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4 Holiday Lantern Shows Coming to NYC This Season

I'm the kind of mom who leaves the decked-out family Christmas tree up until Easter... and I'm Jewish. I just adore anything that lights up, which is why I made the schlep from our East Harlem apartment to Staten Island's Snug Harbor Cultural Center & Botanical Garden last holiday season to check out the inaugural NYC Winter Lantern Festival, a massive installation of illuminated art. Happily, my daughter, her friends, and I all thought it was worth the trip.

Apparently, last year's holiday lantern festival kicked off a trend. This year, there will be four places to see holiday lanterns in the city: There's the return of the Snug Harbor event, as well as the brand-new Hello Panda Festival in Queens, and the LuminoCity Festival on Randall's Island. Plus the Bronx Zoo's Holiday Lights display promises animal-shaped lanterns, too! Read on for a peek at the new holiday lights coming to NYC this year, plus what to know before you take the kids.

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 can still 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.

New Art of the Brick Exhibit Dazzles at New York Hall of Science

Lego maniacs in the five boroughs now have an alternative to making a trek to Westchester (or awaiting the opening of the Legoland Resort coming next year to the Hudson Valley) if they want to commune with huge piles of colorful building bricks. The New York Hall of Science's spectacular Art of the Brick exhibit is on view now through January 26.

Using more than a million bricks, artist Nathan Sawaya created over 100 pieces for this exhibition, from recreations of iconic pieces of art to original sculptures including a stunning T. Rex. In collaboration with photographer Dean West, the exhibit also showcases an innovative multimedia collection of Lego art photography. For more details about the interactive play stations and installations, read on.

9 NYC Arcades for Kids Birthday Parties

Arcades are an ideal place to celebrate a kid's birthday. Blinking lights, spinning wheels, ringing bells, and mechanical jingles give arcades a festive atmosphere, and the assortment of amusements offers something for everyone. Even if your child isn't the biggest video game enthusiast, most gaming parlors offer air hockey, skee-ball, and basketball games, too—some even have laser tagescape rooms, or other challenges. These kid-pleasing party spots are full service, so hosts only have to provide a cake or cupcakes. Many offer games that award tickets redeemable for prizes to fill a goody bag.

Our list of nine arcades for kid birthday parties features spots across New York City, from Manhattan to Staten Island, plus a mobile arcade that comes to you. Read on for all the details.

Looking for more birthday party ideas? Check out our NYC Party Guide or directory of birthday fun suppliers.

Best Family Theater in NYC This Fall

Autumn marks the start of a new theater season, but you don't need to shell out big bucks on Broadway shows to give your kids a memorable live entertainment experience in NYC. In fact, this fall boasts more high-quality theater productions for young audiences than ever—so many in fact, we have a whopping 24 picks, and that's after whittling down the contenders.

Preschoolers will be excited to see a slew of puppet shows, a stage adaptation of Peter Pan, and the unstoppable Baby Shark Live!. Older kids can check out the return of The Lightning Thief: The Percy Jackson Musical and the silent spectacle of Mummenschanz. Plus everyone in your family can enjoy the Big Apple Circus. Best of all, many of our picks are $25 or less per ticket.

The Best Playgrounds in Queens

Although every pocket and corner of Queens has a neighborhood playground, we’ve taken the time to scout the cream of the crop for NYC kids. Whether you're visiting from another borough or just want to explore a new-to-you-neighborhood, here are 11 of our favorite romping spots in Queens, from Astoria to the Rockaways. These parks offer clean, safe equipment with innovative and fun details that go beyond the jungle gyms of the past, like rope spider webskid-sized Ferris wheels, and super cool sprinklers

Looking to make more of a splash? Check out our roundup of the top water playgrounds in Queens or find more playgrounds across the five boroughs in our NYC Parks & Playgrounds guide.

25 Things to Do With Kids in Flushing Meadows Corona Park

Expansive and diverse (much like Queens itself), Flushing Meadows Corona Park is arguably the main family attraction among many in Flushing. With so much to see and do here with kids—including the New York Hall of Science, the Queens Museum, a zoo, a botanic garden, a carousel, an amusement park, and multiple playgrounds, plus the famous Unisphere fountains—it's more than a single-day excursion. So pick out a few things to do and save the rest for next time. My family has explored the park time and again, and there is always something new to see and old favorites to revisit. 

18 Family-Friendly NYC Food Halls for an Easy, Delicious Meal

You want to grab a bite out with the kids and the local pizza joint isn't going to cut it—but asking your wriggly, tired kids to sit quietly in a nice restaurant is like lighting a firecracker and then hoping it won't explode. 

Food halls are the perfect solution. In spite of their historic mall­-culture reputation, the model of a casual hall with multiple food options is 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. It's 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.

We've rounded up and sampled 18 outstanding food halls that offer top-notch eats, spacious seating, and lots to do in the surrounding neighborhoods, including Battery Park, Chelsea, MidtownFort Greene, Brooklyn, and more.

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

11 Queens Water Playgrounds and Sprinkler Parks

Let’s face it, sometimes you just don’t want to live by the schedule of open swim hours at your local NYC pool. Sometimes you just want to tire your kids out so they sleep until 6 (or even 7) in the morning. And sometimes you just want to relax outdoors with iced coffee and a book, but your children aren’t as into that idea as you are. This is why water playgrounds were invented...we're pretty sure, anyway.

While we already have profiled some of the top water playgrounds in other parts of the city as well as some of the top fountains for splashing, we can't forget our Queens families. So in the interest of parenting solidarity we’ve put together a list of eleven spraygrounds and water playgrounds in Queens. They’re all FREE, and as an added bonus most usually have an ice cream truck in the area—for the children, of course, totally for the children. 

Check out our NYC Beaches, Pools, and Water Parks Guide for more summer splashing, or our Summer Fun Guide for more seasonal activities for the kids.

Best Free NYC Swimming Pools for Toddlers and Kids

It's summertime and the livin' is easy—beaches, sprinklers, and awesome days at the playground. Oh the hard life of a New York City kid. And in 2019, the NYC Parks Department opens its outdoor pools on Thursday, June 27, the day after public schools let out.

We've rounded up our picks for the best free pools in the city. These are all places we've visited personally, or have come highly recommended by families we know. The city hosts more than 50 outdoor pools this summer, so it will be hard not to find one you like. Time to get swimming!

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