Seeing the sights in New York City at least once is a must in anyone’s lifetime, but if you’ve already been there and done that, this time consider checking out these fabulous family-friendly events that can only be experienced in this amazing city. Besides, all of the popular sights and attractions are crowded, and you don’t want to spend your summer vacation standing in line when there are plenty of things to do that will keep everyone in the whole family entertained.
Long Island City is considered one of the most vibrant parts of Queens, the westernmost residential and commercial neighborhood of the boroughs. It is here that the Long Island City Bike Parade takes place. Children and families are invited to repair their bikes with Recycle-A-Bicycle, get free helmets and fittings with the NYC Department of Transportation, and even decorate their bikes with Socrates artists. This event also includes a Kinetic Sculpture Challenge with creative, human-powered sculpture-vehicles paraded down Vernon Boulevard.
If you’re traveling here by automobile you might consider joining the parade — and you could even win an award for Best Costume, Best Art or Best Engineering. But even if you’re coming from afar, this would be a fantastic event to watch and get a chance to mingle with the locals.
Also in June, at Brooklyn’s McCarren Park, is the Go Green! Greenpoint Festival. Ever wondered what it might be like to live in Brooklyn? Well this is your chance to find out! This event brings the entire community together to celebrate and build a sustainable environment, featuring art projects, science exhibits, educational displays, kids’ activities, live music and performances, and lots more.
Governors Island (located a short ferry ride away from Brooklyn and Manhattan) hosts a family-friendly 1920s-themed event known as the Jazz Age Lawn Party. Not only will a trip to the island transport you to a historic military village and tranquil setting, but a completely different era as well. Consider this your opportunity to deck yourself out in 1920s attire – costumes, though not required, are perfectly welcome and make for wonderful people watching! One of the unique aspects of the event is the diversity of the crowd, with people of all ages and ethnicities in attendance. Though the music may be from the days of yesteryear, you’ll find music and fashion enthusiasts across the range of young families to couples well into their ninth decade. Just a few of the activities and attractions include dance lessons and dance contests, carnival games with prizes, a 1920s motorcar exhibition and fabulous performances throughout the day by The Dreamland Follies, an Art Deco spectacle involving the great Ziegfield, dance troupes, tap dancers and a Jazz Age dance band.
Before taking in some July 4 fireworks, why not head to Coney Island to watch the world’s most famous hot dog eating competition? The Fourth of July International Hot Dog Eating Contest has been held at Nathan’s Famous on the corner of Surf and Stillwell avenues in Coney Island every year since 1916. In recent years, an estimated 50,000 people have traveled here to watch the contest in person, so be sure to arrive before 11 a.m. if you decide to go. In New York, it’s said that nothing represents summer and the Fourth of July like fireworks and this world-renowned competition.
Watching a movie in Central Park is sure to be a highlight from a trip to the city. Throughout the month of August every year, the famed park hosts a week of evening film screenings at Rumsey Playfield. Guest DJs play at 6:30 p.m. and the film begins at 8 p.m.
The Dream Up Festival takes place at the Theater of the New City. It features the latest and greatest local talent with wide-ranging original theatrical visions that embrace drama, poetry, music and dance from theater and performance companies in downtown New York.
On three consecutive Saturdays each summer (traditionally the first three in August), “Summer Streets” serves to open up nearly seven miles of New York City’s streets for people to play, walk, bike and breathe. It’s a bike tour/walking tour/block party and a great time to not only rub elbows with New Yorkers, but to get some exercise and enjoy great people-watching. It runs from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m., extending from the Brooklyn Bridge to Central Park, with all activities free of charge and designed for people of all ages and abilities.
This year, don’t just come to New York City to see the same top 10 sights on every other tourist’s list. Join in one or more of these fantastic events and see the city through the eyes of the locals.