The 2022 NYC Summer Bucket List: What You Must Do with the Kids

Kids throwing water balloons in summer IStock
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If you thought last summer was happening, you better brace yourself for the wild ride that is Summer 2022 in NYC. It’s hard to hit all the “hot” spots during a typical summer, this year it’s gonna be downright impossible. (Which is just how we like it.) Bonus: tons of activities are free. Buckle up: here’s our list of things to do with kids in NYC, summer 2022 edition. Now slather on some sunscreen and get busy! (Looking to make an escape at some point this summer? Try these weekend getaways from NYC, these mellow beach towns, and these kid-friendly international destinations.)

Check Out Summer For the City at Lincoln Center Events, lots of them free, are happening across the Center’s Campus. Think: dance parties under a giant disco ball, musical performances, poetry readings, Pride events, theater and many events and activities just for kids and families

Dive-in to NYC’s free public pools. The city’s free, often humongous, outdoor pools are open again as of Saturday, June 28.  Find your pool here, and be sure to read the rules before heading out! 

Tour and taste at a brewery or a winery. We found both that are kid-friendly. See where you can get sipping them here!

A toddler eats a strawberry
iStock

Pick All the Things

Cherries are the first crop of the season. Here’s where to pick your own!

Peak summer means it’s time to pick strawberries, raspberries, blueberries and more. Here are our favorite places to pick near NYC!

There’s nothing quite like a bouquet of flowers you pick yourself. Here’s where you can do just that!

Shore Fire Media/Getty

Hit Up a Roller Rink
There are so many this summer! Check out DiscOasis in Central Park, Flipper’s Roller Rink in Rockefeller Center and the Roll-a-Rama at the TWA Hotel’s Runway Rink

children on slide hill on governors island
Mimi O’Connor

Visit Governors Island. This summer getaway in the harbor is back in a big way for 2022. Click here to see what’s in store!

Feel the wind in your hair on a zipline, or traverse a ropes course. These are our favorites.

Celebrate Pride! Events are happening all over the city. See our picks for Pride with kids here.

Visit the CAMP’s new collab: Disney’s Mickey and Friends: An Extra Big Adventure. You’ll find it at CAMP’s Flatiron store. 

LEGOLAND

Visit LEGOLAND
Haven’t made it to the brick-tastic attraction upstate? The park includes seven LEGO-themed lands, with attractions such as Miniland, Ninja Training Camp, Build and Test, Robotic LEGO play, LEGO Creative workshops and tons of LEGO-themed rides for thrills, spins and more. ( The “Driving School” experience is a must and the NYC Miniland will blow your mind. Trust us.) For the full experience, stay overnight in the LEGOland Hotel, which offers LEGO-themed suites (ninja, LEGO Friends, pirate, etc.) with a separate bunk area for kids. Plus: the elevators are mini discos!

Day passes start at $68 with advance purchase; room rates start at $169.
1 LEGOland Blvd. 
Goshen, NY
Online:  legoland.com

Little Island @ Pier 55

 Visit Little Island at Pier 55. The undulating park on the west side offers programming (much of it free) all summer long. 

Play all day at one of our favorite Manhattan playgrounds

Explore Brooklyn’s best playgrounds. Brooklyn Bridge Park, Domino Park, the playgrounds in Park Slope and Prospect Park—Find them here!

Need more spots to play? These are our favorite playgrounds in Queens!

Visit a sprayground to cool off. (That’s a playground with water features.) These are our favorites to beat the heat! And don’t forget: you can always seek out a playground with shade.

Amber Waves Farm

Head to the Hamptons. But don’t go without checking out our list of things to do with the kids in the Hamptons

Go to a drive-in movie. In the city, upstate, and beyond, here’s where you can see a movie outdoors this summer!

Slip and slide at an outdoor waterpark. Click here to see our favorites!

Or opt for a climate-controlled, indoor waterparks. (Where you can often stay over and make a weekend of it.) Click here to get booking!

kids petting goats in riverside park
Riverside Park Conservancy

Visit the Goats in Riverside Park
The goats are back to help control the invasive weeds in the park. The “Running of the Goats” (when they enter the park) happens on June 29 at 11 a.m. at Riverside Park and 120th Street. But you can stop by and say “hello! all summer long!

birdhouses at bbg
Brooklyn Botanic Gardens

See Artist-created Birdhouses of All Kinds at “For the Birds” at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden
For the Birds is a multimedia exhibit centered around a Garden-wide outdoor exhibition of dozens of site-specific birdhouses created by artists of international renown. 

