Queens

25 Top Things to Do with NYC Preschoolers Before They Turn 5

New York City doesn't scrimp when it comes to creating awesome family events and institutions, from the many children's museums and zoos and gardens to only-here street and art fests. But as a mom of two children younger than 5, I'm always looking for fun activities that appeal to the city's youngest children. It's such a special window of time, and I want to create lasting memories—within budgetary reason, and manageable enough for kids who sometimes still need a nap and a sippy cup of milk.

So, inspired by our roundup of 100 things to do with kids in NYC before they grow up, we came up with a list of 25 things to do with toddlers and preschoolers around the city before they turn 5 and head to kindergarten. A few of our selections are well-known favorites with specific under-the-radar attractions for preschoolers, while others are more off the beaten path, but all are things we've enjoyed doing or aspire to try soon!

15 Not-So-Scary Halloween Events in NYC for the Preschool Set

When my son was a baby, I wondered if he'd ever know the joy of trick-or-treating door to door like his suburban counterparts. But over the years, I've learned that NYC really knows how to celebrate Halloween. There are a dizzying number of FREE Halloween celebrations, kid-friendly costume parades, and close-knit communities that dole out copious amounts of candy to trick-or-treaters.

For little New Yorkers, the holiday can sometimes seem more scary than sweet—or take place mostly after bedtime. So we've put together a list of 15 Halloween events perfect for the preschool set, many of them FREE. Ease them in and enjoy the holiday fun while it lasts; they'll be celebrating at the Village Halloween Parade before you know it.

For more Halloween happenings, check out our Halloween Guide and our events calendar, which is continually updated with new, fun events as we find out about them.

Best Places to Trick-or-Treat on Halloween with NYC Kids

One of my favorite childhood memories from growing up in NYC was Halloween in Greenwich Village. Back then, the Village Halloween Parade was just a couple hundred artists and others who marched through the neighborhood. Afterward, we would trick-or-treat up and down the brownstone blocks. Everyone was friendly, and we would come home with our shopping bags completely filled. It was magical.

Although the parade and Greenwich Village have changed a lot since then, your kids still can enjoy that kind of thrilling trick-or-treat experience in many New York City neighborhoods. Which neighborhood is the best for Halloween trick-or-treating depends on who you ask. New Yorkers love to bicker over the best coffee shops, the best (and worst) train lines, and yes, the best places to take their kids on Halloween. We also love to find that secret gem.

So we asked our astute readers and collected recommendations from our parent-driven NYC staff over many, many years to bring you a list of our favorite trick-or-treating spots so you'll know where to bring your kids this October 31.

Join one of the local Halloween parades and then go trick-or-treating throughout the community with local families. Or hit one of the neighborhoods or streets listed below: We have a slew of spots to try in all five boroughs. For more seasonal fun, check out our jam-packed Halloween Guide, showcasing FREE events, haunted houses, pumpkin patches, and more.

Eat Around the World in Astoria at Kid-Friendly Restaurants

New York City has always been called a melting pot, drawing immigrants from diverse backgrounds. But beyond the name, few people are aware that the most diverse part of the world lives in one particular borough: Queens! More languages are spoken in Queens than ANYWHERE else. People from around the world are attracted to Queens and have been growing their families here for generations. And everyone knows—with culture and language, comes food.

I asked my fellow Astoria moms to name their favorite eats and I received over 50 responses! With their help, I compiled this list of tried-and-true establishments that have friendly service, approachable menus for picky eaters and kid-friendly atmospheres.  

Welcome to “Eat Around the World in Astoria,” one of Queens’ most unique hodgepodge neighborhoods, with an extraordinary range of restaurants to please everyone.

Haunted Halloween Houses and Not-too-Spooky Walks for NYC Kids

Looking for a not-too-scary Halloween fright for the kids? A tricked-out haunted house or slightly spooky Halloween trail just might be the right kind of boo for you.

