10 Free Activities To Do In NYC With Your 1 Year Old!

While there’s a myriad of paid classes and activities you can take your littles to, there’s also plenty of free WONDERFUL activities to keep them engaged and learning throughout the city.  With summer coming up, I thought I’d share a few of our favorite free things Augusten and I do on the regular.  He’s currently one (and some change!), but all of the below activities could really work for any age of kid under the teenage years!;-)

1. Go to the playground!

As you can see from the photos in the post, Augusten is a HUGE fan of playgrounds!  And NYC has plenty of them.  In fact, here’s a list.  We regularly take the train to a new neighborhood to check out their playground, and it’s loads of fun for us both!  Bonus: splash pads are huge hits during the hot summer days at the playgrounds, just be sure to bring bathing suits, rubber shoes, and a change of clothes–because your child will be soaked;-)

2. Make art together.

The Children’s Museum of the Arts offers pay-what-you-wish hours on Thursdays from 4pm to 6pm.  Since drop in classes here are usually $25 a pop for toddlers, this is actually a really great deal!

3. Explore the Nature Lab at the Museum of Modern Art.

MOMA’s admission is pretty steep, BUT here’s a secret: you can enter through their Education Building, and utilize the children’s Art Lab for absolutely free!  The Lab has a different theme every season, and currently the theme is Nature.  While there’s plenty of activities for older kids, Augusten enjoys their nice selection of blocks, books, and of course touching all the other exploratory items he can get his hands on!

4. Attend a free evening at the Children’s Museum of Manhattan!

This place is a true gem for the little guys!  I have such a blast here, too;-)  Regular admission is $12 for both kids and adults, but the first Friday evening of every month it’s free from 5pm to 8pm.

5. Listen to author readings at the New York Public Library.

Every branch of the NYPL has story time, grouped for babies, toddlers, and older kids–but they do tend to fill up fast.  We love going to their children’s book author events, which usually include a reading of a book, along with a special activity afterwards.  Since these happen in the early evening hours as opposed to during the day, there’s not quite as many people, and it’s enjoyable for all.  This link will keep you posted on all the free kid events at the library!

6. Visit the animals at the Bronx Zoo.

Every Wednesday, The Bronx Zoo has free entrance!  Augusten is always very entertained by waving at pigeons and dogs on the sidewalks, so the big animals are a real treat!

7. Ride the SI Ferry and check out their Children’s Museum.

While this is a bit of a trek for a Manhattanite without a car, make a fun day of it!  Jump on the Staten Island Ferry on a Wednesday (free with your MetroCard!), grab a slice of SI pizza for lunch, and head to the Staten Island Children’s Museum, where they have free entry every Wednesday from 3pm to 5pm.

8. Explore a real farm!

The Queens County Farm Museum is open year round, and always free except during events (which you can check here).  The farm sits on 47 acres, and is home to animals, planting fields, orchards, and herb gardens–so a perfect way to let the littles run out their endless energy!

9. Unleash your inner hipster at the Brooklyn Children’s Museum.

Every Thursday from 2pm to 6pm, the Brooklyn Children’s Museum offers free hours.  Their World Brooklyn exhibit, on permanent display, lets littles pretend that they are working at shops in their own Brooklyn neighborhood (hello, grocer, baker, and candlestick maker!)

10. Take the train to Coney Island and hang out at the aquarium!

The train ride to Coney Island can be a long one depending on where you’re coming from, but once you’re a bit into Brooklyn the train ride is above ground, which is fascinating for kiddos (haha, well at least mine, not making you any promises!;-) The NY Aquarium is free fall/winter/spring Fridays from 3pm to 3:30pm and on summer Fridays from 4pm to 5pm is pay-what-you-wish.

Would love to know…what free events and activities are you loving right now?  Share below!



p.s. in case you missed it, 7 NYC activities to do with infants.


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