Flushing

Best Destination Sandboxes at Local Parks for NYC Kids

There's no denying it—kids love diving into a sandbox, running their shovels and hands through the grains of sand, dumping a full bucket over and generally getting their hands dirty.

Though NYC parents might get grossed out at the thought of what could be lurking in our uncovered, urban sandboxes, it's hard to forbid preschoolers one of their most beloved sensory experiences. So pull up a bench (and your cup of coffee; you'll be here a while!), and check out these eight toddler-tested, mom-approved NYC sandboxes. We've done our best to find the cleanest ones across the city. Besides, you can always wash their hands in the nearby sprinklers or park bathrooms when you're finally able to get them out.

And hey, you don't have to hoof it out to the local beach to reach this sand, which just means more time for other NYC kid activities. Find more destination playgrounds in our NYC Parks & Playgrounds Guide.

Best Places to See Cherry Blossoms as a Family in NYC

There are few more delightful ways to celebrate the arrival of spring than by viewing the beautiful cherry blossoms flowering all over New York City. Everyone seems to know about the Sakura Matsuri Cherry Blossom Festival at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, but there are other places to enjoy these gorgeous blossoms without the crowds this April and even deeper into the spring season.

In Japan, cherry blossom-viewing is taken to almost religious heights. Blooming flowers are carefully watched, enjoyed, and celebrated. Traditional Sakura Hanami parties feature eating, drinking, and music.

Here are the best places to see cherry blossoms in New York City this spring.

The Best Spring Theater for NYC Kids: 17 Fabulous Shows

The spring is always a great time for family theater, but this season looks particularly exciting. There are page-to-stage adaptations of cool kid lit (The Little Red Fish for toddlers and Seedfolks for tweens); wordless spectacles to captivate all ages (clown show Air Play and underwater spectacle Symphonie Fantastique); and Lincoln Center's Big Umbrella Festival, the first-ever monthlong performance fest for children on the autism spectrum.

While on Broadway it's all Frozen, Harry Potter, and Mean Girls mania, there's no need to shell out big bucks to give your kids a memorable live entertainment experience in NYC. Most of the 17 shows we're spotlighting are just $25—or less—per ticket.

New Water Playground Coming to Flushing Meadows Corona Park

Good news for Queens families and anyone who visits the borough's biggest greenspace: Flushing Meadows Corona Park is getting a seriously face-lift that includes new water play areas for kids to cool down on a hot summer day. 

As part of a master plan developed by the Parks Department, the three fountains built for the 1939 and 1964 World's Fair are getting a major update, including spray jets and a mist garden. The revamp plans also include fresh landscaping and more places to relax around the park.

Night at the Museum: 7 NYC Museum and Zoo Sleepovers for Kids

Sleepovers are all the rage—even Governors Island is getting into the overnight game—but while a night of glamping might be on your to-do list, kids will get a big kick out of sleeping over at one of their favorite cultural institutions. From the Bronx Zoo, to the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum, there's a sleepover to fit any interest and you'll earn some serious cool parent cred with one of these overnight adventures so extravagant, they landed on our splurge GoList.

As you might have guessed, these NYC-style pajama parties aren't just cool, they can also be expensive, and sometimes tough to get into. So if you want to splurge on an amazing overnight experience for your child this year, book early as spaces fill up fast. Each of our picks includes meals or snacks and requires adult chaperones to take part. Note that some are exclusively for scout groups.

NYC Bowling Alleys That Welcome Kids and Families

Bowling is a perfect indoor family activity when you find yourself with some spare time (sorry—couldn't resist). At about age 5, children really start enjoying it, making it an ideal family outing. Bowling birthday parties are a hit for the school-age set and most venues offer special packages and pricing.

There are traditional bowling alleys—think leagues, snack bars, pro shops—in the outer boroughs, but Manhattan's spots err on the side of grown-ups. Don’t worry though: Kids can still find lanes—you just have to know when to go. Here are 16 places to bowl with kids all across New York City.

Indoor Ice Skating Rinks in New York City for Every Season

As much as we love ice skating outside, sometimes it's just too cold, hot, or rainy for New York City's seasonal outdoor rinks. Indoor alternatives let NYC kids skate year-round. Some in-the-know parents with young skate enthusiasts tell me they prefer indoor rinks because the quality of the ice is better, making for a smoother glide, which is especially helpful for newbies.

Here are six NYC indoor ice skating rinks to check out whether your kid is just starting out or even practicing their hockey or figure skating moves. Many offer birthday party options, skating lessons, and rentals and most are open in summer if you ever need to cool down.

The New IDNYC Card Perks for Families You Don't Want to Miss

It's no secret that living in New York City and raising kids here isn't cheap. So one of my favorite finds has been the IDNYC program, which, among other things, offers FREE and reduced-price memberships more than 40 cultural institutions across the city.

Since the municipal ID program launched in 2015, more than 1 million people have turned up at IDNYC centers to get their free ID cards and the benefits that being a card-carrying citizen of this great city brings. In 2018, the city introduced several new institutions to the program, including two that might interest NYC families: Aviator Sports and Events Center in Brooklyn and Chelsea Piers are now IDNYC partners. At Aviator, you can nab an individual membership for 20 percent off and score 15 percent off party bookings. Chelsea Piers invites you to enjoy 2-for-1 admission at its indoor ice skating rink as well as discounts at its driving range.

The IDNYC card offers more than cultural benefits: Families can take advantage of discounts on prescription drugs, car-share memberships, movies, sporting events, and more. It even acts as a public library card and can help you open an account at a bank or credit union.

I've put my card to use to take advantage of these benefits and more, so read on for a dozen reasons to sign up for your FREE card, including discounted admission to some of the city's best children's museums and zoos.

Chinese Lunar New Year Parades and Celebrations for NYC Kids

Lunar New Year is one of our favorite winter celebrations in New York City, and we're particularly excited for 2018's family activities. School-aged kids ought to be excited, too, as the holiday gives them an extra day off from school.

Often referred to as Chinese New Year, although many Asian nations celebrate it, the holiday takes place on Friday, February 16, 2018, and ushers in the Year of the Dog. Mark this cultural holiday with a family-friendly celebration. We've got the scoop on the best Lunar New Year parades, family dance parties, museum events, crafts, and more for NYC kids.

Commemorating Lunar New Year is a great way to learn about Asian culture and enjoy the food. Check out one of these dozen NYC eateries where you can enjoy Lunar New Year banquets, snacks, or desserts. With celebrations and parades in almost every borough, it's also an opportunity to get out and explore a new-to-you neighborhood such as Manhattan's ChinatownFlushing in Queens, Sunset Park in Brooklyn, or Midtown Manhattan's Koreatown.

22 Fantastic Winter Theater Shows for NYC Kids

Winter 2018 in New York City is loaded with cool theater for families, including the debut of three super buzzed-about Broadway productions: Disney's Frozen the Musical, Tina Fey's musicalization of her hit movie Mean Girls, and the two-part Harry Potter and the Cursed Child from London. But you don't need to shell out big bucks to give your kids a memorable live entertainment experience in NYC—plenty of engaging family productions are playing off Broadway for a lot less.

This winter there are wonderful options for toddlers to teens, including interactive shows created specifically for the preschool set (A Book of Hours and Waves, All That Glows Sees ), stage adaptations of popular picture books such as A Sick Day for Morris McGee and Owen & Mzee the Musical, and eye-popping spectacles for the whole family (Bromance and Marvel Universe Live!).

Best of all, most of these nearly two dozen shows cost $25 or under, so you can take the whole family for less than the price of one Broadway ticket.

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