East Bronx

NYC Bowling Alleys That Welcome Kids and Families

Bowling is a perfect indoor family activity when you find yourself with some spare time (sorry—couldn't resist). At about age 5, children really start enjoying it, making it an ideal family outing. Bowling birthday parties are a hit for the school-age set and most venues offer special packages and pricing.

There are traditional bowling alleys—think leagues, snack bars, pro shops—in the outer boroughs, but Manhattan's spots tend to cater to grown-ups. Don’t worry though: Kids can still find lanes—you just have to know when to go. Here are 16 places to bowl with kids all across New York City.

Best Summer Festivals for NYC Kids This August

Many families flee the city in August for end-of-summer vacations, but it's actually one of my favorite months to be in NYC. With summer staples like swimming, play fountains, and Governors Island, plus hundreds of free summer activities and only-in-August favorites like Summer Streets and Arthur Ashe Kids' Day, there's plenty to do if you stick around.

So we've rounded up a dozen FREE family-friendly festivals happening throughout the Big Apple in August to help you get the most out of NYC with kids during the last month of summer.

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.

Musical Theater Classes Where NYC Kids Sing, Dance, and Act

We love musical theater in our family and feel lucky we live just a few subway stops from the Great White Way. But in New York City, kids can do more than just watch a show—they can become budding Broadway babies.

New York City offers a slew of musical theater classes for children than run practically from birth through high school. We could never cover every one of these programs in one post, but we have rounded up our favorites, with options in all five boroughs.

Find more NYC classes in our Classes Guide and Directory Listings.

Hobby Shops for NYC Kids: Model Trains, Planes, and Robots

Just like authentic New York soda fountains and ma-and-pa stores, old-fashioned hobby shops are seemingly an endangered species in NYC. But they're not dead yet.

Thanks to the popularity of the maker movement, hobby shops are enjoying a resurgence as kids (and grown-ups) look for fun, hands-on projects that range from assembling intricate models to flying remote-control airplanes, building robots, and racing model trains. That last option is one of my 9-year-old's favorite pastimes.

Although you can buy most of these kits online, visiting a brick-and-mortar hobby shop can be an inspiring experience for children who like to tinker, experiment and create. Plus, they get a chance to meet their fellow enthusiasts and learn from the vets. Whether your kids are into planes, trains, or automobiles, here are 10 hobby shops across the five boroughs where families can stock up on all their DIY model-building needs.

Bronx Water Playgrounds and Sprinklers to Cool Off the Kids

Although the kids might beg, not every summer day can be a pool day. Still, water play is essential to summer survival in NYC. Enter playgrounds loaded with water jets and refreshing splash pads for instant relief. Kids (and their grown-ups) can frolic in sprinklers and spray showers, many with nifty features like footbridges, geysers, and themed settings. We've told you about some of our favorite playgrounds with water features citywide, but we know the Bronx needs a shout-out all its own. Read on for details on seven of our favorite splash pads in NYC's northernmost borough.

Find more water fun in our Beaches, Pools, Water Parks Guide, or cool NYC activities in our Summer Fun Guide

Gay Pride Events for NYC Families: Free Ways to Celebrate Pride Month with Kids

A few decades ago, Gay Pride in New York City was mainly an adult affair, with a big Manhattan march followed by parties until dawn. While those events continue today, a lot has changed about Pride and for the LGBT community as a whole. Many gay couples are now married (legally!) with children and want to celebrate Pride as a family. Plus the festivities aren't limited to Manhattan; now the outer boroughs host notable Pride events, too, with their own vibes and attractions.

Last year, my son and I spent several happy hours eating, shopping and playing our way through the Brooklyn Pride Festival right off Bartel-Pritchard Square. It was mellow and fun, and with Pride Month upon us again, we're looking forward to checking out other kid-friendly Pride celebrations throughout June. While some gatherings are still just for grown-ups, we've found a bunch that are great for the whole family. Bonus: They're all FREE.

Celebrate National Poetry Month with NYC Kids

April is National Poetry Month (bet you didn't know that). Even if the last time you picked up a collection of adult poems was Sylvia Plath in college, chances are you read your kids rhyming stanzas by the likes of Dr. Seuss, Margaret Wise Brown or Shel Silverstein on a more regular basis. Little ones really respond to poetry; the rhymes help them learn to read, and older kids get into rap and slam poetry.

There are lots of special kid-friendly events going on in honor of National Poetry Month, including free poetry writing workshops, poetry slams and the annual Poem in Your Pocket day. But we've also got ways your family can celebrate the art of poetry year-round in New York City.

Party Like an Animal with 5 New York City Birthday Party Ideas

Every parent wants his or her child's birthday party to be a special and memorable experience. One way to insure that your child's party will be one that he or she will remember for years to come is to invite some animals, and I don't mean those boys in their class. Kids love animals and there are some really cool birthday party ideas that you can have right in New York City with live animals in attendance.

While some of these parties are admittedly exorbitant, you'll be surprised at a few options that are on par with other birthday parties in New York and won't break the bank. Check out these animal parties that kids will be "eternally" grateful for (for at least a couple of days):  

Geek Out this Weekend at Kids Comic Con and Big Lightsaber Fight

Being a Star Wars fanatic or a comic book geek is pretty cool in my book. And these cool kid-friendly events celebrate and bring out the geek in all of us. A giant black-lit lightsaber battle? What could be cooler than that? A comic book convention just for kids. Let's go!

There's nothing cooler than these geeky activities:

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