Activity Guide

Activities and programs to help NYC families keep kids active, engaged, and having fun – all year round!

Keeping kids engaged outside of school can be a full-time job. Luckily, New York City offers many free and low-cost options – no matter the season. Whether you’re looking for things to do as a family or for safe activities and programs your child can do independently, this page is a great place to start.

Seasonal Activities

Here are some ideas for things to do as a family throughout the four seasons in New York City. Or, for days you want to stay inside, be sure to check out our Free Events section where you can find virtual events you can attend from home.


For nature-lovers in New York City, autumn means one thing – the reds, oranges, and yellows of the changing leaves! Here are NYC’s best parks for fall foliage, where you can find hikes, events, and more. And NYC Parks also hosts events for holidays like Halloween and Thanksgiving.
Colder weather doesn’t mean there is less to do! With sledding, ice skating, and plenty of holiday celebrations and holiday lighting displays, winter is a great time to be in the City. And check out NYC Parks’ Winter Fun Guide to explore more ways to celebrate winter in the City!
Spring is a great time to get outdoors in New York City! Cherry blossoms flower all over the city – from streets to parks to botanic gardens. Here are a few great places to see the blooms. And on April 22nd, celebrate Earth Day with events throughout the boroughs. And check out NYC Parks’ Spring Fun Guide to explore more ways to celebrate spring in the City!
From public beaches to free pools, you and your family CAN stay cool in NYC this summer! (You can even learn to swim for free with a rec center membership, which is free for kids and young adults 18 – 24.) For some entertainment, check out summer’s free outdoor movies and free outdoor concerts.

Year-Round Programs

There are plenty of things for kids to do in NYC, no matter the season! Here are some free and low-cost options for year-round kids’ programs.


Recreation Centers
New York City’s recreation centers have indoor pools, weight rooms, basketball courts, dance studios, art studios, game rooms, and libraries. They provide lots of programs, have locations in all five boroughs, and offer free membership for kids! Click the link above to find a recreation center and learn how to apply for a membership.

Learn to swim! Swimming lessons are free with recreation center membership, which is free for kids! Some locations have indoor pools that can be used all year round.
NYC Parks offers many Youth Sports Programs and Instructional Clinics for kids eight and older. Sports include baseball, softball, tennis, golf, basketball, cycling, soccer, flag football, street hockey, and track. Recreation centers require membership to participate, but all youth get free memberships. Saturday Night Lights offers free high-quality sports and fitness training for youth ages 11 to 18 in locations across NYC.
Media Education
From help with homework to programs for young filmmakers, music producers, designers, photographers, and engineers – there are media programs for every ability and interest. Kids and teens media programs are free with recreation center membership, which is free for kids.
Outdoor Play
The Kids in Motion program by NYC Parks offers hours of free activities in NYC’s playgrounds, including organized sports, games, fitness demos, board games, water games, and more! Programs happen in all seasons but winter, and no registration is needed.

Out of School: After School, Summer and Weekend Programming

New York City offers many fun and enriching programs for kids during the hours they are not in school. Here are some options.


Department of Youth and Community Development (DYCD)
Search for afterschool and summer programs at Discover DYCD using the “Afterschool programs” filter to find a program near you. DYCD Beacon and Cornerstone Community Centers offer programming for youth and adults, throughout the week.
The NYC Parks After-School Program
The NYC Parks Afterschool Program provides children ages 6 to 13 with academic support and physical activity in a safe, structured environment. Recreation centers require membership to participate, but all youth get free memberships.
Enrichment Programs Offering Afterschool Activities
You can also search Growing Up NYC’s list of City Programs using the “enrichment” search filter. This will help you find larger umbrella programs that offer a number of engaging, high-quality afterschool activities for young people in all five boroughs of New York City.
Mentoring Program
The Big Brothers Big Sisters of NYC (BBBS of NYC) is the nation’s first and city’s largest youth mentoring organization. Their mission is to build and support mentoring relationships to ignite the biggest possible futures for youth by matching them with a supportive Caring Adult Mentor. To learn more about what is offered and how to connect a “Little” to a “Big” please review this link.

Places to Go

When you want to just get out with your family and explore, New York City has you covered.


Public Parks
There are 1700 parks in NYC! Get to know as many as you can, from small neighborhood parks to the big and famous ones like Central Park in Manhattan and Prospect Park in Brooklyn. There is so much for kids and families to explore.
Outdoor Spaces with Free Days and Times
Even places that may normally charge admission will sometimes have special times when you can attend for free. For example, check the websites of the New York Botanic Garden, the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, the Queens County Farm Museum, or the Brooklyn Bridge Park Environmental Center to learn more.
Many museums in New York City are always free – or offer free days or times. Find out which ones with this Free NYC Museums list or this list of city-owned institutions (but be sure to double check with the museum to get the most up-to-date information). If you have a library card, you can also use Culture Pass, which gets you free admission to dozens of museums and other cultural institutions.
Outdoor Art
There is public art all over New York City. From inside subway stations to installations in parks like the High Line and Madison Square Park, there is always something to see.
Borough-based Drop in Centers
Young people ages 14 to 24 can find a safe space in borough-based 24/7 Drop In Centers offering wifi, food, housing support, LGBTQI2S+ friendly services and other essentials, in each borough. More information here.

Free Events

There are many free and low-cost kid-friendly events across all five boroughs of New York City. Here’s where to find them…

Start by checking these organizations to see what’s happening! Here are links to their events pages. On their calendars, you can often filter events by age, location, and more.


New York City’s public libraries offer a huge variety of virtual and in-person events. Try The New York Public Library (which serves the Bronx, Staten Island, and Manhattan), The Brooklyn Public Library, or the Queens Public Library.
New York City Parks host many free and low-cost events throughout the boroughs. You can filter results by “Best for Kids” and “Free Events”.
Arts and Culture
Many museums and cultural institutions have family days and kid-friendly events, like the MoMA, the Jewish Museum, the Morris-Jumel Mansion, the National Museum of the American IndianThe Rubin Museum. The Brooklyn Museum even hosts monthly Salsa dance parties for all ages!


Free Visiting Hours (check websites for details)










Staten Island