Brooklyn Heights

Best Destination Sandboxes at Local Parks for NYC Kids

There's no denying it—kids love diving into a sandbox, running their shovels and hands through the grains of sand, dumping a full bucket over and generally getting their hands dirty.

Though NYC parents might get grossed out at the thought of what could be lurking in our uncovered, urban sandboxes, it's hard to forbid preschoolers one of their most beloved sensory experiences. So pull up a bench (and your cup of coffee; you'll be here a while!), and check out these eight toddler-tested, mom-approved NYC sandboxes. We've done our best to find the cleanest ones across the city. Besides, you can always wash their hands in the nearby sprinklers or park bathrooms when you're finally able to get them out.

And hey, you don't have to hoof it out to the local beach to reach this sand, which just means more time for other NYC kid activities. Find more destination playgrounds in our NYC Parks & Playgrounds Guide.

Roller Skating Rinks for Kids in NYC and the 'Burbs

All city dwellers seem to go crazy for ice skating season, but once the ice thaws and spring is upon us, where's a skater to go? It's time to introduce the kids to the old-school art of roller skating at one of these rinks within city limits and just beyond.

In addition to retro skating fun, many of these spots offer extras, including arcade games, bounce houses, and party packages. So lace up your skates and get moving at these rinks!

NYC's Best Playgrounds: 15 Parks Worthy of a Subway Schlep

Playgrounds may be as much a part of childhood as potty training and the tooth fairy, but to city families, finding a go-to playground is a real sanity saver. When you live in tiny apartments, the neighborhood park is akin to a backyard, and while New Yorkers are lucky to have many awesome local play spots, some are a cut above the rest.

These spots offer plenty of space to romp and enough outdoor entertainment to make them worth a schlep on the subway. Without further ado, read on for 15 of the city's best playgrounds—our NYC playground hall of fame.

22 Brooklyn Drop-In Play Spaces and Kiddie Gyms

Brooklyn can't be beat for indoor play spaces. While Manhattan and Queens have about a dozen drop-in indoor playgrounds apiece, Brooklyn boasts nearly twice that number, from the Brooklyn Children's Museum's outpost, Spark, to Busy Bodies in Clinton Hill, Curiosity on Court, and the brand new Fairytale Island in Bay Ridge.

While we've included a couple of the more mellow tot spots with crafts or storytelling, this best-of-Brooklyn list is focused on active play spaces, where toddlers, preschoolers, and even bigger kids can conquer multilevel mazes, swoosh down slides, climb up rock walls, or just turn around in circles until they fall down exhausted, ready for a nap.

Read on for nearly two dozen drop-in indoor romper rooms for kids in Brooklyn. Find more play spots in our Indoor Family Fun Guide to Play Spaces.

Worth It? Family Memberships in NYC to Consider for Winter

After visiting NYC's top play spaces, museums, and other fun zones, we've rounded up the various membership deals at 20 kid-centric destinations. These places will keep your kids entertained, active, and out of the cold. Some even offer short-term memberships, so you only have to pay until spring arrives.

In the dead of winter, it can be daunting to schlep somewhere new every weekend, so a membership to one (or two) of your favorite kid play spots makes sense. We've already done the math so you'll know exactly how many visits it takes until these investments pay off—and whether or not the "deal" works for your family. If the math doesn't work out for you, consider buying one of the play spaces' bulk passes instead, which usually knocks a few bucks off the daily drop-in price.

Need more ideas? Check out our Indoor Play Spaces Guide for more romper rooms by borough, bounce houses, and year-round family entertainment.

Cry Baby Matinee: Where to See a Movie with a Baby in NYC

I hadn't been to the movies in 10 months since having a baby and I missed it. I missed debating over the listings with my husband. I missed smuggling in Duane Reade candy and rating the preview trailers. I missed the dark that settles over the theater like few other places in this city, allowing you to escape for two hours, even though you're rubbing elbows with a stranger in the next seat.

