Yup. You read that right. There are plenty of free activities for kids in Brooklyn. As a Park Slope orthodontist, I know all about the expense of enjoying the city. Keeping little ones entertained can quickly put a strain on your budget. Fresh Orthodontics feels your pain, so we’ve done some digging to uncover 20 awesome free places to take your children in Brooklyn.
1. Story Time at Mini Max Toys & Cuts – 152 Atlantic Avenue, Brooklyn, NY – Wednesdays at 10 a.m. – French Story Time – Select Friday Mornings at 10 a.m. – Open to kids of all ages, Story Time at the quirky Mini Max Toys & Cuts is never dull. Your child can even bring along their own favorite book to be read aloud. French families, or parents interested in upping their kid’s language game, will enjoy the French stories and songs at the store’s occasional French Story Time.
2. Harmony Playground at the Prospect Park Bandshell – Musically inclined kids (well let’s face it, even adults) will love the music-themed Harmony Playground. Designed to celebrate the tradition of music and entertainment at the Prospect Park Bandshell, the large playground features a massive harp, trumpet that spouts water in the summer, an enormous xylophone, playable music notes and a multitude of areas for younger and older kids including a state-of-the-art jungle gym.
3. Free Summer Movies at NYC Parks – Sponsored by the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation – Times and Locations Vary – The New York City Department of Parks & Recreation holds free movie screenings at various parks around the city. Scope out the schedule here. All sorts of films in pretty much every genre are shown ranging from those for grown-ups to kids’ flicks. Grab a blanket, bring some snacks and enjoy a movie under the stars.
4. Brooklyn Museum – 200 Eastern Parkway, Brooklyn, NY – Kids 19 and Under Free – Sorry adults, you’ll have to pay a $16 admission fee but kids and teens can roam around the art museum for free. Give your offspring some culture. The sprawling space houses nearly 1.5 million works of art. On the first Saturday of every month (except September) the museum holds its free Target First Saturday family-friendly art and entertainment events from 5 to 11 p.m.
5. UrbanGlass – 647 Fulton Street, Brooklyn, NY – Agnes Varis Art Center Open Free to the Public and Tours of the UrbanGlass Studios Free on Saturdays at 1 p.m. – This glass-working facility and gallery for glass art has studios, classes, a shop and exhibitions. Check out everything from incredible stained glass to sculptural objects.
6. Pop-Up Audubon – Various Natural Areas in Prospect Park from April through December – This free Brooklyn nature education program explores a different area of Prospect Park each month with topics ranging from the freshwater ecosystems to the bird species. Raise a little naturalist! You can find the schedule here.
7. Volunteer with St. John’s Bread & Life – 795 Lexington Avenue, Brooklyn, NY – Show your children (probably best for older kids or teens) the power of giving back and help combat hunger by volunteering together at St. John’s Bread & Life. The organization is in need of volunteers in its soup kitchen, food pantry, resource center and mobile soup kitchen.
8. Brooklyn Children’s Museum – 145 Brooklyn Avenue, Brooklyn, NY – Free Thursdays from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. and Babies Under 12 Months Always Free – Sneak in some summer learning the fun way with one of the many children’s educational exhibits. This museum is seriously cool for kids of all ages.
9. First Discovery for Toddlers at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden – Tuesdays 1:30 to 3 p.m. in July and August – Free with Garden Admission, which is Free Tuesdays and Always Free for Children Under 12 – Toddlers ages two to four (and their caregivers) can get their hands dirty at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. Activities include planting seeds, reading stories and making nature crafts at the various activity stations.
10. Gymboree – 365 4th Avenue, Brooklyn, NY – First Class Free – What kid doesn’t love Gymboree? While you have to pay for a membership, the first class is always free. Little ones ages birth to five can take part in tons of fun activities that are meant to help them develop cognitive, physical and social skills.
11. Zucker Natural Exploration Area in Prospect Park – Located by Nellie’s Lawn, 31 East Drive, Brooklyn, NY – This innovative play area for children was named one of the Best of New York by New York Magazine. It’s crafted from trees damaged by storms and other natural materials that were found in the park. Kids can climb, play and commune with nature.
12. SummerStage Kids – Various Parks in NYC and Brooklyn – Times and Locations Vary; June – August – Sponsored by the City Parks Foundation, this program offers concerts and performances for kids at different parks around the city. It’s not solely limited to Brooklyn; it’s one of the best free family activities in NYC as it encompasses all five boroughs. Kids will learn about local, national and international arts and cultures. See the schedule here.
13. Brooklyn Public Library Central Branch – 10 Grand Army Plaza, Brooklyn, NY – The Brooklyn Public Library is a treasure trove of free events for kids, teens and families in Brooklyn. From Toddler Time with reading, singing and playing to Gaming for Teens, the clubs and activities are diverse and perfect for all ages. Be sure to browse the schedule.
14. Eagle Street Rooftop Farm – 44 Eagle Street, Brooklyn, NY – Last Sunday of the Month from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.; May through October – This 6,000 square foot organic rooftop vegetable farm is located on top of a warehouse owned by Broadway Stages in Greenpoint and is open to the public once a month from May through October. Teach your kids about urban farming as part of its free public educational programming and browse the market.
