Crown Heights

NYC Restaurants Where Kids Can Make Their Own Food

When you have four kids like I do, eating out can be more of a chore than just staying in and cooking. A "kid-friendly" restaurant isn't going to cut it; we need a place where our brood will be truly engaged. That's why I'm always on the lookout for interactive restaurant experiences so eating out feels like a fun activity, not just another meal.

In the past, we've covered New York City restaurants where kids can play and eateries with family entertainment. But there are also a handful of local restaurants that offer make-your-own-food activities. My family has tried a few of them, and they're worth seeking out. Where else can you encourage your kids to play with their food and mean it?

Bronx Zoo's Boo at the Zoo - Halloween Fun for Kids and Families 2012

One of my family’s favorite Halloween traditions is to take our little animal-costumed boy (in the past he's been a penguin, cow, bat, bumblebee and flying squirrel) to the Bronx Zoo for its annual Boo at the Zoo celebration. The zoo really goes all out for the occasion and transforms into a festive and not-too-scary Halloween destination for families.

The special Boo at the Zoo activities take place every weekend through October 28, so you've got plenty of time to check them out. Attractions include extraordinary 3D pumpkin carving demos, live music and magic, a spooky hayride, a haunted mansion, cool Halloween-themed animal programs, costume parades and even trick-or-treating. Boo at the Zoo is a great deal, too: For every full-price general admission adult ticket purchased, one child in costume gets in free. Read on for details about Boo at the Zoo and check out our Halloween Fun Guide for even more seasonal fun.

Best NYC Kids' Concerts for Fall 2012: 11 Live Rockin' Music Shows

September is synonymous with back to school but it doesn't have to be all work and no play. This month also marks the beginning of the new fall culture season and we're kicking off our coverage with a roundup of awesome concerts for kids.

If you're a kindie music fan, it's likely some of your favorites are playing New York City over the next few months. Big names include Gustafer Yellowgold and Elizabeth Mitchell, as well as popular local acts like the Deedle Deedle Dees, Princess Katie & Racer Steve, and Suzi Shelton. My four-year-old daughter and I recently became fans of Shelton—we've been to three of her shows in the last three months.

The coolest thing about our kiddie concert roundup? Five of these shows are FREE. So get ready to move and groove at our top 11 family rock concerts in NYC this fall.

Best NYC Kids' Concerts for Spring 2012: 13 Live Family Music Shows

Last week we told you about 13 wonderful kids' shows playing in NYC this spring. Today we're sharing the best kids' bands rocking out on city stages this season.

My four-year-old daughter and I love seeing live concerts, and some of our favorite family bands are playing over the next few months, like the Deedle Deedle Dees and Alastair Moock. I'm especially excited to introduce my kid to a few groups she hasn't heard yet, like Bing Bang Boom and the Bari Koral Family Rock Band, at the annual Kindiefest concert. Here are 13 NYC kids' concerts to put in your calendar, including FREE shows from Hot Peas N' Butter, Elizabeth Mitchell and The Rockdoves.

Celebrate National Poetry Month with NYC Kids

April is National Poetry Month (bet you didn't know that). Even if the last time you picked up a collection of adult poems was Sylvia Plath in college, chances are you read your kids rhyming stanzas by the likes of Dr. Seuss, Margaret Wise Brown or Shel Silverstein on a more regular basis. Little ones really respond to poetry; the rhymes help them learn to read, and older kids get into rap and slam poetry.

There are lots of special kid-friendly events going on in honor of National Poetry Month, including free poetry writing workshops, poetry slams and the annual Poem in Your Pocket day. But we've also got ways your family can celebrate the art of poetry year-round in New York City.

Meaningful Ways to Celebrate Black History Month with NYC Kids

February is Black History Month and like all cultural celebrations, it feels as if every institution in New York City is planning something "special." But is making crafts in honor of Black History Month really going to teach your kids about the rich and complicated legacy of African-Americans? We don't think so.

Since the subject is too important to settle for the typical kids' stuff, we've come up with creative and meaningful ways to experience African-American culture and life in New York City. From gospel church services to kid-friendly jazz concerts, thought-provoking museum programs to performances of traditional folktales, here's how your family can commemorate Black History Month in NYC.

Holiday Fun at New York City Zoos: Winterfest, Presents for the Animals and Clydesdale Carriage Rides

Winterfest isn't happening in 2012.
It's the season of lights. For the past few weeks, we've been posting about all of the dazzling holiday spectacles that illuminate New York City at this time of year, like Christmas tree and menorah lightings, holiday light displays and department store windows. Even the animals are getting in the illumination action. The Central Park Zoo is decking its halls with thousands of lights, and also hosting holiday-themed activities as part of its annual Winterfest celebration.

The festivities kicked off last weekend and continue every Friday and Saturday through December 17. I took my son and a few of his animal-loving buddies last year and they were mesmerized by the strings of twinkling lights threaded throughout the zoo. They also had a great time meeting the animals, making crafts and enjoying other special holiday activities.

Although the Central Park Zoo is the only New York City zoo that decorates its landscaped grounds, the Bronx Zoo and Prospect Park Zoo also have special holiday happenings, like giving presents to their residents and other seasonal activities.

Read on to find out about all the things you can see and do at NYC zoos this holiday season.

Best NYC Kids' Concerts for Fall 2011: 14 Rockin' Live Music Shows

While it's true that the season of free outdoor kids' concerts is over, there's plenty of music to look forward to this autumn. That's why we're kicking off our fall culture preview with a roundup of awesome New York City family rock concerts, featuring some of our favorite local kids' bands.

In addition to picking the best bets from well known kids' concert series like 92YTribeca's Bring Your Own Kid, we did the research and found a bunch of cheap and even free live shows. Out of the 14 we're highlighting, three are $10 or under per person and five are absolutely free! 

With big names like Grammy winner Dan Zanes, Princess Katie & Racer Steve and Gustafer Yellowgold playing, we're looking to these shows as much as our kids are. So get ready to move and groove at the best kids' rock concerts in NYC.

Animal Tales Extravaganza and Things to Do at NYC Zoos in Spring 2011

Don't wait for summer to head to the city's zoos. Spring is the perfect time to visit. The animals are friskier in the cooler weather, and the crowds haven't yet hit.

Plus the zoos are bursting with special spring programming. Visit with new baby animals, like the goats at the Central Park Zoo and two new wallabies at the Prospect Park Zoo's recently reopened Australian Walkabout exhibit. The Bronx Zoo is throwing its fantastic Animal Tales Extravaganza festival, featuring costumed characters and other activities. The New York Aquarium just cut the kelp on its Conservation Hall exhibit, where you can marvel at amazing marine life. The Queens Zoo is hosting its first-ever sleepover and has a new Lynx on view.

And that's just a handful of the things that will make you go wild at the zoo this season.

Growing in the City: Gardening Classes, Events, Farms and Community Gardens for NYC Kids & Families

You can't blame New York City kids for thinking that vegetables magically appear at the grocery store enclosed in plastic bags (or arrive at the door in a cardboard box), or that flowers sprout from the concrete every Spring. But it's not hard to teach them the real facts of nature. There are so many places for families to learn about and even grow their own bounty in this concrete jungle, from classes at the big gardens to working on plots in a community green space to visiting a working farm...within the city limits!

Here's how to get your kids growing this Spring.

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