Summer is the season of FREE in NYC—and here it comes. There's no-cost fun everywhere you turn, from festivals, outdoor movies, and concerts, to kayaking, and fireworks. With the public school break upon us, and the kids are itching to play (and swim), we've rounded up FREE things for families to do every single day of summer vacation. Starting with Thursday, June 29 and running all the way through Wednesday, September 6, 2017, 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, including beach day trips, FREE splash pads, and more. Peruse our Events Calendar for more events.
Still searching for a summer camp for a week or two? Check out our NYC summer camp directory and 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 2017
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Thursday, June 29 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, June 30 Celebrate the beginning of summer with Community Field Day in Rockefeller Park, where you'll learn classic games like Double Dutch, square off in potato sack races, relays, tug-of-war, and more. FREE
Saturday, July 1 Head to the Hans Christian Andersen statue in Central Park for a special storytime courtesy of the Hans Christian Andersen Storytelling Center.
Sunday, July 2 Test your skills on the ropes course at the Alley Pond Adventure Center in Queens, which offers a pair of FREE sessions at 9:30am and 1pm every summer Sunday.
Monday, July 3 Pack a picnic and spread your blanket on the lawn at Bryant Park to enjoy the weekly movie festival. This week's pick is very family friendly: The Muppets Take Manhattan. FREE
Tuesday, 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
Wednesday, July 5 Hop aboard the Bronx Culture Trolley for a tour of the South Bronx's cultural hot spots. Trolley ride and admission to participating institutions are FREE.
Thursday, July 6 Get your show tune fix with the Broadway in Bryant Park performances. Today's show features selections from Stomp, Groundhog Day, Wicked, and The Phantom of the Opera. FREE
Friday, July 7 Enjoy a pre-show workshop and SummerStage performance by Slick Rick The Ruler & GrandWizzard Theodore. Arrive by 6 p.m. for a Scratch Academy workshop where kids can pick up some DJ tips. FREE
Saturday, July 8 Head to Governors Island, one of our favorite summer play spots, to enjoy the weekend-only Play:ground and the annual Vintage Bus Bash sponsored by the NY Transit Museum. FREE
Sunday, July 9 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 10 Take in a performance of Mike Messer. The lead singer of the Dirty Sock Funtime Band takes to the stage at Pier 62 in Hudson River Park. FREE
Tuesday, July 11 Catch an alfresco flick at the Bronx Terminal Market, which shows The Secret Life of Pets on the roof of its parking garage. FREE
Wednesday, July 12 Dance the night away with Brooklyn Bowl's Sunset Sounds at Industry City, which celebrates the music of the Piano Man, Billy Joel, himself tonight. FREE
Thursday, July 13 What's better than a movie on the river? How about a movie, on the river, complete with sing-along fun? Hudson RiverFlicks hosts a Mama Mia sing-along special in Clinton Cove. FREE
Friday, July 14 Stop by Corporal Thompson Park for the City Parks PuppetMobile Presentation of Cinderella Samba, which lends a Brazilian flair to the typical Cinderella storyline. FREE
RELATED: Best Events for Preschoolers This Summer — Mostly Free!
Build a cardboard boat and enjoy a race at City of Water Day on Governors Island. Photo courtesy of Governors Island.
Saturday, July 15 Hit the city shoreline and the water beyond for one of our favorite annual fests. City of Water Day features boat rides and a family festival. The best part of all: It's all FREE, though boat rides require advance registration.
Sunday, July 16 Hone your hoops skills with a clinic in Brooklyn Bridge Park. Each session also includes yoga or flag football, too, for extra cross-training. FREE
Monday, July 17 Preschoolers will have a ball at the Preschool Play session at Wagner Park. Sing songs, listen to stories, and enjoy open play with toys (without messing up your apartment!) FREE
Tuesday, July 18 Got tweens and teens? Head to the Intrepid to catch an outdoor showing of Anchorman on the flight deck. FREE
Wednesday, July 19 Rock out with popular storybook character Pete the Cat when he takes to the stage at the Lucille Lortel Theatre. FREE
Thursday, July 20 Catch a Story Pirates performance when they take to the stage in Union Square, part of the 'hood's FREE Citi Summer in the Square programming.
Friday, July 21 Groove at the scenic West Harlem Piers Park during a live dance performance by The Movement Creative. FREE
Saturday, July 22 Head to Staten Island's Midland Beach for the Back to the Beach bash, where there will be live music, rides, games, and food. Enjoy fireworks at night's end. FREE
Sunday, July 23 Visit the underrated Rubin Museum for its Family Sundays program where you'll be inspired by its ongoing The World Is Sound exhibition to create your own musical instruments. FREE
Monday, July 24 Enjoy some alfresco culture when The Met's Summer Recital Series plays at Socrates Sculpture Park. FREE
Tuesday, July 25 Head to Sunnyside Park when it opens its gates for Shakespeare in the Park. FREE
Wednesday, July 26 Join Mil's Trills when they play Fort Greene Park's Music in the Grove today. FREE
Thursday, July 27 Hit a local library to participate in the Summer Reading Challenge 2017. Some of our faves are the Children's Center at 42nd Street, the Central Branch of the Brooklyn Public Library in Prospect Heights, and the Children’s Library Discovery Center in Jamaica, Queens.
Friday, July 28 Catch the annual Classical Theater of Harlem production in Marcus Garvey Park. On stage this season: The Three Musketeers. FREE
Saturday, July 29 Explore your roots and those of your neighborhood in The High Line's Make It Rooted program, which examines the varied traditions of New York City residents.
Sunday, July 30 Celebrate Double Dutch at Lincoln Center's Out of Doors Family Festival. FREE
Monday, July 31 Hop aboard a bicycle on Governors Island, where weekday mornings mean hourlong FREE rentals.
See August events | See September events | See anytime events
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.