Find free and low-cost things to do with kids in Manhattan this July, including fun family shows in the parks, outdoor festivals and fairs, and new theater openings and museum exhibits.
Free and Fun Family Shows
Justin Roberts and the Not Ready for Naptime Players will headline Central Park Family Day, part of the SummerStage Kids series, which will host more than 95 FREE performing arts events this summer in parks throughout the city.
Put Down the iPad…
New York City is casually referred to as a playground for its inhabitants, but the Come Out & Play Festival takes the old adage and makes it quite literal. Now in its seventh year, the festival invites visitors to play unusual and innovative games in an outdoor public space, encouraging players to interact with the world around them (rather than a screen, the typical host to “gaming.”) This year boasts two events (one evening and one daytime), including a field day on Governors Island featuring family-friendly games led by ESI Design. Ideal for kids ages 8-12 and the grown ups that hang out with them, all games will relate to this year’s theme of “time travel.” The games are chosen by submission, so there’s a diverse new bunch every year. So leave the iPad at home, grab your running shoes, plan your strategies—and let the games begin! FREE!
Bastille Day? Oui, J’adore!
Vive la France! New York-based cultural center The French Institute Alliance Française will host its annual Bastille Day celebration in honor of French Independence on July 15, and food, festivities, and fun are in no shortage. The Kid’s Corner will have plenty of activities for the little ones, such as face painting, arts and crafts, games, and a mime. Grownups can brush up on their French during a 30-minute workshop and sample an array of French wines and cheeses. The whole family will enjoy food from French restaurants and bakeries, live open-air musical performances from the Hungry March Band, and the perennial favorite, the French can-can dancers. Raffle prizes will be drawn throughout the afternoon, including a grand prize trip to France. FREE!
‘Stand Tall’ at the Theatre Festival
The David and Goliath story takes a contemporary turn in the pop/rock family-friendly musical Stand Tall. The biblical rivalry of remains unchanged, but now the epic battle is one of Guitar Hero. When wannabe rock star David is predicted to be the next king, Goliath can’t stand by and watch as his crown is taken, setting the stage for their clash. Following a successful run in the UK, this rock musical is part of the New York Musical Theatre Festival, the largest annual musical theater festival in the world, which showcases new musicals and emerging talents.
Get Tangled Up in the Outdoors
One of the city’s longest-running outdoor festivals, Lincoln Center Out of Doors, boasts more than 100 free performances this year, including 17 premiere performances. The fest takes place across the plazas of Lincoln Center over the course of three weeks, hitting the city July 25 and running through Aug. 12. July 28 is Family Day, which offers an afternoon of circus and street performers, an interactive play, and amazing acrobatics. In Tangle (pictured), a huge, messy, fun, and interactive performance, kids and family members help create a bouncy playground by weaving colored elastic through 25 poles of different heights set on a large platform base. The Bindlestiff Family Cirkus will bring a quirky mix of vaudeville, circus, and sideshow with a variety of acts and performers, and the Chinese American Arts Council Acrobatic Group will perform From Chinatown with Love. It’s the perfect blend of entertainment for an outdoor family day in the city. And it’s FREE!
The American Museum of Natural History’s new exhibition, Spiders Alive!, which gives kids the chance to see arachnids up close, opens today and runs through Dec. 2.
Fun Family Events on Governors Island
It’s summertime and the weather’s groovy, which means it’s time to take advantage of Governors Island. Why is this island better than all other islands? Well, you don’t need a plane to get there (just take the free ferry from 10 South St.; see govisland.com for schedule), it’s far cheaper than a tropical vacation, and it’s the perfect spot for day trips with the whole family. Plus, there are endless family-centric events happening there all summer long—here’s a sampling of this month’s highlights.
Throughout July and August
Free Summer Sports Programs
On July 2, the City Parks Foundation kicks off its 2012 Summer Sports Program in more than 60 locations citywide. The program offers free youth tennis (ages 5-16), golf (6-17), and track and field (5-16) classes and provides free use of equipment. Sportsmanship, discipline, and self-esteem are emphasized along with the basic skills of the sport. The tennis and track and field programs culminate in a citywide competition at the end of the summer. To find a program near you, visit cityparksfoundation.org/sports.
Find even more fun family events in Manhattan and the NYC area in our full, searchable calendar of events!