Looking for fun things for your children to do this summer? There’s no need to leave Queens, where you’ll find a wide range of inexpensive activities to satisfy the fussiest youngster.
Bookworms will rejoice as the Queens Library kicks off its Summer Reading 2009 program. Every branch in Queens will be hosting special reading programs in addition to games, films and friends. Some especially creative events include workshops to make anime, jewelry or crafts, or writing groups dedicated to rap lyrics or online publications.
To participate, kids can sign up now through the end of August in person at the library or by going to summerreading.org. Then, they can read anything they like. As youngsters read, they rate their books and pick-up great gifts along the way. The library promises exciting parties will wrap up the program at the end of summer.
Participation can take place via any Internet-connected computer from anywhere. As Joanne King, spokeswoman from the Queens Library says, “It’s all about loving to read.” For more information, visit queenslibrary.org or phone (718) 990-0700.
For youngsters training to be the next Michael Phelps, Flushing Meadows Park’s Aquatic Center can’t be beat. Located at Avery Avenue and 131st Street, the aquatic center features a 10-lane, Olympic sized pool with three diving boards and a maximum depth of 12 feet 9 inches.
Free and fee-based programs and classes for all ages are offered as well as swimming instruction, senior aerobics and family swimming. Members of any parks recreation center and indoor pool anywhere in the five boroughs can use the FMCP Aquatic Center. Kids under 18 can join the center for free and use the pool, gym and other park facilities for one year. For pool hours and more information, call (718) 271-7572 or visit nycgovparks.org.
And, just a short distance away, on the other side of the aquatic center is the state-of-the-art World Ice Arena, an NHL-sized ice rink that has only been open since February. Admission to the rink is a recession-friendly $5 plus another $5 for skate rental.
Available at the arena are exciting activities such as general skate instruction, ice hockey lessons and leagues as well as figure skating and open-to-the-public skate sessions. For more information, call (718) 760-9001 or worldice.pucksystems.com.
Activities in Queens parks are in full swing with most being free and great for kids,” says Adrian Benepe, city Parks commissioner.
Benepe advises youngsters to “bike through Fort Totten or check out the Alley Pond Adventure Course for some high flying, team-building fun.”
Moreover, he says free events such as Rock-N-Skate at Rockaway Beach, puppet shows in Forest Park and canoeing with the Urban Park Rangers are not to be missed.
Another great resource available for both kids and adults is the BeFitNYC online guide that puts valuable information about various parks’ fitness and sports programs offered by local fitness organizations in Queens and throughout the city at nyc.gov/parks.
The guide is being offered through the Parks Department as well as the city’s Department of Health to help all New Yorkers get and stay fit year-round. Some of the activities that can be accessed through the guide include bicycling, boxing, hockey, skating, soccer, volleyball and countless fitness training and outdoor recreational programs.
Tucked away in eastern Queens is Alley Pond Park, which is blessed with bountiful natural features, such as freshwater and saltwater wetlands, tidal flats, meadows and forests that support abundant bird life.
For youngsters, the park’s public high ropes adventure course (the largest in the Northeast), provides a low-cost education and adventure experience that teaches participants to canoe, use a compass, fish and enjoy a natural setting within the confines of the city.
The program is open to anyone ages eight and up including families, youth groups and other organizations. For more information, call (718) 217-4685 or visit nycgovparks.org.
Tennis anyone? The 14th annual Arthur Ashe Kids’ Day on Aug. 29 kicks-off the U.S. Open tennis tournament with a full day tennis and music festival for children and families — including interactive games, musical entertainment and free clinics honoring the legacy of Arthur Ashe.
The event allows youngsters of all skill levels to participate in tennis clinics, play interactive games, hear live music from up-and-coming acts and check out many of tennis’ biggest stars.
The stadium show features a tennis exhibition plus musical performances by many of the world’s hottest acts. Past stars that have hit the stage and court at the event include: The Jonas Brothers, Jessica Simpson, Britney Spears, and Rihanna along with tennis greats Andy Roddick, Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer and Serena Williams.
The event will be held from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows Park. Tickets are $10 and are available through Ticketmaster (1-866-OPEN-TIX), usopen.org and at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center box office.
For a more bucolic scene, take the family to the Queens County Farm Museum, 73-50 Little Neck Parkway in Floral Park. The 47-acre site is the only working farm in the city. It’s free except for special events. Youngsters can pet the sheep, goats and other animals, go on a hayride and explore the grounds.
From July 24-26, the farm will host the Thunderbird American Indian Mid-Season Pow-Wow. There will be a dance competition among 40 Indian nations, food and Native American jewelry and more for sale. For details, call (718) 347-3276.
The farm is open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekends. For further details, call the above number.
The New York Hall of Science, located at 47-01 111th St., in Flushing Meadows Park, is always an adventure for both kids and adults. Youngsters in particular, will enjoy the hall’s numerous permanent and traveling exhibits that explore all aspects of science from microbes and molecules, rockets and space travel to the search for life in outer space as well as the science behind throwing a baseball, riding a surfboard or climbing a rope.
The hall also features New York’s only science playground, an outdoor wonder that appeals to kids of all ages where they can climb up, slide down and scamper about. This exhibition is packed with exhibits that invite hands-on participation: giant slides, windmills, a water play area, light-activated kinetic sculpture, a teeter-totter and much more.
Adult admission is $11, kids 2-17 are $8 and admission on Fridays from 2-5 p.m. and Sundays from 10 a.m.-1 p.m. is free nowthroughthe end of June.For more information, call (718) 699-0005 or visit www.nyscience.org.
Learning about the environment has never been more fun than a trip to the Alley Pond Environmental Centerat228-06 Northern Blvd.in Douglaston.Open year-round withanimal, science and nature programs for children, adults and families, the center teaches kids and adults throughdiscussions, nature hikes andhands-on animal discovery with rabbits, snakes and turtles that reside in the center's mini-zoo-aquarium.
In addition,the center also features bird walks, craft sessions and numerous weekday workshops on various environmental topicsranging fromrecycling andwetlandsto endangered species.
The center andtrails are free and open to the publicfromSeptember to June, Monday through Saturday: 9a.m.-4:30 p.m. and Sunday: 9a.m.-3:30 p.m. and July and August, Monday through Saturday: 9 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Call (718) 229-4000 or visit www.alleypond.com.
Animal lovers will definitely want to make the trip to the Queens Zoo, located at 53-51 111th St. in Flushing Meadows Park. Open year-round, the zoo features a collection of animals from North and South America and offers special events on weekends. Tickets for adults are only $7 and kids 12 and under are $3. The zoo is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., weekdays and until 5:30 p.m. on weekends and holidays. For more information, call (718) 271-1500 or visit www.queenszoo.com.
Kids with a green thumb might want to check out the children’s garden program at the Queens Botanical Garden that offers hands-on discovery forkids ages 5 through 12. Located at 43-50 Main St. in Flushing, the programteaches about plants, gardens and nature with children growing their own crops.
Registration is now ongoing fortwo summer sessions running from July 6 to Aug. 20. Session one is held on Mondays and Wednesdays, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. For fees and other information, call (718) 886-3800 ext. 229. or go to queensbotanical.org.