DUMBO

The Best Boat Rides for Families in NYC

There's something magical about being out on the water in New York City. Whether you are sailing down one of the rivers, taking a FREE kayak out for a spin, or cruising on the ocean looking for whales, it's a lovely and relaxing activity, and a great way to stay cool on a summer day. It's also an opportunity to see the city from a whole new perspective.

Countless operators offer all kinds of boat tours around NYC, and of course, there's now the new citywide ferry service, too! So the question for parents is, which ones are truly family-friendly? After all, once you're on the water you're committed to the ride regardless of tantrums, seasickness, or boredom.

To help you figure out which NYC boat rides will work best for your family, we've broken them down by type (great for tots, wildlife watching, DIY rides, etc.) and highlighted some of our kids' personal favorites. You can find more seasonal activities in our Summer Fun Guide

Macy's July 4th Fireworks 2017: Where to See Them in NYC

Macy's is gearing up for its annual July 4th fireworks in New York City. On Tuesday, July 4, 2017, fireworks will light up the sky over the East River, and the show promises to be bigger than ever as it celebrates its 41st anniversary. Spectators should be able to catch the show from many neighborhoods in Midtown Manhattan as well as parts of Brooklyn and Queens, but there are some important changes afoot this year.

The fireworks will take to the sky along the East River near Midtown. More than 60,000 are scheduled to burst forth at a rate of 2,200 per minute and all will be synchronized to a soundtrack of patriotic standards. New-in-2017 effects will include never-before-featured shells like color-changing chrysanthemums and happy faces in an eye-popping array of colors.

If you're hoping to watch Macy's 4th of July Fireworks live, it's never too early to start planning your viewing strategy. Tickets for paid viewing options like Fourth of July Fireworks cruises are already on sale and going fast. Of course, you don't need to spend a penny to see the sparklers, but there are some important things to know before you go. We've got the scoop on how to find the best places to watch, when to go, and what to bring.

And don't forget, there are frequent fireworks shows in NYC during the summer, from Coney Island to Central Park. Read our roundup of where else to see cool displays this summer.

Free Concerts for NYC Kids This June: Tim Kubart, Suzi Shelton

Free outdoor music is one of the hallmarks of a great NYC summer...in our opinion anyway. Pack a picnic, stake out a spot, lay down a blanket, and soak up some no-cost culture in the form of New York City's top kindie bands as they play FREE concerts at some of the city's most beloved parks and playgrounds.

Of course there are so many performances that it can be hard to figure out which ones are worth the time, energy, and schlep. That's why we've done the work for you. Read on for a dozen-plus cool concerts happening this June for NYC kids, and look out for our recommendations for the rest of the summer, coming soon!

16 Great Parks and Playgrounds for NYC Kids' Birthdays

Savvy DIYers know that during the warmer months, New York City's parks make a stunning backdrop for a birthday bash. Granted, this type of party requires more work than booking one of those all-inclusive packages, but you get to control most of the details, including the cost (though sadly not the weather).

Find more party spots in our NYC Birthday Guide, including inexpensive room rentals for when bad weather threatens the fun.

NYC Carousels: 13 City Merry-Go-Rounds To Spin You Around

There's something wonderfully nostalgic about kids getting a thrill from a ride on a carousel. There are more than a dozen merry-go-rounds in our city and each offers a unique spin on this traditional kiddie ride. With spring in full swing, it's a great time to take your first carousel ride of the season. With merry-go-rounds in all five boroughs, there's probably one near you.

Dumbo Boulders: Climbing Brooklyn's Giant New Wall with Kids

When we heard a 12-foot high outdoor climbing wall had landed on the waterfront in Brooklyn Bridge Park, my tree-climbing, monkey-bar-swinging son had to give it a try. As longtime Brooklynites, we’ve been taking advantage of the ever-expanding Brooklyn Bridge Park and great Dumbo eats for years. The addition of Dumbo Boulders offers yet another great reason to visit the neighborhood.

Best NYC Spring Festivals, Fairs, and Carnivals in April 2017

New York City's spring outdoor festival season kicks off this April with almost a dozen fun and mostly FREE fairs, fetes, parades, and carnivals. Some annual Mommy Poppins favorites take place, including the the Brooklyn Botanic Garden's Cherry Blossom Festival, the Queens County Farm Museum's Children's Carnival, Staten Island's St. George Day celebration, and the annual Street Games in East Harlem. 

These events aren't just fun, they also foster community spirit by bringing folks together for a common cause. Many include old-fashioned games, eco-activities, homemade treats, and live performances. Here are a dozen awesome NYC fairs, carnivals, and festivals for families this April. (One notable omission: The Tribeca Film Festival's annual fair has been discontinued in 2017.)

Best NYC Children's Bookstores to Spend an Afternoon In

Only a small number of dedicated children's bookshops exist in NYC—Books of Wonder and Bank Street Bookstore, we're looking at you!—but there are a number of other indie stores with impressive children's book sections. Many of these lit havens host children's activities, including read-alongs but also author events, and writing workshops.

My kids have a particular weakness for books, possibly because it's the one thing I never deny them—as evidenced by the overflowing bookshelves at home. We love exploring new-to-us, local shops and spending lazy afternoons getting lost in the stacks, so we've rounded up some of our favorite bookstores around the city, including two new ones coming soon.

Whether shopping for a birthday gift or looking for a local storytime, the neighborhood independent bookstore is a great bet for NYC families.

8 Rock Climbing Walls for Kids in New York City

Indoor rock climbing is a great way for kids to get some needed activity in the dead of winter or year-round. Why not let them bounce off someone else’s walls for a change, right? Plus, it takes concentration, discipline, and strength, all qualities we're happy to expose them to.

New York City boasts more than half a dozen indoor boulders, at least one in almost every borough, plus a brand-new outdoor, seasonal spot. The best part? Kids tend to love the activity and it isn't too pricey. Try it out in a drop-in program, or sign up for one of the many after-school classes or break camps offered at the eight rock climbing facilities profiled below.

Find more active fun in our Kids' Sports Centers Guide.

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.

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