The truth is that no matter how many cups of coffee that we consume, it will never match the energy of a kid! Finding an outlet where kids can run around and get active is an essential part to their overall well-being. But it isn’t just about starting them off with healthy habits, being part of a team helps them learn about teamwork and discipline—key values that they will use throughout their life. Every kid should be given the opportunity to be part of a sports community, that is why we’ve rounded up the best sports programs around New York City that are free or affordable!
Adventure Races, photo via City Parks Foundation
830 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10065
CityParks Play plays a central role in activating City Parks Foundation’s mission to create vibrant and healthy urban communities through dynamic sports programming in parks for all New Yorkers. The programs transform New York’s neighborhood parks into centers for recreation, providing free sports instruction, coaching and equipment to more than 12,000 kids, ages 6 to 17, in nearly 70 locations citywide. They help kids stay active and healthy, discover new sports, and make new friends. Sports programs include Tennis, Soccer, Golf, Track & Field, Fitness, Street Hockey.
Neighborhood: Central Park Zoo near Lenox Hill
Kayak for Free: Downtown Boathouse
Pier 26 Hudson River Greenway, New York, NY 10014
The Downtown Boathouse offers free kayaking throughout the summer at a number of NYC locations. Boats can be borrowed for 20-minute intervals and used again if others aren’t waiting.
Neighborhood: Pier by Tribeca
360 Dyckman St, New York, NY 10034
The Inwood Canoe Club has been a resource for the NYC paddling community for over 100 years. On Sundays between Memorial Day and Labor Day, the group welcomes the public for guided 20-minute tours of the Hudson River. To cover the insurance associated with your visit, the club charges $4 for one day or $15 for a season’s worth of kayaking.
Neighborhood: Inwood – Inwood Hill Park
Fresh Air Fund
The Fresh Air Fund Summer Camping Program
633 Third Avenue, 14th Fl, New York, NY 10017
Free summer camp experiences to girls ages eight to 12 and boys ages eight to 15. Each year, thousands of children experience outdoor summer adventures through visits with volunteer host families and at The Fund’s sleepaway camps in upstate, NY. Fresh Air children also participate in academic enrichment and leadership programs throughout the school year.
Neighborhood: Murray Hill
3705, 320 W 57th St, New York, NY 10019 (Headquarters of NY Road Runners)
Want to keep your kids active or introduce them to the sport of running this spring and summer? Sign up for a Rising New York Road Runners youth event today! Rising New York Road Runners offers 100% free events that mix running with fun fitness games and activities that are perfect for ages 2 to 18 and all ability levels. All participants get a New Balance premium, like a t-shirt or hat, and a ribbon or medal for finishing.
Neighborhood: Headquarters in Hells Kitchen. Events held in various locations throughout the city.
Free Rhythmic Gymnastics Class
106-06 Queens Boulevard, Entrance on 69th Road, Forest Hills, NY 11375
Queens Gymnastics of Forest Hills is inviting girls into the world of rhythmic gymnastics – the most beautiful, graceful, and expressive sport! Rhythmic gymnastics, complex strengths exercises are combined with apparatus handling and various forms of dance, developing rhythm and musicality. As well as Queens Gymnastics teaches the girls to learn about life skills such as working hard, setting and achieving goals, willpower, strengths of character, time management, and respect for coaches and teammates.
Neighborhood: Forest Hills
KEEN Sports and Exercise Program
KEEN New York LLC, P.O. Box 5115, New York, NY 10185
All of KEEN’s programs are based on a single principle: pair a trained volunteer with an athlete and let them discover together how much they can do. Programs are all open and unstructured, allowing athletes facing significant challenges to have fun and be successful. KEEN programs are open to all youth ages 5-21 with physical or developmental disabilities. Certain programs are for select age groups only.
Age Appropriate & Non-Competitive
Open, Unstructured and Flexible
Tailored for Each Athlete’s Needs
Inclusive, Regardless of Severity of Disabilities
Neighborhood: Midtown Manhattan
2214 Frederick Douglass Blvd. #313
Mo’ Motion Basketball & Fitness teaches, motivates and inspires children in grades K-11 through their skill-based curriculum, which includes clinics, Boost workouts, private sessions, spring/fall travel, and fall-winter team practices and games in their Manhattan-based league play.
1 Bouck Ct, Brooklyn, NY, 11223-5954
Children whose age does not exceed a limit by a participating bowling center are eligible to register for two free games each day of the KBF program, all summer long, courtesy of the participating bowling centers along with the schools and organizations.
Brooklyn Bridge Park Boathouse
10 Montague St, Brooklyn, NY 11201
Located between Piers 1 and 2, the Brooklyn Bridge Park Boathouse is conveniently situated in the newly redeveloped, and strikingly beautiful, Brooklyn Bridge Park. On Saturdays and alternating Thursdays, the folks at BBPB offer free 30-minute kayaking sessions in the semi-protected waters along the Brooklyn Waterfront.
Neighborhood: Brooklyn Heights
Ferris St &, Coffey St, Brooklyn, NY 11231
The Red Hook Boaters offers free, 20-minute kayaking trips beginning early June, in exchange for a bit of beach cleanup afterward.
Neighborhood: Red Hook
Sebago Canoe Club, photo via Boating Times
1400 Paerdegat Ave N, Brooklyn, NY 11236
Located on Avenue N and Paerdegat Avenue North, the Sebago Canoe Club offers hour-long kayak and canoe tours on select Saturdays and Wednesdays during the summer. The insurance for the trip is $10, but that gets you a guided tour of the estuary of Jamaica Bay by an experienced member.
