Summer Must-Dos: 33 Things to Do in NYC Before School Starts

NYC Summer Fun, Summer Streets, Governors Island, Manhattan, Brooklyn, Bronx, Queens, Staten Island
Take the ferry to Governors Island for a day of adventure. Photo by Sara Marentette

With August upon us and the start of a new school year looming, my kids and I are in a panic about all the things we haven't yet crossed off our NYC summer bucket list.

Sure, we've had a lot of fun tooling around the city, enjoying our local swimming pool, reigniting a love for some favorite playgrounds, and soaking up all the FREE entertainment. There are plenty of great activities we haven't gotten to, though.

So as a reminder to us, and to you, we've crafted this list of 33 things to do before summer ends. Some are summer-only events happening all month; others are one-time-only affairs, so read on and get ready to dive in before the summer sun sets!


Don't miss Summer Streets for a day of car-free fun. Photo courtesy of NYC DOT.

1. Cycle through car-free streets, fly along the zip line, or catch more family entertainment at the annual Summer Streets on Saturdays, August 4, 11 & 18. FREE

2. Sneak in one last trip to a city beach for some seaside fun. FREE

3. Escape the city's heat and humidity with a weekend camping trip. Some of our favorite family-friendly sites are even accessible via the MTA. Prefer a one-day getaway? Check out one of these 31 summer day trips.


Sink your teeth into this sweet treat at Camp Cookie DÕ. Photo by Jody Mercier

4. Cool off with a trip to Camp Cookie DŌ for an icy-cold, nostalgic, creamy treat.

5. Enjoy an over-the-top-ice-cream-treat at one of these cool spots, or pick up a chilly scoop at our favorite ice cream shops in QueensManhattan, and Brooklyn.

6. Visit the brand new, kid-pleasing splash pad at Jones Beach or enjoy one of these other LIRR-friendly day trip stops.

7. Take a trip back in time with a visit to the New York Renaissance Faire in Tuxedo Park. The Faire runs weekends through September 30.

8. Row your way through one of the city's waterways in a kayak, canoe, or rowboat.

9. For a more relaxing ride, hop aboard the Fireboat John J. Harvey to enjoy a FREE ride and an up-close view of the boat's new Public Art Fund paint job.

RELATED: 100 Free Things to Do in NYC with Kids This Summer


Take a spin around the new roller rink at Pier 3 in Brooklyn Bridge Park. Photo by Julienne Schaer

10. Glide across (or stumble, we won't tell) a nearby roller rink. An icy option awaits on Governors Island.

11. Catch an alfresco flick in a NYC park. There are more than 100 outdoor movie screenings in August alone! FREE

12. Or score $1 indoor movie theater tickets with the final Summer Movie Express shows, playing at select theaters in Brooklyn, Queens, and Staten Island.

13. Try for a hole-in-one at the new seasonal mini golf course on Governors Island, or another of NYC's outdoor putt-putt favorites.

14. Groove to an outdoor kiddie concert. The Hudson RiverKids summer series keeps rocking until the end of the month, plus there's Summer in the Square, Music in the Grove, and accordions in Bryant Park!

15. Sign up for FREE kids bowling at Astoria BowlJib Lanes, and Shell Lanes while it lasts!

16. Catch one of the ultra-cool, kid-friendly theater performances playing before their final curtain calls.

17. Peep some fireworks. Coney Island hosts a sparkler show every Friday night, or you can catch a show on Wednesday nights at South Beach in Staten Island. FREE

RELATED: The Best Things to Do with NYC Kids This August


City Island SeasideTrolley. Photo by Suzanne Cort

18. Snag a ride on the City Island Seaside Trolley for an evening of fun on the Bronx isle. The trolley runs the first Friday evening of the month, but a public bus will take you from the Pelham Bay Park subway to the island anytime. FREE

19. While away the day splashing in one of our favorite play fountains before the sprinklers are turned off for the year. FREE


Novak Djokovic gives high fives at 2015's Arthur Ashe Kids' Day. Photo by Ned Dishman for the USTA.

20. Get in the swing of the U.S. Open with a visit to Arthur Ashe Kids' Day on Saturday, August 25. FREE

21. Sneak in a little history by visiting Green-Wood Cemetery on Sunday, August 26 for the commemoration of the Battle of Brooklyn. The festivities are FREE, but the organizers ask that you pre-register.

22. Visit a destination playground, or if you're feeling ambitious, hit a bunch in one day in Central Park and Prospect Park.

23. Stroll among the the blooms and butterflies at one of the city's botanic gardens. The NYBG offers FREE grounds admission to NYC residents daily, including admission to the action-packed Everett Children's Adventure Garden. You can also visit the BBG gratis on Friday mornings, while the Queens Botanical Garden is FREE on Wednesdays from 3-6pm and Sundays from 9am-11am.

24. Sticking around town for Labor Day weekend? Hop on the Staten Island Ferry and enjoy the sea spray en route to the Richmond County Fair. Want to venture out on another day? Hop off the ferry to explore the surrounding cultural institutions.


The rainbow stairs at the Color Factory. Photo courtesy of the Color Factory

25. Grab your camera and book your tickets for the interactive Candytopia pop-up or the rainbow-hued Color Factory.

26. Hop aboard the Metro-North to explore one of these seven kid-friendly stops.

27. Get up close to deep sea creatures at the newly-opened Ocean Wonders: Sharks! exhibit at the New York Aquarium on Coney Island.

28. Craving industrial AC? Check out one of our favorite children's museums. Bonus: With an NYPL card, you can even net FREE admission to some of them plus a long list of other NYC cultural institutions.


Admire the view from Jane's Carousel. Photo by Justin Kiner via Flickr

29. Plan a day trip to Brooklyn Bridge Park. Beyond its fab playgrounds and spectacular carousel, make sure to explore the newly-opened Pier 3.

30. Head to Times Square and check out the new interactive, exploration-themed escape game, Ripley's Relic, at Ripley's Believe It Or Not.


Conquer The Hills on Governors Island. Photo by Jody Mercier

31. Channel your inner kid with a ride down the city's longest slide at The Hills on Governors Island, or check out the zip line and more at Adventures at Governors Island. There's also a weekends-only adventure playground to explore. FREE

32. Head to Governors Island over Labor Day weekend for the always entertaining NYC Unicycle Festival. FREE

33. Pick the final peaches at area farms, or the early apples that arrive for the picking in the metro area pre-Labor Day.

Area/Neighborhood: 
location: 
Coney Island
Coney Island Beach and the Boardwalk, West 10th to West 12th Streets
11224 Brooklyn , NY 40° 34' 34.5756" N, 73° 58' 46.3512" W
New York
Hudson River Park
Pier 25
10013 New York , NY
New York
City Island 10464 Bronx , NY 40° 51' 51.5448" N, 73° 47' 52.0548" W
New York
Arthur Ashe Kids' Day
Flushing Meadows Corona Park
11368 Queens , NY 40° 45' 2.2824" N, 73° 50' 52.0332" W
New York
Green-Wood Cemetery
500 25th St
11232 Brooklyn , NY 40° 39' 29.0808" N, 73° 59' 41.4564" W
New York
Brooklyn Bridge Park
334 Furman Street
11201 Brooklyn , NY 40° 41' 38.7564" N, 73° 59' 57.4404" W
New York
New York Botanical Garden
2900 Southern Boulevard
10458 New York , NY 40° 51' 44.8272" N, 73° 52' 48.8568" W
New York
Brooklyn Botanic Garden
990 Washington Avenue
11225 Brooklyn , NY 40° 40' 9.9732" N, 73° 57' 46.2384" W
New York