Enjoy Free Shakespeare in the Park at the Delacorte Theater
The Public Theater marks its 60th season with Richard III (June 21-July 17) and As You Like It (Aug. 10-Sept. 11) (We’re guessing the latter is probably a better choice.) 

mom and child with a goat at Point Defiance Zoo petting farms and zoo
Dean Koepfler

Check Out the Grand Re-opening of the New York Aquarium
It’s the first time it’s been fully open in more than 10 years! 

Take a hike! We love these kid-friendly walks in the city, and these treks a little further afield

Have an animal encounter. At one of NYC amazing zoos, at an aquarium, at a petting zoo! Find all of them here!

Tentrr

Go glamping. You’ve got lots of options to sleep in the great outdoors but still have some creature comforts. Try these glamping spots in and around NYC. For luxury tents, check out Tentrr—we did!

Try a farm stay. Get out of the city and down on the farm. We love these places that will host your family for a farm stay!

Pile in and hit the road.  RV curious? Check out these trips for a maiden voyage with kids. 

kids in dumbo
Noemie Trusty

Head to DUMBO for Music, Art & Fun
The Live at the Archway series is back with free music, see inspired performance and art pieces at Six-foot Platform and take part in special family events.

Rock Out, Groove, Chill at Summerstage
Some shows are ticketed, but many are free!  (See the full lineup here.)

See Free Outdoor Movies All Over the City
So, so, so many movies to see outside this summer. The Parks Department’s “Movies Under the Stars” series screens movies throughout the city. See the full lineup here. The Queens Botanical Garden welcomes families for kid-friendly Movie Nights this summer. Bryant Park’s popular film series returns started June 13, and FYI, Brooklyn Bridge Park’s Movies with a View is back in July.

Visit Prospect Park for BRIC’s Celebrate Brooklyn!
Another favorite place to see incredible free shows in the summer, including this year’s Celebrate Brooklyn! Family Show of Montreal-based Cirque Kalabanté with an opening performance by Natu Camra.

Mimi O’Connor

Get your licks in. NYC’s cone runneth over when it comes to ice cream. Classic, crazy, hip-hop inspired, Big & Gay. Click here to see the best ice cream shops for kids in NYC!

Go the beach! NYC public beaches are free, and they are open through September 11. Here’s our guide to visiting NYC beaches.(You  can get to all of these using public transportation. Note that if you drive, parking is not free, and often pricey.) See all of NYC public beaches here. 

Visit Coney Island. Coney Island is open, with the famous Cyclone celebrating 95 years, and the planned debut of a new family-friendly rollercoaster, log flume and ropes course at Luna Park. Deno’s Wonder Wheel’s new family thrill coaster, The Phoenix is now open. The world-famous Mermaid Day Parade, celebrating 40 years, is June 18. Don’t forget: Deno’s puts on a free firework show every night at 9:45 p.m. Friday starting July 8 through September 2. 

Wikimedia

Walk the Highline. This free, elevated park is a one-of-a-kind destination filled with native plantings and thought-provoking art. (It’s also right by the Whitney Museum and Little Island @Pier 55.) See hours, art and programming info at the park here.

Sample the best of NYC food at an outdoor market. Take your pick of where to nosh: Smorgasburg in Williamsburg, Prospect Park, Jersey City, FiDi, or Queens Night Market in Flushing Meadows Corona Park or Rockefeller Center. You’ll find lots of options in Time Out New York Market in DUMBO’s Brooklyn Bridge Park. It’s inside, but you can sit down or take it to go. 

Fight Summer Slide at the Liberty Science Center. Read our guide before you go! 

Visit a National Park Near NYC. Click here for our suggestions!

RELATED STORIES:
Things To Do With Kids in the Hamptons, Summer 2022 Edition
101 Things to Do With Kids in NYC
Things You Have to Do in NYC Before Baby Turns One

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