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Kids Play for Free at These New York City Stores

Looking for a new winter play destination? With a shiny new FAO Schwarz filled with delights and an American Girl mega-store, there's no shortage of stores in New York City where kids can play for free. You'll find options as varied as building Lego friends, exercising on the Wii Fit, or getting their train fix for the day, and the kids will be so exhausted by day's end, they might not even whine about leaving the Nintendo system behind (fingers crossed).

For more indoor play options, check out our guide to Indoor Play Spaces and Fun Zones in NYC.
 

Best Gaming Spots for Kids in NYC

The growing popularity of gaming stores and cafes around NYC should come as no surprise, particularly to kids. With their active minds, kids crave more than video games and social media, especially in wintertime, when parks and playgrounds often take a back seat to indoor activities. For curious, engaged kids, gaming spots are a place to play, imagine, make new friends, and develop new skills.

Most game spots, whether they be stores or cafes, tend to lean toward 8 and 9 year olds (and up), and don’t really include the space even the most game-loving younger kids might need for intermittent dancing around. But they’re all friendly. Read on for a few of our favorite game cafes and stores for kids in NYC.

Best Toy Stores in NYC: 14 Family Favorites and Destination Toy Shops

Whether your toy shopping trip is a winter day activity, a pre-birthday party stop, a bit of Santa research, or a special family outing, NYC's toy store options do not disappoint. From painstakingly curated indie experiences to unforgettable big-brand toy extravaganzas, we’ve rounded up over a dozen of our favorite go-to toy stores across New York City, where you’re sure to find the perfect item for your little one or the winning gift for a birthday party

19 Indoor Party Spots with Mega Playgrounds for NYC Kids' Birthdays

For parents of winter babies, we feel your pain when it comes to birthday party options. While summer baby parents have both indoor and outdoor options (the park! the pool!), those of us with children born in colder months (or even fall and early spring), need to find a space where kids can run off all that pizza-and-cake energy. Enter: mega play spaces.

From bounce houses and trampolines to arcade-packed game spaces, these wide-open spaces give all pint-sized guests a chance to run free. Check out our top picks below—and start booking now.

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 can still 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.

Free NYC Halloween Parades for Kids

Everyone loves a parade, but there's nothing quite like a neighborhood Halloween parade. While families with older kids may venture out to the iconic Village Halloween Parade on Sixth Avenue in Manhattan, it can be pretty scary—it's always insanely crowded and 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.

Best Brooklyn Storytimes for Kids and Babies

Neighborhood story hours for preschoolers and babies abound in Brooklyn, providing a fun, no-fuss outing, especially on cold or rainy days. Most storytimes are free (or cheap), and many venues offer additional kid activities before or after the reading, including plenty of book-browsing, so the fun can continue even when storytime ends.

Read on for our top picks for read-along sessions in Brooklyn at libraries, bookstores, and other tot spots, and find more story hours at these Manhattan spots.

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 more interactive fun, make sure you hit up the Maker Faire at the New York Hall of Science. 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.

Popular Brooklyn Preschool of Science Opens New Location

Where can you find an enormous fish-filled 300-gallon tank and greenery growing sideways from hydroponic plant systems? How about an animatronic stuffed dinosaur, a pixel peg LED light board, and terrariums full of Madagascar hissing cockroaches and crested geckos? Well, would you believe me if I said your child's preschool...?

After nearly two decades as a New York City public school teacher, Carmelo Piazza—known by fans of all ages as "Carmelo the Science Fellow"—opened the first Brooklyn Preschool of Science back in 2013. The Brooklyn native and father of four confesses that he didn't even like science growing up, as he recalls boring slideshows and lectures, but insists that a hands-on science methodology course in college changed all that. Shortly after graduating, he accepted a teaching position at PS 261 and quickly realized the effectiveness of science in motivating kids to embrace other key subjects too.

Cool Mommy and Me Exercise Classes in NYC

After my daughter was born, our weekly mommy and me yoga class was a bright spot in the middle of some of the longest days. Not only did the class help me regain my strength, it was also a place where I could form lasting bonds with other new parents in the city. Having a self-care routine proved essential for me after becoming a new mama—and my daughter seemed to enjoy the atmosphere, too.

The beauty of a good postnatal class is that instructors have designed workouts just for postpartum bodies, plus they understand if you or your little one are having a challenging day. Parent-baby fitness classes should be a judgment-free, safe zone for you and your baby.

Here are places and programs that regularly offer parent and baby exercise classes in New York City. As with any new exercise program, check with your doctor for the go-ahead. For more classes, check out our NYC classes guide

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