Your prize for staying in the city during the broiling days of suffocating heat and unbearable humidity is free things. Lots and lots of free (and low cost) activities for you and your family will be on the agenda for July. In fact, you may start springing for the $5 Italian ices that your children beg for because you’ll be saving so much money all month long. Most of these activities require you to sweat it out in the great outdoors, but there are a few indoor respites as well. Concerts, movies, block parties and fireworks can round out your days of picnics, playgrounds, public beaches and pools.
SEE: The Firework Spectacular
There are fireworks after everything these days. Did your family watch the Philharmonic in the Park? Afterward, there were fireworks. If you find yourself at the water’s edge around sundown during the summer, there are usually fireworks for at least something. But the Independence Day fireworks still feel special. This year, the Macy’s 4th of July fireworks returns to Brooklyn Bridge and will go off around 9:20 pm. Brooklyn Bridge Park is going to be the ideal place to park with a picnic and wait for the show. FREE.
GO: Celebrate Indigenous People
Have you been to The National Museum of American Indian yet? It’s the perfect museum for families because it is totally free all year long. On the first floor, there is the imagiNATIONS Activity Center, a family-friendly interactive space to solve puzzles, perform experiments and play with computer simulators. There is so much to explore and they have special events that kids of all ages will enjoy. On Saturday, July 6th and Saturday, July 20th, if you have a child over nine, stop by for the Exploring Art + Technology Labs from 1 pm- 4 pm with hands-on workshops focused on Indigenous innovations. This month’s theme is “Representations Re-mixed, a lesson on portraits and a mixed-media portraiture workshop.” Explore the exhibition T.C. Cannon: At the Edge of America and then create multimedia projects inspired by T.C. Cannon that examine themes of identity, representation and place. For younger museum-goers, on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, July 9–25 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. and Saturday, July 13th from 1pm-2pm there will be storybook readings and related make-and-take activity. The National Museum of the American Indian, 1 Bowling Green, FREE.
GO: Kids’ Music in the Grove
When my son was young we found out about these Fort Greene concerts which often happen during the week and sometimes on the weekend. It’s the perfect opportunity to spend an hour or so in the park, relaxing on a blanket, and watch the little ones shake their tailfeathers. I was always surprised that the mid-week concerts were so sparsely attended, and happy that it was one awesome activity that wasn’t overrun. But now that my child is older, I’m pleased to share the secret. Music in the Grove happens every Wednesday morning from at 10 am through the summer with different types of music each week. Can’t make a midweek concert series? On Sunday, July 7th from 11am-12pm famed kids’ musician, Suzi Shelton will launch the series. Fort Greene Park, just south of the Prison Ship Martyrs Monument. FREE.
GO: See a classic flick
Everyone knows that the movies are the best place to be on a scorcher of a day. But what people don’t always know is that Alamo Drafthouse has special Kids Camp screenings occasionally on days that kids are off from school. The best part is these movies are pay-what-you-wish, ranging from $1, $3, or $5 a ticket, with 100% of ticket sales donated to local nonprofits. (This summer’s Kids Camp program benefits NYSPCC.) Buy tickets now for the showing Monday, July 8th at 12 pm of The Neverending Story, a classic magical tale that is just as fun for adults as it is for kids. Alamo Drafthouse, City Point, Downtown Brooklyn.
GO: Block Party
Summer in NYC isn’t complete without a block party! At North 3rd Street Market, an indoor food hall located in Williamsburg, they are hosting a “Summer Block Party” on Saturday, July 13th from 12:00 – 4:00 pm. Besides the kid and parent loved food vendors Lobster Joint and DiFara Pizza, they also recently acquired new vendors that families will love: Diggy’s Dogs, hot dogs with DIY toppings and Brooklyn Shave Ice, colorful shaved ice. There is also going to be face painting, music, balloon twisting and arcade games like skeeball and pop-shot. Tickets for the event are free, but it is strongly encouraged that you RSVP for the event here. North 3rd Street Market, 103 N. 3rd Street, Williamsburg.
GO: Enjoy an al fresco movie
Summer Movies Under the Stars is a partnership between Prospect Park and Nitehawk Cinema, with a whole line up of films through July to be enjoyed on Long Meadow at dusk. Bring a picnic blanket, some nosh, maybe wine for the grown-ups, and it’s time to chill. Live music starts at 7 pm and the movie screens at dusk, so there’s plenty of time for kids to blow off steam before laying down to watch. On Wednesday, July 17th, the series kicks off with Brave, a Disney animation where the princess is the hero. Paying homage to the Scottish culture highlighted in the flick, Kings County Pipe Band will be performing beforehand. Return on July 24th for Love & Basketball and on July 31st for Babe. For all the showtimes of outdoor movies in July, download our calendar here. Prospect Park, Long Meadow
GO: See some enjoyable jazz
If you have kids in New York City, you basically have a responsibility to introduce them to anything that will help them be as pretentious as they wish to be when they grow up. That includes jazz. Silly Jazz with Camille! on Sunday, July 21 at 11 am is just the ticket. Kids will get to sing along and dance with the performer Camille Harris as she sings her hits “The Monster Under My Bed,” “Baby on the Subway,” “Chopsticks,” and more. It looks to be a fun introduction to jazz, although you’ll have to teach the pretension at a later point. Tickets: $10, kids under 2 years old free. ShapeShifter Lab, 18 Whitwell Pl., Gowanus. For more info: call: 646.820.9452 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Go: All Hail Mo Willems
If your child is a Knuffle Bunny freak (and really what kid isn’t?), you’ll want to bring them this week to the Park Slope branch of the Brooklyn Public Library to find the newly ensconced Knuffle Bunny sculpture resting on one of the stone benches in the garden. All superfans know that this neighborhood is where the story took place in the classic tale by author Mo Willems, where Trixie and her dad had to go out in the middle of the night to find her beloved stuffed animal. Park Slope-based sculptor Chad Rimer turned Mo Willems’ sketches into an 18-inch bronze statue, and it will delight your kids to find it. Afterward, you can go inside and stock up on your summer reading (yet another wonderful free summer activity.) Brooklyn Public Library Park Slope, 431 6th Avenue, Park Slope.