26 Ways to Have the Most Fun This Summer

With school coming to a close, you may be wondering what the heck you’re going to do to keep your kids entertained if they’re not going to summer camp this year (or they’re going for a week or two). We’ve got you covered! From boat rides and visits to the zoo to picnicking, watching movies outside, and a trip back in time to an Elizabethan England village, you’ll find 26 ideas for summer fun. Whether you start at A, Z, or somewhere in the middle, make sure to go through the whole alphabet for a summer of fun right here at home!

Anchors aweigh!

Circle Line Sightseeing
Courtesy Circle Line Sightseeing

 Don your sea legs and go on an afternoon cruise with your family. With more than 15 options for boat rides in the New York metro area, including Circle Line Sightseeing cruises in NYC, Trinity Cruises on the Hudson, the River Rose docking in Newburgh, and the Atlantis Explorer at the Long Island Aquarium, you’ll find the perfect adventure for your family any day of the week!

Build sand castles.

girls running on the beach

Dig out the shovels and pails, slather on the sunscreen, and take the kids to a nearby beach to feel the sand between your toes. Keep the kids busy with a sand-castle building competition while you relax in your lounge chair with a good beach read. There are a ton of beaches in the New York metro area, so find the best beach near you and soak up some vitamin D.

Carry out a random act of kindness!

Boom Boom Cards

Inspire your kids to hold the door open for a stranger, help an elderly person with his or her groceries, or pick up litter. Performing random acts of kindness can be contagious, especially when you turn it into a game. That’s where Boom Boom! Cards Family Edition ($14.99), which includes 26 RAKs, comes in handy. Each deck has a unique code that you register at boomboomcards.com. After performing an act of kindness, log in and tell your fellow “agents of altruism” about it; then pass along that particular card to another family. Via the website, you can track your friends’ acts of kindness, too.

Day trip, anyone?

If you’re itching for an adventure and your family vacation is still weeks away, you’re in luck! We’ve compiled itineraries for the best day trips (all within 150 miles of NYC) with your family, whether you want to explore the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown,  Mystic Seaport in Mystic, CT, or the Crayola Experience in Easton, PA.

Eat al fresco.

There’s no better way to shake up meal time than dining al fresco, whether it’s at a restaurant that has outdoor seating, in your backyard, or on your apartment building’s rooftop terrace. We love spreading out a blanket and dining among nature (and other picnickers) at the neighborhood park.

Find fresh produce and baked goods at the farmers’ market.

There’s nothing better than biting into farm-fresh produce that was grown locally! There is an abundance of farmer’s markets in our area—and many of them offer more than just fruits, veggies, and tasty treats. Shoppers can find grass-fed beef, flowers, fresh cheeses, seafood, handmade goods, and more. Find a farmer’s market near you, shop for local goods, and make a delish meal out of your bounty!

Gobble up some treats at a strawberry festival.

With strawberries in peak ripeness in June and July, it’s no wonder there are entire festivals dedicated to the sweet, red fruit. We found seven strawberry festivals in our area, at which you can enjoy the fruit, various strawberry treats, hayrides, games, live music, farm animals, and more! Find a strawberry festival near you and enjoy a day of deliciousness!

Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate!

Nalgene water bottles

It’s especially important to drink plenty of water when you’re out and about with your family during the summer months, and you can’t go wrong with the tried-and-true Nalgene (nalgene.com) water bottles, which are manufactured in Rochester! From Grip-n-Gulps ($13) for toddlers to age 6, to Kids On-the-Fly ($14) and 16oz-32oz bottles for adults ($7-$16)—all of which come in an assortment of colors and prints—you’ll find a BPA-, BPS-, and phthalate-free bottle for everyone in your family.

Indulge in ice cream to beat the heat.

While we love stopping by the local scoop shop for a dish of our favorite flavor, there’s nothing quite like making your own ice cream at home! Check out our science-filled ice cream recipe that will have your kids learning, or try making a super-easy ice cream recipe that only calls for frozen bananas, peanut butter (optional), cocoa powder, and vanilla.

Jump, jump, jump around!

The Big Bounce America is bringing 20,000 square feet of inflatable fun to Aviator Sports and Events Center in Marine Park, Brooklyn for two weekends: July 26-28 and Aug. 2-4. Trust us, the trip to Brooklyn is worth it!

Kick back and relax with a book.

Father and son reading

Visit your local public library branch, have each child in your family (and you!) pick out a book or two, check them out, and bring them home for a family story time.

Look at the stars.

Vanderbilt Planetarium
Courtesy Vanderbilt Museum/Daniel Johnson

After you enjoy a picnic, let the kids run around the backyard or park or play on the playground until dark, when you can lay back and look for shooting stars. Or, if you want to know what you’re looking at, visit a nearby planetarium to discover the wonders of the universe.

