End of Summer Checklist: 40 Things To Do in NYC Before School Starts
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, chilling out with some ice-cold treats, and soaking up all the FREE entertainment. There are plenty of great activities we haven't gotten to, though. So, we've crafted this list of 40 things to do before summer ends.
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1. Visit the Beach
Sneak in one last trip to a city beach for some seaside fun. FREE
2. Scream for Ice Cream
Don't miss Summer Streets for a day of car-free fun. Photo courtesy of NYC DOT.
3. Summer Streets
Cycle through car-free streets, fly along the zip line, or catch more family entertainment at the annual Summer Streets on Saturdays, August 7 and 14. FREE
4. Enjoy an LIRR Day Trip
5. Visit the New York Renaissance Faire
6. Enjoy Some Water Sports
Row your way through one of the city's waterways in a kayak, canoe, or rowboat.
7. Ride the Ferry
For a more relaxing ride, let someone else command the vessel and hop on a ferry to a kid-friendly shore.
8. Go Camping...
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 summer day trips.
Take a glamping vacation at Jacob Riis Beach. Photo by Wade Mayer
9. ...Or Glamping
10. Roller Skating
Glide across (or stumble, we won't tell) a nearby roller rink.
11. See an Outdoor Movie
Catch an alfresco flick in an NYC park. FREE
12. Peep a Cool Exhibit
13. Play Mini-Golf
14. See a Kiddie Concert
Groove to an outdoor kiddie concert.
Take a spin around the roller rink at Pier 3 in Brooklyn Bridge Park. Photo by Julienne Schaer
15. Go Bowling
Hit the lanes at one of our favorite bowling alleys for NYC kids—bonus: industrial AC.
16. Visit the TWA Hotel
17. See Some Fireworks
Watch the dazzling Coney Island fireworks every Friday night. FREE
18. Journey to City Island
Head to the bucolic City Island for an evening of fun on the Bronx isle. A public bus takes you from the Pelham Bay Park subway stop to the island anytime. FREE
19. Explore Alley Pond Park
Idle away a sunny afternoon in Queen's second-largest public green space, Alley Pond Park, where you can hike, bird watch, zip line, picnic, and explore its orienteering course.
20. Visit the Statue of Liberty
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The Water Lab at Pier 6 is one of our favorite places to cool down. Photo by Sara Marentette
21. Dive Into a Play Fountain
While away the day splashing in one of our favorite play fountains before the sprinklers are turned off for the year. FREE
22. Hit the Playgrounds
23. See the Blooming Botanic Gardens
Stroll among the blooms and butterflies at one of the city's botanic gardens. The NYBG offers FREE grounds admission to NYC residents on Wednesdays, and you can peep much of the Kusama exhibit while you're there. The Queens Botanical Garden is FREE on Wednesdays from 3-6pm, and Sundays from 9am-11am.
24. See Staten Island
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.
25. Take a Metro-North Trip
Hop aboard the Metro-North to explore one of these seven kid-friendly stops.
26. Visit the New York Aquarium
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Admire the view from Jane's Carousel. Photo by Shinya Suziki
27. Explore Brooklyn Bridge Park
28. Tour a Children's Museum
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.
29. Visit a Local Farm
30. See American Dream
The New Jersey mega-mall has debuted a pair of new kid-friendly attractions: Legoland Discovery Center and SeaLife Aquarium. See them and thousands of square feet of retail stores and other attractions.
31. Enjoy Outdoor Dining
Take the night off and treat yourself to dinner with a view or an alfresco meal at one of these kid-friendly restaurants with patios and backyards.
32. Enjoy a Picnic
Or pack a blanket and spend an evening picnicking at one of these entertaining spots.
Conquer The Hills on Governors Island. Photo by Matt Nighswander
33. Sail Away to Governors Island
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 weekend-only adventure playground to explore. FREE
34. Hit the Local Amusement Parks
Go for a wild ride at one of these public-transit-friendly amusement parks.
35. Go for a Dip in a Rooftop Pool
Splurge on a day pass at one of these rooftop pools.
36. Go for a Bike Ride
Explore the city on two wheels with a family-friendly bike ride.
37. Go to Van Gogh
You can still get tickets to one of the two Van Gogh exhibits currently showing in city limits.
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Stroll through Central Park and explore Belvedere Castle. Photo by Janet Bloom
38. Play Like Royalty at Belvedere Castle
39. See the NYC Unicycle Festival
Head to Governors Island over Labor Day weekend for the always entertaining NYC Unicycle Festival. FREE
40. Visit the Zoo
Enjoy some face time with NYC's wildest residents at one of our favorite zoos and aquariums.
This post is updated annually.
Places featured in this article:
Brooklyn Bridge Park
New York Botanical Garden
Brooklyn Botanic Garden
Jacob Riis Bathhouse
Staten Island Borough
Children's Museum of Manhattan, The Tisch Building
Statue of Liberty Museum