June GoList: Best Things To Do with NYC Kids

Activities for NYC Kids in June: Mermaid Parade, City of Science, Arts, Museums, More

Get your calendars ready! Here are the top things to do with kids in New York City this June, and many are 100% FREE. The first month of summer brings a slew of incredible outdoor activities. But while no-cost festivals, fairs, and parades abound, there are a handful of truly spectacular ones that are musts for families.

Many of our favorite FREE annual events take place this month, including Coney Island's Mermaid Parade, the Lower East Side's Egg Rolls, Egg Creams, and Empanadas Festival, the Museum Mile Festival, and Governors Island's Figment NYC. Plus we've got the scoop on some new happenings, like an upper Manhattan arts hub, a magical exhibition at the New-York Historical Society, and plenty more.

Find more great happenings this June in our event calendar and Guide to the Best Summer Events for NYC families.

As always, if an event piques your interest, be sure to click through to our listing for all the details, including addresses and times. And keep in mind: 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.

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Culture Hub – Inwood
Friday, June 1-Saturday, June 30
The folks behind Inwood Art Works aim shine a light on the bustling arts community in northern Manhattan with this monthlong pop-up. By day, the Culture Hub serves as a co-working spot and bustling art gallery for local artists; nights and weekends offer a wide range of arts-centric programming, from performing to visual arts. Catch live jazz on Friday nights, attend a family disco, craft a replica of the Henry Hudson Bridge, paint a masterpiece, participate in a teen night, and more at this all-ages community-focused spot.

RELATED: Pick Your Own Strawberry Farms and Festivals Near NYC

The World Science Festival hosts its interactive kids' science fair in the middle of Washington Square Park. Photo courtesy of the event.

City of Science — West Village
Sunday, June 3
The totally FREE event is part of the multi-day World Science Festival and is filled with hands-on tech, science experiments, and demonstrations. This year, kids can explore all manner of scientific disciplines in Washington Square Park and over several floors of NYU's Kimmel Center. All-ages activities range from giant bubbles for preschoolers to robots built by local high schoolers, plus VR experiences, eco-friendly activities and so much more. FREE

New York Philharmonic Concerts in the Park - Citywide
Tuesday, June 12-Friday, June 15, and Sunday, June 17
Introduce kids to classical music with the premier New York Philharmonic as it once again kicks off its FREE outdoor summer series. Catch them in Prospect ParkCentral ParkVan Cortlandt ParkCunningham Park, and at the Snug Harbor Cultural Center And Botanical Garden. All performances are followed by fireworks! FREE

The post-dinner Museum Mile Festival celebrates art-making outdoors and in. Photo by Joe Buglewicz for NYCgo

Museum Mile Festival — Upper East Side
Tuesday, June 12
It's worth blowing bedtime for this annual celebration of art and culture when Fifth Avenue's Museum Mile is closed to traffic and turned into a massive art party. Everywhere you look, people are making art, plus local cultural institutions like the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of the City of New York, the Guggenheim, the Cooper Hewitt and El Museo del Barrio offer FREE admission. If you want to visit the museums, arrive early as lines usually stretch around the block, especially for the smaller institutions. Or you can do what we do and just stay outdoors and enjoy live music, theater and dance performances, jugglers, and a wide variety of art activities for kids. FREE

Summer of Magic – Upper West Side
Friday, June 15-Sunday, September 16
Head to the New-York Historical Society for this season-long celebration of all things magical and mystifying as it gets ready to introduce its new Harry Potter exhibit this fall. Whether you choose to peruse the artifacts in the Summer of Magic: Treasures from the David Copperfield Collection exhibit, enjoy an evening conversation with Copperfield himself, watch a magic-themed movie screening, catch a magic show, or play magical History Detective in the DiMenna Children's Museum, there's plenty of all-ages fun to experience.

