They say the best things in life are free! If your family is saving up for an exciting vacation or a few fun road trips this year, every cent counts. That’s why we’ve rounded up a bunch of our favorite local activities you can do with your kids that won’t break the bank. As always, be sure to check websites for dates, times, locations and Covid precautions before you go.
Ride the ferry. It’s the cheapest boat tour in New York (it’s free)! And a childhood rite of passage for native Staten Islanders.
Catch a Ferry Hawks game. Watch Staten Island’s newest pro-ball team at their newly renovated stadium, set against the spectacular NYC skyline for as little as $15 per ticket (and just $7.50 for Tuesday night games).
See a movie under the stars. Bring a blanket and some popcorn and catch a free, family-friendly flick at a local park under the stars. Check our calendar for upcoming dates.
Hop aboard the Regal Summer Movie Express! Escape the heat this summer at a cool theater catching a kid-friendly movie for just two bucks.
Stop by the Staten Island Children’s Museum. Families with SNAP Benefits and Cool Culture cards can visit the museum for free during regular operating hours.
Hike or bike the Greenbelt. Widely considered the greenest borough, Staten Island has almost 3,000 acres of Greenbelt laden with trails winding around the entire island where a biker or hiker would never get bored.
Join in library programs. After a lengthy pause due to Covid, most Staten Island library branches are again offering their educational and fun programs for toddlers up to teens. Plus, snag a free book as part of the NYPL Summer at the Library initiative.
Ride the Carousel for All Children at Willowbrook Park. A single ride ticket is just $2.50.
Join Urban Park Rangers Programs. The ranger-led programs teach kids to appreciate nature and wildlife and learn outdoor survival skills. They are free and offered through the Park’s Dept. in public green spaces throughout the city.
Visit a nature center. Learn all about local ecology from a nature center, most of which offer special programming for kids. In Staten Island, you can visit the Greenbelt Nature Center and the Blue Heron Nature Center. Clay Pit Ponds State Park Preserve also offers similar programming.
Take photos at Snug Harbor. Spend a day enjoying the beauty of Snug Harbor’s picturesque botanical gardens and snap the perfect shot for your new profile pic. The grounds are free to enter; most gardens are free.
Search for Monarch butterflies in Clove Lakes Park. The beautiful butterflies can be seen at the start of summer here in Staten Island New York City.
Visit the National Lighthouse Museum. This North Shore, Staten Island, museum is located just a few steps from the free ferry and offers guided tours of lighthouses, ship graveyards and bird sanctuaries.
Cruise the FDR Boardwalk. Bike and Surrey rentals are available at Sand Lane on the boardwalk, where you can take your family for a beachside stroll or ride while taking in the magnificent views of Staten Island’s iconic Verrazano Bridge.
Go to the zoo. Spend an afternoon with sloths, Amur leopards and more at the Staten Island Zoo. Tickets are just $6 for kids and admission is free or by donation on Wednesday afternoons.
Go window shopping at Empire Outlets. Staten Island is home to NYC’s only outlet destination, and it’s located right on the waterfront. Window shopping is a lot more fun with a view.
Go camping. Urban Park Rangers hosts free family camping on various dates throughout the year via lottery. In Staten Island, they are usually held at Blue Heron Park. Get details at the NYC Parks Department website.
Catch a puppet show in the park. The CityParks PuppetMobile is back for 2022, hosting free, family-friendly pop-up shows in NYC parks throughout the summer.
Go kayaking for free. Free kayaking is offered on-site at Gateway National Recreational Area, or check with Kayak Staten Island for their upcoming free sessions.
See a live concert for free. The Borough President’s Free Summer Concert series is back on Thursday evenings at various parks throughout the summer. Check our calendar for upcoming shows.
Splash around a sprinkler park. Cool off at one of the many sprinkler and spray shower parks on the island.
Go bowling. Rab’s Country Lanes offers a summer special that includes two games, shoe rental, and lunch for just $10 per kid.
Listen in on story time at Barnes & Noble. In-person story times are back on Saturday mornings at the Island’s largest bookseller. Check our calendar for details each week.
Rock out to the Rock-A-Silly Band with Mr. Patrick. Check the website for upcoming shows from Staten Island’s most popular children’s entertainer..
Go out to eat on Kids Eat Free night. Check out a list of local restaurants offering fun deals just for kids.
Set up a picnic in the park. From Bloomingdale Park to Clove Lakes Park and everywhere in between, Staten Island offers no shortage of green spaces where your family can plop down a blanket and basket and enjoy a fun family picnic.
Take youth conservation classes. The Zimmer Club hosts a free weekly program every winter for kids where they learn all about nature and survival skills. Check our calendar for details in January.
See a Wagner College Theatre Performance. You don’t have to spend big bucks in Manhattan to see a show! The Wagner College Department of Performing Arts hosts a variety of shows that are fun for families to enjoy throughout the year.
Go roller skating. Tickets to open skate hours at Roller Jam are just $15.
Check out the Staten Island Museum. Learn all about NYC and Staten Island history at this local museum. Kids tickets are just $2.
Explore Fort Wadsworth. This 226-acre public park was once the longest continually operating military fort in the nation and today welcomes visitors to tour its underground tunnels, take a trip up the overlook tower, visit the historical Mont Sec History House and more.
Explore Sandy Ground. Did you know the oldest continuously inhabited free Black settlement in the United States is located in Rossville? Book a guided tour to learn more.
Yoga on the lawn. Tree pose! Alice Austen House offers a free, fun yoga from April to October,; Saturdays at 8am, Tuesdays at 5:45pm and Wednesdays at 10:30am.
Go stargazing in Great Kills Park with the Amateur Astronomers Association. They meet monthly and all are welcome to join! It’s free and fun!
Roll through a skate park. Check out the best Staten Island skating spots.
Hit the park. Check out a list of playgrounds on the island.
Go birding. Grab your binoculars! NYC Audubon has kindly listed which avian species to scan the skies for in all of Staten Island’s parks here.
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