Flatiron

Santa Claus Photo Spots in NYC for Christmas 2018

Santa Claus is coming to town, and he’s not camera shy. New York City parents have a host of options for where to see and pose with Santa, from the popular Santaland at Macy's to more casual events, where you can take your own festive photos of the kids while visiting Jolly Old St. Nick.

We’ve rounded up over a dozen of our favorite options for photos with Santa from across the five boroughs, including options for those who want to splurge, bring their pets, or just get it over with, as well as those with special needs. With so many alternatives, chances are, wherever you are, your kids won’t be far from Santa.

Find more seasonal fun, including a Santa brunch or tea, in our NYC Holiday Guide.

Harvest Fests, Pumpkin Patches, and Hayrides Right Here in NYC

If you think you need to head out to the 'burbs for an authentic fall harvest experience, we've got good news: You can pick the perfect pumpkin, go on a hayride, meet farm animals, and even get lost in a massive corn maze right here in NYC.

So if you're looking to skip the car rental, hop onto the subway instead to head out to these fall harvest festivals and pumpkin patches, all located within the five boroughs. Looking for more fall fun? Check out our NYC Fall Fun Guide for the best of the season.

Girl Power: Classes, Camps, and Workshops Just for Girls in NYC

One of my greatest priorities in raising a young girl is to give her a strong foundation, so that she has a positive self-image and feels empowered to be herself. Part of that work involves seeking out girls-only spaces across the city where she feels heard, valued, and has the opportunity to meet strong-minded, brilliant female role models.

There are more than enough opportunities to keep kiddos busy in the city, but girls-focused programs are specifically designed to allow girls to explore their world freely. From STEM to sports, many of these programs are run by women who, of course, know what it’s like to be a young girl coming into her own.

We've rounded up our favorite activities, camps, and programs that pack major girl power. Be sure to click through to the listings for all the details, including times, locations and recommended ages. You can search through dozens of classes by type or location in our Classes Guide and Directory Listings as well.

Free Outdoor Kids Music Concerts in NYC This Summer

What's better than a spectacular, outdoor, family-friendly, FREE music performance? A whole series of free outdoor concerts for kids! We've already told you about the great concerts in June for NYC kids, and now we're rounding up all the free concerts in July and August, to keep the kids grooving all summer.

There are free concert series for kids in parks, playgrounds, piers and plazas across the five boroughs, so scroll, click, and set reminders with your favorites. With top family bands playing annual series like Madison Square Kids and SummerStage Family Workshops, you're sure to find something the whole family can shake a tail feather to. 

For even more free family fun, see our jam-packed Summer Guide and our roundup of 100 free things to do with kids in NYC this summer.

Free June Concerts for NYC Kids: Rolie Polie, Los Lobos, Astrograss

Free outdoor music is one of the hallmarks of a great NYC summer...in our opinion anyway! Pack a picnic, stake out a spot, lay down a blanket, and soak up some no-cost culture in the form of New York City's top kindie bands as they play FREE concerts at some of the city's most beloved parks and playgrounds, including the annual BRIC Celebrate Brooklyn! Family Concert, featuring Los Lobos in 2018.

Of course, there are so many performances that it can be hard to figure out which ones are worth the time, energy, and schlep. That's why we've done the work for you. Read on for nearly two dozen cool concerts happening this June for NYC kids.

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.

Christmas Tree Lightings in New York City This Holiday Season

You don't have to brave the Rockefeller Center commotion to witness a fabulous Christmas tree lighting in New York City.

We've rounded up some tree lightings that are much less crowded and every bit as hip, from Brooklyn and Queens to the Bronx and everywhere in between. These community holiday celebrations are festive and (mostly) FREE, and there’s no need to stand on your car to glimpse the goings-on. So grab that cup of hot chocolate and cozy up to one of these holiday illuminations in New York City. Find even more seasonal fun in our Holiday Guide.

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. 

7 Fun Party Places for Car- and Train-Obsessed NYC Kids

Long before my kids laid eyes on Pixar movies, they were obsessed with cars. Big ones, little ones, toy ones—as long as they were fast and sleek, they'd want to play with them or, better yet, ride in them.

Growing up as public-transit-taking New Yorkers also means a healthy obsession with trains. So no matter the mode of transportation that piques your kid's interest, we've got a party recommendation for you. We've rounded up seven party places in or near NYC where kids can enjoy car- and train-centric activities, from driving go-karts, calling all aboard on a vintage train, and even slot-car racing. Best of all, there's no driver's license required.

Best NYC Children's Bookstores to Spend an Afternoon In

Only a small number of dedicated children's bookshops exist in NYC—Books of Wonder and Bank Street Bookstore, we're looking at you!—but there are a number of other indie stores with impressive children's book sections. Many of these lit havens host children's activities, including read-alongs but also author events, and writing workshops.

My kids have a particular weakness for books, possibly because it's the one thing I never deny them—as evidenced by the overflowing bookshelves at home. We love exploring new-to-us, local shops and spending lazy afternoons getting lost in the stacks, so we've rounded up some of our favorite bookstores around the city, including two new ones coming soon.

Whether shopping for a birthday gift or looking for a local storytime, the neighborhood independent bookstore is a great bet for NYC families.

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