Governors Island

Governors Island: Playgrounds, Camping, Art, Adventure, and More 2019 Highlights

Governors Island opens to the public on May 1 this year and its season, which again runs through October 31, promises plenty of family-friendly programming, plus the return of spectacular overnight accommodations that give you even more time to play on the island!

The opening of Governors Island is an event we anticipate annually as the island seemingly reinvents itself with new attractions and old favorites return. The aforementioned glamping accommodations are sure to be a big draw; while The Yard returns, plus inventive new family-friendly programming and an always jam-packed events calendar stocked with family-friendly events.

Read on for the scoop on the very best things to do on Governors Island with kids, plus important visitor tips, such as ferry schedules, and where to score free biking and kayaking. Note: Details are still being finalized for Governors Island's 2019 season and we'll update this post as more information is released. 

12 Rock Climbing Walls for Kids in New York City

Indoor rock climbing is a great way for kids to get some needed activity in the dead of winter or year-round. Let them bounce off someone else’s walls for a change! The sport takes concentration, discipline, and strength, all qualities we're happy to expose them to.

New York City boasts more than half a dozen indoor bouldering and rock-climbing spots, at least one in almost every borough, and more are due to open in 2019. A couple of these are only open during the summer months, but most are open year round. The best part? Kids tend to love the activity and it isn't too pricey. Try out a drop-in program, or sign up for one of the many after-school classes or break camps offered at the rock-climbing facilities profiled below.

Find more active fun in our Kids' Sports Centers Guide.

Trick-or-Treat and Pick Pumpkins on Governors Island This Year

Tis the season for fall festivals and Halloween fun in New York City, and what better place to celebrate the changing seasons than beautiful Governors Island, which has again extended its season through Halloween and filled its October calendar with plenty of fun.

For the second consecutive year, the Friends of Governors Island invite big-city dwellers to hop on a ferry and enjoy a classic small-town Halloween at Pumpkin Point. The fun kicks off the weekend of October 20, with a pumpkin patch in Nolan Park.

The NYC Parents' Guide for Visitors: 10 NYC Must-Sees Beyond Times Square

There are so many great things to do and see with kids in NYC, from museums to zoos to destination playgrounds, it's hard to narrow down to a reasonably sized list. But knowing what NYC families like doing best in their own hometown is a solid place to start if you're planning a visit! 

As veteran New Yorkers, my family has their own list of absolute must-see and must-visit spots around the city. Some are off the beaten path, and some might be considered a bit touristy, but all of them are places we love—and love experiencing with visitors, in particular. Whether you're visiting NYC with kids for the first time or the fiftieth time, here is a list of some of the best places to go right now, as recommended by parents who live here.

Find more top sights in our NYC Visitors Guide for Families.

Best Fall Festivals for NYC Kids in September

Kick off autumn at one of September's fun-filled (and mostly FREE) fall festivals in NYC. Annual family favorites abound this month, including top September GoList picks such as the Richmond County Fair and the annual Queens County Fair. For more interactive fun, make sure you hit up the Maker Faire at the New York Hall of Science. There are also plenty of cool under-the-radar events you may not have heard of, including a marine science fest in Tribeca, a sweet honey fest in Rockaway Beach, and Italian fairs in the Bronx and on Staten Island, which are both a lot less crowded than San Gennaro.

So banish the back-to-school blues by hitting one (or more) of these kid-friendly festivals this September.

9 Play Fountains Where NYC Kids Can Get Totally Soaked

While all three of my kids love to go for a dip, heading to one of NYC's public pools requires advance planning and me donning a bathing suit. Often, our summer fun is more spontaneous. For those hot summer days when we're out and about or need a last-minute distraction, I keep this list of play fountains in the back of my mind.

A more immersive experience than standard sprinkler parks, these play fountains feature shallow pools of water for wading, plus jets shooting H2O sky high. They're the perfect place for kids to frolic and get completely doused without mommy having to go all in—literally. Best of all? They're all completely FREE.

Here are nine fun play fountains in NYC where kids can get absolutely soaked. Most opened for the season over Memorial Day weekend, though some start flowing earlier if temperatures hit 80 degrees.

Best Summer Theater and Shows for NYC Kids 2018

Think the dog days of summer are a cultural wasteland and that all the cool new openings won't start again until fall? That's not the case when it comes to the stage—New York City's family theater scene is hotter than a heat wave.

There are shows for all ages, interests, and budgets throughout the summer season, including a number of FREE options such as no-cost high-quality Shakespeare, and alfresco shows for tots inspired by Peter Pan and Little Red Riding Hood. Plus enjoy eye-popping indoor spectacles for the whole family like MOMIX and Mummenschanz. Best of all, many of our picks cost less than $25 per ticket, and six are 100 percent FREE!

100+ Free Outdoor Family Movies in July for NYC Kids

New York City overflows with no-cost outdoor movie screenings each summer, with at least one FREE flick nearly every single evening in a park or garden this July. While a few series aim specifically for children, including RiverFlicks for Kids, most series sandwich their family films in between grown-up ones.

But it takes a LOT of time to sort through all the different calendars to weed out the movies for kids, so we've done the work for you. Behold: More than 100 FREE outdoor movies this July, all rated G, PG, or PG-13, and all organized by date.

So pack your picnic, grab a blanket, and head out to one of our picks for the best family-friendly alfresco flicks this month. Need more options? Check out our 100 Free Things To Do with Kids This Summer in NYC to save both your wallet and your sanity this school break. And keep an eye on our calendar, too!

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.

New Mini Golf Course Set to Debut on Governors Island This Weekend

Putt-putt lovers take note: A brand new, 18-hole mini golf course on Governors Island is set to debut Saturday, June 23, just in time for the Figment Art Festival this weekend.

Brought to life by the folks behind Adventures at Governors Island (which also introduced a zip line and climbing wall to Governors), the new miniature golf course is located on the island's western shore, with breathtaking views of the Statue of Liberty and New York Harbor beyond.

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