Crown Heights

The New IDNYC Card Perks for Families You Don't Want to Miss

It's no secret that living in New York City and raising kids here isn't cheap. So one of my favorite finds has been the IDNYC program, which, among other things, offers FREE and reduced-price memberships more than 40 cultural institutions across the city.

Since the municipal ID program launched in 2015, more than 1 million people have turned up at IDNYC centers to get their free ID cards and the benefits that being a card-carrying citizen of this great city brings. In 2018, the city introduced several new institutions to the program, including two that might interest NYC families: Aviator Sports and Events Center in Brooklyn and Chelsea Piers are now IDNYC partners. At Aviator, you can nab an individual membership for 20 percent off and score 15 percent off party bookings. Chelsea Piers invites you to enjoy 2-for-1 admission at its indoor ice skating rink as well as discounts at its driving range.

The IDNYC card offers more than cultural benefits: Families can take advantage of discounts on prescription drugs, car-share memberships, movies, sporting events, and more. It even acts as a public library card and can help you open an account at a bank or credit union.

I've put my card to use to take advantage of these benefits and more, so read on for a dozen reasons to sign up for your FREE card, including discounted admission to some of the city's best children's museums and zoos.

Park Slope Summer Day Camps for Brooklyn Kids

As one of the most kid-friendly neighborhoods in New York City, Park Slope has no shortage of summer day camps. Whether your kids are into art or theater, nature or sports, crafts or music—or a little bit of everything—there's sure to be a program to keep them busy and happy all summer long.

But don't wait till spring is here to start looking. Winter is the time to start planning your kids' summer, as programs often fill up quickly. For more summer camp options outside of Park Slope, be sure to consult our Summer Camp Guide for NYC Kids and complete listings. If you're looking for affordable (and even FREE) ways to keep your kids busy, peruse our roundups of Free and Cheap Summer Camps.

Hanukkah Celebrations and Menorah Lightings for NYC Families

New York City knows how to celebrate the holidays, and Hanukkah is no different. The Festival of Lights arrives early in 2017, with the first night on Tuesday, December 12. But have no fear: we've rounded up nearly two dozen ways to celebrate this wonderful Jewish holiday, and most of them are free.

Some cool new and newish events this year! There's the first-ever Menorah on the High Line, and the Chabad of DUMBO has transformed its yearly Hanukkah celebration into Fire and Ice at Jane's Carousel. We also have the annual mainstays, from the World's Largest Hanukkah Menorah Lighting, to Chanukah on Ice and Hanukkah Family Day at the Jewish Museum

19 NYC Food Courts and Markets That Make Family Mealtime Easy

You want to grab a bite out with the kids and Chuck E. Cheeses isn't going to cut it, but asking your wriggly, tired kids to sit quietly in a nice restaurant is like lighting a firecracker and then hoping it won't detonate. 

Food courts are the perfect solution. In spite of their historic mall­-culture reputation, the model of a casual hall with multiple food options is enjoying a bit of a renaissance, and not just in suburbia. Right here in NYC, food halls are gaining major foodie clout with excellent vendors, artisan marketplaces, and appealing perks (and sweet treats) for families with kids. It's the perfect eatery for families: there's a food option for everyone, minimal wait times, multiple bathrooms, and no one notices if your kid tantrums or drops half their meal on the floor.

We've rounded up, and sampled 19 outstanding food halls that offer top-notch eats, spacious seating, and lots to do in the surrounding neighborhood, including Battery Park, Chelsea, the Theater District, Fort Greene, Brooklyn, and more.

Check out our NYC Restaurant Guide for even more family dining options in just about every neighborhood—and every finicky palate. 

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.

Kiddie Science Opens in Lefferts Gardens with Classes for Kids

The Brooklyn-based Kiddie Science has had a roaming presence in NYC since 2013, inspiring children wherever it set up shop. But the nonprofit tot science program finally has a permanent home.

It recently opened a STEM classes and camp spot in Prospect Lefferts Gardens in a bright and renovated space that is welcoming to all ages. The location is a work in progress with plans for outdoor gardening in the small backyard and more active experiences such as yoga in the basement.

Wilderness Camp Exhibit Offers Woodsy Play in Brooklyn

Dreaming of summer camping with the family? While a winter campout strikes us as bit chilly, kids with the nature bug can check out an indoor camping-inspired art experience that just opened this winter at the Brooklyn Children’s Museum.

Wilderness Camp, the latest installation by Staten Island artist Tattfoo Tan, celebrates the natural world and sets kids on a discovery voyage, complete with camping gear like a flashlight and tents. Mini skills workshops like knot tying are also taking place with the exhibit.

Read on for our full review, and find more winter art in our NYC Museum Guide, including the just opened Hello from Japan!

Brooklyn's Best Hot Chocolate Spots

Delicious, steaming hot cocoa topped with pillowy marshmallows is a kids staple during the winter months, warming little hands from the very first sip. You can make it at home, of course, but foodie Brooklyn offers a multitude of independent chocolatiers, coffee shops, and cafes serving up rich, creamy and inventive hot chocolates.

We recently covered the best spots to get hot chocolate in Manhattan, as well as Queens, but Brooklyn, home to the city's artisanal food scene, has plenty to offer, too. Read on for 10 of our favorite spots to pick up a cup of hot chocolate with the kids in this family-oriented borough.

Valentine's Day Activities for NYC Kids to Share the Love

​Who said Valentine's Day cards had to feature hearts? This year, locations around NYC are offering some creative Valentine's Day workshops and events. Children can make skyscraper Valentines, develop a love for nature, take part in a self-love project, and even make pink gingerbread houses

Read on for the scoop on the best Valentine's Day outings with kids in NYC. If something piques your interest, click through to the event listing for full details. For more fun happenings this month, check out our February GoList, and remember, our Event Calendar is full of activities and events happening every day in New York City. Search "Valentine" or "love" to find more sweet holiday fun.

10 New Kids' Birthday Party Spots Around NYC

I'm always looking for birthday party ideas that don't involve a potential slideshow of my Pinterest fails, especially for my 9-year-old who is blossoming into a mini Martha Stewart. Luckily, NYC seems to open new party spots monthly for the kids.

We've rounded up a sampling of some of the top new locations around the city that are offering kid party packages or room rentals, including a rock climbing spot and cool preschool-age play spaces.

Need further inspiration to kick that birthday fatigue to the curb? Check out our NYC Birthday Party Guide, or peruse these special occasion options, from dine-in movie theaters and fancy high tea to museum sleepovers.

So read on for a list of great birthday party venues that might just save your couch, the dog, the cat, your relationship with your downstairs neighbor, and your sanity!

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