Family Fun

End-of-Summer SOS for Parents

Yes! There’s still time to get in more summer fun before school starts.

Photo courtesy of Manhattan Community Boathouse

The dog days may be fading into a whimper, but the kids are home for how many days before school starts?! Don’t worry. There are still some out-of-the-ordinary bucket list items you can check off your summer to-dos.

Old-School Pinball in Kips Bay

Hang onto your quarters! You don’t need them for Modern Pinball NYC (362 Third Avenue between East 26th and 27th Streets), an all-you-can-play pinball haven packed with almost 30 games, including machines inspired by Star Wars, Spiderman, and Slugfest. Here, instead of being asked for more and more (and still more) coins all afternoon, you pay in increments, ranging from $14.95 for an hour of play to $29.95 for an all-day pass. Bonus: Modern Pinball is technically a museum, so you can totally call your hours of hitting flippers an educational day. Score.

A Modern Pinball wristband gets you 10 percent off your bill at next door’s Mad Hatter (360 Third Avenue between East 26th and 27th Streets). If chowing down on burgers, fish-and-chips, fried pickles, and the like on a big ole patio isn’t your speed, head to Nick’s Pizzabar (365 Third Avenue between East 26th and 27th Streets). It’s literally a stone’s throw and serves up a yummy square pie.

Kayak Around the Hudson

Once you get over the eww factor, the idea of kayaking in the Hudson River is really quite cool. You can shove offshore (for free!) at the Downtown Boathouse (Pier 26 at West and North Moore Streets, Tribeca) most days of the week. Littles can sit on your lap in a single-person kayak, but older kids are urged to take the front of a double. 

Take a short walk to the next pier over and you’ll find Sweet Love Snack Bar (Pier 25 at West and North Moore Streets, Tribeca). It’s nothing fancy, but it’s just what you want: pizza by the pie or slice, hot dogs, fries, chips, fruit, and beverages. The best part? All the revenue supports Manhattan youth programs, assisting families in need while helping the mission of the Hudson River Park Trust. Pizza with a purpose!

Get Your Arcade On in Chinatown

Yes, you can treat your kids to an arcade without stepping foot in another Chuck E. Cheese. Enter: Chinatown Fair Family Fun Center (8 Mott Street between Pell and Bowery). It’s loud. It’s cramped. And kids (and nostalgic grown-ups) lose their minds here thanks to the 35-plus games that run the gamut from Dance Dance Revolution, Mario Kart DX, and Ultra Street Fighter 4 to The Walking Dead, air hockey, Ice Ball, and more.

A no-frills, ridiculously cheap fave is always Wo Hop (15 Mott Street between Mosco and Worth Streets). Some opt for the upstairs version, while other prefer the downstairs next door. Both serve yummy Cantonese-style food with gigantic family-styled portions, but it’s rumored that the upstairs locale is more authentic.

Try Outdoor Rock Climbing in Dumbo

A climbing afternoon with the kids in New York City? Outdoors? And not a money hemorrhage? Yes, yes, and yes. Dumbo Boulders (99 Plymouth Street) features 12-foot-high climbing walls specially designed to suit kids ages 6 and up. While there are no safety harnesses, the ground is covered in shredded rubber—and the plastic holds where you stick your feet to climb are color-coded according to difficulty, so kids (and grown-ups) can pick what’s best suited for their skill level. An in-and-out-all-day pass is just $9 and includes rental shoes.

Grab a picnic table under the archway (Water Street between Adams and Anchorage Streets), which will shutter for the season come October. Here, you can order Japanese, vegan, or farm-fresh sammies from vendors like Rice & Miso Everyday, Chickpea & Olive, and Landhaus.

Go Whale Watching in Queens

Skipped the New England vacay this year? No problem. You can still sneak in a whale watch right here in New York City every Wednesday, Friday, and weekend in September on the American Princess for a Whale Watching and Dolphin Adventure Cruise (Riis Landing). While this isn’t a cheap way to spend your afternoon ($48 per adult, $33 for kids ages 5–12, with younger ones sailing for free), it’s for sure a memorable way. (Whales. And Dolphins. In Queens!) Bring your camera, sunscreen, Dramamine, and a few dollars for the beer and dogs served aboard. Oh, and be prepared: You may get wet.

This is a four-hour cruise, setting sail at noon. Your best bet? Eat a late breakfast before boarding at the nearby mom-and-pop diner Country Heart Cooking (202-20 Rockaway Point Boulevard, Breezy Point), which is about five minutes away. Every kids hearts a diner, right?