Williamsburg

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!

Best Summer Festivals and Fairs for NYC Families in July

So far this summer, we've posted about FREE outdoor movie screenings, FREE children's concerts, FREE kayaking, and FREE things to do every day with kids in New York City. Now we're rounding up our favorite and (mostly) FREE family festivals and city street fairs going on in this month.

Two of our favorite NYC annual fests take place this month, including the big Bastille Day street fair on the Upper East Side and City of Water Day on Governors Island. If neither of those tickles your fancy, we've rounded up several other options, including Come Out & Play Family Day and Boogie on the Boulevard. Still making your July 4th plans? We've got the details on that holiday, including where to see the fireworks.

So go get your calendar! Here are the best sizzling summer fests for New York City families.

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 Outdoor Movies for NYC Kids This Summer: Hundreds of Them!

New York City will screen hundreds of FREE outdoor movies this summer, many of them just for kids and families. The popular Movies Under the Stars series, which debuted with screenings in parks and at playgrounds in all five boroughs last year, returns along with many of our favorite annual series. 

A few outdoor movie series, such as RiverFlicks for Kids in the West Village, are aimed specifically at children. But even grown-up series, such as those in Bryant Park and Brooklyn Bridge Park, include a family-friendly screening or two. Movies usually begin between 8 and 8:30pm, but plan to arrive early: The well-known series fill up fast. Sometimes there is even pre-movie entertainment.

So grab your calendars and start plotting your FREE summer of entertainment now. Find more seasonal activities in our Summer Fun Guide.

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.

Cotton Candy Spa: Brooklyn's New Party Place for City Princesses

It's been said that necessity is the mother of invention, and that's certainly the case for one new, mom-owned business in Greenpoint, Brooklyn.

When Anna Bychowska went searching for an affordable birthday party spot for her then 6-year-old daughter last fall, she came up empty in her neighborhood and nearby Williamsburg. Party spots she found were either too expensive or booked months in advance. Discouraged with the offerings, she saw an opportunity and founded a party spot of her own. In late 2016, Cotton Candy Spa was born.

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.

13 Summer Camps for Preschoolers in Brooklyn and Queens

Summer camp is definitely more challenging for parents of preschoolers.

Just when the kids have got the routine down at their “regular” school or at home, they find themselves in a new environment, doing new things. As Martha would say, that’s a good thing—although it may be hard to keep that in mind while you deal with a meltdown at first-day drop-off. That's why it's important to know your little one is under the supervision of experienced counselors who know how to work with that delightful, but sometimes—ahem—difficult age group.

We've been there. To help out a fellow parent, we’ve created a list of some of the best summer camps for preschoolers around the city, and now we're zeroing in on options in the booming boroughs of Queens and Brooklyn. As you’ll see, some have specialties, like music or wildlife, while others are general camps geared for more traditional camp fun. The best news of all? This list means summer's coming! (Eventually.) And you'll be totally ahead of the game.

Remember, you can always search our NYC Camp Directory for more options. Just use the handy filters to sort by location, age, and interest. The list below is just a sampling of the many NYC summer camps available.

Dine-In NYC Movie Theaters for Family Brunch or a Night Out

After a recent boom in dine-in movie theaters, NYC parents can combine dinner or brunch and a movie in one fell swoop for a perfect family outing, special occasion or treat for a deserving kid, or a much-needed date night. These theaters and screening rooms offer restaurant-style eats, and a fun, new way see movies, no matter what your age, and range from seriously swanky to indie theater cool. 

The dining menus at these theaters, many of which are brand-new in the last year, are packed with easy-to-eat snacks, some even offer sandwiches, salads, and tacos. While none of the theaters here have kids' menus they all serve up things sure to delight little moviegoers. Plus, these theaters have full bars so adults can indulge in a glass of wine, a local beer or a cocktail, which just might be the thing to help parents sit through some of these kid flicks.

Read on to find out what you can expect from your visit. 

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