Raven Snook

Raven Snook

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Raven is a writer, editor, performer and mom, who was born and bred in NYC, just like her husband, her mother and now, her daughter. As a writer, she's contributed articles to New York Magazine, Time Out New York, The Village Voice, the New York Post, TV Guide, Better Homes and Gardens, iVillage, AOL TV and Moviefone, Parents.com, and worked as an in-house editor for ParentsConnect.com and TimeOutKids.com. As a performer, she's appeared on many downtown stages (sometimes even for pay!), a couple of obscure films and TV shows, and The Maury Povich Show as a female drag queen. She's also the founder of Hot Mama Burlesque, the world's only all-moms burlesque show. After being the NYC editor from March 2011-March 2015, she is now happy to just be a blogger as she pursues additional writing opportunities.

Latest posts by Raven Snook

12 Free Concerts for NYC Kids This June: Dan Zanes and More

Summer is the season of FREE in NYC—and here it comes. There's no-cost fun everywhere you turn, from festivals to parades to lots of outdoor culture. We've rounded up our top 12 FREE concert picks for families taking place this June around New York City. 

Of course there are so many complimentary performances that it can be hard to figure out which ones are worth the time, energy and schlep. That's why we've done the work for you.

And since most of them are in NYC's attraction-filled parks and playgrounds, you can even make a day out of it. So pack a picnic, stake out a spot, lay down a blanket and soak up some no-cost culture. 

20 Best Water Playgrounds and Sprinklers for Kids in NYC

When we were growing up, New York City playgrounds had sprinklers. Now parks and playgrounds across the five boroughs possess "water features"—fountains, geysers, rivers, pumps and beautiful spraying statues. Kids just love them, and we parents prefer these newfangled playgrounds because they're pretty and cool, and make us feel as if our exorbitant NYC housing costs are justified.

As the city's sprinkler season gets into gear, it's good to know where to find the wildest and wettest playgrounds around. There are hundreds of water features in NYC parks. Some are cooler (literally and figuratively) than others, and more amazing ones seem to open every year. When we first published this article in 2008, we had five favorite splashing spots. Now we're up to 20 fancy playgrounds where kids can get wet in NYC. See if your favorites made our list (and if not, clue us in).

Does the Angry Birds Movie Soar? Depends on Your Age

My 10-year-old daughter must have sensed my trepidation on the way to the Angry Birds Movie screening, because she said, "Don't worry, Mom. Maybe it will be a pleasant surprise, like The LEGO Movie." She knows I'm not big on movies based on brands. LEGO was an exception because it wasn't locked in to a specific story line. But thanks to the ubiquitous game, Angry Birds has a set premise: the birds are angry, and the pigs are villains. In the eponymous film we find out why. And, while it doesn't always soar, it's definitely not for the birds, either.

That's good news for parents, since every child between the ages of 2 and 12 seems set on flying directly to the theater to catch this animated adventure on opening day. But before you go, you probably have some pressing questions—especially what exactly earns the flick a PG rating, and whether it's worth the extra splurge to see it in 3D. We watched the film with eagles eyes and have the answers.

NYC Fourth of July Fireworks Cruises: See Macy's Show on a Boat

The NYC Macy's Fourth of July Fireworks celebrates its 40th anniversary in 2016, and some of the most spectacular views are from the water. The display lights up the East River, and nothing quite compares with watching the celebration up close from a boat. Plus, you don't have to battle the crowds with the kids.

Of course, these special cruises don't come cheaply and many are only open to ages 21 and older. We set out to find the lowest-cost Fourth of July Fireworks cruises in NYC that also welcome children. If you're interested, book quickly. Some already have sold out and the remaining tickets will go quickly.

Acrobatic 'Bianco' Circus Opens with Action-Packed Show

Parents tired of hearing the kids whine, "But I can't see!" at every show take note: no boosters are needed at NoFit State Circus' immersive spectacle Bianco. That's because there are no seats and all of the action takes place high up in the air. Set in a sci-fi-looking, 10,000-square-foot big top pitched directly under Brooklyn Bridge Park's namesake structure, Bianco is a rare all-ages show presented by lauded avant-garde performing arts center St. Ann's Warehouse.

While you and your kids are most likely familiar with all of the skills on display—juggling, acrobatics, tumbling, and a variety of aerial acts—you probably haven't experienced them in such an exhilarating and intimate environment. The athletic cast and crew bound through the audience, hooting, hollering and often shoving their way to center tent, where they perform their feats with glee and little clothing. But don't worry: though there's a sexy, party vibe and many exposed six-packs, it's a strictly G-rated affair.

For families who prefer edgy and scrappy neo-circus troupes to the slick razzle-dazzle of Ringling Bros. or Cirque du Soleil, Bianco is a heart-pumping thrill. But there are some important things to know before you bring the kids—you may not need to worry about them running away with this circus, but they could very easily get lost in it.

A Dozen Private NYC Swimming Pools Offering Day Passes

There are plenty of FREE swimming pools in NYC for kids during the summer months, but if you're looking for year-round options, or less crowded waters, try a private pool day pass. A number of "private" pools in New York City allow you to pay to swim for the day. And these are not hipsters-only hangouts, where visitors sip on $18 cocktails. Well, those exist, of course, but we've rounded up 12 private pools that are definitely kid-friendly and welcome families for swimming and other water fun.

Read on for where to get swimming in NYC now, and don't forget to check out how to score FREE swim lessons in the city, too.
 

Free Summer Sports and Outdoor Programs for NYC Kids

Just because we live in a concrete jungle doesn't mean our kids can't enjoy a summer filled with athletic activities outdoors. The best news: You don't need to be a banker to afford it.

New York City offers many opportunities for kids to learn team sports and to try swimming, tennis, golf, fishing, kayaking, camping and more for FREE. Of course registering for these FREE programs takes a little legwork and, since many are first-come, first-served, punctuality. We've got the scoop on what's available, and how your kids can vie for spots. You can find more no-cost activities in our Free in NYC Guide, or check out these FREE or inexpensive summer camp options around NYC.

Best Water Theme Parks Near NYC for Families

While there are no full-fledged water theme parks in NYC (yet), you don't have to go too far to find some awesome ones. We've rounded up 13 of our favorites for kids in the tristate area, mostly in New Jersey and Pennsylvania, and all are less than a two-hour drive from Midtown Manhattan. No two are alike: Each one offers different experiences and thrills.

For more water fun, check out these toddler-friendly water parks and year-round indoor water parks near NYC.

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