Dyker Heights

The Most Spectacular Holiday Light Displays in NYC

Every year it seems holiday light installations in New York City get more elaborate, making a visit to the top displays a must-do seasonal activity. These days there are even tour buses that will take you to some of the neighborhoods decked out for the season.

We've rounded up some of the best holiday displays in NYC. Some of these attractions are in the more far-flung stretches of the city such as Pelham Gardens in the Bronx, Dyker Heights in Brooklyn and Jamaica Estates in Queens, and there's even one spot on Staten Island. All are definitely worth the trip. We can vouch for it!

So start your own holiday tradition this year by checking out these spectacular sights when dusk hits. Find more seasonal fun, including more holiday lights, such as Midtown's holiday store windows, in our NYC Holiday Fun Guide.

Dyker Heights Christmas Lights: Tour Brooklyn's Holiday Hot Spot

For years I had been hearing about the awesome Christmas displays in Dyker Heights, Brooklyn. I'd seen plenty of videos and photos online. But once I saw those jaw-dropping sights in person, I knew visiting "Dyker Lights" would become a family holiday tradition.

Living in upper Manhattan, reaching Dyker Heights, Brooklyn is a serious schlep. It's really not doable via public transportation, especially at night with kids in tow. One year I hitched a ride with a neighbor, but the following I decided to play tourist and go on A Slice of Brooklyn's Christmas Lights guided bus tour. If you're considering taking the kids to Dyker Heights this holiday season but are wondering about the best way to go, here's how the two experiences compare, plus details on a third, more budget-friendly option.

Bounce Houses and Trampoline Spots Where NYC Kids Can Jump

As any veteran NYC parent knows, there's only so much in-apartment bouncing your downstairs neighbor can handle. If you've got active kids and hop-happy toddlers to entertain during spring's showers, summer's heat, or winter's freeze, what's a parent to do? Nothing cures the bad-weather blues like a trip to a big old bounce house.

These inflatable favorites are a staple of outdoor festivals and street fairs, but it's such a bummer waiting on a long line to shell out several dollars for a two-minute session. Luckily NYC is home to several high-flying play spaces. You'll find all kinds of fun, including trampolines, long bouncy slides, tunnels, and obstacle courses at these spots. Best of all each location hosts regular open-bounce sessions, so your kids jump all they want for one low price.

Summer Math Programs and Academic Classes for NYC Kids

For some kids, math and science skills don't get much of a workout during the summer, unless it's counting underwater breaths in the swimming pool or adding up sports scores. For other kids, the end of school is met with sighs rather than cheers, and they would happily spend their days doing algebra or designing a robot. We've rounded up summer camps and programs that will hopefully not only send your kid back to school in September with sharper skills but also give them a new appreciation for math in the world around us.

Find more options in our Summer Camp Guide and Directory or NYC Classes Guide.

22 Brooklyn Drop-In Play Spaces and Kiddie Gyms

Brooklyn can't be beat for indoor play spaces. While Manhattan and Queens have about a dozen drop-in indoor playgrounds apiece, Brooklyn boasts nearly twice that number, from the Brooklyn Children's Museum's outpost, Spark, to Busy Bodies in Clinton Hill, Curiosity on Court, and the brand new Fairytale Island in Bay Ridge.

While we've included a couple of the more mellow tot spots with crafts or storytelling, this best-of-Brooklyn list is focused on active play spaces, where toddlers, preschoolers, and even bigger kids can conquer multilevel mazes, swoosh down slides, climb up rock walls, or just turn around in circles until they fall down exhausted, ready for a nap.

Read on for nearly two dozen drop-in indoor romper rooms for kids in Brooklyn. Find more play spots in our Indoor Family Fun Guide to Play Spaces.

Must-See Christmas Lights in NYC's Five Boroughs

Manhattan may have the glamorous department store holiday windows, but when it comes to private homes decked out for the season, the outer boroughs have it beat. We're not talking about a few strings of twinkling lights and a blowup Santa. Why, these holiday houses are so well-lit, it's amazing they don't cause power blackouts.

We've written about some of these Christmas houses in the past, but here we have photos, precise addresses, a map, and in some cases the stories behind these destination displays that make the schlepping worthwhile—we know, we've schlepped. Considering most are in the far-flung reaches of Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx, and Staten Island, you really need to drive. If you want to avoid the crowds and traffic jams, go early in the evening on a weekday. These places tend to get busy on weekends.

You can find even more seasonal fun in our Holiday Guide as well as posts on amazing holiday displays on Long Island, in New Jersey, Hudson Valley, and Connecticut.

