New York City

Times Square with Kids: What To Do Beyond The Usual Tourist Spots

New Yorkers often dismiss Times Square as too crowded, touristy, and overpriced, but if you look a little closer, there is plenty of kid fun to be found around this NYC hub—even for the most jaded urban dwellers.

We're not talking about expensive tourist attractions such as Madame Tussauds, the Hard Rock Cafe, and Ripley's Believe It Or Not. Instead, we've got the scoop on 15 cool, reasonably inexpensive things to do with kids near Times Square whether you're killing time before a Broadway show, entertaining out-of-towners, or just find yourself in this NYC neighborhood.

Visiting NYC with kids? Check out more top attractions in our Vistors Guide for Families.

Weekday Fun: Reptiles, Native American Pow Wow, Cupcake Club

Events for New York City kids include a heap of dancing this week! Boogie to the celebration of great music by women at NPR's outdoor Turning the Tables concert on Wednesday, July 26. Dance along with the American Indian Thunderbird Pow Wow at the Queens County Farm Museum on Friday July 28, or cut a grass rug to the City Stompers in Bushwick on Thursday, July 27. And don't forget: the Children's Museum of Manhattan celebrates the art of dance all summer long.

Cool off after all that outdoor dancing with our guide to the best water playgrounds in New York City. Leaving the city? See our guide to the best water parks for toddlers near New York City. As always, check our July GoList for the month's best events, and keep our Summer Fun Guide close. Our Event Calendar also stands at the ready with things to do and see into the far future. 

Check out our local DEALS page, too! We've created a spot for some of our favorite NYC businesses to give you a deal on their services, including camps, classes, and even birthday party packages. Check it out, and check back often as we're constantly adding new ones.

50+ Ways to Keep NYC Kids Off Screens This Summer

"Brain drain." "Summer slide." No matter what you call it, the phenomenon of students losing months of math and reading skills during the eight-week summer vacation scares parents and teachers alike.  

As we hit mid-summer, we wanted to put together a list of some off our favorite NYC spots, events, and even at-home challenges that get kids to exercise their brains. More importantly, the activity has to be engaging enough to keep them (and us) off our screens!

So get out there to try these more than 50 ideas for enriching exploration and edu-tainment around NYC . You can find even more ideas in our STEAM Guide, and don't forget to peruse our NYC Schools Guide as September (gasp!) approaches.

NYC Playgrounds with Shade: Shady Park Benches and Equipment

While kids can always cool off in NYC's many sprinklers, we parents are stuck baking in the sun all day during the heat of the city's summer as we supervise outdoor play. It's a problem our readers know too well—each summer we get requests for recommendations of shady spots to play.

Although we know of a couple playgrounds that offer exceptional amounts of shade—Hippo Playground in Riverside Park and Discovery Playground in Fort Washington Park come to mind—we decided to ask our readers if they knew of any super-shady playgrounds in New York City. After clarifying that we were talking about shelter from the sun's rays, not sketchy parks, they came through with a number of great suggestions.

Please keep in mind that the name of the game here is comfort on a hot summer day; though we have visited plenty of destination playgrounds, with a few exceptions, these shady suggestions tend to be neighborhood standbys and small playgrounds that have plenty of shade, but perhaps not too many bells and whistles.

Weekend Fun: Come Out and Play, Muppets, Back to the Beach

Hey, New York City kids! Ready for movies, music, and theater? This weekend, The Jim Henson Exhibition, with loads of Muppet movies and artifacts, launches in Queens, while the new That Chemistry Show brings to Manhattan what That Physical Show did, but maybe messier. Erin Lee and the Up Past Bedtime Band hit Bryant Park, and Fort Greene Park gets jazzy.

That's not all. Staten Island's biggest outdoor festival of the summer, Back to the Beach, runs all weekend, and on Saturday Governors Island hosts the time-travel fun of Come Out and Play Family Day. Need to cool off? See our guide to the best water theme parks near NYC, as well as our 50 ways to cool off in NYC with kids this summer.

Save money with our 100 FREE Things to Do this Summer list, or head over to our brand-new local DEALS page! We've created a spot for some of our favorite NYC businesses to give you a deal on their services. How about 15% off camp apple seeds? Or save $100 at Play On! musical theater and drama camps? There are even discounts on birthday party packages. Check it out, and check back often as we're constantly adding new ones.

