Coney Island

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 Family Theater in NYC This Fall

Autumn marks the start of a new theater season, but you don't need to shell out big bucks on Broadway shows to give your kids a memorable live entertainment experience in NYC. In fact, this fall boasts more high-quality theater productions for young audiences than ever—so many in fact, we have a whopping 25 picks, and that's after whittling down the contenders.

Preschoolers will be excited for the return of old friends Pete the Cat and Angelina Ballerina, plus the debut of a new show based on a Laurie Berkner song. Older kids will be inspired by That Inventions Show, the interactive improv piece Show Up, Kids!, and the immersive Gumshoe, which takes place throughout the 125-year-old Henry Street Settlement. There's also funky fare for tweens at Lincoln Center and the New Victory Theater, plus everyone in your family can enjoy the Big Apple Circus. Best of all, many of our picks are $25 or less per ticket.

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

If you think you need to head out to the 'burbs 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.

The Best Zoos and Aquariums in NYC

Ever think you would spot a seal in Manhattan, or a giraffe in The Bronx? Did you ever hope you'd be surrounded by sharks at Coney IslandNew York city zoos offer families the chance to get up close and personal with animals from all over the world.  Each borough boasts its own unique zoo experience. Whether your children are big or small, there is a zoo somewhere in NYC suited to their age, interests and attention span. Best of all, access to these creatures doesn't have to break the bank. Free admission can be as easy as picking the right afternoon to visit. Check out our insider tips for making the most of New York City's zoos.

11 NYC Neighborhoods to Visit With Your Family This Summer

Whether you're a New York native, a day-tripper, or a tourist from way outta town, summer is the perfect time to explore this action-packed city. And since there's certainly no shortage of warm-weather adventures for kids of all ages, we partnered with the Big Apple pros over at NYCgo to share some of the top can't-be-missed 'hoods worthy of a visit while the sun's out this season.

From sharks to new parks, make it a summer of adventure with these hot, family-friendly neighborhoods across all five boroughs!

Gymnastics Classes for NYC Kids: 18 Spots for Little Olympians

Whether your kids were inspired by the stunning flips, turns, and acrobatics of the Final Five or you just need a safe place for them to get the wiggles out without disturbing your downstairs neighbor, gymnastics provides a great introduction to sports. Often called the "mother of all sports" for its conditioning qualities and focus on strength, balance, and flexibility, gymnastics gives kids an early fitness foundation.

My daughter doesn't care about any of that, of course. She just wants to tumble, jump, and dance, which is how the sport came into our lives. From the traditional artistic disciplines made famous by NBC's prime-time Olympic coverage to the lesser-known rhythmic gymnastics, in which gymnasts use props like ribbons, balls, and hoops while performing acrobatic moves to music, we've got the lowdown on where to find gymnastics classes in NYC. Bear in mind, many of these classes run on a school-year calendar, meaning fall is the peak time to register.

You may also want to check out our NYC Classes Guide or peruse our Directory Listings for more classes.

Sharks Take Over Coney Island in the New Exhibit at NY Aquarium

On June 30, the New York Aquarium in Coney Island welcomed some sharp-toothed new residents to NYC, with the much-anticipated opening of the Ocean Wonders: Sharks! exhibit. The exhibit, which includes a learning lab, nine interactive galleries, and beautiful, immersive habitats that are home to over 115 species of marine animals, is a powerful reminder that New York is a coastal city, with thriving marine ecosystems right in our own (watery) backyard that deserve our respect and protection.

After the aquarium was pummeled by Hurricane Sandy, much of the complex had to close down for repairs. But with the opening of the shark exhibit, housed in a brand-new, three-story building with 57,000 square feet of visiting space, the New York Aquarium is better and more inspiring than ever. Gather up the kids and get ready for a day of close encounters with an incredible variety of ocean life. 

Best Summer Festivals and Fairs for NYC Families in July

So far this summer, we've posted FREE outdoor movie screenings, FREE kayaking, and FREE things to do every day with kids in New York City. Now we're rounding up our favorite and (mostly) FREE family festivals and city street fairs going on in the month of July.

Two of our favorite annual fests take place this month: the big Bastille Day street fair on the Upper East Side, and City of Water Day at South Street Seaport and other locations around town. But that's just the beginning. We've rounded up lots of other options, including Come Out & Play Family Day, this year in Brooklyn, and Lincoln Center's Out of Doors Family Day.

So go grab your calendar (and check ours frequently)! Here are the best sizzling summer fests for New York City families.

Best Beaches Near NYC for a Summer Family Staycation

Summertime means beach time, but while there are lots of beaches near and even in NYC, some are more family-friendly than others. After packing up your gear and schlepping the kids by car, train, bus, or ferry, the last thing you want to find out is that your chosen beach has no bathroom or that bathing suits are optional. Skip the guesswork with our roundup of eight easy-to-reach beaches for NYC families, including detailed info on attractions, food, bathrooms, and hidden costs. Most are within two hours of Manhattan by car and are easily accessible via public transportation as well, so you can plot a great staycation for your family.

Find more beach fun in our Beaches, Pools, and Water Playgrounds Guide, or check out these summer day trip ideas.

Best Amusement Parks Near NYC Reachable by Public Transportation

If you're feeling nostalgic for a summer adventure filled with cotton candy and Ferris wheel rides, it might be time for some family-friendly fun at a nearby theme park. There's no shortage of amusement parks and water parks for New York City-based thrill-seekers, but if you don't have a car, some parks can seem out of reach. Fear not, we’ve rounded up the best amusement parks that are easily accessible from NYC via public transportation. Remember the sunscreen—and forget the parking (and rental) headaches.

Find more summer fun in our Theme and Water Parks Guide.

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