Queens

Take the Subway to NYC Beaches: Coney, Rockaway, Orchard Beach

Fourteen miles of sparkling sand and crashing waves can be found in four of the five boroughs (sorry river-locked Manhattan), which is good news for NYC families. Because as much as we enjoy hitting the Jersey Shore, Fire Island, and other Long Island beaches, we're not big fans of renting cars and sitting in traffic.

New York City's beaches are just a subway, bus, or ferry ride away. From the "Bronx Rivera" to iconic Coney Island and the Rockaways, these urban seasides often offer just about everything suburban beaches do—except the out-of-town commute.

10 New and Updated NYC Playgrounds You (Probably) Haven't Visited Yet

Are your kids suffering from a bit of "been there, climbed that" playground fatigue at their tried-and-true favorite play spot? It may be time to explore a new romping ground. Fortunately, the NYC parks are ever changing. Here, we present 10 new (or nearly new) and updated playgrounds you probably haven't visited yet.

And of course, you can find all our favorite spots, old and new, in our Parks and Playgrounds Guide.

10 of Our Favorite Picnic Spots With Built-in Entertainment

As soon as the days are warm and mild enough to eat outdoors (whether or not summer has officially kicked off), dining al fresco is hard to beat. If your kids can't sit still for a restaurant meal even in a kid-friendly backyard, consider packing a picnic or picking up some portable eats and striking out for your nearest greenspace. Here are our 10 favorite parks to picnic, with bonus points for entertainment during or after your meal.

Best Water Playgrounds and Sprinklers for Kids in NYC

When we were growing up, New York City playgrounds had sprinklers. Now parks and playgrounds across the five boroughs have "water features"—fountains, geysers, rivers, pumps, and beautiful spraying statues. Kids just love them, and we parents prefer these newfangled playgrounds because they're pretty and cool, and make us feel as if our exorbitant NYC housing costs are justified.

Sprinkler season in NYC parks kicks into gear when the temps reach 80 degrees, although some parks may turn on water features earlier. There are hundreds of water features in NYC parks, and we've highlighted some favorites by borough: the best in Brooklyn, best of Queens, and best of the Bronx. Some are cooler (literally and figuratively) than others, and more amazing ones seem to open every year. When we first published this article in 2008, we had five favorite splashing spots. Now we're up to 27 fancy playgrounds where kids can get wet in NYC. See if your favorites made our list.

10 Underrated NYC Parks You (Probably) Haven't Visited Yet

Central Park, Prospect Park, Brooklyn Bridge Park—even if you only just arrived in NYC, we probably don't need to tell you that these are all must-see green spaces. But did you know that according to the NYC Department of Parks and Recreation, 14 percent of the city is parkland? That's more than 30,000 acres!

So if you're looking for a new-to-you outdoor destination to explore, we've got 10 off-the-beaten-path parks worth putting on your NYC family bucket list. Some are massive and boast a wide array of attractions for all seasons; others are small but picturesque and host popular annual events for families. With months of outdoor play weather ahead of us, check out this list and visit some of the city's best hidden gems.

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.

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.

12 Cool Themed Playgrounds in NYC to Inspire Kids' Imaginations

Imagination is the stuff of childhood magic—and NYC's cleverest themed parks and playgrounds are designed to inspire your kid's always-active mind. Whether your kid fancies playing prehistoric explorer, dreams of conquering Ancient Egypt, or wants to trek across Africa on safari, there's a playground for that. Here are 12 of our favorite themed playgrounds across all five boroughs.

Cirque du Soleil's Jaw-Dropping LUZIA Opens Under the Big Top

One of the reasons my family and I love going to Cirque du Soleil spectacles is we never know what to expect. Sure, there will always be world-class circus artists performing jaw-dropping feats, but what sets the company apart from other troupes are the eye-popping environments it creates through sumptuous design. We know we're going to be transported, but to where? For Cirque's latest extravaganza, LUZIA, currently running at Citi Field in Queens, the destination is a fantastical imagining of Mexico filled with oversize puppet animals; cascading walls of water; mariachi-tinged music; colorful projections; and, of course, gorgeously outfitted acrobats, aerialists, and other athletic performers who seem to defy the laws of physics.

With two jaded teens in tow who've seen many a circus, I worried they might pull a been there, seen that 'tude. Heck, I figured I might feel that way, too, because I've been attending Cirque shows since before I became a mom. But at 13, 16, and even my advanced age, we were all as wide-eyed with wonder as the youngsters sitting behind us, because LUZIA is one of the most breathtaking Cirque creations in years.

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.

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