Downtown

5 NYC Day Itineraries Perfect for Preschoolers

New York can be a big, intimidating place for anyone to visit, but especially our smallest kids like preschoolers. Thankfully, the City That Never Sleeps offers plenty of opportunities to entertain even the most pint-sized of visitors.

Of course, you can visit our top zoos and amazing gardens, the mega stores for a special treat, or our top-notch museums like the American Museum of Natural History. These are all great choices and included in our 100 Things to Do In NYC Before Your Kid Grows Up list of the absolute best children's activities in NYC.

But we wanted to come up with something a little different, and a little more mellow for those preschoolers visiting from out of town, or even locals wanting to check out a new-to-you neighborhood—something that respects the limits of a preschooler's emotional and physical mileage. So we've rounded up five mom-tested itineraries that give you and your kid a glimpse of the city without totally wearing everyone down.

Planning ahead? Check out what special events might be taking place during your visit with our always-up-to-date NYC Event Calendar.

Macy's July 4th Fireworks 2019: Where to See Them in NYC

Every year, Macy's annual July 4th fireworks show in New York City is an unforgettable highlight of the summer. On Thursday, July 4, 2019, fireworks will light up the sky over the East River with the Brooklyn Bridge serving as the centerpiece: About 25,000 pyrotechnic shells will be launched from its span alone, streaming skyward and creating a cascading curtain of light below the bridge, too. The event celebrates its 43rd anniversary this Independence Day.

Spectators should be able to see the fireworks from many neighborhoods in Lower Manhattan as well as parts of Brooklyn. If you're hoping to watch Macy's 4th of July Fireworks live, it's never too early to start planning your viewing strategy. Tickets for paid viewing options like Fourth of July Fireworks cruises are already on sale and going fast.

Of course, you don't need to spend a penny to see the sparklers, but there are some important things to know before you go. We've got the scoop on how to find the best places to watch, when to go, and what to bring.

And don't forget, there are frequent fireworks shows in NYC during the summer, from Coney Island to Central Park. Read our roundup of where else to see cool displays this summer, including some Fourth of July competitors.

Register for Free Summer Swim Lessons for NYC Kids

The New York City Parks Department offers FREE swim lessons for children and adults all year round, but you have to apply through an online lottery for each session. The FREE summer swimming lessons are on the horizon, and the lottery for registration opens Monday, June 10, 2019, at 7am.

Read on for the details on where to swim for free, or check our directory of paid kids' swim classes, and mommy-and-me swim lessons for babies and toddlers, including those in Brooklyn and in Queens.

Free Outdoor Movies in NYC This Summer

New York City screens hundreds of FREE outdoor movies each summer, many of them just for kids and families. 

A few outdoor movie series, such as RiverFlicks for Kids in the West Village, are aimed specifically at children. But even grown-up series, such as those in Bryant Park and Brooklyn Bridge Park, include some family-friendly screenings in their lineup. The amazing Movies Under the Stars series offers screenings in parks and at playgrounds in all five boroughs every summer, and you can find them as they're scheduled with this super-secret link to our calendar search (OK, not so secret now). We've even filtered it for you by borough: ManhattanBrooklynQueensThe Bronx, and Staten Island.

Movies usually begin when evening falls, between 8 and 8:30pm, but plan to arrive early...the well-known series fill up fast, and many parks offer pre-movie entertainment. Even if your local park is screening a flick you've watched a dozen or so times at home, it's a totally different experience viewing it in the open air alongside several hundred other fans. It's a thrilling, communal event, and a summer rite of passage for New Yorkers of all ages.

So grab your calendars, roll up your picnic blankets, and start plotting your FREE summer of entertainment now. And be sure to check out the other amazing seasonal activities in our Summer Fun Guide.

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Best Places for Family Playtime in NYC

Playing together with your kids is one of the best parts of being a parent. Not only does it get everyone off the couch and moving, but you're also creating memorable family experiences.

Most city families don't have a backyard to play catch in, but there are still plenty of ways to play in NYC that are as engaging for grown-ups as for children, from mini-golf to bumper cars, bowlingbilliards, and beyond. Read on for a few of the best ways you and your kids can disconnect from technology and enjoy a few hours of awesome bonding time.

Best NYC Experiences to Give Your Kids Instead of Birthday Presents

How many Legos do you need to step on before you realize your kid probably doesn’t need another toy for their birthday? It’s not an existential question as much as it is a practical one. If your little one has already accumulated as many material goods as they could ever need or want (thanks, Grandma), try a different tack for birthday gift-giving this year. Why not pick a cool experience instead of a toy this birthday? 

Raising kids in the best city on the planet has its advantages, and there's no shortage of meaningful "experience gifts" to choose from for your city kid. Check out these birthday-worthy NYC experiences that range from totally free to a bit of splurge—and surprise your child with a fabulous birthday experience that is sure to be fun for them, and you too!

13 Best Science Museums and STEM Spots for NYC Kids

Curious NYC kids never need to feel bored—not when there are so many places in New York that encourage kid-focused scientific exploration and creation. From science museums and maker spaces to brain-boosting playgrounds and STEM-focused camps, there are tons of spots for kids to get scientific in New York City. We've rounded up 13 of the best.

Find more great geeky ideas in our STEM Guide.

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