Although the first day of summer this year is June 21, the current transition from pants to shorts, sneakers to flip flops, and soup to watermelon and popsicles is evidence to the contrary. Memorial Day, officially a day to commemorate those who fought and died in the US army, serves as the unofficial start of the summer. Beaches and boardwalks open, families picnic under the sun, and live music sings across the parks and outdoor venues. If your family is staying in New York City for Memorial Day Weekend, there are plenty of ways to celebrate both the official and unofficial meanings of the holiday!
Parades, Fairs, and Ceremonies
Come watch the parades and engage in the activities at the various fairs this Memorial Day weekend. Every borough features a parade, so bringing your family to a parade is one of the most convenient and exciting ways to celebrate. Many of the fairs and ceremonies have live music, food, and several family-friendly activities to take part in. Parades, fairs, and ceremonies are all great ways kick off the start of the summer under the sun!
Come listen to live music from The New York Symphonic Band. Bring your family and a blanket to spend an afternoon outside. There will also be local vendors selling food and drinks. Spend your Memorial Day in a musical fashion. Free, RSVP recommended, 2:30-5pm. Green-Wood Cemetery, 500 25th Street, green-wood.com
Bring your family to watch Brooklyn’s Memorial Day Parade march by. This year, the parade features the Veteran Corps of Artillery, Hope for the Warriors, and the 369th Experience, complete with a wreath and flag ceremony. The mission of the parade is to honor those who died in the U.S. army and support families who suffer this loss. Free, 11 am. Starts on 3rd Ave & 78th Street and finishes in John Paul Jones Park on 101st Street and Fourth Avenue, brooklynmemorialdayparade.com
May 22-May 27
Fleet week features demos, talks, live performances, and interactive activities. On Memorial Day, the schedule is packed with cornhole, a bubble show, a flying demonstration, and a special ceremony to honor the service of all men and women. Free with museum admission, 10am-6pm. Pier 86, 12th Avenue & 46th Street, intrepidmuseum.org
Spend the morning of Memorial Day commemorating those who passed in US army service at Manhattan’s Memorial Day Observance. Bring your family to honor loved ones and show your national pride. Free, 10am-12pm. Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Monument, Riverside Drive & 89th Street, ourveterans.nyc
Start Memorial Day weekend off with Sunnyside Garden Park’s Fair on Saturday. The fair features a flag-raising ceremony, raffles, face paint, live entertainment, rides, barbeque, arts and crafts, rides, and a bounce house. Free admission and tickets for rides, activities, food, and drinks for sale, 12-5pm. 4821 39th Avenue, Sunnyside, NY, sunnysidegardenspark.org
Join the largest Memorial Day parade in the country to celebrate the 205th anniversary of the Star Spangled Banner and the 75th anniversaries of D-Day invasions. The parade goes on, rain or shine since 1927, so no matter the weather, your family can count on this parade in Queens to celebrate Memorial Day. Free, 2 pm. Northern Boulevard from Jayson Avenue in Great Neck to 245th St. in Douglaston, lndmemorialday.org
Bronx and Staten Island:
Hosted by American Legion Post 156, this parade invites all to come and honor US army service. Spend the evening with your family and show your national pride at the Bronx’s parade. Free, 4-7pm. US Coast Guard Auxiliary Flotilla, 417 Hunter Avenue, Bronx, evensi.us
Come celebrate Memorial Day at the 100th Annual Memorial Day Parade in Staten Island. Wave your American flags and wear your red, white, and blue gear to this event. Free, 12-2pm. Forest Avenue and Hart Boulevard, Staten Island, ourveterans.nyc
When you combine the two best aspects of summer together- food and sunshine – you get a picnic! Pack a delicious lunch of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches or turkey and cheese wraps and head outdoors to enjoy the food with your family. There are various picnic spots across New York City, so read below for a few highlights to visit on Memorial Day.
