Coney Island

11 NYC Neighborhoods to Visit With Your Family This Summer

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!

Sharks Take Over Coney Island in the New Exhibit at NY Aquarium

On June 30, the New York Aquarium in Coney Island welcomed some sharp-toothed new residents to NYC, with the much-anticipated opening of the Ocean Wonders: Sharks! exhibit. The exhibit, which includes a learning lab, nine interactive galleries, and beautiful, immersive habitats that are home to over 115 species of marine animals, is a powerful reminder that New York is a coastal city, with thriving marine ecosystems right in our own (watery) backyard that deserve our respect and protection.

After the aquarium was pummeled by Hurricane Sandy, much of the complex had to close down for repairs. But with the opening of the shark exhibit, housed in a brand-new, three-story building with 57,000 square feet of visiting space, the New York Aquarium is better and more inspiring than ever. Gather up the kids and get ready for a day of close encounters with an incredible variety of ocean life. 

Best Summer Festivals and Fairs for NYC Families in July

So far this summer, we've posted FREE outdoor movie screenings, FREE kayaking, and FREE things to do every day with kids in New York City. Now we're rounding up our favorite and (mostly) FREE family festivals and city street fairs going on in the month of July.

Two of our favorite annual fests take place this month: the big Bastille Day street fair on the Upper East Side, and City of Water Day at South Street Seaport and other locations around town. But that's just the beginning. We've rounded up lots of other options, including Come Out & Play Family Day, this year in Brooklyn, and Lincoln Center's Out of Doors Family Day.

So go grab your calendar (and check ours frequently)! Here are the best sizzling summer fests for New York City families.

Best Beaches Near NYC for a Summer Family Staycation

Summertime means beach time, but while there are lots of beaches near and even in NYC, some are more family-friendly than others. After packing up your gear and schlepping the kids by car, train, bus, or ferry, the last thing you want to find out is that your chosen beach has no bathroom or that bathing suits are optional. Skip the guesswork with our roundup of eight easy-to-reach beaches for NYC families, including detailed info on attractions, food, bathrooms, and hidden costs. Most are within two hours of Manhattan by car and are easily accessible via public transportation as well, so you can plot a great staycation for your family.

Find more beach fun in our Beaches, Pools, and Water Playgrounds Guide, or check out these summer day trip ideas.

Best Amusement Parks Near NYC Reachable by Public Transportation

If you're feeling nostalgic for a summer adventure filled with cotton candy and Ferris wheel rides, it might be time for some family-friendly fun at a nearby theme park. There's no shortage of amusement parks and water parks for New York City-based thrill-seekers, but if you don't have a car, some parks can seem out of reach. Fear not, we’ve rounded up the best amusement parks that are easily accessible from NYC via public transportation. Remember the sunscreen—and forget the parking (and rental) headaches.

Find more summer fun in our Theme and Water Parks Guide.

Beach Clubs In or Near New York City with Kid-Friendly Vibes

One sure way to add more family-friendly fun to your summer staycation with the kids: Join a beach club. Beach clubs in and around New York all offer members similar amenities: massive swimming pools; organized kids' activities like sports and arts and crafts (and sometimes even a day camp); spas, restaurants, and lounges; and, of course, access to pristine private beaches, so you have plenty of space to spread out.

Beach clubs sell seasonal memberships from Memorial Day to Labor Day, which give you access to their facilities. Most also offer optional rental accommodations like bath cabins or cabanas. Many are on Long Island’s South Shore and easily accessible by car, but we also managed to find one in Brooklyn that NYC families can reach by subway.

Free Outdoor Movies for NYC Kids This Summer: Hundreds of Them!

New York City will screen hundreds of FREE outdoor movies this summer, many of them just for kids and families. The popular Movies Under the Stars series, which debuted with screenings in parks and at playgrounds in all five boroughs in 2016, returns—along with many of our favorite annual series.

A few outdoor movie series, such as RiverFlicks for Kids in the West Village, are aimed specifically at children. But even grown-up series, such as those in Bryant Park and Brooklyn Bridge Park, include a few family-friendly screenings. Movies usually begin when evening falls, between 8 and 8:30pm, but plan to arrive early...the well-known series fill up fast, and many parks offer pre-movie entertainment.

Even if your local park is screening a flick you've watched a dozen or so times at home, it's a totally different experience viewing it in the open air alongside several hundred other fans. It's a thrilling, communal event, and a summer rite of passage for New Yorkers of all ages.

So grab your calendars and start plotting your FREE summer of entertainment now. And be sure to check out the other amazing seasonal activities in our Summer Fun Guide.

Beyond Macy's: (Mostly) Free Fireworks Across NYC This Summer

There's no denying that when it comes to sparklers, Macy's Fourth of July Fireworks are the main event in New York City. But that's certainly not the only explosive display in town this season. Some of these fireworks honor our nation's birthday, others just celebrate summer in the city, from ball games to concerts in parks city wide.

Read on for all the places and dates when you and the kids can catch a fireworks show in New York City—besides the East River on the Fourth of July.

Take the Subway to NYC Beaches: Coney, Rockaway, Orchard Beach

Fourteen miles of sparkling sand and crashing waves can be found in four of the five boroughs (sorry river-locked Manhattan), which is good news for NYC families. Because as much as we enjoy hitting the Jersey Shore, Fire Island, and other Long Island beaches, we're not big fans of renting cars and sitting in traffic.

New York City's beaches are just a subway, bus, or ferry ride away. From the "Bronx Rivera" to iconic Coney Island and the Rockaways, these urban seasides often offer just about everything suburban beaches do except the out-of-town commute.

Best Amusement Parks for Preschoolers in and Near NYC

For young children, a ride on a carousel’s painted pony, a spin with dad around the bumper car track, and a dripping swirl of frozen custard are the stuff summer memories are made of. No need to seek out the latest scary high-tech roller coasters (which means you can cross Luna Park's most scary rides off your list).

Rides that look mild (or frankly, downright boring) to big people usually provide just the right amount of thrills for toddlers and preschoolers. Happily, there are a number of amusement and water parks in or near the New York City metro area that offer these kinds of tame attractions. Here's our roundup of theme parks perfect for the pint-sized.

Find more seasonal rides in our Theme and Water Parks Guide for families.

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