50 Things To Do With Your Kids This Summer

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Illustrations by Sarah Lutkenhaus
 

notesTHE RED HOOK FEST

Presented by Dance Theatre Etcetera, the annual waterfront affair kicks off with a barbecue and dance party on Thursday evening, followed by Friday’s youth hip-hop performances and, on Saturday, a full afternoon of music, dance showcases, trivia, face painting, and free kayak rides on the East River from Valentino Pier. 6/5-6/7. See dancetheatreetcetera.org for times and locations. Free.

HY-FI
For the 15th edition of their Young Architects Program, in which artists compete to design large-scale art that must provide shade, seating, and water to courtyard visitors, MoMA PS1 has chosen a massive orange structure that draws in cool air at the bottom and emits hot air at the top. 6/5-9/5, 12pm. MoMA PS1, 22-25 Jackson Ave. $10, students $5, children free.

FIGMENT
For one weekend each summer, Governors Island recruits artists to design interactive installations (read: kids are allowed to climb all over them) including an NYC-themed mini golf course that’ll be up and running through September. 6/7–6/8, 10am. Governors Island. Free.

puppetsSUZI SHELTON AT NORMAN & JULES
To herald their new backyard playspace, the family-owned Park Slope toy shop welcomes popular kindie rocker Suzi Shelton to perform inside the new digs. 6/8, 11am. 158 Seventh Ave. $40.

 

PUPPETS ON FILM: BEST OF SHORTSTACK!
BAMkids and the Jim Henson Foundation sponsor this series of 21st-century short films that all feature silly puppet characters on whimsical adventures. 6/8, 2pm. BAM Rose Cinemas, 30 Lafayette Ave. $9, children $7.

PUG DAY
If you’re a human being with a heart and soul, you might consider this festival a celebration of nature’s answer to the question of whether something can be both undeniably ugly and yet impossibly cute: the pug. Held at the Alice Austen House on Staten Island, the annual event honors the famed photographer’s love for the breed. 6/8, 12pm. Alice Austen House, 2 Hylan Blvd., Staten Island. $5.

EZRA JACK KEATS FAMILY CONCERT: OZOMATLI’S OZOKIDZ
For Celebrate Brooklyn!’s annual free family concert celebrating the life and work of Brooklyn author-illustrator Ezra Jack Keats, the Grammy-winning group Ozomatli will entertain folks with reggae-inflected tracks like “Balloon Fest.” 6/14, doors open at 3pm. Prospect Park Bandshell. Free.

THE JAZZ AGE LAWN PARTY
The folks behind this IRL iteration of a #tbt have capitalized on one universal truth: kids look really, really adorable in 1920s outfits. While you imbibe festive cocktails, little ones can play carnival games, learn the Charleston, and ogle vintage cars. 6/14-6/15 and 8/16-8/17, 11am. Governors Island. $30, children free.

SEVENTH HEAVEN
Bring Dad (yours, your kid’s, or, hell, someone else’s) to this Father’s Day street fest down Seventh Avenue hosted by the Park Slope Chamber of Commerce. There’ll be food and activities geared towards families. 6/15, time TBD. Seventh Ave. from Flatbush Ave. to 18th St. Free.

MAKE MUSIC NEW YORK
For twelve straight hours each summer solstice, the entire city becomes a stage for free outdoor concerts, collaborative jam sessions, and pop-up performances. While this year’s lineup has yet to be announced, previous years’ have included percussion under the Manhattan Bridge and a string orchestra on a G-train platform. 6/21, 10am. Various locations. Free.

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THE CONEY ISLAND MERMAID PARADE
If your idea of family-friendly entertainment involves nipple pasties, then the annual Mermaid Parade is your (somewhat PG-13) playground. If nothing else, you’ll be supporting one of the neighborhood’s best traditions. 6/21, 1pm. Parade starts at W 21st St. at Surf Ave. Free.

SUMMERSTAGE BROOKLYN FAMILY DAY
Among the events in City Parks Foundation’s behemoth summer festival are five free family days all over the city, and this year, Brooklyn gets a whole weekend’s worth of performances, face painting, and circus workshops. For the main act, the Barolosolo Cirkus Company incorporate aquatic acts, poetry, and physical theater for twice-daily performances inside a pop-up pool. 6/21-6/22, 3pm and 7pm. Brooklyn Bridge Park. Free.

METROPOLITAN OPERA SUMMER RECITAL SERIES
“Opera” may not be most kids’ answer when asked about their favorite kind of music, but, hey, anything’s better than the billionth run-through of the Frozen soundtrack. 6/25, 7pm. Brooklyn Bridge Park, Pier 1. Free.

