50+ Free Things To Do This Summer for Westchester and Hudson Valley Families

50 Free Summer Events and Activities for Families in Westchester and the Hudson Valley
See a variety of amazing acts at the 3rd annual Family Fun Festival in Hyde Park. Photo courtesy of the park

Summer is here, and while the end of school can be a relief, the new challenge is to keep the kids busy seven days a week! But filling those long days can get pricey—fast. Fear not: We’ve been hard at work identifying tons of FREE things to do with the kids that will keep them entertained all summer long—and we're not just talking about crafts. We found multi-cultural festivals, admission-free days, magic shows, outdoor yoga, astronomy nights, animal encounters, historical sites, and loads more.

Read on for 50+ of our favorites below, but also note that our Event Calendar is your BFF all season, because we keep adding to that frequently, so it’s always worth a gander. Want more that’s FREE? Bookmark our guide to year-round FREE things to do and sign up for our newsletters.

June

Late June and beyond The Westchester Library System offers annual Summer Reading Games to keep kids (and adults, with their own version) reading all summer long, with incentives like the chance to win prizes and loads of library events. Many host an official kickoff event in late June. Keep tabs on our Event Calendar for some of the highlights we’re rounding up for our readers.

Wednesdays, June 27, July 18, August 15, September 5 Unroll your mat for outdoor yoga. Namaste!

Wednesdays, June 27 – August 29 Lay down your iPads and pick up more primitive props to play Colonial Games while learning the origin of some that are still played to this day (when not on the iPad).


Celebrate America's Independence with fireworks at West Point. Photo courtesy of West Point

Saturday, June 30 – Saturday, July 7 Catch fireworks shows (multiple times, even!) that celebrate Independence Day.

Saturdays throughout the summer Wade into the water to study its inhabitants at Hudson River Family Seining, and make a day of it with Hands-On Nature Programs for Curious Kids.

Thursdays, June 28 – August 2 Circus, magic, story theater, and bundles of silly antics rotate through the lineup of the outdoor Family Entertainment Series, with complimentary cotton candy, snow cones, and popcorn sweetening the pot.

Saturday, June 30 Held on the lawn of a historic site, the annual Family Fun Festival offers oodles of appeal—from circus acts to raptor shows and loads more.

July

Throughout July Though details haven’t yet been announced, July is the annual “Where’s Waldo?” event, when participating bookstores orchestrate a community-wide scavenger hunt for the chance to earn prizes. Typically, you can count on both the Voracious Reader and Womrath Bookshop to orchestrate this in Larchmont and Bronxville, respectively. Seek Waldo out at your own pace. There’s usually a wrap-up party, which is also FREE.

Monday, July 2 Create your own fireworks—in a jar and on paper, that is, at 4th of July Fun.

Saturday, July 7 Historical immersion awaits at New Paltz in the War for Independence, where reenactments, demonstrations, and interactive stations reflect colonial-era military and civilian life, including children’s games.

RELATED: July 4th Fireworks in Westchester and the Hudson Valley


Be a citizen scientist during the North American Butterfly Count. Photo courtesy of Teatown

Saturday, July 7 Be a part of a citizen-scientist monitoring effort with the North American Butterfly Count.

Sunday, July 8 The Polish Heritage Celebration showcases Polish culture with live music, food, vendors, and more.

Multiple dates from Monday, July 9 – Thursday, July 26 We’ve already told you about the concerts and films being offered at Neighborhood Nights, but there are also animal shows, magic acts, and pirate adventures in store.

Mondays, July 9 – August 6 Appearances by Animal Embassy, a magician, a juggler, a musician, and more are slated to appear throughout the five-week Children's Special Events series, held outdoors in the park.

Mondays, July 9 – August 13 Prepare to raise eyebrows when answering “how I spent my summer vacation” by learning to fly a drone.

RELATED: Free Family Summer Concerts in Westchester and the Hudson Valley


Enjoy breathtaking views with your music at the Hudson River Museum's Arts in the Amphitheater: Music Nights. Photo courtesy of the venue

Saturdays, July 14, July 21, August 4 Dance, magic, and mind-reading are slated for Arts in the Amphitheater: Dance and Magic Nights. In addition to FREE entertainment, attendees are privy to FREE museum admission and planetarium shows beforehand. The same venue also plays host to a variety of Theater Nights and Music Nights on various dates throughout the summer.

Friday, July 13 Shake It Off Bollywood Fusion teaches kids this dance style, which blends hip-hop, salsa, and traditional Indian folk dances.

Saturday, July 14 Francophile fun awaits at the 10-hour Bastille Day celebration, including a re-enactment of the storming of the Bastille, food, live music, and—eek!—a guillotine.

Saturday, July 14 Here’s another Bastille Day Celebration, which features French food, crafts, live children’s music, cooking demos, a French children’s film, and beret giveaways.

Saturday, July 14 Celebrate local agriculture at Food and Farm Day, with storytelling, an egg toss, butter making, tours, hayrides, demos, and interactions with farmers.

