Murray Hill

February Break Camps for NYC Kids: 10 Affordable Midwinter Recess Programs

Midwinter recess always seems to be the black-sheep break: It sneaks up on you and you have no idea how to handle it once it arrives. Here are 10 budget-friendly camp programs for the week. If you need more options, check with your local museum, playspace or enrichment center to see if they're offering coverage.

If you're able to take a few days off and spend quality time with the kids enjoying winter in NYC, check out our list of 35 Fun Things to Do Over February Break.

Free Times to Visit NYC Museums, Gardens, and Zoos

Many of New York City's top museums, zoos, gardens, and cultural institutions offer FREE or reduced admission on certain nights, days, or hours at least once a month—a city perk that no busy, cash-strapped parent should miss out on! Plus, many of the "grown-up" museums let kids in for free year-round.

It can be hard to keep track of when and where these freebies are available, so we've compiled an exhaustive list of reduced or FREE admission days at all of your favorite NYC cultural spots from the Bronx Zoo to the Brooklyn Children's Museum.

As always, you can check our Events Calendar for more budget-friendly kid activities every day or peruse our Free in NYC Guide. Try our Museum Guide or Zoos and Gardens Guide for more on the latest kid-friendly art and exhibitions in NYC. Also, don't forget to put your library card to work for free admission at many of these same places!

Worth It? Family Memberships in NYC to Consider for Winter

After visiting NYC's top play spaces, museums, and other fun zones, we've rounded up the various membership deals at popular kid-centric destinations. These places keep your kids entertained, active, and out of the cold. Some even offer short-term memberships, so you only have to pay until spring arrives.

In the dead of winter, it can be daunting to schlep somewhere new every weekend, so a membership to one (or two) of your favorite kid play spots makes sense. We've already done the math so you'll know exactly how many visits it takes until these investments pay off—and whether or not the "deal" works for your family. If the math doesn't work out for you, consider buying one of the play spaces' bulk passes instead, which usually knocks a few bucks off the daily drop-in price.

Need more ideas? Check out our Indoor Play Spaces Guide for more romper rooms by borough, bounce houses, and year-round family entertainment.

NYC Playgrounds with Shade: Stay Cool With Shady Park Benches and Equipment

While kids can always cool off in NYC's many sprinklers, we parents are often stuck baking in the sun all day during the heat of the city's summer as we supervise outdoor play. It's a problem our readers know too well—each summer we get requests for recommendations of shady spots to play.

Although we know of a couple playgrounds that offer exceptional amounts of shade—Hippo Playground in Riverside Park and Discovery Playground in Fort Washington Park come to mind—we decided to ask our readers if they knew of any super-shady playgrounds in New York City. They came through with a number of great suggestions.

Please keep in mind that the name of the game here is comfort on a hot summer day; though we have visited plenty of destination playgrounds, with a few exceptions, these shady suggestions tend to be neighborhood standbys and small playgrounds that have plenty of shade, but perhaps not too many bells and whistles.

Hobby Shops for NYC Kids: Model Trains, Planes, and Robots

Just like authentic New York soda fountains and ma-and-pa stores, old-fashioned hobby shops are seemingly an endangered species in NYC. But they're not dead yet.

Thanks to the popularity of the maker movement, hobby shops are enjoying a resurgence as kids (and grown-ups) look for fun, hands-on projects that range from assembling intricate models to flying remote-control airplanes, building robots, and racing model trains. That last option is one of my 9-year-old's favorite pastimes.

Although you can buy most of these kits online, visiting a brick-and-mortar hobby shop can be an inspiring experience for children who like to tinker, experiment and create. Plus, they get a chance to meet their fellow enthusiasts and learn from the vets. Whether your kids are into planes, trains, or automobiles, here are 10 hobby shops across the five boroughs where families can stock up on all their DIY model-building needs.

9 Sensory Gyms for Children's Physical Therapy in Manhattan

Living in a city as diverse as New York means that many services are right at our fingertips, including expert physical, occupational, sensory and speech therapists who specialize in children. Whether your child is facing a lifetime of therapy due to disability, or is working to overcome a developmental delay or other issue, the city's sensory gyms and therapists can help.

Manhattan has a bunch of amazing sensory gyms that offer fun, safe environments for children to work on their core strength, balance, fine motor skills, language, sensory integration, behavior, attention and social interaction skills. The bad news? There are so many options that picking the best sensory gym for your child’s particular needs may feel like finding a needle in a haystack. We've rounded up nine top gyms to get you started. This list is by no means comprehensive, but as the mom to a tween with special needs who's been to quite a few of these spots, I believe these nine are a great place to start.

Check out our special needs and disability guide for more crucial info on resources and services for NYC families.

5 NYC Ferry Rides with Kidtastic Landings

New York City is surrounded by water, and with an always-expanding network of ferries, it's easier than ever to hop on a boat for a day trip to a not-so-distant shore. While the destination is important, of course, getting there is part of the fun, because cruising on the water is much more exciting for jaded city kids than taking the boring old subway.

We've already raved about all the family activities you can enjoy on Governors Island, and riding the FREE Staten Island Ferry is on our list of the top 100 things to do with kids in this town. But here are five more NYC ferries that offer cool rides to popular places where there are lots of things to do and see with the kiddos.

NYC's Summer Streets Kick Off Saturday with a Mega Water Slide

Great news for all the intrepid New Yorkers staying put this August: Summer Streets kicks off this weekend! This beloved annual event is set to take over nearly seven miles of Manhattan streets over the next three Saturdays. As in years past, Summer Streets will be jam-packed with fun and FREE events and activities, including a brand-new attraction, Slide the City, that kids (and parents) are sure to love. We've got the scoop on this new attraction, including what to expect and how to claim a spot.

5 NYC Mixed-Age Music and Art Classes for Toddlers, Babies

As mom to an infant and a toddler, I know that handling two young children is a serious juggling act—whether I'm simultaneously changing two diapers (not impossible!), nursing the baby while helping my 2-year-old eat her lunch, or chasing after my toddler on the playground while pushing the sleeping baby in the stroller.

Of all the mom-of-two-tots struggles, one of the hardest for me was keeping my toddler active when the new baby came. I began searching for classes that would excite and stimulate my toddler without overwhelming my infant. I also wanted an activity in which my baby could look around and see other little ones like herself, and maybe even make a friend or two. Thankfully, I was able to find a selection of mixed-age classes where I could comfortably and happily bring both kids. Check out these five great picks around NYC.

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