Flatiron

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 have "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.

Sprinkler season in NYC parks kicks into gear when the temps reach 80 degrees, although some parks may turn on water features earlier. 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 27 fancy playgrounds where kids can get wet in NYC. See if your favorites made our list.

CAMP Store in Flatiron Reopens With Sweet Hands-On Cooking Theme

One of our favorite NYC stores where kids can play for FREE (and one of our favorite new additions to NYC last year, period) is the Flatiron District's CAMP Store, which has recently unveiled its second theme: Cooking Camp, as well as a membership program, with the promise of a second location coming to Brooklyn in the fall.

Situated on the corner of 16th and Fifth Avenue, CAMP looks like just another retail shop; albeit one with an onsite Milk Bar and a funky collection of merchandise—from toys and games to books and clothing—but there's something spectacular hiding behind a secret door. Find the entrance (with the help of a super-friendly CAMP counselor) and you're in for hours of fun and a cool new indoor place to play.

Top Summer Camps in NYC — STEM, Arts, and More

Most parents know the importance of STEM learning in this tech-focused world, but the arts—and balance—are just as meaningful. Once school lets out, summer is the perfect opportunity for kids to mix things up with more arts and active play, either as part of a STEM program or not.

We've gathered some of our favorite partner camps that offer amazing visual arts, film, dance, theater, and cooking programs; super cool STEM curriculums featuring everything from forensics to Minecraft; and some that keep kids on their toes by offering a little bit of this and that. For even more ideas, check out our New York City Camp Guide, or browse our Summer Camp Directory by location, type, and age!

What to Do in the Flatiron and Union Square With Kids

The adjacent Flatiron District and Union Square neighborhoods are two of Manhattan's most unlikely kid-friendly areas. Even though both are filled with office buildings and chain stores, there are lots of amenities for families if you know where to look. Both boast beautiful parks with destination playgrounds, a great selection of family restaurants, and one-of-a-kind attractions like the interactive Museum of Mathematics, kid-lit haven Books of Wonder and the statue-filled Lego Store.

Because the nabes encompass less than a mile together, families can easily explore both in one day, even with a short-attention-span toddler in tow. Of course with so many things to see, do and experience in this 15-block stretch from 11th to 26th Streets between Fifth and Park Avenues, you'll probably need more than just a day to hit all our recommended stops.

19 Best Family Hotels in New York City With Perks for Kids

As a born and bred New Yorker who is raising children here myself, my out-of-town friends always ask my advice when planning their NYC family vacation. They want to know everything: the best things to do, places to eat, museums to explore and, perhaps most important, where to stay.

New York City is, of course, loaded with hotels, many of which are kid-friendly. And while it's nice to have options, there are so many it can feel overwhelming. That's why we've compiled this list of 19 NYC hotels for families based on a combination of personal experience, trusted recommendations from friends, and great reputations. These hotels offer kid-friendly amenities such as pools, free strollers, and even bunk beds. A number of our choices are located right next to top kid attractions; some are more budget-friendly and others a splurge.

Our picks aren't all in Midtown Manhattan. We included places to stay with kids in Lower Manhattan, the Upper West Side, and Upper East Side, and even hotels that are in hot neighborhoods in Brooklyn and Queens.

7 Cool Escape Rooms for NYC Kids to Conquer

For parents, life in a tiny New York City apartment can feel like a constant escape game. The clutter is closing in on you and you've got to locate two toddler shoes, a missing must-have accessory for your tween, and your own MIA cell phone before you can unlock the door to take on the mean city streets.

If your clever kids don't see the game in that routine, they might be up for a different kind of challenge. Consider splurging on an afternoon in one of these kid-friendly escape rooms, where their puzzle skills (and yours!) will be put to the test. Most offer birthday party packages, too. Be aware that most spots require a reservation to get locked in, so plan your outing in advance.

14 Fun and Offbeat NYC Stores to Visit With Kids

New York City is famous for its shopping options, and for good reason—but some stores are a cut above and worth the schlep, even with kids. If you've got a big birthday to celebrate with a gift, or just need an indoor diversion from a gloomy winter day, these retail spots are sure to put a smile on your face, whether you're just a lookie-loo or decide to splurge on a special treat. Find more local shopping ideas in our NYC Local Shopping Guide.

18 Best New NYC Family Destinations That Opened in 2018

City kids are a lucky bunch. The past year saw a huge crop of new kid-friendly destinations popping up throughout the five boroughs. From a major new exhibit at the New York Aquarium to overhauled and brand new playgrounds and even a whole park, plus indoor places to shop, romp, and create, cool new exhibits, exhibitions, and a brand new museum, our kids have got it made. We're just lucky they let us come along for the ride!

Read on on for our top 18 new kid-friendly destinations in New York City that opened in 2018. If you've already conquered these, see what other adventures await on our list of 100 kid-friendly things to do in NYC before your kids grow up.

Kids Play for Free at These New York City Stores

Looking for a new winter play destination? With a shiny new FAO Schwarz filled with delights and an American Girl mega-store, there's no shortage of stores in New York City where kids can play for free. You'll find options as varied as building Lego friends, exercising on the Wii Fit, or getting their train fix for the day, and the kids will be so exhausted by day's end, they might not even whine about leaving the Nintendo system behind (fingers crossed).

For more indoor play options, check out our guide to Indoor Play Spaces and Fun Zones in NYC.
 

Best Toy Stores in NYC: 14 Family Favorites and Destination Toy Shops

Whether your toy shopping trip is a winter day activity, a pre-birthday party stop, a bit of Santa research, or a special family outing, NYC's toy store options do not disappoint. From painstakingly curated indie experiences to unforgettable big-brand toy extravaganzas, we’ve rounded up over a dozen of our favorite go-to toy stores across New York City, where you’re sure to find the perfect item for your little one or the winning gift for a birthday party

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