Dyker Heights Family-Friendly Restaurants: Where to Eat Near Dyker Lights with Kids

We continue our month-long focus on Dyker Heights with a roundup of family-friendly restaurants in the area. Since the neighborhood has a suburban feel, it's no surprise that all of the businesses, including eateries, are pretty spread out. If you're up for strolling (or driving), you'll find a lot of places to eat near the intersection of 65th Street and the Gowanus Expressway, which is right on the border of two more commercial neighborhoods: Bay Ridge and Sunset Park. However, if you're going to gawk at the area's world-famous Dyker Lights displays, which are located from 11th to 13th Avenues between 83rd and 86th Streets, they're quite a walk away.

So our Dyker Heights restaurant post is divided into two categories: Places to eat near Dyker Lights, and places further afield but still in the lovely, mansion-filled Brooklyn neighborhood.

Dyker Heights with Kids: 20 Things to Do for NYC Families

There's a reason Dyker Heights, Brooklyn feels like a swanky suburb. When it was originally developed in the late 19th century, it was marketed as exactly that, a community of stately mansions within commuting distance of the hustle and bustle of the city. Sandwiched in between the more commercial areas of Bay Ridge and Bensonhurst, the neighborhood is primarily residential and is well known for its extravagant Christmas displays, which attract a slew of locals and tourists every holiday season. But whether you visit in December or at another time of year, Dyker Heights is a lovely area to stroll through with its large single-family homes and manicured lawns. It's hard to believe you're in NYC.

While you won't find a ton of family attractions in the area, there are a few cool spots for kids, including Dyker Beach Park, CityParks Junior Golf Center, a BounceU and a bunch of delicious restaurants, bakeries and markets. Since Dyker Heights is overwhelmingly Italian, it's a great place to pick up pizza, pasta and fancy pastries. One downside: It's quite a walk from the nearest subway stops (the N or the D, depending on where you're going).

Throughout November, we'll be covering all the things there are to do, see and eat in the nabe. For the purposes of our posts, our boundaries are Interstate 278 to 14th Avenue, 65th Street to Shore Parkway. Here are our top 20 things to do on a visit to Dyker Heights.

Foreign Language Playgroups for NYC Kids

[UPDATED: August 17, 2012]

Whether you want to preserve your heritage, develop your child's brain, or prepare them for the eventual Chinese world dominance, there are many foreign language playgroups in New York City, ready to help you out. Studies show that even brief, regular exposure to a foreign language at a young age can help your child's ability to pick up languages later in life as well as developing their ability to think abstractly and to focus.

Here are some foreign language playgroups to try out:

Last minute Holiday Links Too Good to Skip

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Saks Fifth Holiday Window Display via Fred Flare

Again, a special Saturday post just because there has been so much great stuff to write about that I haven't been able to get to it all. So today I'm throwing together a couple of links I just can't let slip through the cracks.

Also, later this weekend we will be rolling out our new website design on our fancy new server. Hopefully this will solve both our yucky server issues and bring some great new features to the site. More on that later. Stay tuned.

Because of the server problems it looks like a couple of posts might have slipped through the cracks this week, including the announcement of our Scholastic Store Giveaway (Heather S). And also the Tracking Santa with Norad post did go out to feed readers, so check the site to see all of this weeks posts.

Last minute Christmas links:

You read about all the circuses in town, maybe you even went to go see one or two of them. Now it's your kid's turn. Paper Doll Militia at Bowery kids is having Circus Workshops this Sunday, December 23rd. Kids can learn to stilt walk, clown around and more. These workshops are for kids of all ages with the 2-4s sticking to the floor stuff and watch, while older kids get to try some aerial tricks.

Design Mom has been doing a series of posts about the sibling gift craft projects she is working on with her kids. I love this series so much. She's got 5 kids of all ages so there's something appropriate for everyone and the gifts are so great and the sentiment is just wonderful. DesignMom, can we have a kid crafting playdate?

McBrooklyn does a nice round-up of posts about seeing the lights and sights of Dyker Heights. (I seriously did not plan the rhyme in that sentence. It just kind of happened.) If you don't know, Dyker Heights is one of the neighborhoods in Brooklyn that goes over the top in their Christmas decorating. Houses, yes they have houses there, are covered in elaborate light displays with neighbors competing to out-do each other. Hop in your car or Zipcar and drive through the nabe for a great Christmas Eve family activity.

Fred Flare has a wonderful photo slideshow of this year's department store window displays as well as ones from previous years. If you never made it out to see the Christmas Department Store Windows with the kids, this is a good alternative. [via Goodyblog

 

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