Labor Day Weekend with NYC Kids: Festivals, Tugboats, Beaches

Labor Day Weekend NYC Events & Activities Families, September 2-4, 2017

For NYC kids, Labor Day weekend means one thing: time to finish that summer bucket list before it's back to school time. There's plenty going, too. On Governors Island, try riding a unicycle at NYC's annual two-day unicycle fest. Watch the Great North River Tugboat Race & Competition on the Hudson. At the Richmond County Fair, step back in time for carnival fun. If that's not enough outdoor carnival fun for you, head to the perfect-for-preschoolers West Side County Fair

Here's an idea: pick some apples! Or pack fruit and head to the Jersey shore with our handy-dandy guide. Staycation? See our guide to outdoor beach, pool, and sprinkler options within the five boroughs. Take the subway (or ferry) to the beach, or hit the road for nearby amusement park, water theme park, or even a fresh water swimming lake. Day trip to Long Beach or maybe Asbury Park for a new beach spot.

Looking for something low impact? Enjoy family brunch outdoors at one of these kid-friendly restaurants in Manhattan or Brooklyn, or go for an ice cream crawl with these worthy NYC sweet shops. We've also got a number of suggestions for a rainy day at the museum or indoor playground and play spaces; nature spots and outdoor playgrounds if the clouds stay away; and even some day trip ideas to see something special in the 'burbs, from sculpture gardens to dinosaurs.

Speaking of trips, our Family Travel Guide offers family getaway ideas for places like the Hudson ValleyDutch Country, the Berkshires, Portland, Maine, the PoconosFlorida, and of course Long Island's East End, along with other great destinations for this and upcoming fall holiday weekends, including farm stays.

Read on for all of our Labor Day weekend picks. You'll find additional suggestions in our Event Calendar and September GoList. Farewell, summer!

All Weekend

Learn to ride a unicycle or just watch crazy unicycle events on Governor’s Island. Photo courtesy Bindlestiff Family Cirkus

NYC Unicycle Festival — Governors Island
Another September GoList pick! Head to Governors Island to give one-wheeling a whirl or just watch the pros compete in competitive games. Afterward, check out the island's adventure playgroundzip line, and slide hill. FREE

Richmond County Fair — Staten Island
September GoList pick: Once again, Historic Richmond Town changes into an old-fashioned county fair with carnival-style fun such as pig races, pie- and hot-dog eating contests, classic car displays, arts and crafts, live music, and a midway with rides. All activities are included with admission!

Family Art Project: Painting Outdoors with Eliza, Susie, and Harriet — Riverdale, the Bronx
Three painters from the Hudson River School host a workshop on capturing the late summer beauty of the Wave Hill Public Garden and Cultural Center. Admission is FREE before noon. 

Realibilities presents a puppet musical about Uno, an autistic boy who finds support from his friends.

Addy & Uno — East Village
Another September GoList pick! The 14th Street Y hosts company Realibilities's new puppet musical following Uno, an autistic boy who gains the support of his friends when he tries to join the school math team. Also see our guide to all sorts of fun for New York City kids with special needs

Family Art Workshops: Hispanic Heritage Month — Staten Island
The Staten Island Museum at Snug Harbor hosts workshops where kids can make paper flags, flower, and maracas in celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month. With so many things to do in the area, make a day of it.

Family Programs at the Intrepid: Flying in Style — Midtown West
Most of the aircrafts on display at the Intrepid Museum sport decorative art and insignia of some kind. At this event, learn more about these designs and then create some of your own.

See all weekend events.