RELATED: Free Kayaking, Canoeing, and Rowing Spots in NYC

The Mermaid Parade is the largest art parade in the nation and one of NYC's greatest summer events. Photo courtesy of the parade

The Mermaid Parade — Coney Island
Saturday, June 16
A Coney Island tradition since 1983, the parade features revelers decked out in their most outrageous aquatic-themed costumes. No wonder it's one of the 100 best things to do with kids in NYC. Queen Mermaid and King Neptune will lead mermaids, mermen, pirates, fish, showgirls, vintage cars, funky floats and a fair amount of scantily clad folks through the streets and onto the boardwalk. Watching is FREE or you can register to march for a fee. Afterward, stick around to enjoy all the family fun the area has to offer. Three things to keep in mind: It is insanely crowded (hundreds of thousands attend every year), there is nudity (mostly topless ladies), and whatever you do, don't drive. There is literally nowhere to park—even the New York Aquarium's lot fills up long before noon with members' cars. FREE

Test your balance log rolling in Central Park during Adventures NYC fest. Photo by Daniel Avila for NYC Parks

Adventures NYC — Central Park
Saturday, June 16
Get outdoors and active at this annual family fest presented by the NYC Parks Department and partners. The alfresco fun includes rock climbing, zip lining, yoga, mountain biking, surfing VR, and obstacle courses. There are also water sports like paddle boarding and log rolling, so pack your swimsuit! Waivers must be signed on-site. FREE

Savor the sites, sounds and tastes of the Lower East Side at this joyous neighborhood festival presented by the Museum at Eldridge Street. Photo by Kate Milford

Egg Rolls, Egg Creams, and Empanadas Festival — Lower East Side
Sunday, June 17
Celebrate the multicultural heritage of the Lower East Side at this tasty street fair hosted by the Museum at Eldridge Street. Tour the historic synagogue-turned-museum; learn words in Yiddish, Mandarin, and Spanish; enjoy live Chinese opera, klezmer, and bomba and plena music; plus try your hand at playing mahjong and making Puerto Rican-style masks. The egg rolls and empanadas are kosher, and the egg creams are made with NYC's classic Fox's U-bet chocolate and flavored syrups. Sounds like a tasty bet for Father's Day! FREE

Take part in free events during the summer solstice fete, Make Music New York. Photo courtesy of the festival

Make Music New York — Citywide
Thursday, June 21
Mark the official first day of summer by hearing (or making) beautiful music. From morning to night, hundreds of no-cost concerts take place in public spaces like parks and plazas throughout the five boroughs. In the past, family-friendly performers have included Hopalong Andrew, Amelia Robinson of Mil's Trils, the Rock-a-Silly Band, and many more. A full schedule will be released soon. Just head out and wander around NYC with your ears open. FREE

Figment NYC — Governors Island
Saturday, June 23-Sunday, June 24
This über-creative arts fest on Governors Island is filled with offbeat performances and interactive art, much of it collaborative. Figment is an unforgettable day out on the activity-packed isle. One warning: Catch a morning ferry! In past years, so many people have tried to go, boats were cut off by early afternoon. FREE except for applicable ferry fees

The Brooklyn Bridge Park's pop-up pool includes swim time, a food and a lemonade stand, and even a small beach. Photo by Etienne Frossard for NYC Parks

NYC Public Pools Open — Citywide
Wednesday, June 27
As usual, NYC's FREE outdoor pools open the day after public school lets out and remain available through Labor Day. (Year-round indoor pools require a recreation center membership.) We have a roundup of our favorite places to take a no-cost dip but there are lots of options in all five boroughs. Most are open from 11am-3pm and 4pm-7pm daily, weather permitting. And before you go, be sure to read our post about public pool rules—some of them might surprise you. FREE

LGBT Pride Month — Citywide
June is pride month; help kids celebrate diversity with a range of events all month long, from the more low-key Brooklyn Pride Celebration on Saturday, June 9, to the big annual march in Manhattan with NYC Pride on Sunday, June 24. The Manhattan fest also offers a family movie night (Tuesday, June 19), and a teen day, Youth Pride (Saturday, June 23), which will include an afternoon of games, performances, and celebrations. Another option to celebrate Pride comes on Sunday, June 10 when the Children's Museum of the Arts hosts a Pride Cultural Fest of its own, complete with a 10-year-old drag queen hosting and a special storytime. FREE

