New York City

100 Things To Do in Chicago with Kids Before They Grow Up

Chicago is home to so many incredible parks, playgrounds, museums, and things to do with kids that one childhood doesn't seem like enough time to fit them all in—though who could blame you for trying? That's why we rounded up this list of great things to do with kids in Chi-town. Whether it's racing with your toddler through the sprinklers at Mary Bartelme Park, wowing your preschooler at the Field Museum, gliding with your grade-schooler on the skating ribbon at Maggie Daley Park, or taking in engineering marvels with your tween at the Chicago Architecture Center, take advantage of everything this beautiful city has to offer kids of all ages. We're also big fans of FREE fun, so we included as much of that as possible.

Whether you're a local or a visitor to the Windy City, we hope you can use this list to make some great new memories with your kids. Now I'm off to scarf some Chicago-style hot dogs at Portillo's.

25 Top Things to Do with NYC Preschoolers Before They Turn 5

New York City doesn't lack for awesome family events and institutions, from the many children's museums and zoos and gardens to only-here street and art fests. But as a mom of two children younger than 5, I'm always looking for fun activities that appeal to the city's youngest children. It's such a special window of time, and I want to create lasting memories—within budgetary reason, and manageable enough for kids who sometimes still need a nap and a sippy cup of milk.

So, inspired by our roundup of 100 things to do with kids in NYC before they grow up, we came up with a list of 25 things to do with toddlers and preschoolers around the city before they turn 5 and head to kindergarten. A few of our selections are well-known favorites with specific under-the-radar attractions for preschoolers, while others are more off the beaten path, but all are things we've enjoyed doing or aspire to try soon!

Indoor Play Spots for NYC Toddlers with Weekend Hours

Indoor play spots are an essential resource for NYC families with young children (and limited square feet) as temperatures begin a steady decline into winter. Unfortunately, so many of the city's indoor play spots are limited to weekday hours. That's great for caregivers Monday through Friday, but mom and dad are left out in the cold, scrambling to fill up those chilly fall, rainy spring or snowy winter weekends with their preschoolers in other ways.

Luckily, we've uncovered over two dozen fantastic play spaces that get it, and are keeping weekend, drop-in play hours for kids, no membership required. All include playthings sized just right for the little ones, including for babies in many instances. They are stroller-friendly and equipped with changing stations, making them no-fuss options for the toddler squad.

New Schools Opening in NYC This Year

New York City is always changing, and so are our schools. Despite longstanding, ongoing debates over standardized tests, overcrowding, and tuition costs, there are also some exciting new developments in early education here in NYC. In classrooms across the city (and across the country), project-based learning, a focus on global citizenship, and child-centered education are all trending, as we look toward a future in which the jobs our children will need to be prepared for most likely haven't even been invented yet.

Staying on top of educational trends may seem difficult, especially in the ever-evolving world of NYC schools, but the Mommy Poppins NYC Public and Private School Listings Guide can help. For an up to date listing of schools in your area visit our School Directory Listings, and in the meantime, read on for the latest about new schools opening in NYC.

The Best and Worst States for Raising a Family

Everyone wants to raise their family in a healthy, safe, and yes, fun community. But, how do you go about finding the right corner of this country for your family? Trial and error perhaps, but WalletHub is also throwing a little data our way on just this subject. The credit report and personal finance site just released its ranking of the best and worst 50 states in which to raise kids.

It weighed a number of factors to determine the top family-friendly states, looking at schools, housing, crime, childcare costs and quality, parental leave options, salaries, and of course, the amount of family fun per capita, including access to parks and playgrounds.

Read on to find out how your state stacks up—and where you might want to consider relocating to with the kids!

MLK Jr. Weekend in NYC: Community, Black Comic Con, and Birds!

The Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday weekend in New York City offers tons of opportunities to honor the man and his mission. Kids can Write for Change at the Brooklyn Children’s Museum, participate in the Martin's Mosaic project at Children’s Museum of Manhattan, catch a performance of Turning 15 on the Road to Freedom, join a Freedom Quilting Bee at Wave Hill, watch films themed to Overcoming Obstacles at MoMA, participate in the family-oriented programming in Prospect Park, check out the free BAM-hosted tribute to MLK, Jr in Fort Greene, and parade in the 31st Annual MLK Jr Commemorative March. Check our calendar for Monday, January 21, for a huge list of MLK activities.

