Seaport Museum's exhibitions and historic boat tours — but it's in the midst of a revitalization that will restore it to a commercial and cultural hub with loads to offer visitors from near and far, especially with the opening of the new Pier 17. Stop by the Fulton Stall Market for local foods and artisanal goods, catch a movie at the amenities-filled iPic Theater, make the most of seasonal happenings like rooftop concerts and harbor cruises, and keep an eye out for even more attractions.
SummerStage photo by Will Steacy
It's no surprise this Manhattan mainstay is the most visited urban park in the entire world! Of course, families flock to the 21 playgrounds, the zoo, and the famed carousel, but when temperatures soar, SummerStage is where it's at. The series features 100 free events, including readings by famous authors, kid-friendly shows, theatrical and dance productions, and music performances by popular artists from around the world. Puppet shows and interactive activities like dance and drum workshops are especially big hits with children.
Make your way way uptown this summer for unparalleled views of the Hudson River, enchanting gardens, and more than 2,000 masterpieces of medieval sculpture, stained glass, and tapestries at The Met Cloisters. Kids will love the knights, unicorns, and princesses in the castle-like museum. But even tots will enjoy the surrounding Fort Tryon Park where you'll find two playgrounds, basketball courts, eight miles of walkways, expansive green space, plus a number of free family activities and festivals.
Once an abandoned landfill, Socrates Sculpture Park has become a much-loved Queens hot spot and warm weather destination. The waterfront park is now an internationally renowned open studio and exhibition space for artists featuring gorgeous gardens, large-scale exhibits, performances series, and free family programs for the community and visitors. In addition to the artwork, there's tons of space for playing and picnicking, plus jaw-dropping views of the Manhattan skyline.
Rocket Park Mini Golf photo courtesy of the New York Hall of Science
Miniature golf is a summer classic and Rocket Park Mini Golf at the Hall of Science brings scientific concepts to the fun family pastime. Make your way through the educationally charged nine-hole course, then head to the nearby 60,000-square-foot playground. It's packed with slides, seesaws, sand pits, and fog machines that help kiddos of all abilities explore the principles of motion, balance, sound, sight, and simple machines. Of course, head into the massive museum for loads more science lessons!
Hop on the Staten Island Ferry — a sightseeing adventure in and of itself — and head to the former location of the United States Lighthouse Service’s General Depot to tour the National Lighthouse Museum. Just a three-minute walk from the ferry terminal, kick-off the visit with a quick orientation, then make your way through the self-guided exhibition, which includes over 160 miniature lighthouse models. The museum also hosts multigenerational educational programs, special events, and lighthouse boat tours for the whole fam.
All aboard the 4, B, or D train to 161st Street! No New York City summer is complete without catching the Big Apple's own 27-time World Series champions take on their brave opponents. In addition to watching an action-packed baseball game, Yankee Stadium goers can make the most of the Kids Clubhouse — featuring climbers, slides, tunnels, shady seating for parents, family restrooms with changing tables, and even private space to nurse or pump — and enjoy top-notch dining options for all, including Bareburger and Mighty Quinn's Barbecue.
Cool breezes at City Island. Photo by Alex Lopez
This secluded Bronx village is a hidden gem, accessible by a one-of-a-kind ride on the City Island Seaside Trolley! After picking up passengers at the Pelham Bay Park subway station, the trolley makes a pit stop at the Bartow-Pell Mansion Museum, then continues across the bridge to the New England-ish island, where riders can snag discounts at the local shops and restaurants. Don't miss the antique stores, museums and galleries, marinas, ice cream parlors, parks and playgrounds, and loads of yummy seafood restaurants.
For tons of resources and tools for NYC lovers and visitors, and more family-friendly activity ideas, make sure to visit NYCgo.com!