Bronx

Bronx Zoo

If you have children and live in or around NYC, you simply must get to the Bronx Zoo once or twice per year. Arguably one of the nation’s most famous zoos, the Bronx Zoo is home to 265 acres of wildlife habitats and attractions. It’s nearly impossible to see all that the Zoo has to offer in just one day, so we recommend doing a little research on the Zoo’s website before each visit. A great place for families with young kids to start off is the Children’s Zoo, which is three acres of kid-friendly activities and wildlife attractions. We highly recommend that you build the animal feedings and enrichment demonstrations into your trip. What fun is visiting the animals if they’re all lounging around and sleeping right? The twice daily Sea Lion and Penguin feedings, as well as the Bee-Eater Buffet, Primate Training, and Tiger Enrichment sessions, guarantee that your kids will get to see the animals in action. If you’re on a tight budget, plan to visit the Bronx Zoo on any Wednesday of the year when admission is free. If you find yourself visiting the Zoo with you family frequently, you may want to consider becoming a member of the Wildlife Conservation Society. For $120/year, two adults and their children get free admission to the Bronx Zoo and New York Aquarium, as well at the Prospect, Central Park, and Queens Zoos.

The Bronx Zoo is open 365 days per year. Winter and Spring/Summer hours and rates vary, so check out the website for more information.

Wave Hill

Situated in Riverdale overlooking the Hudson River, Wave Hill is a gorgeous 28-acre public garden and culture center with extensive programming for children. Each weekend, Wave Hill sponsors a different “Family Art Project” which coincides with whatever seasonal event or holiday may be around the corner. These programs are free with admission on Saturdays and Sundays from 10am to 1pm. We find one of the most unique aspects of visiting Wave Hill to be the sense of utter relaxation which washes over you upon your visit.

Although Wave Hill is not nearly as large in acreage or horticultural diversity as the New York Botanical Garden, it can actually feel a bit more ‘family-friendly’ because visitors are encouraged to use the grounds to their fullest extent. There are lounge chairs placed sporadically throughout the beautiful lawns, which makes it the perfect place for parents to spend an afternoon with a toddler who is just beginning to crawl or walk. For apartment dwellers that don’t get to spend much time close to nature, Wave Hill serves as the perfect place to pretend you have your very own backyard! Wave Hill also offers concerts and other special programming throughout the year.

Some tips to keep in mind to plan an affordable visit: Saturdays from 9am to 12pm are free all year round, Tuesdays are free all day during off-peak months (January, February, March, April, July, August, November, and December) and are also free from 9am to 12pm during the remaining peak months. Children under six are always admitted free. It’s a relatively affordable attraction anyway: $8 for adults, $4 for students and $2 for children ages 6 and up.

Poe Cottage

Located at Kingsbridge Road and the Grand Concourse, the Edgar Allen Poe Cottage is truly a unique sight to see in the Bronx. Surrounded by bustling traffic and towering apartment buildings, the simple white structure is like a relic from another time. Perhaps the best thing about visiting the Poe Cottage with kids is its size. The cottage is teeny tiny, which means it’s perfect for fidgety kids who don’t do well with long, drawn out tours of historical sites. Tours of the cottage are $5 for adults and $3 for kids. Stay tuned… the best is yet to come for the Poe Cottage. It is slated for a $250,000 restoration and will soon get a $3.2 million, 2,000 square foot visitor center! These improvements are a fitting tribute to the nearly 200-year-old cottage where it is believed Poe penned “The Bells,” “Annabel Lee,” and Eureka.” Click here to visit Poe Cottage’s website. If you’re looking to pair your visit to the Poe Cottage with another outing, consider visiting the new Bronx Library Center, which is just around the block. We affectionately refer to it as a “library on steroids.”

