Parks & Playgrounds

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12 Cool Themed Playgrounds in NYC to Inspire Kids' Imaginations

Imagination is the stuff of childhood magic—and NYC's cleverest themed parks and playgrounds are designed to inspire your kid's always-active mind. Whether your kid fancies playing prehistoric explorer, dreams of conquering Ancient Egypt, or wants to trek across Africa on safari, there's a playground for that. Here are 12 of our favorite themed playgrounds across all five boroughs.

10 Easy New York State Park Hikes for Families

The beautiful Hudson Valley is home to 18 New York State Parks that offer tree-lined trails, stunning panoramic views, and lots of special features like waterfalls, swimming lakes, and sandy beaches. With so many parks and trails to choose from, it's hard to know where to start!

To help, we've picked 10 of of our favorite kid-friendly hikes in the Hudson Valley. In addition to opportunities to enjoy nature and wildlife, some of these parks—like Bear Mountain and Franklin D. Roosevelt—boast additional attractions such as a zoo, playgrounds, pedal boats, and even a giant swimming pool. Best of all, these hikes are just a quick day trip away from NYC or southern Westchester.

Brooklyn Bridge Park: 35 Top Things to Do with Kids

There is no shortage of warm weather family activities in Brooklyn, but I find myself continuously making the trip to Brooklyn Bridge Park throughout the spring and summer months. Spanning 1.3 miles along the East River, Brooklyn Bridge Park is an 85-acre waterfront space promising recreation, sustainability, and environmental exploration. Where else can you fish, roller skatekayak, barbecue, hit some of the city's most innovative playzones, catch the ferry to Governors Island, see FREE outdoor movies and concerts, explore a sensory labyrinth or an environmental education center, and get a free dose of cool public art? Plus, the Lower Manhattan skyline views never fail to impress.

We've rounded up our favorite things to do to help you explore the park with your little ones, including some of the exciting new offerings in one of the city's most fascinating parks

10 Great Picnic Spots for Families in Northern New Jersey

Picnics are simple pleasures that kids of all ages can enjoy, so grab a blanket and your favorite goodies and head out to one of North Jersey's best spots for family gatherings. From majestic views and wooded trails to tranquil lakes and shady playgrounds, these parkland treasures are worth a visit. Whether you are celebrating a birthday, planning a family reunion, or just heading out for an afternoon of fun, New Jersey's parks will not disappoint.

For even more warm-weather activities, check out our spring fun guide, featuring our top picks for family campgrounds and more.

Free Kayaking, Canoeing, and Rowboat Options in New York City

With all the water surrounding New York City, it's no wonder there are so many sightseeing cruises and fun ferry rides to great kid destinations. If you want to be your own captain, NYC offers many seasonal opportunities for NYC families to get out on the water by themselve—kayaking, rowing, canoeing, and sailing. Much of the fun kicks off Memorial Day weekend or early summer.

We've rounded up 11 great New York City organizations that offer boating sessions on our wonderful waterways—and they're all FREE. Ahoy!

NYC's High Line: The Best Sights and Events for Families

Like many native New Yorkers, I sometimes get caught up in my daily routine and forget all that this amazing city has to offer families, from unexplored treasures to mega popular tourist destinations that are always crowded, but for good reason. The High Line, a formerly-abandoned track of elevated railway on Manhattan's west side that's found new life as a public park, is one prime example.

Owned by the city, but maintained by the nonprofit Friends of the High Line in coordination with the NYC Department of Parks and Recreation, the High Line has developed a bit of a reputation as a tourist zone. But a visit to the High Line is well worth braving the crowds. It's both an amazing public art site and a community hub, with wonderful year-round programs for locals—and it's FREE. Plus, its proximity to both Chelsea Market and Hudson Yards makes the High Line a perfect city adventure (snacks included).

Here are all the must-see spots for children at this unique outdoor park, plus the kid-friendly events you'll want to add to your family's calendar.

Inclusive Playground Opens in Greenlawn in Suffolk County

Parents with active tots know the value of outdoor play. It helps children gain self-confidence, develop muscle coordination, and burn calories. It also serves as a creative and stimulating outlet for their energy.

This would seem to be especially true for children with special needs. With that in mind, Greenlawn has welcomed a new, inclusive playground to Pickle Park. It makes running, playing, and generally having a good time easy and fun for children of all abilities.

Located in the Town of Huntington, it's a worthy addition to Long Island's top inclusive playgrounds and top playgrounds for toddlers.

Destination Playground: J.J. Byrne Playground in Park Slope Is Action-Packed for All Ages

It’s no surprise that one of the city’s most family-friendly neighborhoods is home to a top destination playground. J.J. Byrne Playground, a Park Slope hotspot, underwent a year-long, multi-million dollar renovation in 2012 to bring in challenging climbing structures for older kids and an action-packed play area for younger kids, plus engaging water features that include a stream and spray jets.

Read on for more features that solidify this spot as one of our favorite playgrounds.

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