Best of Astoria with Kids: Play Spaces and Indoor Attractions

Families flock to Astoria, Queens, for its parks, pool, and great restaurants, but also the trove of family-friendly indoor entertainment, from top museums like the Museum of the Moving Image to creative kids' classes and fun play spaces.

We can't possibly list all of the wonderful programs on tap, but we're highlighting locations that offer drop-in sessions, as well as a few perennial family favorites that require longer commitments. Many of these spots attract residents from all over Queens, including my kids and I, who come from Sunnyside to hit The Yoga Room and the inexpensive but fun play space, Kids Playhouse Astoria.

Here are 11 places where kids can swim, dance, bowl or just get their sillies out in Astoria, Queens.

10 Montessori Preschools in New York City

Picking out a preschool is no simple feat. From dual-language and immersion programs to outdoor and nature-themed classes, there are so many options and, as always, so little time. But, if you're considering sending your child to a Montessori school, this roundup of some of the most popular ones in New York City could save you some stress.

For the uninitiated, Montessori is an educational philosophy developed more than a century ago that encourages kids to be independent and learn at their own pace. Typically students are grouped by ability rather than age, classrooms are outfitted with specific learning materials, and specially trained teachers act as observers and facilitators. Read on to see what makes these 10 NYC schools extra special, and you just might find the perfect fit for your preschooler.

Find more options in our Preschool Guide and Directory.

Hobby Shops for NYC Kids: Model Trains, Planes, and Robots

Just like authentic New York soda fountains and ma-and-pa stores, old-fashioned hobby shops are seemingly an endangered species in NYC. But they're not dead yet.

Thanks to the popularity of the maker movement, hobby shops are enjoying a resurgence as kids (and grown-ups) look for fun, hands-on projects that range from assembling intricate models to flying remote-control airplanes, building robots, and racing model trains. That last option is one of my 9-year-old's favorite pastimes.

Although you can buy most of these kits online, visiting a brick-and-mortar hobby shop can be an inspiring experience for children who like to tinker, experiment and create. Plus, they get a chance to meet their fellow enthusiasts and learn from the vets. Whether your kids are into planes, trains, or automobiles, here are 10 hobby shops across the five boroughs where families can stock up on all their DIY model-building needs.

The Museum of the Moving Image: Best Things to See with Kids

The Museum of the Moving Image is one of Astoria's hidden gems. Situated right next to Kaufman Studios—the home of Sesame Street and decades of film and television history—the museum features an amazing permanent exhibit as well as an ever-changing roster of special exhibitions, series, and events, including family movie showings and film series. There's something for every age range, making it a favorite go-to spot for my Queens family.

The Museum of the Moving Image has some exciting changes on the horizon, including an upcoming permanent exhibit honoring the late, great Jim Henson that we simply cannot wait to see. Read on for details on the planned exhibit, plus other useful tips for making the most of your visit with kids, including what to see, the best time to visit, and the scoop on family programming.

Let's Play Playhouse Reopens in Astoria After Full Makeover

One of Astoria’s favorite kids' drop-in play spots just got a serious makeover—and we're smitten. Once known as Kids Playhouse, the new romping spot is now Let's Play Playhouse. While you'll still find that iconic double slide and two-story jungle gym, there are several welcome changes, including the addition of classes for babies and toddlers, new flooring, and rotating educational themes that hew to the motto: Learning through play.

After several visits, my 4-year-old and I quickly declared it our new rainy day hangout

Queens has always boasted a number of great indoor play spaces for kids, but it seems it's trying to give Brooklyn kiddie gyms some competition lately as there's been a flurry of new openings, including Good Day Play Cafe in Bayside, Sunnyside Plays, Shastye Art and Play Space in Astoria, and a new sensory gym for children with disabilities. Read on for our review of Let's Play.

7 Free Outdoor Art Exhibits to See with NYC Kids Now

Want to see some art with your kids, but can’t handle the hordes of summer tourists? (Guilty!) Believe that museums make more sense during the frigid winter months? (Also guilty.) Just not able to make your work hours or the kids' naps coordinate with FREE hours at NYC museums? (Hand raised.)

Here’s the solution: check out these seven outdoor art exhibits on display in NYC now. Since they’re located in city parks and other public spaces, they’re FREE! All have art that is interactive (to some degree), educational, and fun for kids. At one exhibit—Swale, a traveling barge with a “floating food forest”—you can even feed your kids healthy food they pick themselves. What could be better? Maybe the fact that you're outside and your children can run around afterward and get tuckered out? (Guilty again.)

5 Things to Do on Mother's Day in NYC that Mom Will Love

Sure, a tasty Mother's Day brunch is nice, but just that word, nice. C'mon mom, you know you're more fabulous than that.

This year, Sunday, May 8 is all about you, so no simple meal, not even breakfast in bed will do. Mother's Day should be a whole-day affair that's fun for everyone in the family, especially in NYC, where options are as amazing as mom herself. You could book tickets to a kid-friendly Broadway musical—in addition to stalwarts Wicked and The Lion King, there are new tuners like School of Rock and Tuck Everlasting for which tickets are more available. If the tots are too young for Broadway, there are plenty of shows for preschoolers that are shorter and less expensive. Into museums? There are engaging new exhibits about dinosaurs, kid-lit icon Mo Willems and Star Wars sure to please all ages. Or you could splurge on a special experience such as a helicopter ride or a family spa day.

But if your ideal Mother's Day features an outdoor activity that makes the most of the spring season, we've come up with five memorable itineraries that include food and alfresco family fun that won't blow your budget.

10 Postnatal Workout Classes for NYC Moms

Getting back into shape after having a baby can be daunting. But we know exercise gives us more energy, encourages a positive body image, and just seems to make us feel better. Don't know where to start? A postnatal exercise class geared toward new moms is a great way to get motivated, meet other new moms, and learn what exercises will help you look like your old self (or better).

We've rounded up 10 postnatal exercise classes in New York City that address the needs of your new body. Many are baby friendly and some offer free or discounted trial classes. As with any new exercise program, check with your doctor for the go-ahead.

Check our NYC Baby Guide from Pregnancy to Preschool for more new mom city info, or find more classes in our Classes Guide and Directory Listings.

Meet Snoopy and Celebrate the Peanuts Movie All Over NYC

Good grief! The Peanuts Movie, the first-ever 3D feature film based on Charles M. Schulz's beloved cartoon characters, hits theaters next month and to celebrate, the studio is sponsoring Snoopy-themed kid activities throughout NYC starting this Saturday, October 24. Whether your children are already fans from watching those classic holiday TV specials like It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown and A Charlie Brown Christmas or are just now learning how awesome Charlie, Linus, Lucy and the rest of the gang are, they're sure to have a blast at these FREE Snoopy sightings, cartooning lessons and other Peanuts-centric events in Manhattan and the outer boroughs.

News: BAM Expands, Prospect Park Renovates and Playground Upgrades in Queens

The Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM) is set to embark on a $25 million expansion that will add another building with gallery spaces and a cafe, as well as upgrades like new balcony seating in the Harvey Theater. The former president of the Fort Greene cultural institution and performing arts center told The New York Times the plan is "the last piece of the BAM campus." Construction could begin as soon as this summer, with financing coming from a combination of public and private sources, according to The Wall Street Journal.

In other Brooklyn news, renovations at Prospect Park continue in anticipation of its 150th anniversary in 2016. Six projects are underway by the Prospect Park Alliance, which manages the park, including a restoration of the rose garden and several footpaths such as the one that leads from the zoo to the Zucker Natural Exploration Area (aka, kid play zone), according to DNAinfo.  


Subscribe to RSS - Astoria