Welcome to the first full month of summer! Our monthly GoList of the absolute best things to do with kids throughout July includes some of our favorite FREE annual events—happenings my family and I mark on our calendar every year. Enjoy the always FREE Fourth of July fireworks spectacle and the no-cost boat rides as part of City of Water Day on Governors Island.
There are also some new-this-summer events that we can't wait to check out like Let's Dance, a new interactive exhibit with daily dance lessons at the Children's Museum of Manhattan, and and an Eloise sing-along, kicking off the new exhibit at the New-York Historical Society. Plus, there are some family-friendly culture-musts opening this month: the death-defying moves of Compagnie XY’s Il N’est Pas Encore Minuit aerial show, the fast feet of the double dutch kids at Lincoln Center Out of Doors Family Weekend, and Theatreworks USA's FREE summer musical, Pete the Cat.
Now get your calendars ready! Here are the top 16 things to do with kids in New York City this July—most of which are 100% FREE.
As always, if an event piques your interest, be sure to click through to our listing for all the details, including the price, address, and time. And remember, in NYC, really cool things to do with kids often get booked up quickly. So buy your tickets ASAP or, in the case of FREE events, arrive as early as possible to beat the crowds.
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SummerStage Family Workshops — Citywide
Ongoing this summer
This year, SummerStage hosts pre-concert, free family workshops in parks all around the city. Arrive at 6pm, prior to the Everyday People performance, on July 1 and participate in beatboxing workshop with Scratch Academy. FREE
Let's Dance – Upper West Side
Saturday, July 1 to December 2017
The Children's Museum of Manhattan opens a brand-new, fully interactive exhibit dedicated to dance. It comes complete with daily dance lessons, a dance portal, and an immersive experience in everything from ballet to Bollywood.
RELATED: 100 Free Things To Do This Summer in NYC
The Macy’s Fireworks return to the East River this Year. Photo by Dan Nguyen/CC BY 2.0
Celebrate the July Fourth — Citywide
Tuesday, July 4
Celebrate Independence Day by gawking at Macy's incredible 4th of July Fireworks or heading to Coney Island to cheer on the competitors in the annual Nathan's Famous Fourth of July International Hot Dog Eating Contest. Other equally fun and probably less crowded ways to enjoy the day include hitting up Omar’s 4th of July Spectacular (with DJ music, dance contests, fun games, and magic shows) or gazing at the stars, planets, and moon through the high-powered telescopes of the Amateur Astronomers Association on The High Line.
Cirque du Soleil's OVO — Downtown Brooklyn
Wednesday, July 5 to Sunday, July 9
Cirque du Soleil returns its OVO show to New York City, but this time expands into Barclays Center. OVO, which means “egg” in Portuguese, demonstrates the typical high-flying aerial and contortionist acts we're accustomed to seeing from this troupe, but the actors are...insects. They crawl, flutter, play and more, as they act out a performance that our previous reviewer noted is more dance than circus.
Broadway in Bryant Park: Stomp, Groundhog Day, Wicked, and The Phantom of the Opera – Midtown
Thursday, July 6 to Thursday, August 10
Take in sneak-peek performances from the best of Broadway and Off-Broadway on the Bryant Park Stage on Thursday afternoons. Hosted by the station’s on-air personalities and theater favorites, the series runs through August 10. Check out the full listing for future performances. FREE
Math Metropolis — Downtown Manhattan
Sunday, July 9
Summer slide got you worried? Head down to Liberty Plaza for this outdoor hands-on math fest from the folks at MoMath. Kids can try puzzles, brainteasers, and games. FREE
Bastille Day on East 60th Street offers a full celebration of French culture. Photo by Michael George/courtesy the festival.
Bastille Day on East 60th Street — Upper East Side
Sunday, July 9
Celebrate French culture and cuisine at this annual outdoor fete hosted by the French Institute/Alliance Française. Taste freshly made crêpes and éclairs, enjoy live French music and mime performances, browse handmade wares at the market, and hit the Kids’ Corner for face painting and arts and crafts. Plus, catch performances from Broadway's An American in Paris. FREE admission with fees for certain activities.
The New York Musical Theatre Festival: Numbers Nerds — Midtown West
Wednesday, July 19 to Sunday, July 23
Many hit musicals actually made their NYC debuts at this annual fest. Though most selections are aimed at adults, this year's fest features some intriguing children's shows, like Numbers Nerds, a hit with tweens: an almost all-girl high school math team from Waukesha, Wisconsin, has won the Regional Math Competition and is chosen to compete in the National Math SUM-IT while wading through teenage drama.
City of Water Day — Governors Island
Saturday, July 15
Head to Governors Island or a satellite event all over New York Harbor. Enjoy kayaking and canoeing, historic boat tours, and live entertainment, including The Rejuvenary River Circus, an allegorical tale featuring masks and puppet characters, a bio-morphic set design, and live original music. Get up close and personal with reptiles and aquatic creatures, get fishing lessons, and enjoy arts and crafts and bouncy castles. All boat tours require advance registration. Reservations go live on the City of Water Day website at the end of June and they go fast! (You're required to pay a $5 reservation fee per person, which will be refunded when you show up for the trip.) At previous City of Water Day celebrations, my son and I have gone on the Sloop Clearwater, an NYC Audubon Eco-Cruise, and the Schooner Pioneer. FREE
Rubin Museum Block Party — Chelsea
Sunday, July 16
Is there a kid that doesn't like to make noise? Head to the Rubin Museum's afternoon block party to help it celebrate its new collaborative exhibit, The World Is Sound. There will be live performances, tours, Himalayan snacks, ice cream trucks, and more fun in store just for the kiddos. FREE
Compagnie XY’s Il N’est Pas Encore Minuit — Upper West Side
Wednesday, July 19 to Sunday, July 22
Daredevil feats without safety nets is paired with poetic sensibility in this heart-stopping new piece (Le Progrès) from renowned French circus collective Compagnie XY. In this collaboration with choreographer Loïc Touzé, the 22 acrobats of XY reflect on the ways in which humanity deals with instability and imbalance. The kids might not get the underlying messages, but they will love the gasp-inducing moves.