New York Botanical Garden

The New York Botanical has not one, but two gardens designed especially for kids. Both the Everett Children’s Adventure Garden and the Ruth Rea Howell Family Garden provide supervised, hands-on activities to introduce children to the science of horticulture. Perhaps the best part about a trip to NYBG is that it’s a truly perfect family outing any time of the year. For those long, cold winter weekends, the Everett Children’s Adventure Garden provides a warm, cozy indoor space for kids’ activities, and the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory is always a balmy, tropical temperature. During the summer, the acres and acres of lush, green grass provides the perfect setting for kids to run around and explore. A must-see exhibition for all families is the Holiday Train Show, which takes place each December/January and features tons of NYC landmarks recreated entirely out of plants and natural materials. If you’re looking to visit NYBG on a budget, plan on going on any Wednesday of the year when a “grounds only” pass is free. Please note, NYBG is closed each Monday throughout the year, except holidays. Click here to check out our past coverage of the Train Show.

Kids Swimming Lessons in New York City

So, you’ve decided it’s time for the kids to venture off land and into the pool. After taking a look at our post on how to choose the right swimming lessons for your child, you might be wondering where to go and what this adventure is going to cost. Luckily, as with most things here in the city that never sleeps, there are swim lessons that can fit into any budget (including free) and swimming classes for kids at every level. Read on to find out all the options for kids swimming classes in New York City from Mommy and Me swimming lessons to group and private swim instruction.  

Free Fun Friday - Free Cooking Classes, Fall Festivals and Local Pumpkin Picking

IMG_0383.JPGFall has arrived and it's time to get yourself some pumpkins! Check out our posts on the best pumpkin picking and apple picking in the area if you want to head out of town. Or, you can stock up on pumpkins and fall fun right here in NYC with the top picks of this weekend's local pumpkin events. Plus, did you know that there are lots of free kids cooking classes available this weekend? Keep reading for the full scoop...

Little Naturalists: Wildflowers Everywhere

Photos by Leslie Day

All summer long, New York City is filled with beautiful flowers and gorgeous scents. Mommy Poppins' resident naturalist Leslie Day has put together this guide of local wild flowers for you to look for as your explore your streets and parks and some background science so you can turn a walk in the park into a teachable moment.

Linden Tree Flowers (above)
Everywhere you go on the Upper West Side and on streets that have these lovely trees throughout the five boroughs, you smell the heavenly scent of linden tree flowers. Show your children the leafy bracts that each flower cluster is attached to. When the flowers produce seeds, these modified leaves carry the seed clusters to the ground like little helicopters. At night, when you emerge from the subway, you are greeted with this heady perfume. Follow your nose!

The Best Grown-Up Outdoor Music Festivals for Families

The great thing about New York City's outdoor festivals is that everyone can enjoy them. If it's kids music, at least the grown ups can enjoy being outdoors on a lovely day or evening, relaxing. And, generally kids will put up with an outdoor concert or performance if they can run around, dance, play and picnic while you enjoy a little grown up entertainment for once.

The following (mostly) free outdoor festivals are not specifically children's festivals, but they, for the most part, each have at least one kids performance and otherwise offer great performances in great outdoor environments around NYC, making a fun day or evening out with the kids either way.

A Week of New York City Earth Day Activities 2008

eco-camp.jpgEarth Day and NYC Public School Spring Break are in alignment this year. Coincidence? ...Yeah, probably. (shrug). So, school's out but the fun, hands-on learning is just beginning. You don't have to go to a fancy resort to have an eco-vacation. With the Mommy Poppins Do-It-Yourself Spring Break Eco Camp kids can learn, do, make and play their way to a greener, smarter world right here in New York City.

We've organized a week jam -packed with the best of Earth Week's eco-friendly fun for NYC kids of all ages. It's almost completely free, will keep you busy all week, and registration is super-easy (just ask yourself if you still have spots available!)