MCCARREN PARK POOL AND BROOKLYN BRIDGE PARK POP-UP POOL
Whatever your opinion on public pools, the ones in McCarren Park and Brooklyn Bridge Park’s Pier 2 are always safe bets for those days when it’s so damn hot out that you’re seriously considering a dip in the Gowanus Canal. McCarren Park Pool opens 6/26, 11am; Brooklyn Bridge Park Pool opens 6/27, 10am. Free.
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THE BUTTERFLY COUNT
It’s worth the trip over the Verrazano to join Staten Island butterfly expert Cliff Hagan in counting all the butterflies around the Snug Harbor grounds. All findings will be reported to the North American Butterfly Association. 6/28, 10am. Snug Harbor Cultural Center, 1000 Richmond Terrace, Staten Island. Free.

PUPPETRY ARTS FESTIVAL OF BROOKLYN
The nonprofit theater hosts this Park Slope street fair to support their many youth outreach programs, where kids can dream up their own puppets, munch on popcorn, decorate T-shirts, watch puppet shows, and pose for photos with Star Wars’ own C-3PO. 6/28, 11am. 4th St. at Fifth Ave., Park Slope. Free, activities $2-3.

hotdog
NATHAN’S FOURTH OF JULY HOT DOG EATING CONTEST Kids who boast stomachs of steel can feel like sausages themselves by getting squished among the crowd while watching professional eaters scarf down dogs. Bonus points if they’ve still got an appetite afterwards. 7/4. Coney Island. Free.

fireworks_2MACY’S FOURTH OF JULY FIREWORKS
In past years, Brooklyn families have either had to settle for Coney Island’s lesser version or struggle for one of the few spots along Eleventh Avenue where, sure, you can see the magnificent pyrotechnic display, but when it’s over? You’re in Manhattan. Ugh. Not so in 2014, when the whole shebang moves back over to the East River, thanks to Mayor Bill de Blasio. The fireworks will take place on barges near the Manhattan Bridge, and some will even be set off on top of the Brooklyn Bridge.7/4, 9pm. Free.

NEW YORK PHILHARMONIC CONCERTS IN THE PARKS
If your kids can refrain from, you know, screaming, go ahead and bring ‘em to participate in the beloved tradition of sneaking beer and wine into Prospect Park while listening to the most classic of all classical music. Brooklyn’s program will include Richard Strauss’s Don Juan and Till Eulenspiegel’s Merry Pranks, as well as Smetana’s Vyšehrad from Má vlast and Tchaikovsky’s Romeo and Juliet.
7/9, 8pm. Prospect Park. Free.

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SUMMERSCREEN
Not to toot our own horn, but our parent company’s summer movie series is the only event this summer worth attending. Kidding, sort of. While not all movies are suitable for little ones (maybe skip The Big Lebowski? Or don’t. No judgment), we’ll also be screening the tween-friendly Back to the Future (7/9) and Zoolander (7/16). Get there early for pre-movie music and food!
Wednesdays 7/9-8/13, 6pm. McCarren Park. Free.

Syfy MOVIES WITH A VIEW
Better known as the Brooklyn Bridge Park Summer Movie Series, this year’s excellent lineup (sponsored by the Syfy Channel) includes a couple kid-friendly options, like Fantastic Mr. Fox (7/24) and Beetlejuice (7/31). Depending on your child’s sensitivity to terrible movies sea monsters, Sharknado will also be screened (7/17). Thursdays, 7/10-8/28, sundown. Brooklyn Bridge Park. Free.

booksNEW YORK CITY CHILDREN’S POETRY FESTIVAL
Sail over to Governors Island, where all weekend long, kids can write and share their own poetry onstage, hear authors read stories, contribute to the Poetree Forest and explore a teepee village. 7/27-7/28, 11am. Governors Island, Colonels Row. Free.

HIP TOT FAMILY DAY
Spend the last Sunday of each month at the family-friendly Park Slope beer garden, Greenwood Park. Hip Tot (of the school-year-only Hip Tot Music Fest) presents local children’s authors, kids’ musicians, DJ sets and craft activities that all adhere to a monthly theme, where everything’s free but the food. 7/27, 8/24, 9/28, 12pm. 555 Seventh Ave. Free.

