Brooklyn

20 Birthday Party Spots for Brooklyn Toddlers and Preschoolers

Your toddler is another year older, which means it's time to throw a birthday party! Entertaining the under-age-5 crowd, plus a small army of their closest friends (and parents), can be tricky. Lucky for us, the borough of Brooklyn is filled with party places to please even the most diverse pack of enthusiastic toddlers and preschoolers.

Animals, arts and crafts—even just tumbling around for a few hours—are all options at these creative venues across Brooklyn. Read on for our list of favorites, and find even more birthday party inspiration in our NYC Party Guide.

8 Museums With Special Needs Programs for NYC Kids

Parents of special needs kids take note: Many cultural institutions are raising the bar when it comes to accessibility. While a crowded museum can be overwhelming or inaccessible for special needs kids, some of our favorite kid-centric museums go the extra mile, modifying their educational offerings to accommodate kids of all abilities.

Take, for instance, the Children's Museum of the Arts, where weekends go way beyond the fantastic dot paintings and clay bar sculptures. Here, a trio of programs caters to special-needs visitors with inventive programming meant to meet kids where they are, and encourage artistic exploration for all.

Read on to learn more about the programs at CMA and seven other city museums. While the increased access is priceless, most of the programs are FREE for kids and their families, though some programs may require advance registration. Be sure to click through to the websites for more details.

8 Things to Love About the Brooklyn Children's Museum

As the world’s first children’s museum, the Brooklyn Children’s Museum has been a beloved NYC destination since 1899. This Crown Heights institution offers three floors of rotating and permanent interactive exhibits and hands-on cultural and science programs for little ones, ages 6 months to 10 years. BCM aims to inspire children to ask questions and discover answers through exploration and play.

My daughter and I have passed countless hours in the Totally Tots exhibit, designed for children under six. This pint-sized paradise features water, sand, and is usually filled with thrilled toddlers and bleary-eyed parents. Read on to see our top reasons why BCM is one of our top NYC must-see museums.

Play Retro Video Games at These Family Arcades

Does it bother you that your kids don't know all four of the ghosts in Pac-Man (say it with me: Blinky, Pinky, Inky, and Clyde), or all the characters in Mortal Combat, or what the game Asteroids even is? We're here for you. We've found a handful of old-fashioned family-friendly arcades around NYC, some straddling the line between retro and cutting-edge video games.

Of course, you can also find arcade games at Chuck E. Cheese's and Dave & Buster's. Check out our roundup of more birthday-oriented video game spots with laser tag and cheesy pizza for more of these game fun zones. You can also find small arcades at many of the city's bowling alleys.

But consider one of the retro spots below if you're in the market for some parental nostalgia and old-school family fun.

10 Best Brooklyn Craft Studios for Kids

In need of a little creative inspiration? Drop-in craft studios offer a great alternative indoor activity for wintertime when you've worn out the mat at your local indoor playspace and your home collection of broken crayons no longer thrills. 

Luckily my family lives in Brooklyn, which just may be the crafting mecca of the world (or at least New York City). There are a slew of craft studios where kids can paint pottery, work with wood, try fiber arts like knitting and sewing, or make something more offbeat (robot trash can anyone?)—and best of all, someone else cleans up after them. Although some spots require that you sign up for an entire semester of classes, many offer drop-in options for occasional crafters, summer camps, school break programs and even birthday party packages. Here are our top Brooklyn craft studios where kids can get creative.

NYC Restaurants Where Kids Eat Free

Most NYC kids have a diet that's heavy on eating out, and why not? New York City has some of the best kid-friendly restaurants anywhere. Of course, dining out doesn't come cheaply, especially in this town—unless you happen to be a child. For NYC kids, there really is such a thing as a free lunch, brunch, and sometimes even dinner ... if you know where to go. At these local eateries, you can feed those hungry mouths for the unbeatable price of $0, while you get a break from playing chef. We know what you'll be making tonight: reservations.

Indoor Swimming Pools in NYC That Offer Day Passes

There are plenty of FREE swimming pools in NYC for kids during the summer months, but if you're looking for year-round options, or less crowded waters, the options are a bit limited. We've rounded up the best bets, from private pools offering day passes, to off-the-beaten-path community spots. All are kid friendly and welcome families for swimming and other water fun.

Read on for where to get swimming in NYC now.

The World’s Largest Bounce House Lands in Brooklyn, Summer 2019

As soon as school is out, don’t miss your opportunity to grab your socks and take your summer to new heights. The Big Bounce America, officially the world’s largest bounce house, is landing in Brooklyn, July 26-28, 2019 at Aviator Sports.

This touring bounce bonanza will put your block party to shame with the world's largest bounce house (Guinness certified!), a 900-foot-long inflatable obstacle course, a giant maze, ball pits, slides, climbing walls, and basketball hoops...all to be enjoyed while a DJ spins, confetti blasts, and beach balls fly through the air. Exhausted yet?

Night at the Museum: 5 NYC Museum and Zoo Sleepovers for Kids

Sleepovers are all the rage (even Governors Island has gotten into the overnight game). And while a night chaperoning a group of small night-owls might not rank high on your to-do list, kids will get a big kick out of sleeping over at one of their favorite cultural institutions. From the Bronx Zoo to the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum to the new Sharks! exhibit at Coney Island, there's a museum sleepover to fit every kid's interests. And you'll earn some serious cool parent cred—some of these overnight adventures are so extravagant, they landed on our list of NYC splurges worth doing at least once.

7 Cool Escape Rooms for NYC Kids to Conquer

For parents, life in a tiny New York City apartment can feel like a constant escape game. The clutter is closing in on you and you've got to locate two toddler shoes, a missing must-have accessory for your tween, and your own MIA cell phone before you can unlock the door to take on the mean city streets.

If your clever kids don't see the game in that routine, they might be up for a different kind of challenge. Consider splurging on an afternoon in one of these kid-friendly escape rooms, where their puzzle skills (and yours!) will be put to the test. Most offer birthday party packages, too. Be aware that most spots require a reservation to get locked in, so plan your outing in advance.

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