Bring a blanket or sit at the picnic tables and enjoy a waterfront view during your family picnic. Feel free to even turn your picnic into a barbeque here. After lunch, there are several playgrounds and lots of open, green space. Free and open to the public, 9am-9pm. 90 Kent Avenue, Brooklyn, parks.ny.gov
Enjoy a picnic along the Hudson river at the park created by John D. Rockefeller Jr. The park features the city’s largest public garden, ancient artwork, and 8 miles of pathways. After lunch, take a nature walk and explore this beautiful park. Free and open to the public, 6am-1am. Riverside Drive to Broadway, W 192 Street to Dyckman Street, nycgovparks.org
Before or after a picnic, take a dip in Astoria Park’s pool- New York City’s largest and oldest pool. The park also features tennis courts, trails, playgrounds, and basketball courts for outdoor fun. Free and open to the public, 6am-9pm. 19 19th Street, nycgovparks.org
Bronx and Staten Island:
Visit New York City’s third largest park to picnic and spend time outdoors this Memorial Day. The park features playgrounds, playing fields, a public golf course, and a freshwater lake. Free and open to the public, 6am-10pm. Westchester County Line, Broadway and Jerome Avenue, Bronx, nycgovparks.org
Picnic underneath a three-hundred-year-old tulip tree at this park in Staten Island. The park offers paddle boating, hiking and biking trails, playgrounds, and several courts and fields for play. Free and open to the public, 6am-1pm. 1150 Clove Road, Staten Island, nycgovparks.org
Beaches and Water Attractions
There is no better way to kick off the summer than relaxing on the beach or swimming in a pool. New York City beaches open Memorial Day weekend, so bring your family for a beach day, or days, to soak up some sun and stroll along the boardwalks. Water attractions also open up on Memorial Day weekend, so let your kids play and splash around in the water to cool off.
These three Brooklyn beaches each have something special to offer! Brighton beach is right next to Coney Island, and there are several Eastern European shops and restaurants surrounding the area. Coney Island boasts an exciting boardwalk with rides, games, and food, and Manhattan Beach is perfect if your family is looking for a calmer beach day to barbecue, picnic, and play in the sand. Free, 10am-6pm
The Dynamic H20 exhibit opens on Memorial Day, so bring your children to take part in this interactive table and learn how water flows from rain to rivers and through New York City. Children can build their own waterfalls and dams, pump water to the top of a skyscraper, and stay cool in a fun and educational way. The museum also features several other kid-friendly events for Memorial Day weekend, including arts and crafts, interactive exhibits, and storytelling. $14 museum admission, 10am-5pm. 212 W 83rd Street, New York, cmom.org
If your family enjoys surfing, then head to New York City’s only legal surfing beach to catch some waves this Memorial Day weekend! Aside from surfing, there are also playgrounds, several places to buy food, and plenty of sand to relax under the sun. Free, 10am-6pm
Get ready for a game of basketball, volleyball, or handball at Orchard Beach and Promenade before or after spending a few hours on the beach. There are 26 courts available for games, as well as snack bars and playgrounds. This is the only public beach in the Bronx, so take advantage of Orchard Beach and Promenade this Memorial Day weekend! Free, 10am-6pm
Staten Island features four public beaches for your family to visit during Memorial Day weekend! Wolfe’s Pond Park has tennis courts and dog-friendly areas, so bring your dog to the family outing. South Beach has a beautiful view of Verazzano Bridge, and Franklin D. Roosevelt Midland Beach and Boardwalk has a sea turtle fountain for children. Franklin D. Roosevelt Midland Beach and Boardwalk resides next to South Beach and tends to be less crowded, so if you are looking for a quieter beach day, head over there. Cedar Grove Beach is New York City’s newest beach that has appealing views of Manhattan Bridge. Free, 10am-6pm
Amusement Parks and Miniature Golf
If your family loves the spinning teacups, roller-coaster thrills, and competitive miniature golf games, head to an amusement park or miniature golf place this memorial day. Many amusement parks open on Memorial Day and host special, family-friendly events. Miniature golf is also a great way to get the whole family involved in a fun, outdoor game, and there are several exciting miniature golf courses across New York City. Yet Memorial Day is not limited to the outdoors, and with the rise of an interactive theater experience catered specifically for children, theater is another option for your family during Memorial Day Weekend.
