Financial District

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

Halloween isn't the only spooky holiday to celebrate this fall. 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. Revelers honor friends and family members who have died by building altars, or ofrendas, and adorning them with colorful paper flowers, beautifully decorated skeletons, and candles. It's a joyful way to remember the deceased—without freaking kids out. We've rounded up nine 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 other spooky, kid-friendly happenings in NYC this month.

The NYC Parents' Guide for Visitors: 10 NYC Must-Sees Beyond Times Square

There are so many great things to do and see with kids in NYC, from museums to zoos to destination playgrounds, it's hard to narrow down to a reasonably sized list. But knowing what NYC families like doing best in their own hometown is a solid place to start if you're planning a visit! 

As veteran New Yorkers, my family has their own list of absolute must-see and must-visit spots around the city. Some are off the beaten path, and some might be considered a bit touristy, but all of them are places we love—and love experiencing with visitors, in particular. Whether you're visiting NYC with kids for the first time or the fiftieth time, here is a list of some of the best places to go right now, as recommended by parents who live here.

Find more top sights in our NYC Visitors Guide for Families.

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.

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. Parent-child swim classes are also offered around the city throughout the fall, winter, and spring, both on weekends and after school.

Most classes for wee ones and their caretakers take place in indoor pools. Except for the free swim lessons offered via lottery by the New York City Parks Department, mommy and me classes invariably cost something. We've rounded up the top parent-child swim programs across the city (and for more options, see our roundups of swimming classes for all ages in Brooklyn and Queens).

Best Summer Festivals for NYC Kids This August

Many families flee the city in August for end-of-summer vacations, but it's actually one of my favorite months to be in NYC. With summer staples like swimming, play fountains, and Governors Island, plus hundreds of free summer activities and only-in-August favorites like Summer Streets and Arthur Ashe Kids' Day, there's plenty to do if you stick around.

So we've rounded up a dozen FREE family-friendly festivals happening throughout the Big Apple in August to help you get the most out of NYC with kids during the last month of summer.

Summer Streets Returns This August: Explore Car-Free NYC with Kids

Summer Streets, easily one of our favorite NYC seasonal festivals, returns for its 11th season of car-free Saturdays on August 4.

The annual Summer Streets event gives New Yorkers three consecutive August Saturdays of car-free summer fun, with a seven-mile stretch of city streets from the Upper East Side to the Brooklyn Bridge closed to cars and open exclusively to pedestrians and bicycles. Sadly, one major change in 2018 is the absence of the giant slide—a big hit of the past few years. But while the slide may not be returning, there is still plenty of fun in store, all aligned with this year's Summer Streets theme, "Finding Joy in Unexpected Moments."

Most of the interactive stations are 100% FREE but some require advance registration. Read on for all the details for this ultimate summer street fest.

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 the 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 15 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 class directory

Best Toddler Playgrounds in Lower Manhattan

Thanks to the residential boom in Lower Manhattan, the borough's southernmost point is more family-friendly than ever. Streets that once were the domain of Financial District workers running for their offices are now just as likely to be full of strollers and newly-walking tots. The many new playgrounds that have been constructed or renovated in this area make downtown Manhattan a part of the city you don't want to miss for family fun.

The playgrounds on this list offer fun things to do for all ages but are especially great for toddlers—because as all parents of toddlers know, finding a playground where your little one won't get run over by bigger kids is no small feat. Fun equipment, appropriate climbing structures, infant swings, thoughtful layouts, and a bevy of sandboxes await you at these downtown playgrounds, all located south of Washington Square Park. Time to get swinging!

National Museum of the American Indian Opens imagiNATIONS Center

From sunflowers and surfboards to ponchos and potatoes, the range of innovations by Native Americans is staggering. Their ingenuity is celebrated at the New York City branch of the Smithsonian's National Museum of the American Indian (NMAI), located in the Financial District, where the new imagiNATIONS Activity Center invites young visitors to explore the contributions of Native people through hands-on displays accompanied by kid-friendly texts in both English and Spanish.

The new center opened this May, and like the rest of the museum, is FREE to visit for all ages.

22 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 borough: the best in Brooklyn, 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 22 fancy playgrounds where kids can get wet in NYC. See if your favorites made our list.

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