Saturday, September 2

Circus Amok — Long Island City, Queens
The Socrates Sculpture Garden hosts the surreal, dangerous, and funny stunts of the always kooky Circus Amok. FREE

Pop-up Audubon I: Radical Raptors — Prospect Park, Brooklyn
At this cool shindig focused on birds of prey and held in the park's Zucker Natural Exploration Area, dissect an owl pellet and go on a walk with ornithologists. FREE

Enchanted. Photo courtesy of Disney

Dinner and a Movie on Oculus Plaza: Enchanted — Financial District
Set yourself up in the outdoor shadow of the World Trade Center Oculus (armadillo? stegosaurus?) and see Enchanted, Disney's 2007 fish-out-of-water fantasy in which a fairy tale princess finds herself dropped into modern-day Manhattan. FREE

Loren Niemi and Valentina Ortiz: Stories at the Statue — Central Park/Upper East Side
If you haven't caught this wonderful, recurring storytelling event this summer, now's the time. Niemi will entertain with "Hansel and Gretel," and Ortiz brings Mexican tale "Mother Earth," with live music by Alda Reuter. FREE

Omar's Summer Send Off — Woodhaven, Queens
The Forest Park Carousel is the perfect spot for kids to say good-bye to summer. This party features a DJ, dance contests, games, and magic shows. FREE

See all Saturday events.

Sunday, September 3

West Side County Fair — Upper West Side
Yup, another September GoList pick: Perfect for preschoolers, this annual favorite features small carnival rides and games, live music, sideshow performers, live animal shows, and a smattering of country vendors. It gets crowded fast, so arrive early to try to avoid lines. Afterward, grab a bite at the Pier I Cafe or head a few blocks north to romp in Elephant Playground. FREE

Summer on the Hudson: Riverside Park Skate Jam — Upper West Side
Not your average day at the park: instead, a day of competitions, food, and raffles while 'boarders free skate or watch their friends hit the half-pipe. FREE

Watch tugboats duel it out at the Great North River Tugboat Race & Competition. Photo by Mitch Waxman/courtesy of the event

Great North River Tugboat Race & Competition — Midtown West
Our final September GoList pick for the weekend: Watch 15 tugboats race from Pier I in Riverside Park South down to Pier 84, where there will be knot-tying and spinach-eating contests, live music, and other nautical-themed fun. The races and competitions take place in the Hudson River and can be viewed for free, but for the best vantage point, splurge on tickets for the Circle Line spectator boat that follows the tugs. FREE from the shore.

Brazilian Day — Midtown West
Celebrate the culture of Brazil at this annual fest featuring live performances and food stands in NYC's own Little Brazil. FREE

See all Sunday events.

Monday, September 4

Labor Day in Prospect Park — Prospect Park, Brooklyn
Bring your competitive spirit to Lefferts Historic House for friendly potato sack and spoon races, stilt-walking, and other old-fashioned fun. FREE

Broadway Week 2017 (2-for-1 tickets) — Citywide
Tickets went on sale August 17, but there might be some left when two-for-one shows begin today, and run until September 17.

Catch a back-to-school bash in Fort Greene! Photo courtesy of Habana Outpost.

Habana Outpost Back-to-School Bash — Fort Greene, Brooklyn
Get ready to go back to school at the restaurant's annual celebration featuring activities led by some of NYC's favorite kid-centric businesses, plus complimentary class supplies. FREE

Free Roller Skating Hours — Brooklyn Bridge Park
All summer long, the skating rink at Brooklyn Bridge Park has hosted free skating on Monday afternoons, meaning Labor Day is twice as fun this year. FREE

Swim at the Brooklyn Bridge Pop-Up Pool — Brooklyn Bridge Park
Take a dip on the final day for NYC's smallest pools, including the famed Brooklyn Bridge Park Pop-Up Pool, which returned for another bonus year in 2017. Swim sessions at this pool are capped at 60 people, so get there early to avoid a long line or being shut out. Larger NYC pools (and beaches) will be open one more week, through September 11. FREE

See all Monday events

Don't forget: There's more fun to be found in our Event Calendar.

Top photo: Labor Day is the last day, possibly forever, to swim at the Brooklyn Bridge Park Pop-up Pool. Photo by Etienne Frossard/courtesy BBP.