Downtown

7 Best Children's Gardens in NYC Where Kids Can Dig, Grow, Explore, and Play

While we’re beyond grateful to live in a city with endless amounts of theater and museums to expose little ones to, sometimes it’s essential to get outside and let them be one with nature. Thanks to beloved children's gardens throughout New York, our city kids have a chance to explore different plants, participate in workshops, and get their hands in the dirt.

Now that the city is in full bloom, it’s the perfect time to head to one of the many children’s gardens in NYC. So bring your nature-obsessed kiddos to one of these top children’s gardens in NYC.

July 4th Fireworks Cruises in NYC: How to See Macy's Show on a Boat

The promise of NYC summer fun is right around the corner. One of our favorite annual events, the Macy's Fourth of July fireworks display, is ready to light up the city skyline. The display illuminates the East River annually, and nothing quite compares with watching the celebration up close from the water on a family boat ride. Plus, you don't have to battle the insane crowds with the kids.

Of course, these special cruises don't come cheap, and many are only open to ages 21 and older. We set out to find the lowest-cost July 4th fireworks cruises in NYC that also welcome children. If you're interested, book quickly. Some already have sold out and the remaining tickets will be gone before you know it.

CAMP Store in Flatiron Reopens With Sweet Hands-On Cooking Theme

One of our favorite NYC stores where kids can play for FREE (and one of our favorite new additions to NYC last year, period) is the Flatiron District's CAMP Store, which has recently unveiled its second theme: Cooking Camp, as well as a membership program, with the promise of a second location coming to Brooklyn in the fall.

Situated on the corner of 16th and Fifth Avenue, CAMP looks like just another retail shop; albeit one with an onsite Milk Bar and a funky collection of merchandise—from toys and games to books and clothing—but there's something spectacular hiding behind a secret door. Find the entrance (with the help of a super-friendly CAMP counselor) and you're in for hours of fun and a cool new indoor place to play.

C'mon Summer: 50 Things We Can't Wait to Do This Summer in NYC

Every year, the long "home stretch" between spring break and summer vacation seems like a torturous marathon of end-of-year concerts, award ceremonies, and late nights running around followed by early morning lunch-packing woes and kids who, thanks to the longer hours of daylight, stayed up past bedtime...again.

But take heart, the finish line is in sight, bringing with it adventurous summer camp days and afternoons to while away at your favorite playground or water park. We're officially summer dreaming, and you're the beneficiary. We're sharing our list of 50 things we can't wait to do this summer. They're a mix of annual favorites and new openings, plus more more seasonal happenings that prove the best vacation may just be a staycation.

Cool Party Places to Celebrate Your Tween's Birthday

By the time you've hit the tween years, you've been to enough birthday parties to feel like you've seen it all. Looking for a new celebratory experience worthy of increasingly grown-up interests for your 10 to 13 year-old? We've rounded up 13 too-cool party spots to celebrate your tween's next big birthday. With party packages this out of the ordinary, you'll be able to please even the pickiest tween with unique fetes like zombie laser tag, DIY chocolate or ice cream, and jewelry making with semi-precious stones.

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!

NYC's High Line: The Best Sights and Events for Families

Like many native New Yorkers, I sometimes get caught up in my daily routine and forget all that this amazing city has to offer families, from unexplored treasures to mega popular tourist destinations that are always crowded, but for good reason. The High Line, a formerly-abandoned track of elevated railway on Manhattan's west side that's found new life as a public park, is one prime example.

Owned by the city, but maintained by the nonprofit Friends of the High Line in coordination with the NYC Department of Parks and Recreation, the High Line has developed a bit of a reputation as a tourist zone. But a visit to the High Line is well worth braving the crowds. It's both an amazing public art site and a community hub, with wonderful year-round programs for locals—and it's FREE. Plus, its proximity to both Chelsea Market and Hudson Yards makes the High Line a perfect city adventure (snacks included).

Here are all the must-see spots for children at this unique outdoor park, plus the kid-friendly events you'll want to add to your family's calendar.

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.

Destination Playground: Hester Street Playground Is a Play Oasis in Chinatown

Playground season is finally upon us, and what better way to celebrate warmer weather than to hit a new-to-you destination playground? The promise of a trek to the Hester Street Playground in the heart of always-packed Chinatown was enough to get even my weary teen off the couch during spring break...especially with the promise of delicious post-playground eats in Chinatown.

Located on the southern end of the 7.85-acre Sara D. Roosevelt Park, Hester Street Playground is a hotbed of activity no matter the season. Bookended by a soccer field and track on one side, and basketball courts on the other, there's fun for all ages here.

Almost 50(!) Free Things to Do in May With NYC Kids

This month is all about outdoor spring fun, and we've got the lowdown on all the great FREE events happening in NYC, including some stellar street fairs and festivals, and even the start of outdoor movies and music. There's also the opening of Governors Island, a Memorial Day Weekend concert, and Kids Food Fest. With most of the events happening alfresco, New York City families will have a bit more space to spread out, throw down a blanket, and enjoy the (late!) arrival of the warmer temps.

Read on for more than 50 FREE things to do this May in New York City, including in Brooklyn, Queens, and the Bronx. Find more top events in our May GoList, or our always packed daily NYC Event Calendar.

Finally, get ready for the summer season with our roundup of the city's best beaches (opening Memorial Day), and a handy list of nearby water parks.

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