As summer rapidly approaches, many of us parents begin to think about how to keep our kids occupied. Fortunately, there are many great FREE things to do in every borough. Below are some recommendations.
-Beaches & Pools: The Parks department maintains 14 miles of beaches. They are open from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day. Lifeguards are on duty daily from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. They also maintain 54 outdoor pools which are free and open to the public from late June through Labor Day. On average, their hours of operation are 11:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. For more information about local beaches and pools, visit the City of New York’s listings.
-Bike Trails: The Bicycle Network Development site provides information regarding bikeways and greenways throughout the City of New York. From their site, you can view and download New York City Cycling Maps which shows existing bicycle lanes, existing and planned greenways, and a network of recommended on-street routes.
-Bookstores: Many bookstores have sections for children and host story hours. Call your local bookstore in advance to check for details. (Barnes & Noble, Books of Wonder and Hue-Man Bookstore have notable programs.)
-Gardens & Zoos: Many gardens and zoos have special days and/or times when admission is free. You just need to call in advance to check. (The Central Park Zoo, The Bronx Zoo, Brooklyn Botanic Garden, Queens Botanical Garden and Wave Hill all have free days.)
-Libraries: Many branches offer free story hours, arts and crafts, workshops, films, and (most importantly!) the opportunity to borrow books. Check the Brooklyn Public Library, New York Public Library, and Queens Public Library sites for your local branch.
-Museums: Many museums also have special days and/or times when admission is free or “pay as you wish”. Once again, you just need to call in advance to check. (Bronx Museum of the Arts, Children’s Museum of the Arts, Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), the New York Hall of Science, Studio Museum in Harlem, and Whitney Museum of Art all have such days.)
-Parks & Playgrounds: New York City has more than 1,700 parks, playgrounds and recreation facilities across the five boroughs. To find the park of the month, announcements, events and more, visit the Parks website. For a listing of playgrounds in the five boroughs, visit here.
-Sports: There are a variety of free sports programs during the summer. Battery Park City Free Fitness Activities for Children, Chelsea Piers Free Ice Skating, Harlem Meer Catch and Release Fishing (212-860-1370), New York Junior Tennis League’s tennis programs, and the recently opened Junior Golf Center in Brooklyn (718-259-2999) are just a few offerings.
Also, don’t forget all of the free outdoor summer movies, concerts and theatre performances. To stay informed regarding all of the free activities going on throughout the city, view the events calendars on sites like ParentZone, Time Out New York Kids, and goCityKids.