Prospect Heights

NYC Playgrounds with Shade: Shady Park Benches and Equipment

While kids can always cool off in NYC's many sprinklers, we parents are stuck baking in the sun all day during the heat of the city's summer as we supervise outdoor play. It's a problem our readers know too well—each summer we get requests for recommendations of shady spots to play.

Although we know of a couple playgrounds that offer exceptional amounts of shade—Hippo Playground in Riverside Park and Discovery Playground in Fort Washington Park come to mind—we decided to ask our readers if they knew of any super-shady playgrounds in New York City. After clarifying that we were talking about shelter from the sun's rays, not sketchy parks, they came through with a number of great suggestions.

Please keep in mind that the name of the game here is comfort on a hot summer day; though we have visited plenty of destination playgrounds, with a few exceptions, these shady suggestions tend to be neighborhood standbys and small playgrounds that have plenty of shade, but perhaps not too many bells and whistles.

Best Water Playgrounds and Sprinkler Parks in Brooklyn

When the sticky NYC summer heat has truly settled in, caregivers have to think of ways to keep the kiddos cool that are also fun and will burn off energy. There’s no better solution than water playgrounds—get cool in the water, dry off to hit the other playground equipment, rinse and repeat. All afternoon.

And best of all, it’s a FREE summer activity you can do every day. We’ve rounded up the best water features and playgrounds around Brooklyn so that you and the little ones don’t get bored with the same old spray.

It's a long summer! Find more ways to keep cool with our NYC Beaches, Pools, and Water Parks Guide, which includes splash pads in other boroughs too!

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

Brooklyn Has a Unicorn Store Full of Rainbow Horns and Magic

Imagine a magical wonderland where your child can pretend to be a mythical creature, hunt for hidden messages on the walls, gaze into a magic talking mirror, and throw rainbow confetti into the air just because.

This place doesn’t just exist in your 4-year-old’s dreams. It opened this month on Flatbush Avenue in Brooklyn, on the border of Park Slope and Prospect Heights.

Sweet Mother’s Day Brunch Spots in Brooklyn for Kids and Mom

Celebrating mom with a special brunch is a time-honored tradition. This year we’ve rounded up 11 of our favorite Brooklyn restaurants, where the food is outstanding and the vibe is special yet still family friendly. Mark your calendars: Mother's Day is Sunday, May 14.

Each of our picks serves a standout brunch—and offers high chairs. Be sure to reserve or show up early as these spots fill up quickly. If you’ve got young kids in tow, consider packing a few snacks and small toys to keep them busy while you wait to be seated.

Need more ideas? Check out our suggestions for Mother's Day brunch in Manhattan or in Queens.

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.

Best Places to See Cherry Blossoms in NYC

There are few more delightful ways to celebrate the arrival of spring than by viewing the beautiful cherry blossoms flowering all over New York City. Everyone seems to know about the Sakura Matsuri Cherry Blossom Festival at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, but there are other places to enjoy these gorgeous blossoms without the crowds this April and even deeper into the spring season.

In Japan, cherry blossom-viewing is taken to almost religious heights. Blooming flowers are carefully watched, enjoyed, and celebrated. Traditional Sakura Hanami parties feature eating, drinking, and music.

Here are the best places to see cherry blossoms in New York City this spring.

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.)

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.

Free and Cheap Summer Camps for NYC Kids

Summer camp can be an especially stressful financial issue, because while we want our children to have a fun, rewarding, and safe experience, we don't want to dig into our retirement fund to pay for it. Even if your family's swimming in money (and if you are, congrats), we all appreciate a good bargain anyway.

Although there seem to be fewer FREE New York City summer camps than in years past, our list of inexpensive or cheaper camps for local kids keeps growing. Some wonderful New York City programs are subsidized by arts and education funding so that all children can experience the amazing resources of this city.

Read on for all the info on our picks for FREE and bargain summer camps for NYC kids. You can find even more summer options in our jam-packed Summer Camp Guide and search for programs by interest, age range, and location in our Camp Directory.

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