For more fun, see our July GoList, our Summer Fun Guide, and our equally action-packed Event Calendar

Governors Island Will Stay Open Through Halloween

The good news keeps rolling in on our favorite (formerly summer-only) destination: Governors Island is expanding its season through October 31. Last year it closed up for the season in late September, and previously, Labor Day weekend had been its typical closing date.

The news, announced by the Trust for Governors Island on Tuesday, July 18, comes on the heels of the isle opening a month early this spring, meaning the 2017 season now runs a full six months giving visitors a chance to enjoy an entirely new season and more rich programming on the island.

The mega green space is slowly creeping toward its goal of year-round fun. Read on for details of what's in store for its fall programming, including a cool Halloween event that we're sure is going to rocket to the top of every New York family's must-do list for October.

Staten Island with Kids: Top 50 Things to Do for Families

When you ask most New Yorkers what they know about Staten Island, they name-check the Staten Island Ferry and then just stare blankly. But as a mom raising her two sons in NYC's "forgotten borough," I know firsthand how enriching and fun Staten Island can be for families, both residents and visitors.

St. George, where you disembark from the ferry, is probably the neighborhood that feels most like the rest of NYC, in large part because it offers awesome views of the downtown Manhattan skyline to remind you of where you are. Many borough attractions are located here, including the Minor League Staten Island Yankees stadium, the stunning St. George Theatre, the sobering Staten Island September 11 Memorial, the Staten Island Museum, plus lots of restaurants, quaint Victorian townhouses and the in-development 630-foot-tall observation wheel.

But go further inland and it's not just all malls and suburban sprawl. With almost 12,300 acres of protected parkland, Staten Island is rightly known as the greenest borough and boasts some of the most beautiful parks in the city like the Greenbelt, which is home to living history museum, Historic Richmond Town, and the Carousel for All Children. We also have a lot of drop-in indoor play spaces, including one of NYC's few remaining roller rinks, and even a trampoline park. And there are lots of culture spots, too, like the Snug Harbor Cultural Center & Botanical Garden and small, esoteric museums located in lovely historic homes like the Alice Austen House. While a car is helpful in terms of getting around, we actually do have public transportation.

Check out the top 50 things to do in the borough with kids.

Camping in New York Just Got 100% More Awesome with Tentrr

Camping seems like such a nice idea. You connect with nature—just you and your family or friends in the woods. But the reality isn’t always as splendid. Gathering all the gear needed and packing everything and everyone into the car, or arriving at a trampled campground that's often just a few feet of dirt and some brush separating you from a band of beer-drinking bros, and you lose some of the romance. That's why we were excited to stumble upon a new way to reconnect with nature, especially for NYC or city families who don’t have room to store lots of equipment between trips.

A new website, Tentrr, connects private camp sites and campers, like an Airbnb for the Great Outdoors. While your host may leave you cookies or something extra to make you feel welcome, the best part of our stay was the total seclusion. The sites are on private land, so it really will be just you, the trees, and some woodland creatures.

Best Water Playgrounds and Sprinkler Parks in Brooklyn

When the sticky NYC summer heat has truly settled in, caregivers have to think of ways to keep the kiddos cool that are also fun and will burn off energy. There’s no better solution than water playgrounds—get cool in the water, dry off to hit the other playground equipment, rinse and repeat. All afternoon.

And best of all, it’s a FREE summer activity you can do every day. We’ve rounded up the best water features and playgrounds around Brooklyn so that you and the little ones don’t get bored with the same old spray.

It's a long summer! Find more ways to keep cool with our NYC Beaches, Pools, and Water Parks Guide, which includes splash pads in other boroughs too!

Weekday Fun: Pete the Cat, Acrobats, Tim Kubart in Concert

New York City kids love the summer whiplash between indoor and outdoor events, and this week whips and lashes like a rollercoaster: three indoor productions begin, including the beloved, annual, and FREE Pete the Cat by Theatreworks starting on Wednesday, July 19. See our guide to the best summer theater for kids, some of it also FREE.

Outdoor concerts abound, too: there's a free Tim Kubart show in Chelsea on Monday, July 17, or local favorite City Stompers, with Appalachian fiddle music, on Staten Island on Thursday, July 20. For more, check out our guide to free outdoor music for kids this summer. 

Looking to get out? We have 30 summer day trips for you. Itching to get out on the water? See our survey of the best boat rides around the city. For more fun, check out our July GoList, as well as our action-packed Summer Fun Guide. Meanwhile, our Event Calendar grows and grows.

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