BROOKLYN SHAKESPEARE FESTIVAL
For the second straight year, brooklynONE productions will host this outdoor fair. During the day, there’ll be lots of activities to get the kids interested in iambic pentameter and Elizabethan culture, in case for some inexplicable reason they’re not already. 8/2, Owl’s Head Park. Free.

SUMMER STREETS
Cross the Brooklyn Bridge and take to Manhattan’s east side, where seven miles of Lafayette Street and Park Avenue get completely cleared from traffic for three Sunday mornings this summer. While you bike or walk, there’ll also be public installations and family activities. 8/3, 8/10, 8/17, 7am. Various locations. Free.

ARTHUR ASHE KIDS’ DAY
Held each year in conjunction with the US Open, this event offers a variety of free activities on the grounds of the National Tennis Center, like tennis lessons, a chance to watch the pros practice, and family games, plus a surprisingly affordable, ticketed stage show that always manages to draw in huge talent—last year’s was headlined by Ariana Grande, Austin Mahone, and speaker Michelle Obama. 8/23. USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, Flushing Meadow-Corona Park, Queens. Festival free; stage show $10 and up.

BRIGHTON JUBILEE FESTIVAL
This 38th annual hurrah raises money for the Brighton Beach Neighborhood Association when it takes over multiple blocks with carnival rides, stage performances, and local bites. 8/24, 10am. Brighton Beach Avenue. Free.

dots_new#INSTASELFIEPARADISE: THE 26TH ANNUAL STUDENT ART AND MEDIA EXHIBITION
View works created by local kindergarteners through high schoolers at BRIC’s annual exhibition of student art, all of which offer a different take on social media and digital communication. Through 6/15, 10am. Gallery at BRIC House, 647 Fulton St. Free.

WEST INDIAN-AMERICAN DAY CARNIVAL
Celebrate the official end of summer cheering for dancers in the annual Labor Day parade down Eastern Parkway. Details for this year’s carnival haven’t been released yet, but you can bet it’ll be as loud and sparkly as any in the past. 9/1. Eastern Pkwy from Schenectady Ave to Flatbush Ave. Free.

THE THUNDERBOLT AT LUNA PARK
This summer, Luna Park will unveil the 65mph Thunderbolt, featuring a 100-ft loop and a 90-degree vertical drop (yup). Luckily, the recently restored B&B Carousel is right next-door. Opens 5/24, 11am. 1000 Surf Ave.

“BROOKLYN BLOCK LAB”
The Brooklyn Children’s Museum’s summer exhibit takes 1,000-square-feet of space and turns it into a Mecca for mini architects, where they’re free to collaborate on, well, whatever the hell they want. Meanwhile, museum educators will be documenting their every move to be included in a study on the way the children interact with each other during block play. Through 8/31. Brooklyn Children’s Museum, 145 Brooklyn Ave. $9.

flowers
“100 YEARS AND GROWING”
The Brooklyn Botanic Garden celebrates the 100th anniversary of its beloved Children’s Garden with an exhibition that offers a peek into its past through photographs, newspaper articles, and displays. Through 9/21. Brooklyn Botanic Garden, 150 Eastern Parkway. $10, children under 12 free.

GOVERNORS ISLAND OPENING DAY FAMILY FESTIVAL
For the first time ever, Brooklyn’s westerly neighbor will be open seven days a week through the end of the season. Go exploring! Through 9/28. Governors Island. Free.

food_truck
PROSPECT PARK FOOD TRUCK RALLY
On the first and third Sundays of each month, Grand Army Plaza plays host to a rotating selection of everyone’s favorite mealtime gimmick, the food truck. First and third Sundays through 10/19, 11am. Grand Army Plaza, Prospect Heights. Free.

POP-UP AUDUBON
These weekend workshops adhere to monthly themes (think “incredible invertebrates” and “radical raptors”) and will have kids learning about Prospect Park’s ecosystem through naturalist-led bird walks, fishing clinics, and park cleanup. Saturdays and Sundays through 10/19, 12pm. Prospect Park. Free.

HABANA OUTPOST SUMMER MOVIE SERIES
As if delicious Cuban food weren’t reason enough to hit up this Fort Greene stalwart, the restaurant will continue its seasonal tradition of screening films each Sunday this summer, and while most aren’t appropriate for the little ones, feel free to bring ‘em along for Singin’ In the Rain (8/10). Sundays through 10/26, 8pm. 757 Fulton St. Free.

BOUNCEU
Most Brooklyn parents have, at some point or another, attended a party here, and likely ever since then, their kids have been dying to go back. Luckily, BounceU stays open for free bouncing hours and special family days, but know that reservations are required. See website for dates and times. 6722 Fort Hamilton Pkwy. $15 per child.

