Astoria

10 New NYC Destinations to Check Out with Kids This Summer

New York City is brimming with things to see and explore with kids, from world-class museums to the great outdoors. No wonder our town is called the city that never sleeps! And yet sometimes you fall into a rut, visiting the same old favorites over and over, never leaving your comfort zone.

Well, it's time to break that habit. We've rounded up 10 new-to-NYC destinations that are worth putting on your family's summer fun bucket list. Get ready to trade the familiar for the fresh!

Queens Dance Classes for Kids: Ballet, Tap, Hip-Hop

Hey Queens parents: Do you have a kid who's pleading for dance lessons but you dread the thought of schlepping to Manhattan or Brooklyn? That was my worry when my preschooler started begging for ballet. But after doing a little research and talking to many of my fellow Queens moms, I was happy to discover that I don't need to leave the borough to find quality dance studios for children. Bonus: Dance classes in Queens tend to be significantly less expensive than their Manhattan and even Brooklyn counterparts, and many offer scholarships or sliding-scale tuition for those who qualify.

Some Queens dance studios are local favorites that have been serving their communities for years, like Landrum in Whitestone and Heavenly Bodies Dance Studio in Ozone Park. Others, like Astoria's Sol Dance Center, are part of the wave of new kid-friendly businesses opening up throughout the borough. And if you have a dance-loving boy, don't worry: Most of these programs offer classes for boys, including ballet and hip-hop.

Here are 12 Queens dance studios offering classes for kids and teens who are serious about ballet, tap, modern and other dance styles. You can find other enriching programs in our Classes Guide and Directory Listings.

9 Yoga Studios in NYC with Parent-Child Classes

Mommy & Me yoga classes are a weekly date for my son and me. We have been going since he was about two years old and now, more than a year later, we are having as much fun as ever.

I have found that yoga is a great way to bond with your child while also getting a workout. When my son first started taking these classes, he loved being able to show off his downward dog or butterfly pose. Since then, he has gained great strength and flexibility, and even knows how take a deep breath as a means to calm himself—a technique we have used to stave off many a temper tantrum.

If you and your tot are looking to get your om on, here are our picks for Mommy & Me yoga programs in NYC.

Community Staple Raising Astoria Reopens with Drop-in Playtime & Kids' Classes in Queens

When Raising Astoria originally opened in 2012, it offered the Astoria community a great local spot for kids' consignment and fun classes. However, this past February it closed for upgrades and changes. As owners Kim and Laurie put it, they were letting the needs of the community define their mission—and that continues to be true. Many local parents helped Raising Astoria transform from a store into a kids' enrichment destination by helping clean out the consignment shop, along with other odds and ends.

While kids missed the classes during the transition, the reopening was a great, refreshing start for this beloved spot. If you are looking for a wonderful play space or are a new or expecting mom, Raising Astoria is an invaluable resource, with its close-knit community feel, informative workshops and lots of hands-on fun!

Kid-Friendly Global Queens Food Crawl

Foodies know that NYC's most diverse borough is where it’s at for the best international dining delights. You can travel the globe with your kids going from neighborhood to neighborhood, exploring the different ethnic enclaves and great restaurants. But as a car-less Manhattanite, the treasures of Queens always seem just out of reach. Everything in the borough is spread out and often far from mass transit. So when Toyota offered me a loaner car, I knew exactly how we would use it. I didn’t dream of packing up and going skiing or driving to another city. The one thing I wanted to do was taste all the global foodie goodness in Queens efficiently.

After extensive research, we packed the kids in the car and set off to Queens to eat as much as we possibly could. Our Queens food crawl featured eight stops, seven distinct nationalities, six neighborhoods and one Toyota Sienna. We didn't just eat great food; we had fun experiences and expanded our horizons. This is why we live in New York City, folks. If you haven’t done your share of exploring the ethnic eateries of Queens, get hoppin’. Here’s where and what we ate:

Holiday Shopping in Queens: 8 Great Stores for Unique Gifts for Kids

When looking for truly unique presents for my family, I skip the big chains and shop locally at some of my favorite independent stores. Lucky for me, many of my go-to gift spots are located right in my home borough of Queens.

Over the past few years, lots of cool, locally owned Queens boutiques have been opening up or expanding. These are the kind of places where you can pick up interesting (and often eco-friendly) toys, clothes, books, gear and other items for children and sometimes adults, too. If you don't have time to stop in, most of these stores have websites so you can buy online while still supporting a community business.

Holiday Markets in New York City 2014

New York City is a flurry of holiday shopping at this time of year. There are wonderful seasonal markets all over town selling crafts, unique boutique goods, food and more. These cool local spots aren't just in Manhattan either; there are several markets in the outer boroughs, too.

Unlike the craziness of Black Friday, these shopping experiences are much more relaxed for families. Plus, you're often supporting local businesses and artisans. We love shopping local so much, we made it the focus of our Holiday Gift Guide. Read on for our round-up of New York City holiday markets.

Family-Friendly Restaurants in Astoria, Queens: Not Just Greek, Try Ethnic Eats from Around the World

We finish up our series of posts about Astoria, Queens with a roundup of our favorite family-friendly restaurants in the area. While Astoria is rightfully known for its Greek eateries, you'll find lots of other awesome ethnic cuisines in this diverse neighborhood, too. Our list includes Czech, Japanese, Cajun, Middle Eastern and good ol' American burgers spots, plus two of our top ten destination family restaurants in all of Queens. Here are 13 kid-friendly restaurants to check out in Astoria.

Astoria Park & Other Places to Play in Astoria Queens

We continue our month-long focus on Astoria, Queens with an in-depth look at its parks and playgrounds. Its namesake green space—the beautiful, 60-acre, waterfront Astoria Park—is unquestionably the neighborhood's crown jewel boasting NYC's largest outdoor public pool, a popular playground and great photo ops with the Hell Gate and RFK Bridges.

But there are other smaller Astoria parks and playgrounds worth checking out, too. Some even offer FREE summer programming and beloved annual family festivals. Here are 9 parks and playgrounds to explore in Astoria, Queens.

Free & Cheap Indoor Movies for NYC Kids

During the winter, families try to pack their free time with stimulating activities to keep out the stir-crazy. Museums, shows and, of course, movies are always a good bet. But before you go into hock taking the kids to your local cineplex, did you know that you can catch family movies for FREE (or on the cheap) throughout the year? Here are six great places where you can see no-cost or inexpensive flicks, making your "free" days a little freer.

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