Head to Adventure’s Park for kid-friendly rides, including the merry-go-round, spinning pink elephants, teacups, bumper cars, and water slide. After the rides, you can play a round of miniature golf or basketball and enjoy refreshments from the concession stands. Ticket prices vary- see website for the different ticket packages, 11am-5pm. 1824 Shore Parkway, adventurespark.com
Visit Victorian Gardens as they celebrate their opening weekend on Memorial Day weekend for kid-friendly rides, food, and a series of special guests for entertainment. Kick off the weekend on Saturday with the comedy duo, Sammy & Tudie. Then watch King Henry’s Magic Show on Sunday, and finish off with Michael Karas, an award-winning juggler, on Memorial Day. Children under 36 inches are free, children and adults 36 inches and over are $18 for a fixed day pass and $24 for any day pass, 10am-9pm on May 25, 10am-8pm on May 26 and 27. Wollman Rink, Central Park, 59th Street and 6th Avenue, victoriangardensnyc.com
Spend a day at Queen’s only amusement park this Memorial Day weekend. The park features kid-friendly rides, games, food, and The Great Miguelino for a free magic show on Memorial Day. Fantasy Forest is also located right next to Queen’s Zoo, so if your family gets tired of the rides and games, head over to the zoo to finish off the day. Every ride and game is one ticket, see the website for the various ticket packages, 11am-8pm. 5351 111th Street, fantasyforestnyc.com
Bronx and Staten Island:
Challenge your family to a round of 18-hole miniature golf at Turtle Cove on Memorial Day weekend. Turtle Cove recently added new obstacles to their lighted, colorful golf course, so perfect your swing to succeed! After miniature golf, head to Park Place Cafe at Turtle Cove for lunch or a snack. Children 12 and under $7, Adults $8, May 25-May 26 7am-10pm, May 27 8am-10pm. 1 City Island Road, Pelham Bay Park, Bronx, turtlecovegolfcenter.com
Visit the Staten Island FunPark for a day of miniature golf, racing, and baseball. The park features an 18-hole golf course, single and double go karts, and batting cages for all levels with staff to provide feedback. Come for a fun outdoor experience this Memorial Day weekend. See website for various ticket packages based on activity, May 25-26 10am-11pm, May 27 10am-10pm. 215 Schmidts Lane, Staten Island, sifunpark.com
While there are plenty of activities to do outside, there are also family-friendly indoor options for Memorial Day Weekend. Whether the weather is rainy, your family needs a break from the sun, or these activities just catch your eye, the following events are fun ways to spend one or two days of Memorial Day Weekend indoors. If your family enjoys interactive theater, DIY activities, or colorful sights, continue reading for more things to do this Memorial Day Weekend!
Theater is now interactive with Pip’s Island, which invites children to be the actors and actresses of the show. Pip’s Island professional performers guide children through the show with the goal of encouraging creativity, adventure, realization, and empowerment. If your family is looking for both an exciting and educational experience this Memorial Day weekend, head to Pip’s Island. Designed for ages 4-10, Tickets range from $39 to $59 on Memorial Day Weekend, different prices for groups, check website for time availability. 400 West 42nd Street, New York, pipsisland.com
Visit The Color Factory for an interactive experience all about color! The Color Factory will engage your whole family through an exploration of different hues in a series of exercises and exhibits. The mission of The Color Factory is to assert color as an important aspect of life and open your eyes to the color all around you. Head over to The Color Factory this Memorial Day Weekend for colorful fun. $38 general admission, children 2 and under free, check The Color Factory website for available times. 251 Spring Street, New York, colorfactory.co
Bring your family to camp this Memorial Day Weekend for kid-friendly, DIY crafts and activities. Kick off the weekend on May 25 with Cool Cookie Decorating from 11am-12pm and Fruit & Veggie Stamped Tees from 3-4pm. On May 26, sign up for the I-Scream for Slime-Cream class for an arts and crafts project from 3-4pm. On Memorial Day, finish off the weekend with Froot Loop Sand Art from 11:15am-12pm and DIY Play-Doh from 3:30-4:15pm. Book the classes beforehand on Camp’s website and get ready for a crafty weekend! Prices range from $25 to $40 per child depending on the activity, adults free, refer to Camp’s website for various times. 110 5th Avenue, New York, camp.com
Memorial Day both unofficially marks the start of summer and reminds us of all who bravely served the US army. Yet either way, the holiday brings people together: families, friends, and communities. Thousands of people watch Memorial Day parades together and stroll along the boardwalks on the beaches. Families spend quality time together in picnics at the park and honor their loved ones at ceremonies. Friends reunite for barbeques and beach trips. Memorial Day weekend sparks inclusion, unity, and love, and it is for this reason that we take the time to pause our busy lives and celebrate. We hope that this guide provides your family with plenty of options for Memorial Day weekend!