In Harlem, the Seventh Annual Black Comic Book Festival is sure to include some fun costume sightings. And bird watchers can bring their binoculars to a Hawk Watch in Queens, a Bald Eagle Watch in Inwood, or take a Winter Bird Walk at Alley Pond or Greenwood Heights. Got a budding astronomer? Bundle up for a peek at the Supermoon in Central Park on Sunday.

It's been a slow winter when it comes to snow. If the kids are yearning for interaction with fluffy white stuff, consider a day trip to a nearby mountain with our Ski and Snow Sports Guide, or stay local with outdoor ice skating. Prefer cozy and warm? Check out these 50 things to do indoors in NYC all winter. 

Our top picks for the long weekend are below. Looking for more ideas? Our NYC Children’s Museum and Art Guide offers lots of hidden treasures and you can find even more seasonal fun in our NYC Winter Activities Guide for Families, as well as in our January GoList.​ And, of course, the calendar grows daily!

Teen Spirit: 16 NYC Activities Even a Teen Will Call On Point

It can be tough to be a teen in New York City. They're too old to want the 'rents (that's you, mom or dad) to accompany them everywhere, but many destinations don't allow adolescents without adult supervision. If your high schooler's idea of a night out on the town has been reduced to hanging with friends and watching Netflix, help them mix it up by sharing this roundup of sweet 16 drop-in activities they can do on their own, a few of which were created by NYC teens. Worried that your teen never listens to you? Print this list out and leave it for them to find—perhaps they'll like these ideas better if you don't actually tell them to go out and try them.

Bonus: Many of these options are FREE or inexpensive, so you won't have to raise their allowance.

Where to Find Free Classes for Kids at NYC Stores and Public Spaces

We'll just say it: Raising a kid is expensive. Weekend classes, summer camp, after-school care, and dance and music lessons can add up. A 2018 study by Sun Trust Bank found that a majority of parents spend at least $1,000 a year per child on extracurricular activities. And let’s face it New Yorkers, we’re most likely paying much more than that.

That’s why we’ve rounded up more than a dozen FREE classes that run year-round in NYC to lighten the financial load. All the classes listed here are free within free-to-access stores and public places, but there are also plenty of free and low-cost activities inside of NYC museums and gardens that have monthly memberships. Don't forget that your IDNYC card will give you free or discounted access to many cultural institutions.

Check out our Free in NYC Guide for more budget-friendly family fun.

Celebrate Martin Luther King Day with Kids at These NYC Events

Martin Luther King Jr. Day is peaceful for New York City kids, but it sure isn't boring, with music and storytelling and volunteer activities all focused on celebrating Dr. King's life and teachings with kids. Enjoy interactive peace marches, a special story hour, a FREE bash at BAM in Fort Greene, Brooklyn, and various museum events.

Martin Luther King Jr. Day (Monday, January 21, 2019) is also a National Day of Service, when citizens are encouraged to help out in their communities. So we've included a list of family volunteering opportunities that are wonderful ways to honor King's work. You can find even more things to do on MLK Day in our Event Calendar.

Best Winter Theater for NYC Kids 2019

New York City has tons of cool shows for families this winter, including the debut of two buzzed-about Broadway productions aimed at tweens: the Internet-fueled phenomenon Be More Chill and the big-budget musicalization of Beetlejuice. But you don't need to dig into your 401K to give your kids a memorable live theater experience in NYC—plenty of family-friendly productions are playing beyond Broadway for a lot less.

This winter there are wonderful options for kids of all ages from toddlers to teens, including shows aimed specifically at the preschool set (The Naughty Penguin, Sesame Street Live!), stage adaptations of popular picture books such as The Snowy Day, The Magic School Bus and The Stinky Cheese Man, and eye-popping spectacles for the whole family (Thunderbird American Indian Dance Concert and Powwow, Jedi Academy).

Best of all, most of these 28 shows are priced at $25 and under, so you can take the whole family for less than the price of one Broadway ticket.

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