Union Square

Manhattan's Best Drop-in Play Spaces and Kids' Gyms

Finding a non-membership, drop-in play spot for your toddler or preschooler in your neighborhood is like gold to New York City parents—almost as good as scoring a deal on rent. Because when it gets too cold for the city's many playgrounds, and another playdate at home seems dull (or, let's be honest, stressful), taking your kid to a cool indoor kiddie gym or other play space, where everything seems new and someone else will do the cleaning up, is a relief to the whole family.

While the outer boroughs of Queens and Brooklyn dominate the indoor play space market, Manhattan has plenty of creative kid spaces. Some of these dozen awesome spots profiled below allow families to drop in, while others ask that you make reservations, but none require any kind of long-term financial commitment.

For even more wallet-friendly play spaces citywide, see our roundup of budget-friendly play spots. And if you've got a child under the age of 5 to entertain, you might also check out our roundup of a dozen indoor play spaces perfect for the pint-sized set.

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!

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.

Nutella Cafe Brings New Level of Chocolatey Goodness to NYC

Hang out with my 5-year-old long enough, and she'll inevitably ask for a Nutella sandwich. The creamy, chocolatey spread is practically its own food group in her eyes, so the arrival of a Nutella Cafe in the Union Square neighborhood was cause for a sugar-high induced happy dance.

It took us two trips—thanks to the down-the-block line on our first visit—to get inside the sweet new eatery. Read on to find out if it deserves a spot on our list of must-try sweet spots for New York City kids.

Best Hot Chocolate Spots Around Manhattan

A cup of molten chocolaty goodness is one of the best ways to thaw out and warm up—in fact, it's one of the best things about winter and the holiday season.

We took on the heinous job of running around Manhattan taste-testing hot chocolate (don't say we've never done anything for you) and narrowed it down to nearly two dozen of our favorites. These spots are definitely worth the brief trip out into the cold, so read on for our recommendations for cafes and restaurants that have turned hot cocoa sipping into an experience not to be missed.

By the way, we've also rounded up our favorite Brooklyn hot cocoa cafes and those in Queens. Find more great eats in our NYC Restaurant Guide for Families.

Four New Indoor Play Spaces to Try This Season in NYC

You’re faced with another chilly, dreary, rainy day and your kids are climbing the apartment walls. You’ve done all of the fun seasonal activities and the playgrounds are out of the question. That's when NYC's indoor play spaces can be real lifesavers. We're always on the hunt for the latest and greatest indoor play spaces, and a handful of new spots have opened up this year that are definitely worth the trip. Pack your socks, because here's the scoop on four new spots where the kids can get all of their energy out—and you can regain your sanity (and even have a cup of coffee).

Best Fall Festivals for NYC Kids in September

Kick off autumn at one of September's fun-filled (and mostly FREE) fall festivals in NYC. Annual family favorites abound this month, including top September GoList picks such as the Richmond County Fair and the annual Queens County Fair. For more interactive fun, make sure you hit up the Maker Faire at the New York Hall of Science. There are also plenty of cool under-the-radar events you may not have heard of, including a marine science fest in Tribeca, a sweet honey fest in Rockaway Beach, and Italian fairs in the Bronx and on Staten Island, which are both a lot less crowded than San Gennaro.

So banish the back-to-school blues by hitting one (or more) of these kid-friendly festivals this September.

Baby and Me Music Classes Around NYC

Music classes are often the first "mommy and me" experience parents try, so it's no coincidence such classes are offered all over the city. When you're ready to get out and spend some time jamming with other adults and their wee ones, check out one of these music classes in Manhattan and beyond.

We also have roundups of parent and child classes in Queens and music classes in Brooklyn. As always, you can find even more NYC classes in our Classes Guide and Directory Listings.

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.

Best NYC Spring Festivals, Fairs, and Carnivals in April 2018

New York City's spring outdoor festival season kicks off this April with more than a dozen fun and mostly FREE fairs, fetes, parades, and carnivals. Some annual Mommy Poppins favorites take place, including the Brooklyn Botanic Garden's Cherry Blossom Festival, the Queens County Farm Museum's Children's Carnival, Staten Island's St. George Day celebration, and the annual Street Games in East Harlem.

These events aren't just fun, they also foster community spirit by bringing folks together for a common cause. Many include old-fashioned games, eco-activities, homemade treats, and live performances. Here are some awesome NYC fairs, carnivals, and festivals for families this April.

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