15. Baby Breakfast Playdates at Habana Outpost – 757 Fulton Street, Brooklyn, NY – Tuesdays from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. – Baby Breakfast, presented by Sean Meenan, Habana Works and My Brooklyn Baby, is the perfect opportunity to meet other parents and watch your toddler socialize. The Habana Outpost’s courtyard is turned into a magical toddler playland with toys, water tables and supervised arts and crafts projects. The event is for children ages four and under and their caregivers.
16. Free Family Art Days with Spellbound Theatre – Various Locations – Each month, Spellbound Theatre hosts Family Art Days in partnership with local businesses and community centers. Explore a variety of art forms and enjoy crafts, songs, stories and creative play that centers around a theme. Here’s the schedule.
17. Lefferts Historic House in Prospect Park – 452 Flatbush Avenue, Brooklyn, NY – Thursday through Sunday from 12 to 5 p.m. – Though technically free, there is a suggested $3 donation. This historic home was built by a Dutch family in the 18th-century farming village of Flatbush. Check out the historic artifacts, period rooms, exhibits and garden. You can even play with traditional tools, games and toys or take part in old timey activities like butter churning.
18. Pier Kids at Brooklyn Bridge Park – 334 Furman Street, Brooklyn, NY – Eight Week Series Running June through August – The Brooklyn Bridge Park Conservancy has an eight week children’s series that encompasses everything from culture to science to literature. The activities vary each week and include music, puppets, educational events, arts and crafts, a pop-up reading room and more. The schedule is available here.
19. Children’s Story Time at Barnes & Noble – 267 7th Avenue, Brooklyn, NY – Various Days and Times – If you’re looking for free kids’ activities in Park Slope, stay on top of the Barnes & Noble calendar. This branch of the book retailer holds occasional story times and author events for kids of all ages.
20. Puppetry Arts – Various Events at Brooklyn Locations – Puppetry Arts is a unique organization that teaches kids valuable lessons through the art of puppetry. The group holds festivals around Brooklyn that are free to families and include puppet shows, games, arts and crafts and more. Check out the schedule here. Or you can get your kids involved long-term, as there is a free youth development program for students aged 10–18 that is meant to empower them to get involved in their community. Having fun while becoming better citizens? Sounds like a win-win.
UPDATED: JUNE 2017 – 5 More Free Kids Summer Activities in Brookyn
21. Read in the Story Garden – Park Slope Library, 431 6th Avenue – The Library has a lot of great free Park Slope activities for kids especially now that the Story Garden is open. The Story Garden is an awesome public space overlooking 9th street that includes a storytelling amphitheater, little paths, community gardening space and lots of seating. Let the little ones check out a book and enjoy it in the beautiful garden or stay tuned for outdoor summer fun by taking a look at the Library’s calendar of events.
22. Bargemusic Concerts – Fulton Ferry Landing near the Brooklyn Bridge, 1 Water Street – Walk across the gangplank onto a renovated coffee barge moored under the Brooklyn Bridge for a unique musical experience. Bargemusic offers free family concerts with its Music in Motion series on Saturdays at 4 p.m. through August 26. The one-hour performances also include a Q&A session with the musicians. Doors open 15 minutes before the concert. There’s no reserved seating.
23. Environmental Education Center – Main Street Section of Brooklyn Bride Park, 99 Plymouth Street – The Brooklyn Bride Park Conservancy’s Environmental Education Center at 99 Plymouth is a stunning building offering families the opportunity to learn about the park’s history, ecology, and sustainable design. You’ll find all sorts of interactive elements like the East River Aquarium, the Discovery Station, which features a 10’ scale model of Brooklyn Bride Park and different hands-on activities. Visitors can drop in for free on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 3 to 5 p.m. and Saturdays and Sundays from 1 to 5 p.m. and explore the exhibits and stations.
24. Volunteer with It’s My Park – Various Parks – The It’s My Park series runs throughout the summer. Spearheaded by the City Parks Foundation and local groups, the volunteer program involves spending a few hours beautifying neighborhood parks and playgrounds with different projects like cleaning up and painting. It’s a great way to show children the power of giving back and keeping their environment and green spaces in good shape. You can see the full schedule here. Grace Playground (June 8), Raymond Bush Playground (June 10, 17 and 24), Cypress Hills Playground (June 17), Commodore Barry Park (June 17), Macri Triangle (June 17) and Leif Ericson Park (June 24) are all on the agenda.
25. A Summer Movie Under the Stars – Long Meadow North, Prospect Park, 70 West Drive – In honor of Prospect Park’s 150th anniversary, Brooklyn Borough President Eric L. Adams, the Prospect Park Alliance and Nitehawk Cinema are partnering up to put on a series of free outdoor movies in Brooklyn on the Park’s Long Meadow. The events will feature live musical entertainment and then a family-friendly film related to park themes like the Prospect Park Zoo and little league baseball. Bring a blanket for an evening of fun. Entertainment starts at 7 p.m. and the movies will begin after sundown. The schedule is as follows:
- Wednesday, July 19 – The Neverending Story with music by DJ Jane Elizabeth spinning 80s tunes
- Wednesday, July 26 – The Sandlot with live music by a Doo Wop band
- Wednesday, August 2 – Moonrise Kingdom with live music by Morricone Youth
- Wednesday, August 9 – Zootopia with live music by a Brooklyn marching band
Check out our more recent guides to FREE kids activities in Brooklyn: