Seizing summer family fun Downtown & beyond

Victoria GranthamBy VICTORIA GRANTHAM| Apparently summer technically comes to a close on Sept. 23, but we all know we can kiss sun and fun goodbye before that. For parents, especially, Labor Day marks the start of a new school year, back-to-school chaos and an adjustment to new, more rigid routines.

All this to say: we only have a month and a half left! (Cue the horror music.) That’s just six weeks — give/take. The problem I have this year (and every year) is that there’s too much I want to do and too little time to do it in.

As a parent of small children who are transforming from babies to real people before my very eyes I feel the pressure of this prime memory making time. My summer bucket list is overflowing. I’m sure a Zen master (or even Zen amateur) would be horrified by all my backward and forward looking. Oh well. I’ll just do what I always do with my Type A self in the face of too much choice — make a list, prioritize, plan!

Let’s start with location. It’s always fun to escape the city and play on a beach in the Hamptons, or swim at the Jersey Shore, but I also love summer in the city. There are so many kid-friendly things happening outdoors and they seem like secret treats with fewer people around. Here’s what’s on my list for the last few weeks of summer:

Governors Island — We actually made it over to Governors Island once already this season for a bike riding playdate that coincided with a jazz era celebration. (We were the only ones not in fab 1920s era costumes.) It was so fun and festive that I’m hoping to go again. On July 18 there’s a “Come Out & Play Family Day.” All the games will connect together with a storyline about time travel — “complete with an official Time Travel Agency, games throughout time and postcards to the future.” Forget the kids, this is right up my alley as I feel like I’m attempting to bend the space-time continuum on a daily basis. Though it’s primarily geared to ages 6-11, it sounds like there will also be activities for the littlest as there will be a separate T.O.T.S (Time travelers of Tiny Size) area specifically for preschoolers. Nerd city. Love it.

Gallow Green at The McKittrick Hotel — Gallow Green, the restaurant at The McKittrick Hotel, (home by night to Sleep No More) is hosting Children’s Potions & Planting Tea Parties on July 18, Aug. 1 and Sept. 12. Children 6-11 are invited to come along with their favorite stuffed animal to the garden for planting and potion-making. I’m sold on the mix of magic and nature and hope to make it to the August session.

A concert — My boys love music, but we don’t get to listen to live music often enough, so one of my (many) summer resolutions is to head to a kids’ concert this season. Lincoln Center has a free “Out of Doors Family Day” that I’m eyeing on July 25. It’s a full day of dance and music —from Baby Loves Disco at 10 a.m. to Randy Newman at 7p.m.

A movie – Hudson River Park is hosting a movie series at Pier 46 called RiverFlicks for Kids. They’ll be featuring films – “The BoxTrolls”, “Annie”, “Paddington” and more over the next six Fridays. Shows start at 8:30, so it’s tough for the young ones, but maybe I can sneak away one night and treat my eldest.

A play — This is such a great time of year to introduce kids to theater because it’s no pressure. Free outdoor options are numerous — from “Measure for Measure” in Battery Park (The Battery) and Brooklyn Bridge Park, to “The Tempest” in Marcus Garvey Park, to “As You Like It” on the Lower East Side. Shakespeare’s probably more than my five-year-old can handle, but maybe we’ll give it a try and see how it goes.

Amusement park —I love that Wollman Rink transforms from an ice skating rink in the winter to a carnival in the summer and that it’s in the heart of Central Park. The dozen rides or so are manageable for the little ones. We’ll likely head to Victorian Gardens again this year. If we’re really adventurous we’ll get on the subway and go all the way to Coney Island, but a shorter jaunt to a smaller park might just do the trick this year.

A ride (or 5) on a carousel – There are so many cool carousels in New York — from Jane’s Carousel in Brooklyn Bridge Park, to the carousel at Pier 62 by Chelsea Piers, to The SeaGlass Carousel in Battery Park – which is supposed to open Aug. 20. I’m determined to get myself (oh and my kids) on at least one wooden animal or aquatic creature before the summer’s over.

What’s your plan? How are you going to enjoy your last few weeks of summer?

Victoria Grantham, a writer and communications professional is raising her family in Tribeca.

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