Financial District

12 NYC Food Courts and Markets That Make Family Mealtime Easy

Food courts, in spite of their mall­-culture reputation, are enjoying a bit of a renaissance, and not just in suburbia. Right here in NYC, food halls are gaining major foodie clout with excellent vendors, artisan marketplaces, and appealing perks (and sweet treats) for families with kids. Actually a food court might just be the perfect eatery for families: there's a food option for everyone, minimal wait times, multiple bathrooms, and no one notices if your kid tantrums or drops half their meal on the floor.

Because we're always on the lookout for great kid-­friendly outings, especially during the colder months, we've rounded up, and sampled, 12 outstanding food halls that offer top-notch eats, spacious seating, and lots to do in the surrounding neighborhood, including Battery Park, Chelsea, the Theater District, and Fort Greene, Brooklyn.

Check out our NYC Restaurant Guide for even more family dining options in just about every neighborhood—and every finicky palate. 

Léman Manhattan Launches a New "Grown-Up and Me" Toddler Program

Léman Manhattan Preparatory School has been serving preschoolers in downtown Manhattan for the past twelve years, but parents of even littler learners will be happy to hear there's a brand new toddler program in town. Developed by the school's experienced early childhood educators, Léman Explorers is a “grown-up and me” class that aims to give children ages 16 months to 3 years old the skills and confidence they need for preschool and beyond.

Birthing Centers in NYC: Where to Find Them

Pregnant New Yorkers often seek out their OB or midwife based a few key factors, including where that doctor delivers babies. You might sort through hospital c-section rates, get recommendations from your local mom group, and check various doctor reviews and ratings before narrowing down your list. But if you're looking for birthing center, the choices in NYC are more limited, though a small handful of venues do exist in both Brooklyn and Manhattan.

Birthing centers provide a more home-like environment, where moms-to-be are given the encouragement to labor in their own way, free from medical intervention. There is often a tub available as water is known to ease labor pains, full-size beds, and more perks to make mom more comfortable. It can be a great option for those not ready for a home birth, nor interested in a traditional hospital childbirth. Just know that birthing centers don’t offer epidurals, so you'll need to come to terms with that idea early on.

We’ve rounded up the birthing centers currently serving New York City, including both freestanding and in-hospital centers.

Ice Cream Bucket List: 10 Over-the-Top Shops To Try This Summer

Ah, August in the city! You've probably got your routine down pat at this point: art exhibits, subway-accessible beaches, and Summer Streets are all regulars in your summer schedule. As are trips for cool treats. If your neighborhood ice cream shop is feeling a tad too familiar at this point in the summer, it's time to step it up—and step it out of your 'hood.

We’ve rounded up 10 over-the-top ice cream establishments that are a little more under the radar than say Black Tap, but are the perfect way for you and your kids to enjoy before summer's over. Get ready to be blown away (and say goodbye to Mister Softee, for now): There’s rolled ice cream, innovative soft serve, make-it-yourself ice cream, and cutting-edge ice cream sandwiches. Go forth and enjoy, and check out our NYC Restaurant Guide for more great family eats.

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, and don't forget to check out how to score FREE swim lessons in the city, too.

Summer Streets Brings New Water Park and Epic Slide to NYC

Citi Summer Streets, easily one of our favorite NYC seasonal festivals, returns for its 10th anniversary of car-free Saturdays on August 5. This year it's debuting something totally new, and yes, a little whacky near Central Park: an inflatable water park from LG with a dishwasher theme. Expect "massive slides in the shape of cutlery," hanging glide rails that lead to the pool, and a "3rd rack" section.

The annual Summer Streets event gives New Yorkers three consecutive August Saturdays of car-free fun to enjoy a seven-mile stretch of city streets from the Upper East Side to the Brooklyn Bridge. VitaCoco will bring back its epic water slide in lower Manhattan, and the always-popular zip line—rising 30 feet above the urban landscape and spanning a distance of 165 feet—returns as well for 2017.

Most all of the interactive stations like the dishwasher water park (will there be soap bubbles??) are 100% FREE but some require advance registration. Read on for all the details for this ultimate summer street fest.

Mommy and Me Swim Classes in New York City for Babies and Tots

Mommy and me swim classes (or daddy and me) are a wonderful way to spend time with your baby or toddler. Ideally, these lessons should be enjoyable, stress-free, educational, and a good source of exercise for kids and parents.

During the summer, swim lessons offer overheated families the chance to cool off while young kids become comfortable in the water, a skill they'll certainly use a lot in the coming years, what with all the great swimming pools and beaches in NYC.

Most classes for wee ones and their caretakers take place in indoor pools. Except for the New York City Parks Department, which offers free swim lessons via lottery, mommy and me classes invariably cost something. We've rounded up eight well-respected programs across Manhattan. If you're further flung, check out our roundups of swimming classes in Brooklyn and Queens.

Find more classes for kids in our NYC Guide and Directory. Don't forget to check out our local DEALS page where you can score discounts on camps, classes, birthday party packages, and more for NYC kids. Check back often as we're constantly adding new ones.

Totally FREE and Crazy Cool Art NYC Kids Can See Outdoors

One of the best things about living in an urban area is the access to culture. It's everywhere! From concerts and museums to festivals and parks, there's something to learn and appreciate every time you turn around, especially this summer.

Public art is an excellent (and FREE!) way to introduce your kids to (mostly) hands-on art, without opening your wallet. As the weather heats up, head outdoors to enjoy some of the coolest installations around town, from a giant whirlpool to murals and even some kooky goats.

If you like FREE events (there's only one answer to that question), check out our FREE guide, full of museums, sports program, movies, and more.

23 Best Water Playgrounds and Sprinklers for Kids in NYC

When we were growing up, New York City playgrounds had sprinklers. Now parks and playgrounds across the five boroughs possess "water features"—fountains, geysers, rivers, pumps, and beautiful spraying statues. Kids just love them, and we parents prefer these newfangled playgrounds because they're pretty and cool, and make us feel as if our exorbitant NYC housing costs are justified.

As the city's sprinkler season gets into gear, it's good to know where to find the wildest and wettest playgrounds around. There are hundreds of water features in NYC parks, and we've highlighted some favorites by neighborhood: best of Queens and best of the Bronx. Some are cooler (literally and figuratively) than others, and more amazing ones seem to open every year. When we first published this article in 2008, we had five favorite splashing spots. Now we're up to 23 fancy playgrounds where kids can get wet in NYC. See if your favorites made our list (and if not, clue us in via Facebook).

10 Montessori Preschools in New York City

Picking out a preschool is no simple feat. From dual-language and immersion programs to outdoor and nature-themed classes, there are so many options and, as always, so little time. But, if you're considering sending your child to a Montessori school, this roundup of some of the most popular ones in New York City could save you some stress.

For the uninitiated, Montessori is an educational philosophy developed more than a century ago that encourages kids to be independent and learn at their own pace. Typically students are grouped by ability rather than age, classrooms are outfitted with specific learning materials, and specially trained teachers act as observers and facilitators. Read on to see what makes these 10 NYC schools extra special, and you just might find the perfect fit for your preschooler.

Find more options in our Preschool Guide and Directory.

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