Brooklyn

Best Amusement Parks for Preschoolers in and Near NYC

For young children, a ride on a carousel’s painted pony, a spin with dad around the bumper car track, and a dripping swirl of frozen custard are the stuff summer memories are made of. No need to seek out the latest scary high-tech roller coasters (which means you can cross Luna Park's most scary rides off your list).

Rides that look mild (or frankly, downright boring) to big people usually provide just the right amount of thrills for toddlers and preschoolers. Happily, there are a number of amusement and water parks in or near the New York City metro area that offer these kinds of tame attractions. Here's our roundup of theme parks perfect for the pint-sized.

Find more seasonal rides in our Theme and Water Parks Guide for families.

10 Underrated NYC Parks You (Probably) Haven't Visited Yet

Central Park, Prospect Park, Brooklyn Bridge Park—even if you only just arrived in NYC, we probably don't need to tell you that these are all must-see green spaces. But did you know that according to the NYC Department of Parks and Recreation, 14 percent of the city is parkland? That's more than 30,000 acres!

So if you're looking for a new-to-you outdoor destination to explore, we've got 10 off-the-beaten-path parks worth putting on your NYC family bucket list. Some are massive and boast a wide array of attractions for all seasons; others are small but picturesque and host popular annual events for families. With months of outdoor play weather ahead of us, check out this list and visit some of the city's best hidden gems.

7 Best Children's Gardens in NYC Where Kids Can Dig, Grow, Explore, and Play

While we’re beyond grateful to live in a city with endless amounts of theater and museums to expose little ones to, sometimes it’s essential to get outside and let them be one with nature. Thanks to beloved children's gardens throughout New York, our city kids have a chance to explore different plants, participate in workshops, and get their hands in the dirt.

Now that the city is in full bloom, it’s the perfect time to head to one of the many children’s gardens in NYC. So bring your nature-obsessed kiddos to one of these top children’s gardens in NYC.

July 4th Fireworks Cruises in NYC: How to See Macy's Show on a Boat

The promise of NYC summer fun is right around the corner. One of our favorite annual events, the Macy's Fourth of July fireworks display, is ready to light up the city skyline. The display illuminates the East River annually, and nothing quite compares with watching the celebration up close from the water on a family boat ride. Plus, you don't have to battle the insane crowds with the kids.

Of course, these special cruises don't come cheap, and many are only open to ages 21 and older. We set out to find the lowest-cost July 4th fireworks cruises in NYC that also welcome children. If you're interested, book quickly. Some already have sold out and the remaining tickets will be gone before you know it.

C'mon Summer: 50 Things We Can't Wait to Do This Summer in NYC

Every year, the long "home stretch" between spring break and summer vacation seems like a torturous marathon of end-of-year concerts, award ceremonies, and late nights running around followed by early morning lunch-packing woes and kids who, thanks to the longer hours of daylight, stayed up past bedtime...again.

But take heart, the finish line is in sight, bringing with it adventurous summer camp days and afternoons to while away at your favorite playground or water park. We're officially summer dreaming, and you're the beneficiary. We're sharing our list of 50 things we can't wait to do this summer. They're a mix of annual favorites and new openings, plus more more seasonal happenings that prove the best vacation may just be a staycation.

12 Cool Themed Playgrounds in NYC to Inspire Kids' Imaginations

Imagination is the stuff of childhood magic—and NYC's cleverest themed parks and playgrounds are designed to inspire your kid's always-active mind. Whether your kid fancies playing prehistoric explorer, dreams of conquering Ancient Egypt, or wants to trek across Africa on safari, there's a playground for that. Here are 12 of our favorite themed playgrounds across all five boroughs.

Brooklyn Bridge Park: 35 Top Things to Do with Kids

There is no shortage of warm weather family activities in Brooklyn, but I find myself continuously making the trip to Brooklyn Bridge Park throughout the spring and summer months. Spanning 1.3 miles along the East River, Brooklyn Bridge Park is an 85-acre waterfront space promising recreation, sustainability, and environmental exploration. Where else can you fish, roller skatekayak, barbecue, hit some of the city's most innovative playzones, catch the ferry to Governors Island, see FREE outdoor movies and concerts, explore a sensory labyrinth or an environmental education center, and get a free dose of cool public art? Plus, the Lower Manhattan skyline views never fail to impress.

We've rounded up our favorite things to do to help you explore the park with your little ones, including some of the exciting new offerings in one of the city's most fascinating parks

Cool Party Places to Celebrate Your Tween's Birthday

By the time you've hit the tween years, you've been to enough birthday parties to feel like you've seen it all. Looking for a new celebratory experience worthy of increasingly grown-up interests for your 10 to 13 year-old? We've rounded up 13 too-cool party spots to celebrate your tween's next big birthday. With party packages this out of the ordinary, you'll be able to please even the pickiest tween with unique fetes like zombie laser tag, DIY chocolate or ice cream, and jewelry making with semi-precious stones.

Free Kayaking, Canoeing, and Rowboat Options in New York City

With all the water surrounding New York City, it's no wonder there are so many sightseeing cruises and fun ferry rides to great kid destinations. If you want to be your own captain, NYC offers many seasonal opportunities for NYC families to get out on the water by themselve—kayaking, rowing, canoeing, and sailing. Much of the fun kicks off Memorial Day weekend or early summer.

We've rounded up 11 great New York City organizations that offer boating sessions on our wonderful waterways—and they're all FREE. Ahoy!

Destination Playground: J.J. Byrne Playground in Park Slope Is Action-Packed for All Ages

It’s no surprise that one of the city’s most family-friendly neighborhoods is home to a top destination playground. J.J. Byrne Playground, a Park Slope hotspot, underwent a year-long, multi-million dollar renovation in 2012 to bring in challenging climbing structures for older kids and an action-packed play area for younger kids, plus engaging water features that include a stream and spray jets.

Read on for more features that solidify this spot as one of our favorite playgrounds.

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