Saturday, April 19
South Bronx EarthFest Celebration in St. Mary??™s Park.
A recycled materials fashion show, free boat rides in the Bronx River and electronics recycling are some of the highlights among the more than 30 activities booths at the South Bronx EarthFest Celebration in St. Mary??™s Park.
Saturday, Apr 19, 2008 from 12:00 pm - 4:00 pm
St. Mary??™s Park , St. Ann??™s between 146th and 148th Streets
FREE
South Bronx Earth Fest is a family celebration of the environment and of the South Bronx community. Enjoy food and entertainment, including: a "Music Gets Me Green" song contest, a recycled-materials fashion show, a musical performance by the Oscar-nominated Impact Repertory Theater, free boat rides on the Bronx River, a student dance performance, and a keynote presentation by Majora Carter of Sustainable South Bronx. Bring your old cell phones, computers, printers, fax machines, TVs, VCRs and stereos to be recycled. Donate gently used clothing for reuse. Bronx Green-Up will be among the more than 30 activities booths, which also include Bronx Community Solutions, CENYC, Butterfly Project, Solar Oven, and South Bronx Job Corps Academy.
Free admission

Habana Outpost, Fort Greene's new eco-eatery, is hosting a very cool Earth Day Expo 2008. Two Days of free workshops and events including beekeeping, recycling within your environment, composting, recycled art show and umbrella recycling. I like this event because the activities make you think differently about greening your life rather than the same old topics we hear over and over again.
Saturday, April 19th & Sunday April 20th 2008.
757 Fulton Street (corner of South Portland) Brooklyn
Kid??™s Corner-Saturday& Sunday 12-6
Check the website for the full schedule.
FREE

Go Green Go Greenpoint
Saturday, Apr 19, 2008
11:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.
McCarren Park, behind the Field House, Lorimer Street between Bedford and Driggs Avenues
FREE
Educational programs, recycling stations, a scavenger hunt, tree planting, live music and more.

Earth Day Weekend at the Queens Zoo
Sat 19, Sun 20 11am??“4pm.
Queens Zoo, Flushing Meadows??“Corona Park, Queens.
Free with zoo admission.
Kids learn how to sort recyclables, plant seeds, design their own reusable tote, and learn about environmental projects or activities going on in your Queens neighborhood and discover ways to participate.

Sunday April 20
Ninth Annual Gowanus Canal Flotilla
Sunday April 20 11am??“3pm.
Gowanus Canal, between Second Ave and Bond St, Brooklyn
FREE
Go on an eco-cruise. Take a ride in a 21 person indian shipping canoe and pick floating trash out of the Gowanus Canal.

Join us for a fun-filled of environmental education through recreation. Paddle along this annual flotilla on the historic and notorious little estuarine waterway that flows in the heart of Brooklyn. Armed with landing nets, garbage bags, our fleet of skiffs, including our unique 32ft canoe (accommodates 21 paddlers at at a time). The Urban Divers Environmental Educators guide eco-volunteers on an eco-cruise and help pick-up floatable debris along the water and on shore...Everyone is also welcomed to bring their own kayaks or canoes or GET ON BOARD OUR FLEET OF VESSELS, including our unique GIANT 32ft INDIAN SHIPPING CANOE- vessel accommodates 21 paddlers at time. To register to volunteer call The Urban Divers Estuary Conservancy at 718-802-9874, or 347-224-5828.

Earth Day Celebration in Central Park
12:00 pm - 4:00 pm
Rumsey Playfield, Central Park
FREE
Activities for all ages begin at 12:00 pm, including recycled musical instrument-making, tree tours, make and take home your own mini vegetable garden and more. Get the full schedule online.

Monday, Apr 21, 2008
NATUREMANIA
10:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m.
Sherman Creek Campus (3725 10th Avenue)
SHERMAN CREEK PARK, Manhattan
FREE
Spring Break is marked by being outdoors and having fun. This year for Spring Break, come learn how to build a boat, grow plants and vegetables, plant and identify trees, explore habits and fish, and more. Also join in arts and crafts projects, story time, group games, and service projects during the spring break camp at Sherman Creek Park.

Tuesday, April 22

Earth Week at Still Hip
283 Grand Avenue Brooklyn
Cool Brooklyn resale shop, Still Hip makes it easy to be green during Earth Week. Drop your old clothes off for recycling and let the kids practice tree poses.
10-5 pm: Clothing Recycling | FREE
12 pm: Baby Wearing & Cloth Diapering Workshop | FREE*
2:30 pm: Yogi Babies Save the Trees | FREE*
3:30 pm: Tree Pose Kids Yoga FUNdraiser | FREE*

Wednesday, April 23
Earth Week at the Bronx Zoo
April 21-27
Bronx Zoo
Free with Admission
Party for the Planet at the Bronx Zoo. Visit the Human Footprint exhibit to learn the impact people are making on the Earth, see recycled animal sculptures, hear stories, make crafts and more all week. See the full schedule.

