Brooklyn

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.

22 Best Water Playgrounds and Sprinklers for Kids in NYC

When we were growing up, New York City playgrounds had sprinklers. Now parks and playgrounds across the five boroughs possess "water features"—fountains, geysers, rivers, pumps, and beautiful spraying statues. Kids just love them, and we parents prefer these newfangled playgrounds because they're pretty and cool, and make us feel as if our exorbitant NYC housing costs are justified.

As the city's sprinkler season gets into gear, it's good to know where to find the wildest and wettest playgrounds around. There are hundreds of water features in NYC parks, and we've highlighted some favorites by borough: the best in Brooklyn, best of Queens, and best of the Bronx. Some are cooler (literally and figuratively) than others, and more amazing ones seem to open every year. When we first published this article in 2008, we had five favorite splashing spots. Now we're up to 22 fancy playgrounds where kids can get wet in NYC. See if your favorites made our list.

Prospect Park Zoo: Best Things to Do at the Brooklyn Zoo

Peppered with playgrounds, woods, and large open spaces for kids to roam free, Prospect Park is a pastoral escape smack dab in the middle of Brooklyn. The park is more than just green space: The Brooklyn Botanic Garden, Lefferts Historic House, and the Prospect Park Carousel are great places to visit for families. Need one more reason to love Prospect Park? How about a perfectly kid-friendly zoo, just the right size and pace for younger children?

The Prospect Park Zoo is much smaller than its northern counterpart, the Bronx Zoo, which means it's just right for pint-sized animal lovers. The whole interior is comfortably walkable in a few hours, so you can see everything before nap time. We've got tips for visiting with kids, including the best entry points, what to see, and the best times to visit.

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 the New York City metro area 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 families.

July 4th Fireworks Cruises in NYC: See Macy's Show on a Boat

The promise of NYC summer fun is right around the corner. One of our favorite annual events, the Macy's Fourth of July fireworks display, is ready to light up the city skyline. The display illuminates the East River annually, and nothing quite compares with watching the celebration up close from the water. Plus, you don't have to battle the insane crowds with the kids.

Of course, these special cruises don't come cheaply and many are only open to ages 21 and older. We set out to find the lowest-cost July 4th fireworks cruises in NYC that also welcome children. If you're interested, book quickly. Some already have sold out and the remaining tickets will be gone before you know it.

Our Favorite Toddler Playgrounds in Brooklyn

It's no secret that Brooklyn is one of the most family-friendly boroughs in New York City. More young families are discovering the rich culture and kid-friendly perks like indoor play cafes that make it a great place to raise your family. It's the reason why these days, strollers outnumber the hipsters in most Brooklyn neighborhoods. And one of the best ways to enjoy the beautiful tree-lined blocks is to go for a walk with your tot in tow to visit some of the amazing playgrounds in the area.

We've already ranked the best playgrounds in Prospect Park and the top playgrounds for your big kids in Brooklyn, but now we're putting together a list of some of our favorite playgrounds sized for toddlers.

Red Hook with Kids: Parks, Play Spaces, Restaurants, Mini Golf

Flanked by family-friendly Carroll Gardens and Park Slope, Red Hook has long been considered "the next big thing" in Brooklyn. Fairway, Ikea, and local shops and eateries brought new life to the neighborhood, but the lack of easy public transportation means this waterfront gem maintains its refreshingly quiet vibe.

This awesome neighborhood is teeming with historic buildings and stellar seafood and is home to waterside parks, an Olympic-size outdoor pool, two mini-golf courses, FREE kayaking and movies in the summer, fun family restaurants, and an indoor play space for children of all abilities. Though it's not easily accessible by subway, visitors can arrive via ferry, bus or Citi Bike via the Brooklyn Greenway—follow the path from Brooklyn Bridge Park if you're feeling adventurous! 

NYC Carousels: 13 City Merry-Go-Rounds To Spin You Around

There's something wonderfully nostalgic about kids getting a thrill from a ride on a carousel. It's the simplest of amusement park attractions, and there are more than a dozen merry-go-rounds in New York City alone. It's easy to stumble upon them on your next park outing.

Each city carousel offers a unique spin on this traditional kiddie ride, from harbor views to a ride in a iridescent fish. With spring in full swing, it's a great time to take your first ride of the season, so we've rounded up the merry-go-rounds in all five boroughs.

Brooklyn Bridge Park: 35 Top Things to Do with Kids

There is no shortage of warm weather family activities in Brooklyn, but I find myself continuously making the trip to Brooklyn Bridge Park throughout the spring and summer months. Running 1.3 miles along the East River on a defunct cargo shipping and storage complex, Brooklyn Bridge Park is an 85-acre waterfront space promising recreation, sustainability and environmental exploration. Also, the Lower Manhattan skyline views never fail to impress.

Where else can you swim, fish, roller skate, kayak, and barbecue? Oh, and you can score free hot dogs this summer thanks to the Hot Dog Bus! There's even a floating glassblowing museum visiting the park this May, and a Pop-Up Science Encounter in June! Yep.

We've rounded up our favorite things to do to help you explore the park with your little ones, including some of the exciting new offerings in one of the city's most fascinating parks

Coney Island with Kids: Luna Park, Aquarium, Beach, Mermaids

The shores of Coney Island and Brighton Beach open for the season on Memorial Day weekend, but the amusement park rides have been spinning for a month, and the boardwalk and New York Aquarium are open year-round, making this season the perfect time for a Brooklyn day-cation!

The big news on this slice of sand is undoubtedly the arrival of Ocean Wonders: Sharks at the New York Aquarium later this summer, but before the predators arrive, there's still plenty of fun to be had. Catch a thrill at Luna Park, enjoy the old-school favorites like the carousel and Deno's Wonder Wheel, visit the Coney Island Museum or Circus Sideshow, and scarf down a Nathan's Famous hot dog. And we haven't even mentioned the sandy beach and waves and Friday-night fireworks. Without further ado, here are the best things to do in Coney Island with kids this season.

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