NYC school break is upon us, and the kids are itching to play, so we've rounded up FREE things for families to do every single day of summer vacation. Starting with Wednesday, June 29 through Wednesday, September 7, we've compiled the best free children's entertainment in NYC all summer!
Of course, this list isn't comprehensive. There are literally hundreds of FREE fun events happening across our city this school break. You can find more cool seasonal activities and destinations in our Summer Fun Guide, Event Calendar, and Free in NYC Guide.
Still searching for a summer camp for a week or two? Check out our NYC summer camp directory and guide. Plus, we've put together a slew of brainy activity ideas, including FREE at-home STEM fun, in our brand-new Summer Slide Busters Guide.
Many events in this listing occur on multiple dates, so be sure to read through the entire description. We’ve also rounded up a number of anytime activities your family can try all season long. Whatever you end up doing in the city this summer, there's only one rule: Have fun out there.
Free Things To Do in June & July 2016
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Wednesday, June 29 Rock out to Mil's Trills in Fort Greene Park. Enjoy no-cost Music in the Grove Kids' Concerts in the green space every Wednesday morning through August 3. FREE
Thursday, June 30 Get an early dose of Fourth of July fun at Astoria Park's Independence Day Celebration when the Queens Symphony Orchestra performs followed by fireworks. FREE
Friday, July 1 Enjoy the Children Museum Of Manhattan's interactive exhibits, especially the new water play area Dynamic H2O, for FREE between 5pm and 8pm tonight and the first Friday of the month all year. FREE
Saturday, July 2 Sing, dance, and listen to stories at the Mast Brothers Chocolate Factory. Enjoy chocolate-infused family fun every Saturday through September 24. FREE
Sunday, July 3 Visit amenity-filled Brooklyn Bridge Park for a session in circus arts with Brooklyn Beanstalk. The Pier Kids Family Performance series takes place every Sunday through August 7. FREE
Monday, July 4 Celebrate Independence Day with a pair of NYC holiday traditions: Macy's 4th of July Fireworks Spectacular and Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest in Coney Island. FREE
Play on The Swings before the musical exhibit departs in early July. Photo by Ryan Muir/courtesy of Arts Brookfield.
Tuesday, July 5 Hit The Swings, a unique musical public art display at Brookfield Place—kids can play on it—before it moves on to its next city July 7. FREE
Wednesday, July 6 Hitch a ride on the Bronx Culture Trolley to explore the vibrant arts scene in the South Bronx. FREE
Thursday, July 7 Get hep with Jazzy Ash and the Leaping Lizards in Madison Square Park. Catch no-cost concerts on Thursday mornings in the green space through July 28. FREE
Friday, July 8 Bring a blanket and picnic to an outdoor screening of last summer's Minions at RiverFlicks for Kids. Free family films continue at Hudson River Park's Pier 46 on Friday evenings through August 19. FREE
Saturday, July 9 Do the Lindy Hop at Lincoln Center's annual Midsummer Night Swing Kids Dance. Don't worry if you don't know the steps, the learning program Dancing Classrooms will be on hand with lessons. FREE
Sunday, July 10 Soak up French culture at NYC’s official Bastille Day fete, featuring mimes, accordion players, cancan dancers, French lessons, and other fun for les enfants. FREE
Monday, July 11 Enjoy an interactive show by the Grammy-nominated Pop Ups at Hudson River Park’s Pier 25. The free family performances take place every Monday evening through August 15. FREE
Tuesday, July 12 Stop by the Brooklyn Botanic Garden's Discovery Garden for First Discoveries for Toddlers hands-on activity stations. The program runs through August 23 on Tuesdays when admission to the garden is FREE.
Wednesday, July 13 Improve your game at this no-cost chess clinic in Nelson A. Rockefeller Park, which takes place every Wednesday through September 28. FREE
Thursday, July 14 Enjoy complimentary admission to the Brooklyn Children's Museum from 3 to 5pm today and every Thursday throughout the year. FREE
Friday, July 15 Check out Air Pressure, the cool, new animated bird sculptures that look like they are flying through Brookfield Plaza, on view through September 12. FREE
Build a cardboard boat and enjoy a race at City of Water Day on Governors Island. Photo courtesy of Governors Island.
Saturday, July 16 Celebrate NYC's waterways with no-cost boat rides and eco-activities at City of Water Day on Governors Island. FREE
Sunday, July 17 Enjoy an afternoon of varied entertainment at Summer Stage Family Day in St. Mary's Park in the Bronx, including Recess Monkey, Double Dutch Dreamz and other family faves. FREE
Monday, July 18 Cast a line in Central Park's picturesque Harlem Meer for some catch-and-release-fishing today or any day all summer long. FREE
Tuesday, July 19 Drop into Brooklyn Bridge Park's Environmental Education Center for face time with water creatures, craft making and more. The center is open to the public every Tuesday and Thursday through November 22. FREE
Wednesday, July 20 See Theatreworks USA's brand-new musical, Junie B.'s Essential Survival Guide To School, based on Barbara Park's book of the same name. The no-cost musical runs through Friday, August 19 at the Lucille Lortel Theatre. FREE
Thursday, July 21 Enjoy yoga and a performance by Morgan Taylor and his little yellow alter ego, Gustafer Yellowgold, at Union Square Park's Summer in the Square Festival, which runs Thursdays through August 11. FREE
Friday, July 22 Watch fireworks explode over the Coney Island boardwalk courtesy of Deno's Wonder Wheel. The pyrotechnics continue Friday nights through September 2.
Saturday, July 23 Enjoy Family Day at Lincoln Center Out of Doors, featuring performances by the Dance Theater of Harlem, 60s-inspired She’s a Rebel: The Girl Group Project and the genre-busting Illstyle & Peace Productions dance collective. FREE
Sunday, July 24 Challenge the gang to a showdown at the Alley Pond Park Adventure Course during a Sunday public session. Note: preregistration is required. FREE
Monday, July 25 Watch the clever cat come to life in CityParks PuppetMobile's Puss in Boots at J. Hood Wright Park today. The puppet production is playing in parks throughout the city all summer. FREE
Tuesday, July 26 Explore the National Museum of Mathematics' one-day Math Metropolis at the Plaza at 28 Liberty Street. The museum will exhibit its Math Midway 2 Go, six interactive math concept stations. FREE
Wednesday, July 27 Enjoy catch-and-release fishing at Hudson River Park's Pier 46 today and every Wednesday through August 24. Kids also can cast their lines at Pier 25 on Mondays, and Piers 46, 84 and 25 on Sundays. FREE
Enjoy elevated musical entertainment from the Shinbone Alley Stilt Band. Photo courtesy of the band.
Thursday, July 28 Catch the lofty Shinbone Alley Stilt Band in an outdoor concert at Pier 1 in Riverside Park. FREE
Friday, July 29 Get a crash course in Mandarin with an interactive and musical lesson with Bilingual Birdies at the Ottendorfer Branch of NYPL. The complimentary class runs every Friday through today. FREE
Saturday, July 30 Enjoy top-notch storytelling at Central Park's Hans Christian Andersen statue today and every Saturday morning through September 24. FREE
Sunday, July 31 Swing to hip tunes at SummerStage Family Day in Queensbridge Park, featuring performances by Marc Cary: The Harlem Sessions; Joseph Webb: Dancing Buddhas; and WBGO Kids Jazz, featuring Brianna Thomas and The Jazz Travelers. FREE
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Check out our Summer Fun Guide and our Event Calendar for additional suggestions.
Top image: Bastille Day festivities. Photo by Sasha Arutyunova/courtesy of the festival.