Munch on peanuts and Cracker Jack while rooting for the home team!

Courtesy Brooklyn Cyclones
Courtesy Brooklyn Cyclones

Did you know that the New York metro area is home to 20 minor league baseball teams in addition to the Yankees and Mets? Many of the area’s minor league teams have kids clubs, which are free and get kids special perks like free tickets to games, and offer base running and meet the player opportunities after games! Bonus: Tickets are usually more affordable for great seats than major league games. Find a new team to cheer on—and you may just see some future MLB stars play their rookie years!

Nurture a passion for giving back.

While some may only think of volunteering during the holiday season, we say lend a hand all year-round! Whether it’s at the library, a nursing home, or an animal shelter, volunteering helps your kids become global citizens—and helps the community.

Outdoor movies are one of summer’s greatest pleasures.

Stake out your spot before the sun sets, lay out a picnic, and let the kids frolic nearby. Some movies screening under the stars this summer include Spider-Man into the Spider-verse, Incredibles 2, Trolls, Lego Movie 2, Mary Poppins Returns, Jaws, Black Panther, and Wonder.

Putt your way to a hole in one!

Mini-golf has something for everyone: from scenic views along the course to glow-in-the-dark pirates. Challenge your kids to a round of 18 holes at one of the areas many mini-golf courses.

Quiet time is easier to come by in summer.

Take a couple hours off to find solace in peaceful outdoor places. Take a walk in the park, visit the serene Cloisters in upper Manhattan or bike one of the many beautiful trails in Rockland or Bergen counties. Whatever you choose, make sure you leave the noise behind.

Round and round we go!

Sea Glass Carousel
Courtesy SeaGlass Carousel

Whether at an amusement park, zoo, county fair, or park, taking a spin on a carousel is a childhood must. Climb aboard your favorite animal, horse, fish, or—in some cases—bug, and take a spin or two on one of the areas many merry-go-rounds.

Scamper through the rain.

girl splashing in puddle

Don your rain coats and boots to jump in puddles with your kids. Whoever makes the biggest splash wins!

Thrill your kids with a day at an amusement park!

Land of Make Believe
Courtesy Land of Make Believe

From Ferris wheels and roller coasters to water slides, swings, midway games, and bumper cars, the amusement parks in the New York metro area offer thrills of all sizes. What’s more? You don’t have to travel very far for a day of fun—there are even amusement parks in NYC!

Under Water is the best place to cool off.

When the summer sun bears down, grab your suits and towels, rally the restless kids, and hit a nearby community pool—all of which open their doors to anyone and everyone. Don’t forget to bring a lock and a good book.

Vitamin D? Yes, please!

Supergoop Sunny Screen

But before you head outside, make sure everyone in the family slathers on the sunscreen—and re-applies it every hour. After all, we don’t want any sunburns to hamper our summer fun! We’re loving Supergoop’s new Sunnyscreen, three 100-percent mineral sunscreen formulas specifically for babies and kids ($24-$26).

Wander through Elizabethan England.

New York Renaissance Faire
Deborah Grosmark

Back in the Orange County town of Tuxedo for its 42nd season, the New York Renaissance Faire will be held Saturday-Sunday and Labor Day, Aug. 17-Oct. 6. The 65-acre village celebrates life in the 16th century with costumed performers, jousting tournaments, music, festive foods, magicians, rides, and more than 100 shops selling handmade wares. Don’t miss the Children’s Knighting Ceremony, the Enchanted Forest, or Kidsquest, where kids can participate in a 30-minute adventure in which they work together to help the fairies save their enchanted homes.

X-treme sports are not just for athletes.

Warm weather and summer adrenaline can inspire even the most reluctant adventurers to get outdoors and try something new. Now’s the time to sign up for the group trapeze class or a zip-lining trip. Get out there—it’s the season to explore!

Yard sales, flea markets, tag sales, oh my!

Before spending a day browsing for treasures, make your own scavenger hunt with unique things like “the weirdest thing you found,” “a book with the letter z in the title,” “a gadget you’ve never seen before,” “a blast from the past (an old game system, old telephone, or typewriter).” Happy hunting!

Zoos are easy family fun.

Greenburgh Nature Center
Courtesy Greenburgh Nature Center

While the Wildlife Conservation Society’s Bronx, Queens, and Prospect Park zoos are our area’s biggest zoos with a huge variety of animals, there are also a handful of smaller zoos, animal farms, and petting zoos in Rockland, Westchester, and Long Island. Whatever animal destination you visit, you’ll see animals you wouldn’t normally see in our urban area.