Chelsea

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.

The Best Spring Theater for NYC Kids: 17 Fabulous Shows

The spring is always a great time for family theater, but this season looks particularly exciting. There are page-to-stage adaptations of cool kid lit (The Little Red Fish for toddlers and Seedfolks for tweens); wordless spectacles to captivate all ages (clown show Air Play and underwater spectacle Symphonie Fantastique); and Lincoln Center's Big Umbrella Festival, the first-ever monthlong performance fest for children on the autism spectrum.

While on Broadway it's all Frozen, Harry Potter, and Mean Girls mania, there's no need to shell out big bucks to give your kids a memorable live entertainment experience in NYC. Most of the 17 shows we're spotlighting are just $25—or less—per ticket.

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.  

Indoor Play Spots for NYC Toddlers with Weekend Hours

Indoor play spots are essential for NYC families with young children (and limited square feet) as temperatures begin a steady decline into winter.

Unfortunately, so many of the city's indoor play spots are limited to weekday hours. That's great for caregivers Monday through Friday, but mom and dad are left out in the cold, scrambling to fill up those chilly fall, rainy spring or snowy winter weekends with their preschoolers in other ways.

Luckily, we've uncovered nearly two dozen fantastic play spaces that get it, and are keeping weekend, drop-in play hours for kids, no membership required. All include playthings sized just right for the little ones, including for babies in many instances. They are stroller-friendly and equipped with changing stations, making them no-fuss options for the toddler squad.

This Girl Laughs, Cries – and Grows Up: A Tale of 3 Sisters

Like all worthwhile adventures, This Girl Laughs, This Girl Cries, This Girl Does Nothing at Atlantic for Kids starts down a familiar path, hits a fork in the road, and then goes off in unanticipated and delightful directions. Although at the outset this seriocomic play interweaves a number of fairy tale tropes—a sudden death, an evil stepmother, an ineffectual father, and three disparate triplets—it ends up being as kooky and unpredictable as an overtired toddler.

It's also long and explores some complicated themes such as abandonment, longing, and how our childhood dreams evolve as we grow. So is This Girl Laughs, This Girl Cries, This Girl Does Nothing right for your child? Read our review for a sense of what to expect from this unpredictable fable, or check out our complete Theater Guide for NYC Kids for many more options.

11 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, and more are due to open in 2018. A couple of these are only open during the summer months, but most are open year round. The best part? Kids tend to love the activity and it isn't too pricey. Try out a drop-in program, or sign up for one of the many after-school classes or break camps offered at the rock climbing facilities profiled below.

Find more active fun in our Kids' Sports Centers Guide.

NYC Bowling Alleys That Welcome Kids and Families

Bowling is a perfect indoor family activity when you find yourself with some spare time (sorry—couldn't resist). At about age 5, children really start enjoying it, making it an ideal family outing. Bowling birthday parties are a hit for the school-age set and most venues offer special packages and pricing.

There are traditional bowling alleys—think leagues, snack bars, pro shops—in the outer boroughs, but Manhattan's spots err on the side of grown-ups. Don’t worry though: Kids can still find lanes—you just have to know when to go. Here are 16 places to bowl with kids all across New York City.

Indoor Ice Skating Rinks in New York City for Every Season

As much as we love ice skating outside, sometimes it's just too cold, hot, or rainy for New York City's seasonal outdoor rinks. Indoor alternatives let NYC kids skate year-round. Some in-the-know parents with young skate enthusiasts tell me they prefer indoor rinks because the quality of the ice is better, making for a smoother glide, which is especially helpful for newbies.

Here are six NYC indoor ice skating rinks to check out whether your kid is just starting out or even practicing their hockey or figure skating moves. Many offer birthday party options, skating lessons, and rentals and most are open in summer if you ever need to cool down.

The Perfect Monster: All About Friendship and Finding Perfection

An inventive twist on the old Frankenstein tale, The Perfect Monster addresses urgent adolescent issues such as bullying, loneliness, and the perils of perfectionism without getting heavy-handed.

This latest musical from TADA! Youth Theater focuses on shy and friendless Sybil (Kahlea Hsu at the performance attended), a rad scientist who's long been trying to build the perfect pal in her basement. So far, she's only managed to concoct a coterie of oddballs fashioned from odds and ends like mailboxes, kitchen utensils, and shoes. But when she puts prized possessions from the popular classmates she idolizes into her cauldron, out pops Perfection (Ashely Figueroa at the performance attended), a truly flawless friend. Or is she?

Read our review to get a sense of what you're in for—or check out our complete Theater Guide for NYC Kids for loads more options.

Restaurants for After Your Whitney Museum Visit with Kids in NYC

New York City has tons to offer—and that it can be overwhelming at times. Knowing where to catch a break and grab a bite to eat can be a daunting endeavor, even for the native New Yorker. The Whitney Museum of American Art is a treasure for families, but how can you avoid the tourist traps, fancy froo-froo, and kid-adverse eateries once you're done with your tour?

That's why we've rounded up 10 of the best spots where you can grab a quick bite or even sit down for a full meal. For more family-friendly eateries, check out our NYC Restaurant Guide.

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