New York City

Best Amusement Parks for Preschoolers in and Near NYC

For young children, a ride on a carousel’s painted pony, a spin with dad around the bumper car track, and a dripping swirl of frozen custard are the stuff summer memories are made of. No need to seek out the latest scary high-tech roller coasters (which means you can cross Luna Park's most scary rides off your list).

Rides that look mild (or frankly, downright boring) to big people usually provide just the right amount of thrills for toddlers and preschoolers. Happily, there are a number of amusement and water parks in or near New York City that offer these kinds of tame attractions. Here's our roundup of theme parks perfect for the pint-sized.

Find more seasonal rides in our Theme and Water Parks Guide for NYC Families.

Much-Awaited Jim Henson Exhibit to Open This Summer at MoMI

The wait is over for Muppets fans! The long-anticipated permanent exhibit showcasing the late Jim Henson and his beloved characters will open in July at The Museum of the Moving Image in Astoria.

A successful Kickstarter campaign, along with generous donors, including Henson family members, will bring it to fruition at last. Although the exhibit offers something for everyone—nearly 300 artifacts—kids will probably be most excited about the 47 original Muppets, which include Kermit, Miss Piggy, Big Bird, Elmo, and other favorites. Other material on display at MoMI, including sketches, storyboards, scripts and costumes, will highlight the process Henson followed to bring his visions to life.

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. For times when you want to be your own captain, there are many seasonal opportunities for NYC families to get out on the water by themselves with kayaking, rowing, and canoeing. 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!

The Best Playgrounds in Queens

Although every pocket and corner of Queens has a neighborhood playground (we frequent Playground Thirty-Five multiple times a week), we’ve taken the time to scout the cream of the crop for NYC kids. From Astoria to the Rockaways, with rope spider webs to kid-sized Ferris wheels, these parks offer clean, safe equipment with innovative and fun details that go beyond the metallic jungle gyms of the past.

Looking to make more of a splash? Check out our roundup on top water playgrounds in Queens, or find more playgrounds across the five boroughs in our NYC Parks & Playgrounds guide.

Review: Spring-a-Ding Ding! It's Circus Arts for Younger Kids

If the idea of heading to a full-fledged circus seems overwhelming for younger kids, especially the preschool and pre-K crowd, we might have found the perfect in-between show: Spring-a-Ding DING!

The one-hour performance playing in downtown NYC at the 14Y is filled with lively music, storytelling, acrobatics, dancing, contortions, and more—all performed with a younger audience in mind (Read: They'll be too entranced to wriggle out of their seat or your lap) from the small but mighty circus-arts company Cirque-tacular.

And if they're loving the theater experience, check out the best Broadway shows for kids and families for ages 4 and up.

Memorial Day Weekend in NYC: Festivals, Beaches, Family Fun Day

Memorial Day weekend, the unofficial start of summer, is here! We know it's been one of the coldest Mays in memory, but that's changing fast. No matter what, New York City's big seasonal attractions open on Saturday, like local beaches, or Victorian Gardens in Central Park. Plus, if it reaches 80 degrees, the city's destination playground sprinklers might be on, too.

While beaches and playgrounds are open all summer, events like Fleet Week ship tours, Governors Island Family Fun Day, Memorial Day in Prospect Park, and a bunch of parades are on tap this weekend only.

Thinking about a last-minute getaway? We've pulled together great family day trips on Long Island, including cool lighthouses, and Westchester and Hudson Valley, as well as our favorite nearby beaches like Fire Island's Ocean Beach and those a bit farther down the Jersey Shore. When you're there, use our Jersey Shore Family Guide. You might also try one of the nearby water parks or amusement parks, many of which open for the season on Saturday. Also, don't forget that many local farms in the greater NYC area are open for strawberry picking with the kids, beginning this weekend. 

Stay local and finally visit the mesmerizing CHIHULY glass sculpture display at New York Botanical Gardens, the FREE Socrates Sculpture Park in Queens, floating food forest Swale in Brooklyn, or the brand-new zip line and 25-foot climbing tower opening on Governors Island this weekend. Our NYC Parks and Playgrounds Guide is always a safe bet for staycations, too, as is our Indoor Play Spaces Guide, including fun places parents and kids can play together in NYC.

Read on for our best bets for Memorial Day weekend events for kids in NYC. Oodles of family fun can also be found in our Event CalendarSpring Fun Guide, and our fresh-out-of-the-oven Summer Fun Guide.

However you spend the three-day holiday weekend, we hope you have a blast! 

Zip Line and 25-Foot Climbing Tower to Open on Governors Island

Governors Island has long been one of our favorite places to play and the summer fun is about to get a lot more thrilling on the isle.

Adventures at Governors Island, a new high-octane entertainment zone boasting a zip line, 3-D climbing wall, and maze debuts this Memorial Day weekend (weather dependent), and we can't wait to check out the exhilarating attraction. Its opening will double the number of zip lines in NYC—to two.

Free Outdoor Movies for NYC Kids This Summer: Hundreds of Them!

New York City will screen hundreds of FREE outdoor movies this summer, many of them just for kids and families. The popular Movies Under the Stars series, which debuted with screenings in parks and at playgrounds in all five boroughs last year, returns along with many of our favorite annual series. 

A few outdoor movie series, such as RiverFlicks for Kids in the West Village, are aimed specifically at children. But even grown-up series, such as those in Bryant Park and Brooklyn Bridge Park, include a family-friendly screening or two. Movies usually begin between 8 and 8:30pm, but plan to arrive early: The well-known series fill up fast. Sometimes there is even pre-movie entertainment.

So grab your calendars and start plotting your FREE summer of entertainment now. Find more seasonal activities in our Summer Fun Guide.

Take the Subway to NYC Beaches: Coney, Rockaway, Orchard Beach

Fourteen miles of sparkling sand and crashing waves can be found in four of the five boroughs (sorry river-locked Manhattan), which is good news for NYC families. Because as much as we enjoy hitting the Jersey Shore, Fire Island, and other Long Island beaches, we're not big fans of renting cars and sitting in traffic.

New York City's beaches are just a subway, bus, or ferry ride away. From the "Bronx Rivera" to iconic Coney Island and the Rockaways, these urban seasides often offer just about everything suburban beaches do except the out-of-town commute.

Weekday Fun: Whipped Cream, Bliss Plaza, and Fleet Week

The scorching heat is taking a break in NYC. Now you and the kiddos can enjoy outdoor movies in a park or even on the deck of the USS Intrepid, or one of the many a free-music-for-preschoolers parties launching across the city, like the new one in Bliss Plaza, in Queens.

Fleet Week begins this week, too, with the "Parade of Ships" entering New York Harbor on Wednesday, tides willing. For more outdoor fun, see our guide to the best family festivals and street fairs in New York City during the month of May.

Got a burning baby sleep question? Tune in to our Facebook page on Wednesday afternoon for a live Q&A with pediatrician Harvey Karp, author of Happiest Baby on the Block.

Our May GoList is entering its final stretch! Also, never forget our Spring Fun Guide is willing to help. For longer-term planning, as always, see our event calendar

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