Thursday, April 24
Earth Week at the Audubon Center
April 21 ??“ 27, 12 ??“ 5 p.m. every day
Prospect Park Audubon Center
FREE
Celebrate Earth Week at the Prospect Park Audubon Center! This year??™s Earth Week will have a different theme each day, with programming for environmentalists of all ages. Learn how to do your part through lectures, tours, activities, film screenings, workshops, recyclable crafts, and a daily exhibit. Check www.prospectpark.org for a full list of what??™s going on.
Friday April 25
Still Hip
283 Grand Avenue Brooklyn
Private Picassos is offering FREE Recycled Art Workshops for kids age 2-7 at Still Hip on Friday, April 25th.
Pre-registration is requested. Email info@privatepicassos.com to reserve your spot today.
Workshops include:
Junk Printmaking Workshop
Young artists age 2-4 will use recycled materials for a relief printmaking activity. Feel free to bring any toilet paper or paper towel rolls,old dry sponges, wine corks, slightly used cardboard cup protectors and corrugated cardboard scraps. 10:00-10:45am

Recycled Robots Workshop
Young artists age 5-7 will use recycled materials to create their own robots. Feel free to bring old cereal boxes, small cardboard boxes, toilet paper and paper towel rolls, corrugated cardboard, etc. 11:00-11:45am

Saturday, April 26
Go Green Expo
Saturday, April 26th from 10 a.m. ??“ 6 p.m. and Sunday, April 27th from 10 a.m. ??“ 3 p.m.
Learn about eco-friendly alternatives available today. More than 200 booths showcasing organic food and wine, home and office products, health and beauty supplies, energy alternatives, and the latest cars and transportation. Find out more at GoGreenExpo.com
Sunday April 27
Gardening Day at the Queens Botanic Garden
Sun 27 noon??“5pm.
$5 Donation
Queens Botanical Garden, Flushing, Queens.
Learn about and celebrate the honey bee with puppet shows, storytelling, and clowns!

Stay tuned for next week when our Earth Week posts really HEAT up. An don't miss our GREAT GREEN GIVEAWAY.

Get Ready for Summer with Free Swimming Events


Summer is just around the corner and summer means swimming. In preparation of summer and swimming season get your feet wet at these free swimming events.

The Big Swim
April 12, 2008
The Big Swim is a one-of-a-kind open swim meet where 1,000 New York City children ages 6-16 participate in a free day of competitive swim races. Each child experiences the excitement of a real race with starting blocks, officials, and a timed finish. Races are all supervised by lifeguards and swimming Asphalt Green aquatics staff. This event has been recommended to me by other parents who said that your child does not need to be an very strong swimmer to have a great time. The environment is not competitive and each child goes home a winner with a medal, a photo with Olympians, a t-shirt, and a goody bag.

The Big Swim takes place on April 12, 2008, but registration forms must be received by March 30th. For more information on the meet, call 800.NYC.SWIM (800.692.7946) or go to the website to register online.

Asphalt Green's The Big Swim
555 East 90th Street
New York, NY 10128

YMCA Splash Week
April 21-25, 2008
The YMCA of Greater New York is hosting a week of free swimming lesson during their Splash Week to promote water safety for kids and families. During Splash Week local YMCA branches will be offering free half-hour swimming lessons to anyone aged 3 and up. Yes, there will even be free adult swimming classes as well as lifeguarding classes for anyone who's dreaming of getting a job as a lifeguard this summer. You won't find any information about Splash Week online. You must visit or call your local YMCA branch to find out the schedule of classes, but if you don't know where the nearest YMCA branch is you can find it at the YMCA website. Participating branches can be found in Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, The Bronx and Staten Island.

If you're looking for swimming classes for read our swimming classes post. It includes mommy and me swimming classes and classes for older children as well.

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