While many people think of summer as a time to escape the NYC heat and head for greener pastures (literally!), summer in the city can actually be a real treat—especially if you have kids. Beyond the tall buildings and bustling streets there are hidden amusement parks, water spraying playgrounds, and free concerts you and your little ones can enjoy almost any day of the week. So next time you’re racking for brain for things to do on your next free afternoon, try out one of the best summer activities in NYC!
Victoria Gardens. Hidden away in Central Park is Victoria Gardens at Wollman Rink, a kiddie amusement park that only operates during the summer. Perfect for preschoolers, the park has a variety of gentle rides (only a few have height limits), local performers, and lots of fun snacks. The under five set will probably need a little help handling rides like the Aeromax and the Rockin’ Tug, but all ages will love a day here nonetheless. To find Victoria Gardens, enter the park at 59th Street and Sixth Avenue and follow the path until you find the fun!
Water Playgrounds. At first look, NYC playgrounds seem like normal play areas—a few slides, swings, climbing equipment, and some monkey bars. But when summer arrives, these playgrounds transform into water spraying entertainment areas, with sprinklers squirting water in every direction, and little ones frolicking happily through the spray. You can find these playgrounds in almost every corner of NYC, but for the ultimate spot, check out the Pier 25 play area, which has eight seasonal water features designed for kids age 2–12. You can even make a day of it here—there’s an 18-hole mini golf course, sand volleyball courts, and a snack bar.
Madison Square Park Concerts. Not only is Madison Square Park a fun place to go with kids because of its huge playground and every child’s favorite eatery Shake Shack (who doesn’t love a burger and ice cream?!), but it’s also the perfect summer spot because of its Thursday morning FREE concerts for kids. Favorites such as Songs for Seeds, WeBop Family Jazz Party, and more perform rain or shine starting at 10:30am—the lawn opens at 10am so get there early to reserve your spot!
Public Pools. Besides swimming lessons, there’s nothing better than splashing around freely in a pool on a hot day. Luckily NYC has a bunch of great public pools, where little ones can spend a morning or afternoon cooling off with other city kids. We love John Jay Pool because of its proximity to the river and the adjacent John Jay Park playground, but there are tons of other convenient pools throughout NYC depending on where you live.
Drop-in Classes. When your little one needs a break from the summer sun—as well as some learning and structure during the day—there are awesome drop-in classes throughout NYC, where you can pop in without having to plan too far ahead. Whether you live uptown, downtown, or anywhere in between, you can search Kidz Central Station by drop-in classes, location, and whatever type of class you’d like (music, cooking, dance, open play, and more!) and you can sign up in a minute and be on your way to class.
And when all else fails, load up on sunscreen, walk out your door, and grab a couple of cones from your nearest Mr. Softee truck—it’s sure to do the trick!