Free and Fun Things to Do This Weekend for NYC Kids: Summer Streets, Sandcastles and Shel Silverstein August 6-7

Best Weekend Events and Activities for New York City Families

Who says all New Yorkers go on vacation in August? We're here and we're having a fantastic time, especially since there are so many entertaining and enriching activities for families this weekend.

My family is particularly looking forward to this Saturday's Summer Streets, when we can take a leisurely bike ride through select car-free Manhattan streets. On Sunday, we're heading to Brooklyn to take advantage of Free Summer Sunday: The Brooklyn Botanic Garden, Prospect Park Zoo, Brooklyn Children’s Museum and other borough culture spots will be offering free admission all day. Speaking of free admission, since this is the first weekend of the month many museums have no-cost visiting hours, including the Brooklyn Museum.

Other weekend fun includes free festivals, a solar-powered carousel at South Street Seaport, a sand sculpting contest, a star-studded tribute to the late great Shel Silverstein and the annual Big Latch On.

And that's just a bit of what's going on. All of our best bets for the weekend are below. You can find additional seasonal fun in our Summer Fun Guide and our Event Calendar.

All Weekend

Carousolar – South Street Seaport
New York is already home to many marvelous merry-go-rounds. Now South Street Seaport gets in on the action with GE's solar-powered model. Through September 6, kids can take a free ride on the company's Carousolar while parents plug their mobile devices into nearby charging stations. Cool!

The Dark Crystal and Jim Henson’s Fantastic World – Astoria
If you haven't seen the Museum of the Moving Image's Jim Henson exhibit yet (we just loved it), this weekend is a great time to check it out. The institution is screening Henson's amazing movie The Dark Crystal, which is great for tween. FREE with museum admission: $10 for adults, $5 for kids.

The Great Summer Zoofari: A Lego Wildlife Expedition – the Bronx
Check out the awesome animals at the zoo... all made from Legos! This incredible display is on view through September 30, and Mommy Poppins is giving away 15 family four-packs to an exclusive Lego Master Builder event. Click here for info.

Saturday, August 6

Summer Streets – Manhattan
Cycle, scooter, skate or stroll your way from the Upper East Side all the way down to the Brooklyn Bridge. Be sure to hit the rest stops for cycling tips, family-friendly activities and performances, sandboxes and sand sculpting, and giveaways. FREE

SummerStage Shelebration! A tribute to the works of Shel Silverstein – Upper East Side
On Saturday night, an eclectic lineup of artists, including musicians Dan Zanes and Lou Reed, comedian Richard Belzer and the father of blaxploitation cinema Melvin Van Peebles, will celebrate the work of prolific author, poet, illustrator and songwriter Shel Silverstein. Although not specifically aimed at families, there should be much for kids (and parents!) to enjoy, especially if you're fans of Where the Sidewalk Ends and his other collections of poetry for children. Word is the first half is much more kid-friendly than the second, so come (and leave) early! FREE

Annual Sand Sculpting Contest and Unity Day – Coney Island
Head to Coney for this annual sand sculpting contest and festival. Kids and adults, amateurs and pros alike are invited to compete, or come and gawk at the amazing edifices. There will also be plenty of entertainment on the boardwalk, including face painting, clowns and live music. FREE

Coney Island Sweetheart Pet Pageant 2011 – Coney Island
If you decide to hit Coney, bring your best four-legged friend with you! The Coney Island Circus Sideshow is hosting a family-friendly pet pageant. So deck out your dog, costume your cat or outfit your favorite animal (all are eligible, even birds, fish, turtles, snakes and rodents). Proceeds go to the ASPCA and Coney Island USA. $10

Free Target First Saturdays at the Brooklyn Museum: Caribbean Community – Prospect Heights
Keep the kids up a little late for this evening fete, where kids can fashion Afro-Caribbean wraps to wear and listen to live reggae tunes. FREE

Vaudeville Family Day – Crown Heights
The Weeksville Heritage Center, which celebrates the rich history of the neighborhood's African-American community, hosts its annual outdoor family festival. Activities include art workshops, face painting and horseback rides with the Black Cowboys Federation. FREE

Word for Word Kids: StarFish – Midtown West
The all-dad band rocks out in the Bryant Park Reading Room with multigenre rock, reggae and punk tunes. FREE.

Meet the Artist Saturdays: Tres Leches
– Upper West Side
Catch this folksy trio of moms in concert at the Atrium at Lincoln Center. The ladies will perform tunes from their world music CD Songs, Chants & Lullabies for All Our Relations. FREE

The Big Latch On – Upper East Side
Are you still breastfeeding your baby? Then help make history by joining this annual nurse-in, which takes place all over the world! This year, the organizers hope to set a record for the most moms nursing at once. Yummy Mummy on the Upper East Side is just one of multiple NYC locations. Find the spot nearest you here. FREE

See all Saturday events

Sunday, August 7

Free Summer Sunday – Brooklyn
In honor of Heart of Brooklyn's 10th anniversary, families can enjoy complimentary admission to the borough's top culture spots, including the Prospect Park Zoo, the Brooklyn Children's Museum, the Brooklyn Museum and the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. There will also be a free, one-day-only, Brooklyn-themed mini-golf course at Grand Army Plaza. FREE

Astoria Park Shore Fest: Kids & Family Fun – Astoria
Summer Streets isn't the only car-free fest this weekend. The Astoria Park Alliance kicks off three consecutive Sundays of traffic-less fun along Shore Boulevard. Stroll down the street and enjoy educational activities, live music, fitness programs and snacks from local eateries. FREE

SummerStage: Tunde's Trumpet – Harlem
This puppet show tells the enchanting tale of how ten-year-old Tunde falls in love with music after receiving a second-hand trumpet as a gift. FREE

Smokey Bear Birthday Bash – Staten Island
Celebrate the forest fire preventer's 67th birthday with nature walks and environmental games at the Mount Loretto Unique Area. The bear of the day will also be on hand to pose with your little cubs. FREE

Historic Richmond Town Community Day – Staten Island
On another part of the island, party like it's 1899 at this vintage site. Watch hearth cooking, blacksmithing and spinning demos, write with a quill pen and play old-school games. FREE

Comics for Kids Workshop Greenpoint
Best-selling author-illustrator Dave Roman drops by Word bookshop to read his new graphic novel Astronaut Academy and lead an interactive comics workshop. Aged 8 and up. FREE

See all Sunday events.

Outside NYC

Head to New Jersey to enjoy dinner at a restaurant with outdoor seating.

Hit Long Island for the annual Sayville Summerfest featuring classic cars, live musical entertainment and carnival rides.

Over in Connecticut, you can cool off at one of five fantastic waterparks.

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

Planning an event? Submit it to our calendar here.

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