Downtown

The Best Annual Family Festivals for NYC Kids (Mostly Free)

With so much going on in NYC, it can be overwhelming to sift through all the events to land on something that's truly special. The many annual festivals that the city hosts are a great place to start. Some New York City celebrations are so great they're worth going every year, like the interactive, art-filled Figment on Roosevelt Island, the incredible (and educational) World Maker Faire New York, and Street Games, the Parks Department's tribute to old-school pastimes.

I know I'm not the only mom out there who likes to plan ahead, and since the festival season kicks into high gear this month, we figured it was a great time to round up our top annual festivals for families. Every single pick on our list is really worth your time and money—and in many cases they don't cost a penny.

Destination Playground: DeSalvio Playground in Nolita

Nested within Soho, Nolita is a neighborhood best known for its chic cafes and fashion forward boutiques. But it's also a family destination thanks in part to one of the city’s most new and improved playgrounds. After a two-year long, $1.7 million renovation funded by the borough president and city council, the DiSalvio Playground recently re-opened to the delight of both neighborhood kids and kids who have traveled from other parts of the city. Read on for an overview of our recent visit.

Best Mother's Day Brunch Restaurants for Families Across NYC

Mother's Day is fast approaching, on Sunday, May 12, 2019, which means it's time to start planning a special day for the well-deserving mom(s) in your life. Speaking from experience, all moms really want is a little time off. You could choose breakfast in bed, but why not instead forgo chores altogether and hit one of NYC's many delicious brunch spots?

We've rounded up a host of scrumptious, kid-friendly places throughout Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, and the Bronx. As if that wasn't enough, we've got tons more picks in our Family-Friendly Restaurant Guide. Pinpoint your special lady's preference, make reservations, and get ready to dig in.

After brunch, head out to one of these great family events happening that Sunday. However you decide to spend the day, Happy Mother's Day from your peers at Mommy Poppins.

16 Great Parks and Playgrounds for NYC Kids' Birthdays

Savvy DIY parents know that during the warmer months, New York City's parks make a fun (and inexpensive) backdrop for a birthday bash. Granted, this type of party requires more work than booking one of those all-inclusive packages, but you get to control most of the details, including the cost (though sadly, not the weather).

Find more party spots in our NYC Birthday Guide, including inexpensive room rentals for when bad weather threatens the fun.

25 Outdoor Adventures in the City for NYC Kids

One of the main reasons we're willing to deal with the challenges of raising kids in NYC (the crazy rents, the stressful school searches, the closets for apartments) is our easy access to enriching cultural activities like theater and museums. When it's time for some good old-fashioned outdoor fun, New York can be equally enriching. The city offers a range of bucolic parks and more destinations where kids can get busy playing outside, without leaving the five boroughs. 

From camping under the stars to fishing to zip-lining, here are 25 fresh ways to enjoy a spring staycation with the whole family. Some are FREE, most are accessible by public transportation, and we guarantee that they are all tons of fun. 

8 Free New York City Skateboard Parks

Skateboarding is one of the few sports actually designed for urban spaces, which may be why NYC kids love it so much. Skating uses the city environment as the stage for its tricks, but finding a safe place to skate can be tough. Skate parks provide a perfectly designed place to practice those skateboarding fakie flips and to grab some air. These spots in and near New York City are great for beginners and seasoned skateboarders alike. (Sometimes you'll also spy inline skaters or BMX bikers.)

All these skate parks put safety first. Athletes must wear helmets, kneepads and elbow pads, and kids under age 18 are also required to put on wrist guards. That said, most skate parks are unsupervised and have an enter-at-your-own-risk policy. Some even require parents to sign waivers for their children. So be safe, and enjoy the spring weather! For more outdoor sports and kid-friendly fun, see our guide to NYC's best parks and playgrounds.

10 Birthday Cake Bakeries in NYC with Stunning Designs for Kids

Looking for a kids’ birthday cake takes the cake, doesn't it? Call off the search, because we’ve scoured the five boroughs to find the most mind-blowing confections that pair perfectly with that awesome party spot you found.

Whether you want a twist on a classic treat, gluten-free goodies, or a sculpted replica of your child's favorite character, there's something for everyone in this delicious roundup of New York City bakeries and studios.

Easter Egg Hunts for Kids in New York City

Easter Sunday is April 21 this year—later than usual, but really just a hop, skip, and a jump away. One of the best ways to celebrate with kids is to attend one of NYC's treat-filled egg hunts. Most are outdoors in playgrounds and parks, zoos, and gardens, but a few are indoors at museums and other cultural spots. Many offer additional spring fun, including seasonal crafts, face painting, and live entertainment.

Remember, Easter egg hunts in NYC are extremely popular so arrive early and expect hordes. If you dislike crowds, avoid the free hunts and opt for those that carry a small fee as they usually cap the number of participants. Or get your photo op with the Easter Bunny in ahead of time at these brunches.

Top Summer Camps in NYC — STEM, Arts, and More

Most parents know the importance of STEM learning in this tech-focused world, but the arts—and balance—are just as meaningful. Once school lets out, summer is the perfect opportunity for kids to mix things up with more arts and active play, either as part of a STEM program or not.

We've gathered some of our favorite partner camps that offer amazing visual arts, film, dance, theater, and cooking programs; super cool STEM curriculums featuring everything from forensics to Minecraft; and some that keep kids on their toes by offering a little bit of this and that. For even more ideas, check out our New York City Camp Guide, or browse our Summer Camp Directory by location, type, and age!

Best Shows for NYC Kids and Families for Spring 2019

The spring is always a great time for family theater, but the next few months look particularly exciting. There are page-to-stage adaptations of young-adult favorites (The Lightning Thief: The Percy Jackson Musical, Anne of Green Gables); wordless spectacles to captivate all ages (Snap, Cirque du Soleil's new extravaganza); and a few thought-provoking choices for young teens (The Adventures of Alvin Sputnik: Deep Sea Explorer, Silent Voices: Lovestate).

While on Broadway it's all Beetlejuice and Be More Chill, there's no need to shell out big bucks to give your kids a memorable live entertainment experience in NYC. Most of the 22 shows we're spotlighting are just $25—or less—per ticket.

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