37 Free Things to Do in New York City This Summer
As New York City works its way to fully reopening, there are so many free things to do with your entire family. You can finally go out and explore what NYC has to offer with all these exciting summer things your kids will love. These activities are a great way to get out and enjoy the city without worrying about emptying your pockets.
If you’re looking for more summer fun, check out 10 Stunning Family Campgrounds Near NYC to Visit This Year
Make sure to check with these venues directly for up-to-date information on COVID policies and restrictions.
The American Folk Art Museum celebrates self taught artists who honor their own American experience through stunning displays. Tickets are required for entry, but they are completely free of charge for you to enjoy.
Bryant Park has tons of free things to do all season long that your family can enjoy together. Whether you want to take juggling classes or head out on a bird spotting tour, there are loads of opportunities for fun on the Bryant Park social calendar.
The Earth Room is a unique display looking at the material that makes up our world with 250 cubic yards of earth people can check out. Free timed tickets are available to purchase in advanced to ensure you get to enjoy all the Earth Room has to offer.
Explore a hidden oasis right on top of the city with the Elevated Acre on top of the 55 Water Street. This anonymous location is hidden from the outside world without signage or advertising, making it a perfect escape into greenery right on top of the city.
Gorilla Rep Theatre is putting on productions of Shakespeare and other classics for people to see and enjoy for free. These electric performances will be a joy to watch, and are a great way to entertain your entire family for a night. You can check out their website for more up to date info on dates and times for the shows.
Take your family on a nice outing to Central Park with a picnic in the middle of the beautiful greenery. You can eat and see all the incredible things happening around the park everyday with your family. Bring your soccer balls and frisbees too for even more park fun.
Visit the Little Island off of Pier 55 for a unique public park experience. This small island uses stunning architecture and landscaping to create a peaceful escape from busy city life. It will give your family a nice trip that feels completely separate from the city even though it’s right next door.
The Museum of Modern Art is just one of the most incredible museums in NYC that everyone should visit whenever they get the chance. They have recently reopened their outdoor sculpture garden described as a “roofless room” with beautiful structures everyone can enjoy in the outdoors.
The Fashion Institute of Technology has a fabulous museum celebrating iconic moments in fashion from the 18th century to now. With over 50,000 items in the exhibits, your party will be entranced by the stunning fabrics and textiles that have defined style throughout time.
Last Weekend of July
Every year the New York City Poetry Festival brings together the largest group of poets in the country to share in a celebration of the art form. Groups of all sizes and styles share their unique take on poetry for the crowd to enjoy in this free weekend of fun.
Take your family on a trip to Staten Island by taking the free ferry across the river for a day trip everyone can enjoy. You can explore Staten Island, and find other free things to do once you arrive without worrying about the cost of travel to this new location.
Head out to Central Park for an extraordinary theatre experience with Shakespeare in the Park. The Public Theatre is offering tons of free things to do with their multiple events both in-person and online. Check out their website for up to date info on all their upcoming productions.
SummerStage has recently announced they will be returning to to live in person events this season at different locations. These performances celebrating music and performing arts are free things to do with your family, and more information about dates will be coming soon on their website.
Governor’s Island is an escape right in the heart of the city where people can step away from the city. They have tons of free things to do around the island making it a great family trip for a day. No one will get bored with all the exciting activities going on around the island all season long.
The High Line is a 1.45 mile long public park along the former New York Central Railroad with fantastic greenery and shops along the way. You can walk all the way down to Chelsea Market and stop along the way for a great day activity everyone can get involved with.
Bargemusic is ready to bring live music back to New York City with different shows every week. You can listen to local artists perform in this floating concert hall for a night of fun. You can check out their website for information on upcoming shows all summer long.
BRIC House is an art lover’s dream filled with local art in the form of galleries, performances, and studios honoring emerging artists in our city. Several areas are still closed due to COVID-19, but the main gallery is open for viewing Wednesdays-Saturdays.
In a long standing tradition, the Brooklyn Museum offers free programming on the first Saturday of every month to make art available to everyone in the city. They will be hosting their events outside for the upcoming months to ensure safety and entertainment all summer long.
