Karaoke for NYC Kids: Family-friendly Singing Spots

Ah, karaoke, a favorite activity for rowdy office parties and over-21 birthdays. The last time I went to a karaoke place, my coat ended up on the floor, soaking in a puddle of beer. It was a fun night out... but one I couldn't share with my children.

But karaoke-loving kids don't need to confine their singing to the shower. They can enjoy an authentic experience, minus the R-rated lyrics and copious amounts of alcohol, at a number of New York City karaoke spots that have family-friendly hours during the daytime. Many of these places even offer children's party packages where the bottomless pitchers of beer are replaced with juice or soda.

Favorite Family Restaurants in Queens

As a proud Queens native, I'm always looking for new ways to encourage others (including my own family) to explore my home borough. And since it's famous for being culturally diverse, a do-it-yourself food tour is a great way to get a taste of all the different neighborhoods.

Queens boasts some of the best kid-friendly restaurants in New York City—and I'm not just saying that because I was raised here. You can introduce your children to a wide variety of authentic cuisine at reasonable prices, and the portions are so big you always end up with leftovers to take home. Plus there are off-the-beaten path gems that have incredible kid appeal, like coffee house Waltz-Astoria and its family concerts and old New York soda fountains Eddie's Sweet Shop and Jahn's.

I thought about all of the places I've eaten in Queens over the years and came up with my personal list of the top ten restaurants, bakeries and ice cream parlors that are all worth schlepping the kids to, even if you live in another borough. See if your favorites made the cut and feel free to share your additions in the comments as I know there are many, many more.

National Hispanic Heritage Month: Meaningful Ways to Celebrate Latino Culture All Year Long

The problem with giving various groups a designated month—Black History Month, Women's History Month, Gay Pride Month, etc.—is that after 30 or so days the topic is unceremoniously dropped and not mentioned until the next year. Well, we're not going to fall into that trap. While National Hispanic Heritage Month officially runs from September 15 to October 15, there are lots of ways to celebrate Hispanic culture all year round in New York City. (Not surprising since, according to the most recent census report, more than 2 million people of Hispanic descent live in the Big Apple!) Here are some of our favorite places to explore and learn about Latino culture with kids in NYC during National Hispanic Heritage Month and beyond.

NYC Kids' Eyeglasses: Where to Find Children's Eyewear in New York City

[UPDATED: December 1, 2012]

Shopping for kids' eyeglasses isn't like shopping for clothes or shoes. With prescription glasses, the fit and the style have to be perfect—after all, your child will be wearing them every day. So while there are many excellent eyewear stores in New York City, it's best to go to one that has experience fitting glasses for kids, especially since your child may not realize if a prescription is slightly off or if the frames are pinching the nose. It's also important to find a shop with an onsite optometrist and a wide selection of children's eyeglasses so your kid can find a pair that makes him feel comfortable, confident and even cool.

We contacted a number of well regarded local pediatric ophthalmology offices and asked where they send their clients for kids' glasses in NYC.

NYC Museum Design Studios: Six Hands-on Spots Where Kids Can Get Creative

Lately we've noticed a really cool culture trend: A number of New York City museums have opened up hands-on design studios where kids can play, tinker and create using a wide range of materials and their imaginations. (Sure beats just looking at art.) The Museum of Modern Art debuted its Material Lab back in 2011, and since then the New York Hall of Science, Cooper-Hewitt, the Children's Museum of Manhattan and the Museum of the Moving Image have followed suit. And of course the granddaddy of them all—the Children's Museum of the Arts, which is like one massive design studio—moved into its new state-of-the-art space last fall.

While families can drop in to CMA anytime for all kinds of creative fun, some of these other design studios are only open for specific events. We've got the scoop on when you can visit these six spots and what kinds of hands-on fun you'll find.

Favorite Birthday Cake and Cupcake Bakeries in New York City

Whether it’s good old-fashioned angel food or trendy Southern red velvet, birthday cake is still the highlight of any party for kids. These days, however, the definition of “birthday cake” is expanding to also include cupcakes (amazing what one little episode of Sex and the City can do). Cupcakes are a good party choice because they can be cheaper, easier to serve, and more customizable than regular party cakes—the perfect answer when half your guests want chocolate and the other half crave vanilla. Whichever way you go, consider the following places. They’ll make any birthday party a sweet celebration.

Best of New York City for Kids 2011: Our Favorite New NYC Spots

Happy New Year! New Year's is always a special time for Mommy Poppins because I started the site as a New Year's resolution five years ago (happy fifth birthday, MP!), and I wrote our popular list of 100 Things to Do in NYC with Kids the following New Year's. (Apparently I'm highly motivated by New Year's, who knew?). Unfortunately, I don't have anything that exciting up my sleeve today, but couldn't let January 1 go by without acknowledging some of the amazing new destinations we wrote about in 2011.

As we all know, NYC is constantly evolving with new attractions opening (and closing) all the time. While the pace of new kid biz openings seems to have slowed from its heyday a few years ago, there are still incredible places popping up in New York City. If you follow the site religiously, you will know about all of these, but for those of you who may have missed one or two of the approximately 500 posts we wrote this year, here's a rundown of our favorite new NYC attractions for families that opened in 2011.

Free Holiday Fun: Celebrate the New Season with Make Music Winter

At this time of year, it's very easy to get caught up in spending a lot of money on gifts for family and friends, or high-priced holiday events. But really, you don't have to part with a penny to enjoy the holidays in NYC. We've been telling you about all kinds of free fun like going to see Christmas trees and giant menorahs, or taking a family stroll past all of the department store windows. Now we have a brand-new no-cost celebration to add to our must-experience list: Make Music Winter.

Every year, Make Music sponsors more than 1,000 complimentary outdoor concerts on the first day of summer throughout NYC. For the first time, the organization will sponsor 12 free music parades to mark the start of winter on Wednesday, December 21. Families can watch or sometimes even join these processions as they travel throughout a dozen NYC neighborhoods. It sounds like a wonderful variation on traditional Christmas caroling that combines three of our favorite things: creativity, community and no-cost entertainment.

Muppet Mania: 8 Ways to Get Your Muppet On in NYC

Even if you lead a media-challenged life (and if you did, you wouldn't be on this website), you probably know that the new Muppets movie is coming out next week. I can't remember the last time I was so psyched about seeing a film—and not just because I happen to like dressing up as Miss Piggy (yes, that's me in the pic). The Muppets is one of the few family flicks coming out this holiday season that I'm as excited to see as my daughter. (Alvin and the Chipmunks 3... not so much.)

Ever since they came to international fame on Sesame Street, New York City has been the unofficial home of the Muppets. Not only does the iconic PBS series film here in Queens at Astoria Kaufman Studios, its urban set was clearly inspired by the Big Apple, so it's not surprising that we love celebrating the Muppets in this town.

Here are eight fun ways families can get their Muppet on in NYC, besides going to the new movie.

Great Prenatal Yoga Studios in New York City

Pregnancy is a strange and beautiful time. You get to grow an entire new human PLUS experience such joys as nausea, back pain, varicose veins, and more. Luckily, prenatal yoga can help with the various discomforts of pregnancy. It’s also a lovely way to commune with your growing child (and belly), prepare yourself for labor, and meet other expecting mamas. Here are six great prenatal yoga studios around the city.


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