BROOKLYN BOULDERS
Scale the walls at this Gowanus warehouse-turned-extreme gym, particularly during their special weekend family hours (8am-11am). 575 Degraw St. Day pass $25; students $19.

skate
BROOKLYN BRIDGE PARK PIER 2
Shuffleboard isn’t just for olds anymore, as evidenced by the popularity of the Royal Palms Shuffleboard Club. Now, even the youngest of Brooklynites can get in on the Florida retiree fun at Brooklyn Bridge Park’s Pier 2, which includes three shuffleboard courts, a roller rink, two bocce courts, five basketball courts, six handball courts and swing sets. Open year-round. Brooklyn Bridge Park, Pier 2. (Free skating sessions).

BROOKLYN FLEA AT PS 312
Sure, you could bring your kids to the regular Brooklyn Flea, or you could bring them to PS 321, where there are actually, you know, things for kids to do (besides complaining at your side while you shop for furniture). Here, children can participate in a variety of workshops like mini-bookmaking, dance, filmmaking and science. Saturdays and Sundays, 10am. 180 Seventh Ave. Free.

CARROLL PARK CHILDREN’S CONCERT SERIES
Dates and times for this weekly series of local kids’ musicians are still to be determined, but previous years have booked the Deedle Deedle Dees, Astrograss and Mil’s Trills to perform alongside crafts, games and food onsite beforehand. Midsummer. Carroll Park. Free.

COBBLE HILL PARK CONCERT SERIES
Local musicians—and not necessarily kids’ bands—will perform on Thursday evenings in midsummer at this small outdoor series. While specific acts and dates haven’t yet been set, in the past, most musicians have come from blues, folk, or jazz backgrounds. Thursdays in midsummer, 7pm. Cobble Hill Park. Free.

GREENLIGHT BOOKSTORE STORY TIMES
Every weekend, the indie bookstore welcomes authors and musicians to entertain restless kiddos. On Fridays at 2:30pm, join Jarrod for a 40-minute singalong, while older kids (ages 3 to 8) can hear their favorite authors read from their stories on Saturdays at 11am. Babies and toddlers even get their own event on Sundays at 11am, when they’ll jam to children’s musicians like The Good Ms. Padgett and Miss Nina. Ongoing, various times. 686 Fulton St. Free.

INDOOR PLAY SPACES
Every parent needs a decent rainy day activity to keep in their back pocket, so thank goodness Williamsburg’s slew of indoor play spaces often welcome drop-in or daily visitors. We recommend Twinkle (144 Frost St., day pass $35), which opened last summer, the rock-themed Frolic! (34 N. 6th St., three-day trial $125) and Klub4Kidz (159 N. 4th St., open play pass $15).

LEFRAK CENTER
Brooklyn kids got an early holiday present last winter with the arrival of the new LeFrak Center at Lakeside, featuring two seasonal ice rinks, one of which has been transformed into a roller rink, and the other a shallow pool for splashing around in. Through fall. Lakeside at Prospect Park. Roller rink admission $6-$8, rentals $6.

notes
SING BACK, BROOKLYN!
Lloyd H. Miller (formerly of The Deedle Deedle Dees) leads this monthly sing-a-long that whisks kids away on a trip through the borough’s storied past. There’ll also be storytime, skits and movies. Saturday, 6/7 11am. Brooklyn Historical Society, 128 Pierrepont St. Free, but reservations required.

popsicle
SMORGASBURG
Sweet-toothed tots can choose from BITEME cheesecake, Blue Marble ice cream, and Dough donuts at this twice-weekly outdoor food festival. Got an adventurous eater? There are over a hundred other local vendors to choose from before setting up a picnic in front of the Manhattan skyline. Saturdays at East River State Park, Williamsburg, 11am. Sundays at Brooklyn Bridge Park, Pier 5, 11am. Free.

STORY TIME AT POWERHOUSE
The airy DUMBO bookstore and its Park Slope outpost often host children’s authors to read from their books, plus sing-a-longs for tots. See website for the full schedule. 37 Main St. and 1111 Eighth Ave. Free.

STREB LAB FOR ACTION MECHANICS
Little do many parents know, but this Williamsburg circus arts Mecca welcomes drop-ins to many of its signature classes, like “kid action,” flying trapeze and trampoline, so prospective runaways can get a taste of circus life before going all-in. See website for class schedules. 51 N. 1st St. One session $28–$35.



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