Manhattan Spring and Summer Fun

By Susan Russo


Photo Courtesy of the National Museum of Mathematics

Consider these (mostly) FREE events in NYC Parks, many falling between June and October:

At Bryant Park (between Fifth and Sixth Avenues, from 40th to 42nd Streets) check out for days and times of events. For adults and kids, there are games to play, such as chess, checkers, mah jongg, and board games, plus active sports, which include petanque (much like bocce or lawn bowling), ping-pong, and a putting green. Under a tent is the outdoor “Reading Room,” stocked with books and magazines for all ages. In addition, there’s an “Art Cart” in June, August, and September, with free supplies to use and artworks to take home. The park has three restaurants, food stands, and crafts and souvenir shops. There are coffee, pastry and deli shops all along 40th Street. If it’s too hot or it rains and the outdoor Reading Room is full, duck into the magnificent main library building, (for open hours), which has a very large but comfortable Children’s Library (with books, CDs, and DVDs for kids, and seven PC terminals), as well as a beautiful Map Room, a great shop, and a small café. And the youngest ones will thrill to the many, many inviting stairs to climb.

Madison Square Park (between Madison and Fifth Avenues, from 23rd to 26th Street)

In addition to a great playground and a “water wheel,” there are concerts, workshops in horticulture, and outdoor art for all ages, and, for kids, story times and “Art in the Park.” There is also a large outdoor plaza with tables and seating. Vendors are set up all around the park. (If it rains, I’ve heard good things about the Museum of Math at the north end of the Park (11 East 26th Street)

imagination playground

Photo Courtesy of NYC Parks

Their website says it has “a special emphasis on activities for 4th through 8th graders,” but it’s expensive – free for toddlers, $9 for children, students, and seniors, and $15 for adults.)

Besides local parks in Manhattan there are “Art Parks,” playgrounds for kids with works they can climb on:

“The Tom Otterness Playground – Silver Towers” on 42nd Street between 11th and 12th Avenues;

“The Real World” in Rockefeller Park between Chambers and Warren Streets in Lower Manhattan;

“The Imagination Playground” at the South Street Seaport at Berling Slip on John Street between Front and South Streets.


Photo Courtesy of Amateur Astronomers Association of New York

For a reasonable price, at Hudson River Park Mini Golf (in Tribeca – “cross at North Moore Street” for Pier 25) you can play eighteen holes – “CASH ONLY” – $5 for kids under 14, and $6 for kids 14 and over and adults.

For older kids and adults, there’s Brookfield Place (the old World Trade Center area) at 230 Vesey Street on the Hudson River waterfront, with special events in June and July: concerts, dance programs, an exhibit of inflatable fabric birds (that will fly, they say), games, and nighttime films.

For an evening event, though not in a park, you may want to take the crosstown bus to Lincoln Center, at 64th Street and Columbus Avenue, where, at the circular fountain, the Amateur Astronomers Association will have high-power telescopes every Friday and Saturday evening in June and July (weather permitting) for stargazing from 7:00 -11:00pm.

For all ages, there’s Governor’s Island, for details. Take a ferry from the Battery Maritime Building (10 South Street). Round-trip ferry tickets are $2 for adults, $1 for teens and seniors, kids free. In 10 minutes or so, you’ll be on an island that’s a massive public park, with food stalls, bike trails (take your own or rent), historic houses, two 1812-era forts, live music events, outdoor and indoor art installations, lawn parties, a “teaching garden”, vintage baseball, an archaeology site, and loads of opens spaces for playing and relaxation – all for free (except for the ferry and food.) The island is open now through September.

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