Opening of Ocean Wonders: Sharks — Coney Island, Brooklyn
Saturday, June 30
The long-awaited, exciting new exhibit at the New York Aquarium on Coney Island opens on the last day of this month. Families will find nine new galleries housed over three stories in the brand-new 57,500-square-foot addition. It will be filled with all sorts of marine life, but especially sharks and rays. More than 100 species will be on display, including sand tiger sharks, nurse sharks, and sandbar sharks. The new exhibit will also tell the historical and regional story of these mega ocean predators, including conservation efforts, and a top floor educational space called the Oceanview Learning Laboratory. The gorgeous new building and "shimmer wall" will jut out over the Coney Island boardwalk.

RELATED: Free Kid Concerts in NYC This June

All proceeds from Scooper Bowl in Bryant Park go to the Jimmy Fund, which supports pediatric and adult cancer care and research. Photo courtesy of Jane Kratochvil

Honorable Mentions

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 June calendar.

Indulge in all-you-can-eat ice cream during the Scooper Bowl at Bryant Park Friday, June 1-Sunday, June 3. It's pricey, but all proceeds go to charity!

Kids! Finally, learn to ride your bike at these weekend clinics in NYC parks through June 30. FREE

It's strawberry season. Visit one of these nearby patches to pick your own berries.

One fish, two fish...participate in one of many New York City Fish Counts throughout the five boroughs on Saturday, June 2. FREE

Catch quirky, kid-friendly shorts at Brooklyn's annual KidsFilmFest on Saturday, June 2.

See more family movies outdoors as the summer showings start in NYC parks and kid hot spots like the Intrepid. FREE

Geek out at the Staten Island Children's Museum's Carnival Science Spectacular with crawly animals, robots, and carnival rides and fun on Saturday, June 2. 

Groove to a family dance party and more performances at the two-day Red Hook Fest, Friday, June 1-Saturday, June 2. FREE

Head to the bucolic Inwood Hill Park to experience Native American culture in action at the annual Drums Along the Hudson on Sunday, June 3. FREE

Celebrate Father's Day a little early with father-and-son duo Frank Gallo (of Rolie Polie Guacamole) and Lou Gallo (of Lou Gallo & The Very Hungry Band) play a pair of FREE concerts on Friday, June 8, and Sunday, June 10, to celebrate their joint album's release. FREE

More FREE family concerts are available this month, too, as the NYC summer season of FREE gets underway. FREE

Join the family scavenger hunt on Randall's Island on Saturday, June 9, and pick up some navigation skills while you go. FREE

Nab a FREE hot dog, and peep some funky, public art when the Hot Dog Bus hangs out in Brooklyn Bridge Park on weekends beginning Saturday, June 9. FREE

Celebrate the Bronx's beautiful waterfront at the annual Riverdale RiverFest, which includes live music, environmental activities and lots of fun for kids on Saturday, June 9 and Sunday, June 10. Most activities are FREE

Enjoy the BRIC Celebrate Brooklyn! Family Concert: Los Lobos in Brooklyn's Prospect Park, Sunday, June 10. FREE

Head to Union Square Park for the annual Citi Summer in the Square, which kicks off on Thursday, June 14. Enjoy FREE, weekly, kid-friendly activities like yoga, storytime, and play with Super Soccer Stars, plus live performances.

Celebrate the opening of the Edible Academy at the NYBG on Saturday, June 16-Sunday, June 17 with cooking demos, hands-on gardening, and more entertainment.

Catch a ride on a vintage train during the NY Transit Museum's Parade of Trains on Saturday, June 16 and Sunday, June 17. Board the trains on the Brighton Beach express platforms.

The first Coney Island summer fireworks light up the sky Friday, June 22 and continue throughout the summer. Find more NYC summer fireworks before (and after) the July 4th show. FREE

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