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Keeping Little Ones Busy: Entertainment Ideas for Summer in NYC

School is out, and while the teachers are celebrating with 5 o’clock margaritas, moms are trying to find a way to replicate the structure of the school year. There’s plenty of pressure to keep kids learning through the summer. Enrichment opportunities abound in NYC, but not everything has to be done with an ulterior motive. Sometimes summer fun should be just that — fun!

Let’s check out a few ways to keep your kids (and you) happy and entertained this summer.

  1. Zoo Time

There is pretty much nothing little kids love more than seeing animals. Of course, you can make this educational, but why bother? The kids are going to learn new things at the zoo, regardless of the effort you put in!

Part of what makes the zoo so neat is the children can finally see their favorite animals and will probably be quite happy to tell you all about them. This is a great way to spend an entire day, and it’ll make for great conversation fodder for weeks to come. As an added bonus, some zoos offer rides for the kiddos as well.

  1. Ellis Island

This is one thing tourists do all the time, but New Yorkers often find they’ve never been. The Statue of Liberty might be the high point for the adults, but for kids, the ferry ride is bound to bring tons of joy and excitement. Take the mini-cruise and see the both the Statue and Ellis Island. For little ones who like construction, guided hard-hat tours of Ellis Island’s south side are available, too.

  1. Coney Island

Coney Island is famous worldwide. It’s also a playground for the little ones. Food, shopping and rides all combine for a fun day for everyone. It has shows all summer for both kids and adults. In addition, Coney Island is just that — an island. That means in addition to all the rides and attractions on the boardwalk, you can also spend time at the beach. So pack a swimsuit and some sunscreen, because Coney Island is a mini-vacation you don’t need a plane ticket for. Don’t forget to stay late for the fireworks.

  1. Aquarium
sea turtle at aquarium

Photo by: Betty Tsang

You’ve already hit up the zoo, so do something different and try out the aquarium. The NY Aquarium is a huge indoor/outdoor establishment that offers up numerous entertainment opportunities.  In addition to the classic aquarium experience, you can also visit a 4D theater and see a live performance with marine animals. There are numerous feeding times for penguins, walruses and sea otters, as well as short-term camps for kids.

  1. Central Park
Swing set in Central Park

Photo by: Angela N.

For ages 0-99, Central Park is a favorite. There are always things to do there during the summer, including tours, art shows and plays. Plus, during the summer, Victorian Gardens opens as well. Victorian Gardens has been around for a bit, and this marks its 12th year of fun and excitement for kids. It’s a family theme, so you won’t find wild rollercoasters with a lot of flips, but it does have beginner roller coasters, games and bumper boats, among others. This amusement park is also paved, so you can even take the littlest ones out in a pram or stroller, and not have to worry about navigating tree roots or mud puddles.

  1. Shopping

Shopping with kids doesn’t have to be a chore. Sometimes it can actually be fun, if you go into it with the intention of play. In fact, several stores cater to this idea and are set up to allow kids to come in, play for free, and go home. Even adult stores, like Barnes & Noble often have kid-friendly areas for them to play. For stores that are specifically geared toward kids, check out places like Toys “R” Us, Nintendo World or FAO Schwarz.

 

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