Brooklyn Crescents Lacrosse Club
305 16th St, Brooklyn, NY 11215
The Brooklyn Crescents Lacrosse Club is a full volunteer-run, 501(c)3 non-profit organization. The Crescents’ players and coaches reflect the diverse neighborhoods of Brooklyn. The club teaches boys and girls in grades PreK-8 the fundamental/advanced skills and values of lacrosse (e.g., commitment, teamwork, integrity, passion, community pride). They strive to make lacrosse accessible in Brooklyn by introducing the great game of lacrosse to children picking up a stick for the first time, as well as providing quality instruction and competition for more advanced players.
Neighborhood: Park Slope
City Parks: Junior Golf Center
8850 14th Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11228
CityParks Golf teaches kids how to play golf and experience the many positive life skills learned by the game. The program offers free instruction at 12 local parks, as well as two golf centers designed just for youth. Free use of equipment is available for all participants.
Neighborhood: Dyker Heights
46-01 5th St, Long Island City, NY 11101
Located on Hallets Cove (31st Street and Vernon Avenue), the LIC Community Boathouse offers free walkup kayaking on select Saturdays and Sundays throughout the season, lasting 20 minutes with the option to extend if there are no additional people waiting for a boat.
Neighborhood: Hunters Point
New York Junior Tennis and Learning
New York Junior Tennis Community Tennis Program
58-12 Queens Blvd #1, Woodside, NY 11377
Free sports programs are offered by NYJTL to children ages 5 to 18 during the summer, fall, and spring. Skill level is not a factor, open to all.
Junior Golf Center Annex – Queens
100 Flushing Meadows Pedestrian Bridge, Flushing, NY 11368
City Parks Foundation has launched a pilot program with the First Tee of Metropolitan NY that will introduce its “PLAYer” curriculum to all beginners. The First Tee is a nationwide youth development organization impacting the lives of young people by providing educational programs that build character, instill life-enhancing values, and promote healthy choices through the game of golf. Advancement through The First Tee PLAYer program requires a commitment to attendance, as well as completing practice requirements, life skills & golf knowledge assessments.
Neighborhood: Flushing, NY
Summer Sports Experience: Jamboree
3225 Reservoir Oval East Bronx, NY 10467
Summer Sports Experience is an instructional youth program that teaches sports skills. The knowledgeable Parks staff train kids in sports like baseball, basketball, flag football, futsal, lacrosse, soccer, Speedminton, track, ultimate frisbee, and volleyball. The program covers basic and more advanced techniques.
Neighborhood: Between Williamsbridge and Van Cortlandt Park
All Around the City
To help teach New Yorkers how to swim, Parks is offering free swimming lessons for people of all ages at the free outdoor pools this summer. The program offers summer Learn to Swim classes for toddlers (1 1/2 to 5 years old), children (6 to 17 years old), and adults (18 years old or older). Click the link above to see available sites.
Neighborhood: Sites across the city
NYC Parks Pool
NYC Parks: Junior Rangers Street Hockey Clinics
In this program, children ages 5 to 17 will be able to learn how to play street hockey in a supervised environment where they will learn basic stick skills and positioning. Click the link above to see the locations near you!
Neighborhood: Sites in Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, and the Bronx
KIDS FITNESS: EVERYDAY PLAY and FAMILY ADVENTURE RACES
Everyday Play, a free, 5-day per week multi-sport program for kids ages 6-17, will return to Kaiser Park in Coney Island, Brooklyn and Williamsbridge Oval, Bronx as well as in Baisley Pond Park, Queens in 2019. The instructional program takes place Monday through Friday from 9:30 am – 12 noon and includes track and field, tennis, golf, soccer, and more.
Adventure Races: this exciting and free parent-child race incorporates basic exercises and sports skills, and provides a healthy, one-hour dose of fun for all! Open to children ages 8-12 and their parents. The timed races take place on a course featuring 12 activity stations where team members must properly perform the required exercise or task before advancing to the next station and final run to the finish line. Family Adventure Races are presented by New York Road Runners. Brooklyn, Bronx, and Queens
Neighborhood: Kaiser Park in Coney Island, Brooklyn and Williamsbridge Oval, Bronx as well as in Baisley Pond Park, Queens.
Kids In Motion, photo via Alexandra’s Playground
The Kids in Motion program engages children in active, outdoor play. An NYC Parks staff member leads four to seven hours of free activities in NYC’s playgrounds, including organized sports, games, fitness demos, board games, water games, and more! Click the link above to see the locations near you!
Neighborhood: Various playgrounds and parks across the city
Planet Fitness Teen Summer Challenge
Planet Fitness welcomes high school teens ages 15 – 18 to work out at any of its more than 1,800 locations throughout the United States and Canada — free all summer long! All teens who sign up are entered into Planet Fitness’ Scholarship Sweepstakes! At the end of the summer, Planet Fitness will be awarding one $500 scholarship in each state/province and a $5,000 grand prize in both the United States and Canada. Additionally, teens will have the chance to win exciting prizes on Planet Fitness’ Facebook and Instagram channels throughout the summer such as PF swag, movie tickets, and wireless headphones.
Neighborhood: A Planet Fitness near you
Shape Up NYC is a free, drop-in fitness program with locations across the five boroughs. There is no class registration, simply show up to take fitness classes like aerobics, yoga, Pilates, Zumba, and much more. The fitness instructors know how to make fitness fun! Shape Up NYC is a free program. You do not need to be a member of a recreation center in order to attend a class, though you must bring a lock for classes held at recreation centers. Click the link above to see a location near you!
Neighborhood: Various locations across the city.