New York City

Kids Play for Free at These New York City Stores

Looking for a new rainy-day play destination? With Toys "R" Us back in Times Square for the holidays and a brand-new American Girl store opening soon, there's no shortage of stores in New York City where kids can play for free. You'll find options as varied as building Lego friends, exercising on the Wii Fit, or getting their train fix for the day, and the kids will be so exhausted by day's end, they might not even whine about leaving the Nintendo system behind (fingers crossed).

For more indoor play options, check out our guide to Indoor Play Spaces and Fun Zones in NYC.

Why Every Harry Potter Fan Should See Puffs

My 10-year-old daughter is a Harry Potter fanatic. She’s read the series six times, watched all the movies, and still sincerely hopes for an acceptance letter from Hogwarts when she turns 11. We’ve both taken online quizzes to figure out which Hogwarts house we’d belong to. (She got Gryffindor, and I got Ravenclaw.) When I heard about Puffs, a play that recounts the Harry Potter story from the perspective of the Hufflepuffs, who were mostly background characters in the Harry Potter saga, I knew we had to see it.

Puffs is charming, entertaining, and fast-paced. The premise is simple: No one really wants to be a Puff, not even the Hufflepuffs. When the characters receive their house assignments, the new Puffs feel a little bewildered. What is being a Puff really about?

Read on for our full review, or check out our NYC Theater Guide for more family shows playing now, and coming soon, such as Frozen and SpongeBob.

5 Fall Foliage Trips with Extra Fun for Families in New England

Other regions around the country might be a bit superior for, say, soaking up the rays or skiing through powder. But when it comes to leaf peeping, I don't think it's biased to say that New England might be tops. With rolling hills, a high density of deciduous, mature trees, and, probably most importantly, relatively crisp late September and early October temps, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont, and Maine, as well as Rhode Island and Connecticut to the south, kick off the fall foliage season with early, vibrant, and lasting color.

Sure, kids might not thrill to the wonders of changing foliage quite the way grown-ups do. But most enjoy trips to pretty destinations, with fun stops to hike, eat, and play along the way. While choices are plentiful in these parts, we're highlighting a few especially lovely fall locales that combine great fall color with fun family activities. Now all you have to do is convince the kids to put down their devices and appreciate the scenery. For more autumn hotspots around the country, check out our complete fall leaves and foliage guide.

Ultimate Halloween Guide for NYC Kids: Parades, Costumes, More

For New York City kids, Halloween doesn't just take place on October 31. The entire month is filled with a terrifying number of costume parades, pumpkin festivals, and plenty of FREE Halloween happenings leading up to the big night of trick-or-treating. You think getting your kid to choose a costume is hard? Trying to figure out which celebrations to hit is enough to make you run screaming into the night, which is why we've rounded up the absolute best ways to get into the spirit of the season.

You'll find top picks for Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Queens, and several fun family day trips to the nearby Hudson Valley and New Jersey. As always, we included only our favorite events, and many are FREE or inexpensive. To make sure your brood is truly prepared, we've also included info on where to get children's costumes and professional makeup done in NYC. Booyah!

Weekday Fun: Animal Mummies, Garden Bats, and Shibori

New York City kids love the cool night skies of early fall, and two events this week take their faces skyward, one to study bats in the East Village and another to seek out stars from The High Line. Also, there's a block party in DUMBO featuring elephants parachuting from the sky.

For more terrestrial fun, you've got animal mummies in Brooklyn, the ancient art of Shibori in Tribeca, and storytelling on Staten Island. Also, see our guide to the best storytimes for babies in Brooklyn. 

Our September GoList is almost on its last lap; stay tuned for October while using our Fall Fun Guide and our Event Calendar for all of your autumn planning needs. 

Pumpkin Patches Near NYC Where Kids Can Pick Their Own

We can't deny it any longer: The Halloween season is upon us! And what's All Hallows' Eve without the perfect pumpkin? Sure you can grab one from the local farmers' market, grocery store, or one of the few pumpkin patches right here in New York City in a pinch. But for a more immersive experience, head to the country to pick your own this fall. Many of these farms and orchards offer additional activities for kids, including hayrides, bouncy houses, corn mazes, and apple picking, so you can expand your hunt into a family day trip.

Like our recent profile of nearby pick-your-own-apple orchards, these 12 pumpkin patches are all about an hour from Midtown Manhattan by car. We even found a few reachable via public transportation.

Farm Fun: 11 Hudson Valley Hayrides for Kids in the Fall

It's autumn, and that means time for visits to pumpkin patches and apple orchards, eating doughnuts, drinking apple cider, and going on hayrides. The Lower Hudson Valley is rife with farm fun in the fall, including hayrides—many of which are free or at least included with the admission price.

We've gathered up some of our favorite farms and orchards with hayrides. For more ideas for kid-friendly autumn activities, sign up for our newsletters and follow us on Facebook.

Brooklyn's City Point and DeKalb Market: Best Kid Eats and Shops

The City Point complex, Brooklyn’s new shopping center downtown, has so much to offer families. Parents will appreciate the Target and Trader Joe’s, and the whole family will enjoy the sleek new movie theater and vast DeKalb Market Hall with delicious offerings from dozens of vendors. And this ain’t no ordinary food court—you won’t find stale bagels and bland Chinese food here. Instead, think fried chicken on a stick and make-your-own cake pops.

Find our favorite picks below and return often for updated offerings there and around the neighborhood. Before you know it, you'll be raising certified Brooklyn foodies.

Polkadots: The Cool Kids Musical Is Perfect for Times Like These

You know how, as a parent, you can explain a concept dozens of times, but until a kid sees it for themselves, they don't really get it? When the topic of discrimination comes up (if it hasn't already), don't bother trying to define it. Just take your children to Polkadots: The Cool Kids Musical.

The bright set, costumes, and hair/makeup (blue skin! purple skin! rainbow hair!), as well as the characters' electric personalities will draw kids in immediately, while the 55-minute performance takes a complicated topic and puts it through a kid-friendly lens—without dumbing it down or simplifying it too much.

Read on for our full review, or check out our NYC Theater Guide for more family shows playing now.

Weekend Fun: Maker Faire, Atlantic Antic, Buses, and Potter

It's fall fair and festival season! New York City kids can find one everywhere they turn this weekend, from the World Maker Faire, in Queens, to the Astor Alive Festival, in Manhattan. In Brooklyn, there's the 6th Annual Breukelen Country Fair and the Atlantic Antic, which is so big it has the 24th Annual Bus Festival inside it.

Nonetheless, there's no shortage of small, cozy events happening this weekend. Check out Elmer the Duck, in Manhattan, or the Harry Potter Summer Storytime at the Strand. Speaking of storytimes, see our fresh guide to storytimes around New York City. We've also got you covered if you're looking for children's books about rad women and civil rights heroes

Meanwhile, our September GoList is winding down but still offers oodles of fun, and our Fall Fun Guide is only gaining speed with corn mazes, top harvest festspumpkin patches, and seasonal day trips. Make sure to see our Event Calendar for things to do on any particular day in the future.

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