Still, while I miss Fandangoing, I have a hard time justifying a babysitter when there is Netflix, so I was intrigued when a friend told me about a local movie theater that not only allows, but encourages, parents to come with their babies, and there are actually several spots around New York City where new moms can arrive with infants and all the gear for a matinee showing—judgement free.

Best Places to Trick-or-Treat on Halloween with NYC Kids

One of my favorite childhood memories from growing up in NYC was Halloween in Greenwich Village. Back then, the Village Halloween Parade was just a couple hundred artists and others who marched through the neighborhood. Afterward, we would trick-or-treat up and down the brownstone blocks. Everyone was friendly, and we would come home with our shopping bags completely filled. It was magical.

Although the parade and Greenwich Village have changed a lot since then, your kids still can enjoy that kind of thrilling trick-or-treat experience in many New York City neighborhoods. Which neighborhood is the best for Halloween trick-or-treating depends on who you ask. New Yorkers love to bicker over the best coffee shops, the best (and worst) train lines, and yes, the best places to take their kids on Halloween. We also love to find that secret gem.

So we asked our astute readers and collected recommendations from our parent-driven NYC staff over many, many years to bring you a list of our favorite trick-or-treating spots so you'll know where to bring your kids this October 31.

Join one of the local Halloween parades and then go trick-or-treating throughout the community with local families. Or hit one of the neighborhoods or streets listed below: We have a slew of spots to try in all five boroughs. For more seasonal fun, check out our jam-packed Halloween Guide, showcasing FREE events, haunted houses, pumpkin patches, and more.

Haunted Halloween Houses and Not-too-Spooky Walks for NYC Kids

Looking for a not-too-scary Halloween fright for the kids? A tricked-out haunted house or slightly spooky Halloween trail just might be the right kind of boo for you.

Haunted houses long have been a popular suburban Halloween stapleLong Island and Westchester are rife with them. And while NYC has gained several spooky haunted houses of its own, including Blood Manor, those are for grown-ups only. However, there are a handful of haunted houses in New York City that offer gentler Halloween chills for families.

You're sure to find spooky, family-friendly attractions at pretty much every Halloween festival and fall fair. But we're skipping those to tell you about the best of the city's more elaborate and kid-friendly haunted houses and other spooky attractions for kids this year. Read on for the scoop—and heed the age warnings. While grade-school kids can attend most of these, not all are suitable for preschoolers.

Free NYC Halloween Parades for Kids

Everyone loves a parade, which means we're all absolutely smitten with Halloween parades. While families with older kids may dare to take in the iconic Village Halloween Parade on Sixth Avenue in Manhattan, it can be pretty scary—it's always insanely crowded, loud, and many of the costumes are risque, gory, or in poor taste. If your children aren't up for that big Hallow-baloo, there are plenty of smaller, kid-friendly NYC neighborhood parades, in Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, and the Bronx, including the Ragamuffin Parade in Bay Ridge, the mega Jackson Heights parade, the famed Park Slope march, and a G-rated Village parade for little ones.

We've rounded up community-driven Halloween processions for families to watch or march in, most of which are FREE. If you don't live in a great trick-or-treating area, these parades are a wonderful way to hunt for candy in another neighborhood. Find even more seasonal happenings in our Halloween Fun Guide.

Brooklyn Leaf-Peeping with Kids: Top Streets for Fall Foliage

When fall arrives in the tristate area, serious leaf-peepers tend to head upstate. But when you have little kids, the idea of packing them into the car, with all the snacks, for a long drive through traffic, to try to point out clusters of colors in the distance, is often less than appealing. What if we told you that you don't even have to leave Brooklyn to see some genuinely beautiful fall foliage? The reds, oranges, yellows, and purples of maple trees, oak trees, and more are right here. You just have to know where to look.

A safe bet to find those stunning fall colors will always be your local park or garden, such as the Brooklyn Botanic Garden (the Japanese garden is typically gorgeous at this time of year). But for a FREE neighborhood walk, consider these blocks in Brooklyn for family walk. We've even pointed out top spots to stop for a break along the way.

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