summer in NYC: what to do with kids!


some of my most frequently asked questions revolve around new york city and what to do here, often what to do with kids! i’m sure most of you know about the nyc video guides we’ve put together based on different neighborhoods, but i wanted to share a quick list of some of our favorite things to do in the summer with kids here in new york city!

summer in NYC: what not to miss!

  • bike rides! there are more and more bike lanes popping up around the city, but if you’re timid about biking near cars, try central park! the lower loop isn’t as difficult as the upper loop in the park (at least for me!) and takes you all over, near the lake and bethesda fountain and the zoo, too! check out citibikes or other bike rental companies here.
  • on particularly hot and humid days, check out the museums. (best air conditioning ever!) the rooftop at the met is one of our favorite places to look out over central park for an incredible view of the city. AMNH has a great kids discovery room and the children’s museum of art has drop-in art classes for $25 for the entire family (their singing time can’t be beat!) also, the martin creed exhibit at the armory (which i blogged about here) is so fun with kiddos and runs through august 7th (fyi- there’s one video room at the exhibit with parental advisory, so we just skipped it entirely).
  • do your own ice cream crawl. (or other specific food crawl!) options are endless in new york city especially!
  • hudson river parks offers a free movie night for families on friday nights during the summer. you can find the movie showings schedule here. and not as kid friendly, but rooftop cinema club shows old movies on the rooftop during summer nights as well. more info here.
  • governor’s island is a quick ferry ride away from manhattan and you can rent bikes (even tandem or 6-seater surrey bikes!) to explore the island on. the jazz age lawn party takes place out there each summer which can be fun to dress up for and experience and they have a special playground for kids on saturdays and sundays this summer modeled after a junkyard.
  • we love eating at sidewalk cafes around dusk (the upper west side has a lot of great ones!) there are endless things for the kids to watch passing by as we eat which helps keep them distracted in a good way. ;) not as crowded too when you go before the dinner rush! (ps. i blogged a few tips and tricks before for eating out with kids HERE.)
  • get out on a boat (try ferry rides or sailing lessons, which we tried HERE a couple times).
  • we haven’t been yet, but we are dying to check out the interactive musical swings art installation at brookfield place. they look amazing!
  • victoria gardens in central park during the summers is great (e and s couldn’t get enough of it last summer)! we also just visited coney island for the first time and had a great experience! it’s so iconic, i don’t know how we’d never been before. the subway was a little over an hour from manhattan but we spent the entire day there and loved it.
  • the NY Philharmonic plays free concerts in the city’s parks during the summer starting with central park this weekend. (the first show was last night and included fireworks!) you have to go a few hours early to save a place on the grass if you want a seat/ blanket area, but it’s perfect if you want to picnic beforehand. we have loved it in years past.
  • if your kids love the water like ours do, pack a swimsuit and water shoes with you everywhere you go. you can’t miss a splash pad every few blocks or so at all the playgrounds around the city. in the summer when it’s so hot out, we don’t even pack a towel, because the kids are able to dry off within a minute or two on their own until we hit up the next splash pad! just pack sunscreen and clothing to help with all the time in the sun!
  • we don’t know much about the outdoor pools in new york, but we do love the pop up pool right by the brooklyn bridge in brooklyn bridge park! the pool capacity is 60 people, so it’s first come first served for 45 minute swim sessions.
  • central park gets its own bullet point because there are endless things to do there! here’s a video we put together completely dedicated to just things to do in central park!
  • a few of our favorite summer treats include popbar in the west village, peoples pops on the highline, a slice of pie at bubby’s in tribeca and a waffle from the waffle & dinges truck.  for healthier treat options, we love the smoothies and shakes at juice press and the endless fresh fruit and vegetables at all the farmers markets that pop up around the city (union square is our favorite one!)
  • end the summer with the US Open! we consider this to be a quintessential summer experience and one to not miss out on. especially attending a night match! tickets cost much less if you get them far in advance and attend earlier days of the tournament. they also have a family day opening weekend with some fun activities centered around kids on the tennis grounds. bring lots of water (but not in metal containers! that’s a different story for another day!)

ps. we made a printable map covering all the elevators for the subways HERE if you have a stroller!
photo from last summer by katie rain.

  1. Julie

    Hi Naomi! What a great post! I always wondered what people did in NYC with kids and wondered whether it was a big enough children friendly place. I visited NYC several times but I was much younger, not married and I had not had my kids back then. I am funnily enough writing on a similar post for things to do with kids just right outside London as the summer holiday is looming. You post really want to make me travel to the US again and show it to my brood, my 7year old is constantly asking when we can next go to America…Love from London, Julie xx

  2. Karen

    Thanks for putting together such a great list (and I hope this means Coney Island pictures are coming soon)! Fayetteville is trucking along on the street food scene but…obviously nothing on NYC.

    Best, Karen
    Life in its Natural State

  3. McKinlay

    First I just have to say that I love how easy your blog is to navigate!! It’s seriously awesome and so user friendly. And second, my friend and I are coming to New York at the end of the summer and I’ve got lots of great tips from you (or conformation that what we already had planned was indeed a good idea)!! Your video guides have been very helpful! So thank you!!! We’ll be in the city for 8 whole days (and 2 days in Boston) so I am SUPER excited!!!

  4. Mollie

    This is a great guide, especially for visitors. Touristy things can be tough for little ones, so it’s nice to have some fun options for the whole family from a local. Thanks for sharing! :)

    xoxo Mollie

  5. These are awesome ideas! I don’t really think about what to do with kids during the summer as I live in a place where running through fields and splashing in the ocean is a regular weekend activity. Funny how location can drastically change activity!

  6. I just love E. dress, just loved it!

  7. Erin Christine

    Hi! Been following you and your family for awhile and am finally making it out to nyc next weekend. In yall’s oppinion, what is the VERY BEST ice cream shoppe in the city???

  8. KathyRo

    Whew! This is really comprehensive! Thanks, Taza. I need to plan a trip to NYC ASAP.

  9. Thank you Naomi for this information so useful!!
    I want to go to NY, I need to go to NY !!!!!!!! :)

    Kisses from France

  10. Lesley

    I am always in NYC with my boyfriend and we feel like we have practically been through every square of the city. But now, we have much more places to visit thanks to this post!
    In my blog, I share some locations that I have visited in NYC. Check it out :)


  11. emmy

    We’re currently in the city, always debating how long we’ll be here and if we’ll have kids here! I love posts like this because they give me a more realistic idea. Keep it up! :)

    Emmy Jake NYC

  12. Lindsey

    Hi Naomi!

    We (me, my husband, Mom, Dad and older brother) are coming to NYC in August for my cousin’s wedding and happen to be in Manhattan during Restaurant Week. It sounds amazing but I am totally overwhelmed by the list of spots participating and was hoping you could help a girl out ;) I know you are a foodie and so I would really love to hear which places in particular you would highly recommend.