End of Summer Bucket List: 40 Things To Do in NYC Before School Starts

Hit one of the amazing beaches in NYC, by train, ferry, bike, or car. Photo by Sara Marentette
Hit one of the amazing beaches in NYC, by train, ferry, bike, or car. 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 fun, summery things to do in NYC 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. But, there are plenty of great activities we haven't gotten to. So, we've crafted this list of 40 things to do in NYC 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

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

3. Enjoy an LIRR Day Trip

Visit the sandy shores of Jones Beach or enjoy one of these other LIRR-friendly day trip stops.

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

4. Summer Streets

Cycle through car-free streets, join a dance party, learn to ride a bike, or catch more family-friendly things to do in NYC at the annual Summer Streets on Saturdays, August 6, 13, and 30. FREE

5. Visit the New York Renaissance Faire

Take a trip back in time with a visit to the New York Renaissance Faire in Tuxedo Park. The Faire runs weekends from Saturday, August 27 through Sunday, October 9.

6. Enjoy Some Water Sports

One of our favorite physical things to do in NYC each summer is rowing our 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.

RELATED: Best of August: Top Things To Do in NYC with Kids

Things to do in NYC glamping at Jacob Riis Beach
Take a glamping vacation at Jacob Riis Beach. Photo by Wade Mayer

8. Go Glamping...

Stay local and try out glamping at Camp Rockaway or on Governors Island.

9. ...Or 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.

10. Peep a Cool Exhibit

Explore the Sharks exhibit at AMNH or one of these other museum exhibits and immersive pop-ups.

11. Play Mini-Golf

Try for a hole-in-one at VALE(mini)GOLF, the new mini-golf course that recently opened at The William Vale in Williamsburg, or another of NYC's outdoor putt-putt spots.

RELATED: 100 Free Things To Do in NYC This Summer

Things to do in NYC DiscOasis roller skating
Enjoy some retro fun at the DiscOasis or one of the other roller skating rinks in NYC. Photo by Jody Mercier

12. Roller Skating

Glide across (or stumble, we won't tell) a nearby roller rink, including summer-only pop-ups at Rockefeller Center, Wollman Rink, and the TWA Hotel.

13. See an Outdoor Movie

Catch an alfresco flick in an NYC park. FREE

14. See a Kiddie Concert

Groove to an outdoor kiddie concert.

15. Go Bowling

Hit the lanes at one of our favorite bowling alleys for NYC kids—bonus: industrial AC.

16. Go for a Bike Ride

Explore the city on two wheels with a family-friendly bike ride.

RELATED: Best NYC Playgrounds with Shade

Things to do in NYC Pier 6 Water Lab
The Water Lab at Pier 6 is one of our favorite places to cool down. Photo by Sara Marentette

17. Dive Into a Play Fountain

When the summer sun gets to be too much, splashing in one of these play fountains is one of our favorite things to do in NYC. Make sure you get in a splash before the sprinklers are turned off for the year. FREE

18. Escape for a Weekend

We've got tons of picks for late-summer weekend escapes including lakefront getaways in New York state, family-friendly spa resorts nearby, and 15 family-friendly Catskills resorts to consider.

19. See Some Fireworks

Watch the dazzling Coney Island fireworks every Friday night. FREE

20. 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

21. See the NYC Unicycle Festival

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

RELATED: Expanded Summer Streets Returns Saturday: Explore Car-Free NYC with Kids

Things to do in NYC Richmond County Fair
Explore the Richmond County Fair over Labor Day weekend at Historic Richmond Town. Photo courtesy of the fair

22. 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.

23. 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.

24. Visit the Statue of Liberty

Visit Lady Liberty and the museum dedicated to her history.

25. Hit the Playgrounds

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

26. 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 the Queens Botanical Garden is FREE on Wednesdays from 3-6pm and Sundays from 9am-11am.

RELATED: Visiting the Fountain of the Fairs Mega Splash Pad in Queens

Things to do in NYC Jane's Carousel in Brooklyn Bridge Park
Admire the view from Jane's Carousel during a visit to Brooklyn Bridge Park. Photo by Shinya Suziki

27. Explore Brooklyn Bridge Park

Plan a daycation to Brooklyn Bridge Park, which is filled with fabulous things to do in NYC. Explore its destination playgrounds and ride its spectacular carousel.

28. Take a Metro-North Trip

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

29. Visit the New York Aquarium

Get up close to deep-sea creatures at the New York Aquarium on Coney Island, which is now fully re-opened and remodeled.

30. Tour a Children's Museum

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.

RELATED: Best NYC Summer Festivals for Kids this August


Conquer The Hills on Governors Island. Photo by Matt Nighswander

31. Sail Away to Governors Island

Channel your inner kid with a ride down the city's longest slide at The Hills on Governors Island. Check the calendar for family-friendly things to do in NYC, like the weekends-only adventure playground. FREE

32. Visit a Local Farm

Pick the final peaches at area farms, or start plotting your apple picking day trips.

33. See American Dream

The New Jersey mega-mall is home to tons of kid-friendly attractions, plus thousands of square feet of retail stores, restaurants, and more.

34. 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.

35. Enjoy a Picnic

Or pack a blanket and spend an evening picnicking at one of these entertaining spots.

RELATED: Flower Picking near NYC: Holland Ridge Tulips, Lavender By the Bay, and More

Things to do in NYC Belvedere Castle in Central Park
Stroll, skate, and scoot through Central Park and explore Belvedere Castle. Photo by Janet Bloom

36. Play Like Royalty at Belvedere Castle

Explore the enchanting Belvedere Castle and surrounding ecosystem with a guided or self-led tour.

37. Hit the Local Amusement Parks

Go for a wild ride at one of these public-transit-friendly amusement parks or travel further afield to tackle one of these thrill rides perfect for teens and tweens.

38. Go for a Dip in a Rooftop Pool

Splurge on a day pass at one of these rooftop pools.

39. Try a Family Adventure Course

Enjoy some thrilling adventures at WildPlay at Jones Beach or one of these other adventure parks, zip lines, and ropes courses near NYC.

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.

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