Pete the Cat — West Village
Wednesday, July 19 to Friday, August 18
Every summer, the wonderful national children's theater company, Theatreworks USA, produces a professional off-Broadway show for family audiences—and gives away the tickets for FREE. I've been to many of the summer productions in the past, and they're always high-quality and entertaining. This year's show features every preschooler’s favorite feline. When Pete the Cat gets caught rocking out after bedtime, the cat-catcher sends him to live with the Biddle family. The minute the blue cat walks in the door, he gets the whole family rocking, except for young Jimmy. Tickets are given out on a first-come, first-served basis an hour prior to each performance (there is often a line, so plan ahead). Camps tend to take over on weekdays so you're better off going on a Sunday or to one of the evening shows. By the way, there is absolutely no stroller storage at the theater, so don't bring one. FREE
RELATED: Free Outdoor Movies in NYC This July
Come Out & Play, a day of street games for families, is one more reason to visit Governors Island. Photo by Jim Bearden.
Come Out & Play Family Day — Governors Island
Saturday, July 22
It's the 12th anniversary of the Come Out & Play festival of street games, and while most are aimed at adults, kids can get in on the action during Family Day on Governors Island. Families can participate in multiple interconnecting games themed around time travel, both back to the distant past and ahead to the future. Just head to the official Time Travel Agency to get started, then play as few or many as you'd like. Developed by ESI Design, the games are best suited for children ages 6-11 and their adult companions. Guardians must sign waivers for all players under 18. All games run multiple times but participation is first come, first serve. FREE
Jim Henson sitting with his iconic creation Kermit the Frog, in front of a mural by Coulter Watt. Photo by John E. Barrett courtesy of The Jim Henson Company / MoMI.
The Jim Henson Exhibition — Astoria, Queens
Opens Saturday, July 22 with no end date
The wait is over for Muppets fans! The long-anticipated permanent exhibit showcasing the late Jim Henson and his beloved characters opens at The Museum of the Moving Image in Astoria. Among the nearly 300 objects on view in The Jim Henson Exhibition are 47 puppets—including Kermit the Frog, Miss Piggy, Rowlf, The Swedish Chef, Statler, Waldorf, Big Bird, Elmo, Cantus Fraggle, a Skeksis, and other popular favorites—character sketches, storyboards, scripts, photographs, and iconic costumes.
Thunderbird American Indian Mid-Summer Powwow — Floral Park, Queens
Friday July 28 to Sunday, July 30
Our favorite NYC farm (the Queens County Museum) opens up its grounds for a real-live powwow this weekend. More than 40 Indian nations will participate. Watch dance competitions, peruse the vendors, and introduce kids to another culture.
RELATED: Best Summer Festivals in NYC This July for Families
The Double Dutch Championships at Lincoln Center go back decades. Photo by Richard Brown/Lincoln Center Archives.
Lincoln Center Out of Doors Family Weekend — Upper West Side
Saturday July 29 to Sunday July 30
Do you have the moves? Or maybe you just want to marvel at them. Head over for a double dutch demonstration with members of the National Double Dutch League, participate in an open jump, watch the fascinating documentary on the subject, Pick Up Your Feet: The Double Dutch Show, as well as a discussion with The Fantastic Four (the inspiration for the film). The fun is all part of Lincoln Center's Out of Doors festival, which brings free concerts, art, films and more to the Upper West Side. Check out the full lineup for more family picks. FREE
NYC has so many amazing things going on, it's often difficult for us to choose our GoList picks each month. So here are a few more cool events worth considering for your July calendar.
Every Friday, Bryant Park will be home a gigantic picnic thanks to Friday Picnics, with more than a 100 free blankets to borrow. Pack a basket, dust off the sun hats, and enjoy a meal while watching some great live entertainment.
Swale, the edible floating forest, moves from Brooklyn to the Bronx on July 1, transporting its floating apple orchard, hundreds of edible perennial plants, and more. FREE
Town Square's SummerSTARZ free family movie nights are back. Catch all or one of the six Friday nights, starting with Guardians of the Galaxy on July 7. Find more outdoor movies playing in July with our guide to summer flicks. FREE
If you're going to visit Eloise at the Museum's storytime, at the New York Historical Society, visit on July 8 for a ukulele sing-a-long led by professional musician, dancer, and actress Devin N.
Get soaked at the Upper East Side Asphalt Green's annual Sprinkler Day on Saturday, July 15. Plus everyone gets a free icy treat! FREE
Explore moveable sculptures on July 15 at Whitney Kids Summer Family Day with Calder: Hypermobility and interactive installations in Hélio Oiticica: To Organize Delirium. Kids will partake in gallery activities, art making workshops, and a special Samba performance and dance party. FREE with museum admission
The multi-day Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel includes live music, carnival rides and great eats, along with a traditional procession of flower-strewn towers, but if you're only going to make it one day, the big feast on Sunday, July 17. Be sure to check the full schedule before heading over, because there are different activities every day. FREE
In the kid-friendly performance Lollipops for Breakfast, Sylvie decides she’s doing just that, even if it means she has to make her own amazingly perfect lollipop from scratch. Head to Queens on July 30 to take in affordable and entertaining musical.
Go for an old-school ride on a Nostalgia Train bound for Coney Island on Sunday, July 30.