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 throughout the year that won’t break the bank. As always, be sure to check websites for dates, times and locations 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.
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 digital calendar at events.siparent.com for upcoming dates.
Hop aboard the Regal Summer Movie Express! Escape the heat this summer at a cool theater to catch 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 or with a discount 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.
Get crafty at Michaels! This super fun craft store holds many on-site classes and creative camps for kids. Check out michaels.com to learn more.
Come springtime, visit the cherry blossoms in Snug Harbor. They’re beautiful!
Have a picnic. Gather up the kids and head to a park on Staten Island for a fun family picnic. Check out our list of 10 spots for the perfect picnic on Staten Island!
Go to an Apple workshop. The Apple Store in the Staten Island Mall holds free hands-on workshops to help Apple product users hone their skills. Workshops include a fun Music Lab, where kids learn how to make theme songs. Check out upcoming sessions at apple.com/today.
Embrace the outdoors, and go on a family hike. Check out upcoming hikes on Staten Island on our digital calendar.
Join in library programs. Most Staten Island library branches offer educational and fun programs for toddlers up to teens.
Ride the Carousel for All Children at Willowbrook Park. A single ride ticket is $3.
Head to Home Depot! Have a little builder in the house? Head to a Staten Island Home Depot for free in-store kids workshops, held the first Saturday of each month, 9am-12pm. Signup and find out more at homedepot.com.
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 Parks 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.
Explore Historic Richmond Town. This Mid Island living history museum takes visitors back to the colonial era, offering tours and programs throughout the year.
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.
Look for cool creatures. While you’re at Clove Lakes Park looking for butterflies, see if you can find the park’s resident muskrats, turtles and birds, too!
Visit the National Lighthouse Museum. This North Shore museum is located just a few steps from the ferry and offers events throughout the year and a variety of themed boat tours.
Cruise the FDR Boardwalk. Go for a beachside stroll on the boardwalk 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.
Go kayaking for free. Free kayaking is offered at Kayak Staten Island. Check their social media pages for their upcoming sessions.
Visit the Noble Maritime Collection. Have a kiddo who loves maritime stuff? If so, stop by the Noble Maritime Collection, located at Snug Harbor. Admission is by donation.
Listen in on story time at Barnes & Noble. In-person story times are back on Saturday mornings at the island’s largest bookseller.
Go out to eat on Kids Eat Free night. Check out a list of local restaurants offering fun deals just for kids.
Take youth conservation classes. The Zimmer Club hosts a free weekly program in winter for kids where they learn all about nature and survival skills. Check our digital calendar for details, which are usually announced 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.
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. Fort Wadsworth is one of the oldest military installations in the country. Packed with history and natural beauty, the site sits on 226 acres and gives visitors the opportunity to learn about history, take in beautiful views of New York Harbor and enjoy activities like biking, running and walking through the fort.
Look for harbor seals in winter. Grab some binoculars and head to Staten Island’s shorelines to spot these adorable marine mammals sunning themselves on rocks or swimming in the water. Mount Loretto Unique Area on the South Shore is a great place to look for them.
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.
Visit a Staten Island dog park. Bring the family pup to one of Staten Island’s many dog runs and off-leash areas in parks. Check out a list of dog parks in the borough.
Roll through a skate park. There are some on Staten Island to check out, including one at Faber Pool and Park.
Hit the park. Check out a list of playgrounds on the island.
Go fish. Although there are regulations, you’re allowed to fish at many NYC parks!
Go birding! Check out this birdwatching article to see the different species of feathered friends to look for in Staten Island!
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