Free family fun in Brooklyn
Manhattan — been there, done that, so fuhgeddaboudit. On your next visit to New York City, take a short trip across the East River to Brooklyn. There’s plenty to do and see for free or cheap that’s accessible by foot, bike and public transportation. Allow us to be your guide.
The Brooklyn Bridge
From lower Manhattan, you can walk across the famed Brooklyn Bridge and take in the gorgeous views. Once you’re across the bridge on the Brooklyn side, head to Brooklyn Bridge Park at the end of the overpass, where families can kayak, play volleyball, watch soccer games, ride Jane’s Carousel, cool off in the pop-up pool and take a free ferry to Governors Island. And don't miss gourmet treats like delectable doughnuts and fresh fruit ice pops at Smorgasburg, an outdoor food market on the waterfront open every Sunday from April to September.
New York Aquarium
Coney Island was hit hard by Superstorm Sandy, but the beach and the iconic boardwalk rides are open for business. While visiting, pop into the New York Aquarium and watch the penguins, sea lions and seals frolic on the Sea Cliffs, which mimic the rocky North Pacific coastline. Pay-what-you-wish (recommended donation is $5 per person) on summer Fridays 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. and fall Fridays 3 p.m. to 5 p.m.
Brooklyn Botanic Garden
With its stunning Lily Pool Terrace, featuring nearly 100 varieties of tropical water lilies and other exotic aquatic plants that bloom in summer, and the stand-out Japanese Hill-and-Pond Garden, Brooklyn Botanic Garden is a natural wonderland for children and adults alike. There’s even a Children’s Garden, where kids have been growing flowers, vegetables and herbs since 1914. Admission is free on Tuesdays, on Saturdays from 10 a.m. to noon and winter weekdays (November-February).
In addition to world-class exhibits and an impressive archive of global art and artifacts, the award-winning Brooklyn Museum offers music and dance performances, workshops and classes for children, teens and adults and the free Target First Saturday after-hours program. Suggested contribution is $12 for adults; admission is free for children under 12.
New York Transit Museum
Explore the history and inner workings of New York City’s behemoth public transportation system at the New York Transit Museum. Admission is $5 for adults, $3 for kids and seniors (seniors' admission is free on Wednesdays). There are free workshops with museum admission every Saturday and Sunday at 1:30 p.m.
More on family travel