Governors Island

10 New and Updated NYC Playgrounds You (Probably) Haven't Visited Yet

Are your kids suffering from a bit of "been there, climbed that" playground fatigue at their tried-and-true favorite play spot? It may be time to explore a new romping ground. Fortunately, the NYC parks are ever changing. Here, we present 10 new (or nearly new) and updated playgrounds you probably haven't visited yet.

And of course, you can find all our favorite spots, old and new, in our Parks and Playgrounds Guide.

Free Kayaking, Canoeing, and Rowboat Options in New York City

With all the water surrounding New York City, it's no wonder there are so many sightseeing cruises and fun ferry rides to great kid destinations. If you want to be your own captain, NYC offers many seasonal opportunities for NYC families to get out on the water by themselve—kayaking, rowing, canoeing, and sailing. Much of the fun kicks off Memorial Day weekend or early summer.

We've rounded up 11 great New York City organizations that offer boating sessions on our wonderful waterways—and they're all FREE. Ahoy!

13 Brain-Boosting NYC Playgrounds That Build Physical and Mental Skills

Playtime should be fun, but that doesn't mean you can't learn a few lessons along the way. In an age when STEM activities are all the rage, and we race our kids from class to class, sometimes it's worth slowing down and setting the kids free in a park or playground to see what skills they pick up on their own.

We've rounded up a baker's dozen NYC play areas that foster old-fashioned playground skills—like balance, strength, and coordination—while also offering unique features that encourage brain-boosting skills—like problem-solving, engineering, physics, cooperation, imagination, resilience, and teamwork. Plus, they're some of the coolest play zones in the city.

Governors Island 2019: Playgrounds, Camping, Art, and Adventure

Governors Island opens to the public on May 1 this year and its season, which again runs through October 31, promises plenty of family-friendly programming, plus the return of spectacular overnight accommodations, increased ferry service, and even more time to play: Summer Friday and Saturday nights feature extended hours, so you'll be able to blow bedtime and stay and play well after dark!

The opening of Governors Island is an event we anticipate annually, as the island seemingly reinvents itself with new attractions and old favorites, like The Yard, return. Plus, every year the island's jam-packed events calendar is stocked with inventive new family-friendly programming.

Read on for the scoop on the very best things to do on Governors Island with kids this year, plus important visitor tips—such as ferry schedules, and where to score free biking and kayaking.

NYC's Best Playgrounds: 18 Parks Worthy of a Subway Schlep

Playgrounds may be as much a part of childhood as potty training and the tooth fairy, but to city families, having a go-to playground is a real sanity saver. When you live in a tiny apartment, the neighborhood park is like your backyard.

While New Yorkers are lucky to have many awesome local play spots, some NYC playgrounds are a cut above the rest. These spots offer plenty of space to romp and enough outdoor entertainment to make them worth a schlep on the subway. Without further ado, read on for 18 of the city's best playgrounds—our NYC playground hall of fame.

Outdoor Adventure Parks Near NYC With Kid-Friendly Zip Lines & Ropes Courses

We all need a little excitement in our lives. For some, any of these 13 carousels around New York City will deliver all the excitement in the world. For others, the idea of zip-lining through the air ranks high on their to-do list. Of course, adventure parks aren't for everyone, but there's proof they help children learn problem-solving and collaboration skills. Plus, it's just plain fun to play together as a family and create unforgettable memories.

New York City may not be the epicenter of adventure parks, but it's making strides, especially with Adventures on Governors Island, the Bronx Zoo's Treetop Adventure, and a seriously high-flying outdoor zip line in Queens. Meanwhile, just outside the city limits, there are dozens of rope and zip line courses.

We've rounded up a handful of our favorite outdoor adventure parks either in the city or reachable within a quick day trip. Also make sure to see our brand new guide to 25 outdoor adventures in the city for NYC kids.

14 Miniature Golf Courses for NYC Kids

For many families, mini golf is a quintessential spring and summer activity that they look forward to every year. My son loves it, so we've tried just about every putt-putt course in the tristate area.

While there are plenty of courses on Long Island and in New Jersey, you don't need to head out of town. There are currently more than a dozen places to play mini golf right here in New York City. And as sports go, it's typically fairly inexpensive—often as little as $5 a round for kids. Another bonus is that it's one of those rare activities that parents and kids can play together. You can even host a birthday party at most of these spots.

Read on to find out where to play mini golf with the kids in the city, and I'll see you on the green!

12 Rock Climbing Walls for Kids in New York City

Indoor rock climbing is a great way for kids to get some needed activity in the dead of winter or year-round. Let them bounce off someone else’s walls for a change! The sport takes concentration, discipline, and strength, all qualities we're happy to expose them to.

New York City boasts more than half a dozen indoor bouldering and rock-climbing spots, at least one in almost every borough, and more are due to open in 2019. A couple of these are only open during the summer months, but most are open year round. The best part? Kids tend to love the activity and it isn't too pricey. Try out a drop-in program, or sign up for one of the many after-school classes or break camps offered at the rock-climbing facilities profiled below.

Find more active fun in our Kids' Sports Centers Guide.

Trick-or-Treat and Pick Pumpkins on Governors Island This Year

Tis the season for fall festivals and Halloween fun in New York City, and what better place to celebrate the changing seasons than beautiful Governors Island, which has again extended its season through Halloween and filled its October calendar with plenty of fun.

For the second consecutive year, the Friends of Governors Island invite big-city dwellers to hop on a ferry and enjoy a classic small-town Halloween at Pumpkin Point. The fun kicks off the weekend of October 20, with a pumpkin patch in Nolan Park.

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.

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