Walk along the Brooklyn Navy Yard to see some of the classic industrial structures that helped build New York into the city it is today. This park provides a great opportunity to learn about history in a unique way while exploring a part of the city that is sometimes overlooked.
The Bushwick Collective is a graffiti and street art project, sharing artists from around the world on the streets of Brooklyn. The incredible artwork is perfect for photo opportunities and exploring more of what the city has to offer for free.
Thursdays in July and August
Brooklyn Bridge Park is hosting the Movies with a View series sharing classic films outdoors on a big screen. You can bring your picnic blankets and some treats for a nice night out with the family. The 2021 movie series has not been decided on; check their website for upcoming announcements.
Coney Island has recently reopened its doors to the public, allowing people to enjoy all the free things to do in the area. You can walk along the beach or check out the rides and stands to make for a full day of fun that will keep everyone stimulated and interested for your entire trip.
Take a relaxing journey in a stunning outdoor area with the summer yoga series held each year in Prospect Park. They have yet to announce their starting date for the 2021 season, so check out their website for the most up to date information.
Museums are great free things to do in the city, and the Waterfront Museum is bringing exhibitions and performing arts to the pier. Check out some of the maritime history of New York while looking out on the water. They also have open boat tours every Thursday 4-8 pm and Saturday 1-5 pm.
The Williamsburg Art & Historical Center focuses on sharing multicultural art from both local and international artists. This collection is a great introduction into art from around the world, making for a fun and free family adventure to other cultures without ever leaving the city.
The Bartow-Pell Mansion Museum is a stunning location inside Pelham Bay Park perfect for the entire family to get out and enjoy nature. The gardens and outside grounds are always open to the public for free making for a beautiful place to just stroll and see some marvels of nature.
The Bronx Museum of the Arts is always free for the public to enjoy their collection of pieces celebrating the urban experience in the Bronx. They have new exhibits coming all the time, making each trip an exciting and stimulating experience.
The Bronx Zoo has reopened its doors making for lots of family fun as you explore animals from around the world. They have limited free admissions on Wednesdays to allow for your family to enjoy their trip without worrying about the cost.
Get the chance to escape with the peaceful City Island just off the seaside of New York. This calming island has lots of free things to do with the whole family including parks and the harbor. They also have a large range of seafood options you can indulge in to make for a full day of fun.
The Everett Children’s Adventure Garden is located in the New York Botanical Gardens, and has stimulating architecture perfect for kids to enjoy. The botanical gardens are free to New York residents on Wednesday, just make sure to bring some proof of residency to get entry.
Bronx Little Italy provides tons of free things to do with your whole family along their beautiful streets. Little Italy is full of fun shops you can browse through, and just walking through the fun scenery makes for a great day trip experience.
Visit some of the most beautiful gardens in New York at Wave Hill for a lovely picnic or hike amongst nature. This beautiful natural setting is just beginning to blossom, and will be stunning all around by the time summer comes, making it a fantastic location to take everyone in your family.
Opens June 26th
The Astoria Pool is reopening to the public, so get your family ready for some outdoor water fun. The Olympic Pool at this location is one of the largest outdoor pools in the city allowing for some social distancing to ensure a safe and exciting time for all.
Alley Pond Park has multiple bike paths for your family to journey through together. The beautiful scenery will keep your spirits up as you bike along the trails. You can also stop and enjoy the other free things to do in the park including playgrounds, picnic areas, and sports fields.
Flushing Meadows Corona Park has tons of free things to do with your entire family. You can spend your day on the playgrounds, baseball and soccer fields, or the tennis center all within the park. With so much to do, you can easily spend a full day here without ever getting bored.
Take a magnificent hike through the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge that keeps nature safe right in the city. The refuge includes over 12,600 acres of different kinds of water, and one of the largest bird habitats in the Northeast for you to enjoy while you hike through the beautiful trails.
Fourth of July Fireworks
Because of Covid-19, many fireworks displays were canceled or downsized to keep everyone healthy, but this year these festive traditions are back and better than ever! This year, New Yorkers can watch the Macy’s Fireworks show along the East River on July 4th at 9:25 pm or at Coney Island on July 4th at 10 pm.