Governors Island

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.

The Best Boat Rides for Families in NYC

Going out on the water in New York lets you see the city from a whole new perspective. Whether you're sailing down one of the rivers, taking a FREE kayak out for a spin, or cruising on the ocean looking for whales, it's relaxing, refreshing, and a great way to stay cool on a summer day with the kids.

While there are all kinds of boat tours on offer around NYC, from the Circle Line to the citywide ferry service, the question for parents is, which ones are truly family-friendly? After all, once you're on the water you're committed to the ride regardless of tantrums, seasickness, or boredom.

To help you figure out which NYC boat rides will work best for your family, we've highlighted some personal favorites, and broken down the best options by type, including the best boat rides for wildlife watching, best for would-be pirates, best for your budget, and more. Discover even more family-friendly things to do this summer in our Summer Fun Guide

Free Kayaking, Canoeing, and Rowboat Options in New York City

With all the water surrounding New York City, it's no wonder there are so many sightseeing cruises and fun ferry rides to great kid destinations. For times when you want to be your own captain, there are many seasonal opportunities for NYC families to get out on the water by themselves with kayaking, rowing, and canoeing. Much of the fun kicks off Memorial Day weekend or early summer.

We've rounded up 11 great New York City organizations that offer boating sessions on our wonderful waterways—and they're all FREE. Ahoy!

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