Brooklyn

9 Easy Fall Family Hikes in NYC

It finally feels like fall in New York City, which means my family is headed to the hiking trail. At least once a quarter, usually coinciding with the change of seasons, someone in the family decides it's time to escape to the woods for a little urban relief. And really, there's no need to head upstate or to the 'burbs to get that outdoors fix.  

Did you know that our fair city is home to over 300 miles of hiking trails through 10,000 acres of unencumbered Mother Nature? We have sampled enough parks around NYC to confidently share this list of trails that vary in length, scenery, and difficulty (including those just right for little legs), and that reward hikers with views of water, bridges, and yes, that gorgeous fall foliage. Whatever borough you call home, my boy, who helped to compile this list, and I hope you will have a blast lacing up and hitting the trails. Note: He is too young to share mommy's byline. 

14 Not-So-Scary Halloween Events in NYC for the Preschool Set

With a little one who gets tired after one or two blocks of trick-or-treating, I find myself hunting for Halloween events that are more geared towards his age group. Luckily for us, NYC boasts plenty of less spooky, pre-bedtime events for the littlest ghouls and goblins. 

With that in mind, we've put together a list of 14 Halloween events perfect for the preschool set, many of them FREE. Enjoy these gentle Halloween events while you can—your kids will be celebrating at the Village Halloween Parade before you know it.

Find even more festive happenings for all age groups in our Halloween guide (including kid-friendly costume parades around the city), and of course in our events calendar, which is continually updated with new, fun events as we find out about them.

Jewish Museums in NYC: 6 Cultural Spots for Kids

One of the best aspects of growing up in NYC is that kids are exposed to lots of different cultures. In fact, it's not uncommon for children of all backgrounds to want to celebrate Hanukkah, Kwanza, Christmas, Purim and Lunar New Year—and perhaps even teach their parents how it's done.

Exploring various traditions at school and with friends is fun, but there are also many New York City institutions where you can learn about different cultures in more depth, from the Museum of Chinese in America to the Japan Society to the National Museum of the American Indian. As the Jewish high holidays of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur approach, here are six great NYC spots where kids can learn about Jewish culture, traditions, and history.

Harvest Fests, Pumpkin Patches, and Hayrides Right Here in NYC

If you think you need to head out of the city for an authentic fall harvest experience, we've got good news: You can pick the perfect pumpkin, go on a hayride, meet farm animals, and even get lost in a massive corn maze right here in NYC.

So if you're looking to skip the car rental, hop onto the subway instead to head out to these fall harvest festivals and pumpkin patches, all located within the five boroughs. Looking for more fall fun? Check out our NYC Fall Fun Guide for the best of the season.

Horseback Riding in NYC: Lessons and Rides for Kids

Horseback riding in New York City? You bet! While your NYC apartment probably won't accommodate a pet pony, you can indulge your child’s love of horses without leaving town. There are several options for family-friendly horseback riding and grooming lessons, plus drop-in trail riding experiences for a unique way to experience the great outdoors in NYC.

Sadly, Claremont Riding Academy, the last remaining horse stable in Manhattan, closed in 2007 so there's no longer horseback riding in Central Park. However, there are stables in the other four boroughs that allow families to make like it's the Wild West. 

Best Events This Fall for NYC Preschoolers

Let the fall fun begin! This autumn there are loads of events, festivals, and shows in NYC just right for the preschool set, and as an added bonus, many are FREE! With fall fairs, petting zoos, and musical performances to choose from, you're bound to find the perfect event for your preschooler.

If you're looking for a festive day trip, find out where preschoolers can pick their own apples or even find the perfect pumpkin.

Free and Cheap After-School Programs for NYC Kids and Teens

Tis the season for after-school program enrollment. Families looking for reasonably priced enriching and fun programs for their children have tons of sports, arts, academics, and other kinds of classes to choose from. In fact, a handful of high-quality after-school programs are actually free or super inexpensive!

Some places, like the New York City Parks Department, offer after-school coverage Monday through Friday. Other programs like those found at the Children’s Museum of Art (CMA) only meet once or twice a week. We've rounded up organizations that offer complimentary or reasonably priced classes to kids, tweens and teens throughout the five boroughs. Lots of the programs on this list have multiple enrollment periods per year. Check in with Mommy Poppins regularly to stay on top of enrollment options during the fall, winter, and spring.

14 Popular Preschools in Park Slope, Brooklyn

Finding the right preschool fit is almost as daunting as getting your kid into the right college—meaning, people will try to terrify you, but odds are good you'll find a great spot for your little one, even if it isn't your first choice. Close your eyes. Breathe.

Whether you opt for a full day, five-day-a-week program or just a few half days, your child will benefit from spending time with kids and adults who are outside your family circle. Potty training, reading, small motor skills, early math—all of these come in time, but preschool will lay the foundations. The most important factor in choosing a preschool is whether you and your child feel comfortable there. Do the children look happy? Are they engaged in projects or play in the classroom? Are the teachers focused, but also friendly and welcoming? That's what counts.

Also consider whether you'd like to commit your own time, which would make you a perfect candidate for a co-op preschool, or if the time commitment required might be hard for you to fulfill, in which case a traditional or year-round preschool would be best. The difference between a school that embraces Reggio Emilia and one that uses a Montessori method are slight (both embrace open space and child-directed learning), but you may find you prefer teachers who consider themselves "guides" en route to making the child independent (Montessori) - or you may be drawn to Reggio's emphasis on communication and documentation. Home-based preschools may feel "cozier" and more a continuum of what your child has already experienced in your own home.

After that, look for:

  • Communication: How the school interacts with parents, and how parents interact with teachers, is key.
  • Security: Who has access to the school during the day? What is the teacher/child ratio for your child's age group?
  • Structure: What is a typical day at school like? Are there special progams, such as music or science?
  • Discipline policy: Does it align with your own? How is potty training handled (if your child is not quite "there" yet)?
  • What are the facilities like? Is everything sparkling clean? Is there a separate play space? What are the options for outdoor play?

And even though it is strongly recommended that your start your search early (at least a year in advance), remember that spots do open up. Ask about wait lists if you're late to the process or new in town.

We've done a little research on Park Slope preschool options, breaking down some fundamentals for you, below, but remember our Directory is an excellent resource, too! And prep for your interviews with 10 Questions to Ask During a Preschool Tour and our Preschool Admissions Tips.

Happy hunting.

Best Fall Festivals for NYC Kids in September

Kick off autumn at one of September's fun-filled (and mostly FREE) fall festivals in NYC. Annual family favorites abound this month, including top September GoList picks such as the Richmond County Fair and the annual Queens County Fair. For a lively local celebration, make sure you hit up the One Crown Heights Neighborhood Festival at the Brooklyn Children's Museum. There are also plenty of cool under-the-radar events you may not have heard of, including a marine science fest in Tribeca, a sweet honey fest in Rockaway Beach, and Italian fairs in the Bronx and on Staten Island, which are both a lot less crowded than San Gennaro.

So banish the back-to-school blues by hitting one (or more) of these kid-friendly festivals this September.

After-School Registration Now Open for Free NYC Program

We've told you all about the lottery for swimming classes operated by the NYC Parks Department, but did you know it also has you covered after school? Registration for the FREE after-school program run by the Parks Department opened on August 21, 2019 for NYC kids ages 6 to 13, and we've got details on what the program offers and how to sign up.

Find more after-school options in the Mommy Poppins Classes Guide.

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