Haunted houses long have been a popular suburban Halloween stapleLong Island and Westchester are rife with them. And while NYC has gained several spooky haunted houses of its own, including Blood Manor, those are for grown-ups only. However, there are a handful of haunted houses in New York City that offer gentler Halloween chills for families.

You're sure to find spooky, family-friendly attractions at pretty much every Halloween festival and fall fair. But we're skipping those to tell you about the best of the city's more elaborate and kid-friendly haunted houses and other spooky attractions for kids this year. Read on for the scoop—and heed the age warnings. While grade-school kids can attend most of these, not all are suitable for preschoolers.

Free NYC Halloween Parades for Kids

Everyone loves a parade, which means we're all absolutely smitten with Halloween parades. While families with older kids may dare to take in the iconic Village Halloween Parade on Sixth Avenue in Manhattan, it can be pretty scary—it's always insanely crowded, loud, and many of the costumes are risque, gory, or in poor taste. If your children aren't up for that big Hallow-baloo, there are plenty of smaller, kid-friendly NYC neighborhood parades, in Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, and the Bronx, including the Ragamuffin Parade in Bay Ridge, the mega Jackson Heights parade, the famed Park Slope march, and a G-rated Village parade for little ones.

We've rounded up community-driven Halloween processions for families to watch or march in, most of which are FREE. If you don't live in a great trick-or-treating area, these parades are a wonderful way to hunt for candy in another neighborhood. Find even more seasonal happenings in our Halloween Fun Guide.

12 NYC Food Courts and Markets That Make Family Mealtime Easy

Food courts, in spite of their mall­-culture reputation, are enjoying a bit of a renaissance, and not just in suburbia. Right here in NYC, food halls are gaining major foodie clout with excellent vendors, artisan marketplaces, and appealing perks (and sweet treats) for families with kids. Actually a food court might just be the perfect eatery for families: there's a food option for everyone, minimal wait times, multiple bathrooms, and no one notices if your kid tantrums or drops half their meal on the floor.

Because we're always on the lookout for great kid-­friendly outings, especially during the colder months, we've rounded up, and sampled, 12 outstanding food halls that offer top-notch eats, spacious seating, and lots to do in the surrounding neighborhood, including Battery Park, Chelsea, the Theater District, and Fort Greene, Brooklyn.

Check out our NYC Restaurant Guide for even more family dining options in just about every neighborhood—and every finicky palate. 

Register for Free Swimming Lessons for NYC Kids

The New York City Parks Department offers FREE aquatic programs for children under 18 all year round, as well as adults, but you have to apply through an online lottery for each session. Fall swimming lessons are on the horizon; the lottery for the first two-week session opened on Monday, October 2 at noon and runs through Monday, October 9 at 11:59pm.

Fall swim lessons will take place Monday, October 16, 2017 through Saturday, December 30, 2017. The mandatory water test for older kids will take place Saturday, October 14.

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

18 Indoor Party Spots with Mega Playgrounds for Kids' Birthdays

For parents of winter babies, we feel your pain when it comes to birthday party options. While summer baby parents have both indoor and outdoor options (the park! the pool!), those of us with children born in colder months (or even fall and early spring), need to find a space where kids can run off all that pizza-and-cake energy. Enter: mega play spaces.

From bounce houses and trampolines to arcade-packed game spaces, these wide-open spaces give all pint-sized guests a chance to run free. Check out our top picks below—and start booking now.

23 Fun Things To Do with NYC Kids on Columbus Day

New York City kids have only been in school for a month and weary parents are staring down another off-day. But don’t panic. There are plenty of New York City kid spots and activities ready to entertain you and your brood on Columbus Day.

Fall weather offers the perfect chance to hit up one of New York City’s many destination playgrounds, of course, but we’ve also scoured our event and museum listings, and combed through our day trip guides to put together a list of 23 things to do with the family on Columbus Day. Read on desperate parent, read on.

Check out our Columbus Day Weekend event picks for NYC kids to find even more happenings for the holiday weekend.

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