Downtown

Best Family Theater in NYC This Fall

Autumn marks the start of a new theater season, but you don't need to shell out big bucks on Broadway shows to give your kids a memorable live entertainment experience in NYC. In fact, this fall boasts more high-quality theater productions for young audiences than ever—so many in fact, we have a whopping 25 picks, and that's after whittling down the contenders.

Preschoolers will be excited for the return of old friends Pete the Cat and Angelina Ballerina, plus the debut of a new Laurie Berkner musical. Older kids will be inspired by That Inventions Show, the interactive improv piece Show Up, Kids!, and the immersive Gumshoe, which takes place throughout the 125-year-old Henry Street Settlement. There's also funky fare for tweens at Lincoln Center and the New Victory Theater, plus everyone in your family can enjoy the Big Apple Circus. Best of all, many of our picks are $25 or less per ticket.

Maker Spaces for Drop-In Creator Fun with NYC Kids

The maker movement is alive and well in NYC, annually bringing one of our favorite festivals, Maker Faire, to the New York Hall of Science.

But what to do with your inventive child the other 51 weekends of the year? Of course there are after-school classesbirthday parties, and summer camp options, but for drop-in, one-off workshops and tinkering sessions? Not as many. Still, we've dug in and rounded up nine NYC maker spaces offering chances for year-round STEM-inspired making, building, and creating, from robots to 3D printing and creative coding.

If you're looking for a longer-term commitment, check out our STEM Guide to read up on all the options for maker-inspired camps, classes, and DIY fun.

Harvest Fests, Pumpkin Patches, and Hayrides Right Here in NYC

If you think you need to head out to the 'burbs for an authentic fall harvest experience, we've got good news: You can pick the perfect pumpkin, go on a hayride, meet farm animals, and even get lost in a massive corn maze right here in NYC.

So if you're looking to skip the car rental, hop onto the subway instead to head out to these fall harvest festivals and pumpkin patches, all located within the five boroughs. Looking for more fall fun? Check out our NYC Fall Fun Guide for the best of the season.

Inquiry-Based Learning is Front and Center at Blue School

What does it take to be named one of the most innovative schools in the entire world? Just ask the founders of New York City's Blue School, who actually co-created the performance art phenomenon Blue Man Group more than a decade before deciding to build an educational program that embodies that same boundless energy and rule-breaking creativity. Since it first entered the scene back in 2006, the independent school for two-year-olds through eighth grade has been named one of the thirteen most innovative global schools by Business Insider and one of just six selected by Wired magazine.

Located in lower Manhattan, the oh-so-modern Blue School campus is filled with unexpected spaces including a "Wonder Room," an Upcycling Center, and a double-height Materials Library. Meanwhile, thoughtfully designed classrooms; designated lab spaces for studio art, STEAM, science, music, and drama; a gymnasium and performing arts space; and the outdoor roof and terrace are all equally reflective of the school's mission to provide students with endless opportunities for collaboration, exploration, and self-expression. (You can see for yourself at an upcoming open house or admissions tour.) Across the campus, you'll find two-year-olds exploring materials by digging their toes into mounds of clay; third graders writing non-fiction pieces about Westward Expansion through the eyes of animals who bared witness; and fifth graders studying social justice through independent research into the unknown stories of known activists.

Free and Cheap After-School Programs for NYC Kids and Teens

Back-to-school season is also back-to-after-school season, as families look for enriching and fun programs for their children. There are tons of sports, arts, academics, and other kinds of classes for New York City kids, many of them reasonably priced. In fact, a handful of high-quality after-school programs are actually free or super inexpensive!

Some places, like the New York City Parks Department, offer after-school coverage Monday through Friday. Other programs only meet once or twice a week. We've rounded up 15 organizations that offer complimentary or reasonably-priced classes to kids and teens throughout the five boroughs.

Storytimes for NYC Kids: Read Your Way Around Manhattan

Storytimes are great FREE—or super low-cost—kid activities that can often provide the incentive families need to get out of the house on those rainy, cold, or snowy days when cabin fever is likely to set in. Hosted throughout NYC at libraries, bookstores, museums, and other fun places, most of these baby and kid reading sessions don't require reservations, making it easy to just drop in. Plus, many of these storytimes incorporate arts and crafts projects, so story hour can easily turn into a full morning or afternoon of fun.

Read on for our most up-to-date list of storytimes for fall and winter 2018 in Manhattan. Also, be sure to check our list of NYC's best independent bookstores for kids for more reading inspiration, and if you're in the boroughs, we've also written about storytimes in Brooklyn and in Queens.

Best Events This Fall for NYC Preschoolers

Let the fall fun begin! This fall there are tons of events, festivals, and shows in NYC just right for the preschool crowd. From fall fairs with petting zoos to music performances to great toddler and preschooler activities, here are 30+ fall events for NYC preschoolers—and best of all, many events and activities are FREE.

Don't forget to check out our September GoList and Best NYC Fall Festivals for even more great fall events, not to mention our just released Fall Fun Guide. Looking for a special day trip? Preschoolers are old enough to pick their own apples this September or even find the perfect pumpkin.

Best Fall Festivals for NYC Kids in September

Kick off autumn at one of September's fun-filled (and mostly FREE) fall festivals in NYC. Annual family favorites abound this month, including top September GoList picks such as the Richmond County Fair and the annual Queens County Fair. For more interactive fun, make sure you hit up the Maker Faire at the New York Hall of Science. There are also plenty of cool under-the-radar events you may not have heard of, including a marine science fest in Tribeca, a sweet honey fest in Rockaway Beach, and Italian fairs in the Bronx and on Staten Island, which are both a lot less crowded than San Gennaro.

So banish the back-to-school blues by hitting one (or more) of these kid-friendly festivals this September.

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.

Girl Power: Classes, Camps, and Workshops Just for Girls in NYC

One of my greatest priorities in raising a young girl is to give her a strong foundation, so that she has a positive self-image and feels empowered to be herself. Part of that work involves seeking out girls-only spaces across the city where she feels heard, valued, and has the opportunity to meet strong-minded, brilliant female role models.

There are more than enough opportunities to keep kiddos busy in the city, but girls-focused programs are specifically designed to allow girls to explore their world freely. From STEM to sports, many of these programs are run by women who, of course, know what it’s like to be a young girl coming into her own.

We've rounded up our favorite activities, camps, and programs that pack major girl power. Be sure to click through to the listings for all the details, including times, locations and recommended ages. You can search through dozens of classes by type or location in our Classes Guide and Directory Listings as well.

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