Sunday, July 15 The Hispanic Heritage Celebration offers cultural immersion through cuisine, entertainment, and vendors.

Monday, July 16 Donkeys are so last year. Pin the hair on Elvis instead.

Friday, July 20 Why wait for October when you can have Halloween fun in July?

Saturday, July 21 Cheer on the boat racers at the Chinese-themed Dutchess Dragon Boat Race & Festival, plus catch performances and partake in workshops that might include calligraphy, puppetry, or Chinese brush painting.

Sunday, July 22 Family Fun Day offers games, crafts, live music, watermelon, and more.

Sunday, July 22 The Arab-American Heritage Festival and the Italian-American Heritage Festival take place the same day in different locations, both providing exposure to these cultures with entertainment, food, and vendors.

Tuesday, July 24 and Thursday, July 26 Two Kid Fest Workshops with the Hudson River Museum provide art and science activities that normally require a fee at the museum.

Sundays, July 15 and August 12 The new Starwalk Walkway at Night provides occasions for astronomy study along the Hudson River, nighttime photography instruction, and glimpses through a telescope. There will also be trivia, art, music, and food.

Thursday, July 26 Play DNA detective as you use real lab equipment and accessories to study the DNA of fruit.

Friday, July 27 Light the night not with fireworks but with lightning bugs! Enjoy them at the annual Firefly Festival, along with campfire s’mores.

Friday, July 27 – Sunday, July 29 We can’t promise you won’t be tempted to spend money on all the tantalizing attractions at the Putnam County Fair, but there are freebies to enjoy without the need for paid admission.

Saturday, July 28 While we’re told that the details for this year’s event are under wraps as of this posting, last year’s Play Place Birthday Bash—which celebrated the party venue’s anniversary by inviting the public as guests—featured  play time, prizes, face painting, sports, dance classes, a photo booth, and a balloon artist.

Sunday, July 29 Haitian Traditional Music and Dance features a musical performance and a Haitian-themed craft workshop.

Sunday, July 29 An uncommon performance features songs about oddities, along with an A/V presentation about bizarre animals and esoteric instruments like the claviola and stylophone. 

Sunday, July 29 Though St. Patrick’s Day was long ago, the Irish-American Heritage Festival keeps the Erin Go Bragh going!

Tuesday, July 31 It’s a party in honor of Harry Potter’s birthday, and you’re on the guest list! There’ll be potions, games, snacks, trivia, and more.

August

Saturday, August 4 The second-annual FanCon convention features anime, comics, sci-fi, gaming, cosplay, artist demos, and more.

Saturday, August 4 Bask In the glow of the annual Lighted Boat Parade, when the Long Island Sound in New Rochelle is illuminated by lighted vessels.

RELATED: Free Outdoor Summer Movies for Westchester and Hudson Valley Families


Kids can hop on stage at the West Point Band's Dancing Under the Stars Concert. Photo courtesy of West Point

Saturday, August 4 Diverse styles of music will be performed by the army’s oldest band at the West Point Band "Dancing Under the Stars" Concert

Sunday, August 5 The Heritage of India Festival celebrates Indian culture with music and more.

Friday, August 10 The new Velocipede Museum, devoted to early bicycle models, will host an opening event with waived admission.

Sunday, August 12 Hosted by the Beacon Sloop Club, the Beacon Corn Festival  highlights all things corn plus live music, kids’ activities, and items for purchase.

Saturday, August 18 – Sunday, August 19 The Nimham Pow Wow celebrates Native American culture with Native American cuisine, a hand-drum competition, teepees, performances, birds of prey, and more. (For the purposes of this roundup, we’re considering $1 admission the equivalent of FREE.)

Sunday, August 19 Celebrate Jewish Heritage with music, Israeli dancing, activities for kids, and more. 

Anytime

Lay out a blanket and pack a picnic for free outdoor movies… and free outdoor summer concerts. Many of these offer added attractions like food trucks, children’s entertainment, scenic views, dips in the pool, and other mood lifters.

Don’t underestimate what that library card can do for you: FREE museum passes, 3D printing, and even surprising borrow-ables like badminton sets, fishing equipment, scrapbooking supplies, and “discovery backpacks.”

See what the animals are up to at Muscoot Farm, and check out the historic farm exhibits.


Enjoy the FREE water playground at Bowdoin Park in Wappingers Falls. Photo courtesy of the park

Cool off at one of the spraygrounds we’ve rounded up, several of which offer FREE entry.

Cruise the car-free Bronx River Parkway on two wheels during Bicycle Sundays or check out one of these great bike paths throughout the county instead.

Take a stroll on the Westchester RiverWalk, which you can pick up in Tarrytown, Croton, or Peekskill.

Rainy day? Check out Play, the space for kids at The Westchester mall.

A whole separate resource awaits you with year-round FREE things to do, including anytime fun and a bunch that are summer-specific. These include strategies for visiting fee-based venues on admission-free days and more. Truly worth a frequent gander!

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