Financial District

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.

DIY Chocolate: NYC Spots Where Kids Can Make Their Own Candy

Hitting one of NYC's cornucopia of candy shops is nice, but being able to make your own treats is seriously sweet. A do-it-yourself chocolate workshop is a creative hands-on way to satisfy your kid's sweet tooth.

I enjoy sharing culinary experiences with my 10-year-old son, but since he's a bit picky, it can be hard to talk him into cooking or going on a food crawl. However, when sweets are involved that gets his attention, and I suspect your kids' too?

Check out these five NYC spots below where making chocolate is always on the menu.

Summer Camps for Kids with Special Needs in the NYC area

It's tough to find the right summer camp for any kid. But if your child has special needs, like autism or ADHD, sensory-motor challenges, social anxiety, or learning differences, choosing a program can be especially nerve-racking: we want our kids to enjoy a traditional summer-camp experience, complete with swimming and lanyards and new friendships, while also receiving the kind of individual attention they need and with the option to avoid activities that might cause undue stress.

We've rounded up a number of camps favored by NYC families for their kids with disabilities or other challenges. Camps outside of New York City and on Staten Island provide bussing, so don't be discouraged by the seemingly far-flung locations: it can be especially therapeutic for kids to get out of the city for the summer.

While most of these camps cater exclusively to special-needs children, other traditional summer camps often offer inclusion programs for those with mild special needs (a few are mentioned below). Please consult our Summer Camp Guide for NYC Kids for a list of our favorite summer camps across the city to see if there are any that might work for your child.

Basketball Classes and Lessons for NYC Kids

Baseball may be our national pastime, but drop by any of NYC's parks and it seems like basketball is our local favorite.

In New York City, there are many basketball programs that teach kids the basics in friendly, non-competitive environments. They differ from basketball leagues, which assume players are ready for full-on competition. With these intro-to-basketball classes, kids learn the rules and fundamentals, and work up to one-on-one or small-team play.

Here are 16 basketball programs for kids in NYC, along with info on where to find one-off FREE clinics. You can find more posts about kids' sports classes in our Classes Guide and Directory of Class Listings

20 Indoor Places Where NYC Kids Play for Free

We're on the cusp of another long Northeast winter, and entertaining the kids during this long, chilly season isn't easy, or cheap. Throw in a cramped New York City apartment and a shortage of vitamin D and of course, everyone is eyeing the exit. Luckily, in NYC some of the best things in life are FREE (really).

If your kids are bouncing off the walls and your wallet is screaming for a break after all the holidays, we've got you covered. Check out our list of 20 FREE indoor destinations in Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, and elsewhere in NYC for fun, games, or just a much-needed change of scenery.

For more great indoor places, check out our Indoor Family Fun Guide, which is loaded with all-ages drop-in spots like bowling!

Guide to Día de los Muertos or Day of the Dead for NYC Kids

Halloween isn't the only spooky holiday to celebrate in October. Day of the Dead—or Día de los Muertos as it's known in Spanish—is observed by many Latino cultures and is especially popular in Mexico.

Day of the Dead officially takes place on November 1 and 2 to coincide with the Catholic holidays of All Saints' Day and All Souls' Day. However, NYC events are spread throughout October and early November and most of them are FREE. While it's not a Halloween event, it occurs around the same time and features many of the same trappings like skulls and parades. Revelers honor friends and family members who have died by building altars and adorning them with colorful paper flowers, grinning skeletons and candles. It's a joyful way to remember the deceased without freaking kids out. We've rounded up half a dozen Day of the Dead events where NYC kids and families can celebrate the holiday.

You can find more fall activities in our Fall Fun Guide and check out the Halloween Guide for all the best happenings in NYC this month.

10 Underrated NYC Parks You Don't Want to Miss

Central Park, Prospect Park, Brooklyn Bridge Park—even if you only just arrived in NYC, we probably don't need to tell you that these are all must-see green spaces. Yet, according to the NYC Department of Parks & Recreation, 14 percent of the city is parkland—that's more than 30,000 acres!

So if you're looking for a new-to-you outdoor destination to explore, we've got 10 off-the-beaten-path parks worth putting on your NYC family bucket list. Some are massive and boast a wide array of attractions for all seasons; others are small but picturesque and host popular annual events for families. Don't worry if you can't make it to all of these before school starts—we have at least a few more months of fair weather ahead!

Summer Streets Set to Return in August with a Giant Water Slide

Summer Streets is on the horizon, giving New Yorkers three consecutive Saturdays in August of car-free fun to enjoy a seven-mile stretch of city streets from the Upper East Side to the Brooklyn Bridge. Summer Streets arrives with a big splash as last year's main attraction, the three-story water slide, returns to Foley Square in downtown Manhattan.

Surrounding the giant 270-foot water slide will be an urban beach sponsored by Vita Coco. The always-popular zip line—rising 30 feet above the urban landscape and spanning a distance of 165 feet—returns as well. New in 2016 is the addition of Citi as a title-sponsor, as the event is now dubbed Citi Summer Streets. Read on for details on this beloved summer event, including how to score your FREE ticket to the water slide.

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