Battery Park City

16 Great Parks and Playgrounds for NYC Kids' Birthdays

Savvy DIYers know that during the warmer months, New York City's parks make a stunning (and inexpensive) backdrop for a birthday bash. Granted, this type of party requires more work than booking one of those all-inclusive packages, but you get to control most of the details, including the cost (though sadly not the weather).

Find more party spots in our NYC Birthday Guide, including inexpensive room rentals for when bad weather threatens the fun.

NYC's Best Playgrounds: 15 Parks Worthy of a Subway Schlep

Playgrounds may be as much a part of childhood as potty training and the tooth fairy, but to city families, finding a go-to playground is a real sanity saver. When you live in tiny apartments, the neighborhood park is akin to a backyard, and while New Yorkers are lucky to have many awesome local play spots, some are a cut above the rest.

These spots offer plenty of space to romp and enough outdoor entertainment to make them worth a schlep on the subway. Without further ado, read on for 15 of the city's best playgrounds—our NYC playground hall of fame.

Up with the Sun? 21 Early Morning Spots to Entertain NYC Toddlers

New York is "the city that never sleeps," especially for parents of young children. Kids can spend countless hours at parks and playgrounds, museums, play spaces, and more. But if you have an early riser, it's not always easy to find an age-appropriate play spot.

Toddlers and babies are often ready to start their day before sunrise, so we've put together a list of awesome places to go and things to see around NYC in the wee hours with your youngest New Yorkers.  

First Birthday Parties: Manhattan Spots to Celebrate Your Tot

By the time you've reached your baby's first birthday, you may be ready to rock out.

After all, you've survived sleepless nights, blowouts, mounds of laundry, and lived to tell the tale. Birthday parties are big business in New York City; where you celebrate that first milestone depends largely on how much of a blowout you desire, and how much cash you wish to spend. Keeping in mind that you've got years of birthday parties in your future, we've rounded up 10 spots in Manhattan to celebrate that all-important first birthday.

Whether the party is about your kid and his or her crew, or you need to cater more to grown-ups than little people, we've got a spot for you. So prime the camera and get ready to celebrate.

Find Free Classes for Kids at 14 NYC Stores and Public Spaces

We'll just say it: Raising a kid is expensive. Weekend classes, summer camp, after-school care, and dance and music lessons can add up. According to the 2016 Backpack Index, parents spend an average of $739 a year on average per child on extracurricular activities. And let’s face it New Yorkers, we’re most likely paying much more than that.

That’s why we’ve rounded up 13 FREE classes that run year-round in NYC to lighten the financial load. All the classes listed here are free within free-to-access stores and public places, but there are also plenty of free and low-cost activities inside of NYC museums and gardens that have monthly-memberships. Don't forget that your IDNYC card will give you free or discounted access to many of these cultural institutions.

Peruse our Free in NYC Guide for more budget-friendly family fun.

Hanukkah Celebrations and Menorah Lightings for NYC Families

New York City knows how to celebrate the holidays, and Hanukkah is no different. The Festival of Lights arrives early in 2017, with the first night on Tuesday, December 12. But have no fear: we've rounded up nearly two dozen ways to celebrate this wonderful Jewish holiday, and most of them are free.

Some cool new and newish events this year! There's the first-ever Menorah on the High Line, and the Chabad of DUMBO has transformed its yearly Hanukkah celebration into Fire and Ice at Jane's Carousel. We also have the annual mainstays, from the World's Largest Hanukkah Menorah Lighting, to Chanukah on Ice and Hanukkah Family Day at the Jewish Museum

Christmas Tree Lightings in New York City This Holiday Season

You don't have to brave the Rockefeller Center commotion to witness a fabulous Christmas tree lighting in New York City.

We've rounded up some tree lightings that are much less crowded and every bit as hip, from Brooklyn and Queens to the Bronx and everywhere in between. These community holiday celebrations are festive and (mostly) FREE, and there’s no need to stand on your car to glimpse the goings-on. So grab that cup of hot chocolate and cozy up to one of these holiday illuminations in New York City. Find even more seasonal fun in our Holiday Guide.

9 Outdoor Ice Skating Rinks to Visit with Kids in NYC

It's time to sharpen those ice skates. Many of New York City's outdoor rinks are open for family fall, er, winter fun.

Whether you prefer to twirl with the tourists at Rockefeller Center and Central Park's Wollman Rink, or go off the beaten path to a Mommy Poppins favorite such as Lasker Rink, the city offers plenty of options for newbies to polished skaters—even a FREE skate spot. If it ever gets too cold to glide outside, you can always hit one of NYC's indoor ice skating rinks.

Best Places to Trick-or-Treat on Halloween with NYC Kids

One of my favorite childhood memories from growing up in NYC was Halloween in Greenwich Village. Back then, the Village Halloween Parade was just a couple hundred artists and others who marched through the neighborhood. Afterward, we would trick-or-treat up and down the brownstone blocks. Everyone was friendly, and we would come home with our shopping bags completely filled. It was magical.

Although the parade and Greenwich Village have changed a lot since then, your kids still can enjoy that kind of thrilling trick-or-treat experience in many New York City neighborhoods. Which neighborhood is the best for Halloween trick-or-treating depends on who you ask. New Yorkers love to bicker over the best coffee shops, the best (and worst) train lines, and yes, the best places to take their kids on Halloween. We also love to find that secret gem.

So we asked our astute readers and collected recommendations from our parent-driven NYC staff over many, many years to bring you a list of our favorite trick-or-treating spots so you'll know where to bring your kids this October 31.

Join one of the local Halloween parades and then go trick-or-treating throughout the community with local families. Or hit one of the neighborhoods or streets listed below: We have a slew of spots to try in all five boroughs. For more seasonal fun, check out our jam-packed Halloween Guide, showcasing FREE events, haunted houses, pumpkin patches, and more.

Free NYC Halloween Parades for Kids

Everyone loves a parade, which means we're all absolutely smitten with Halloween parades. While families with older kids may dare to take in the iconic Village Halloween Parade on Sixth Avenue in Manhattan, it can be pretty scary—it's always insanely crowded, loud, and many of the costumes are risque, gory, or in poor taste. If your children aren't up for that big Hallow-baloo, there are plenty of smaller, kid-friendly NYC neighborhood parades, in Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, and the Bronx, including the Ragamuffin Parade in Bay Ridge, the mega Jackson Heights parade, the famed Park Slope march, and a G-rated Village parade for little ones.

We've rounded up community-driven Halloween processions for families to watch or march in, most of which are FREE. If you don't live in a great trick-or-treating area, these parades are a wonderful way to hunt for candy in another neighborhood. Find even more seasonal happenings in our Halloween Fun Guide.

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