Flushing

Best Carousels in NYC: 13 Merry-Go-Rounds City Kids Love

There's something wonderfully nostalgic about kids getting a thrill from a ride on a carousel. It's the simplest of amusement park attractions, and there are more than a dozen merry-go-rounds in New York City alone. It's easy to stumble upon them on your next park outing.

Each city carousel offers a unique spin on this traditional kiddie ride, from harbor views to a ride inside an iridescent fish. We've rounded up the best merry-go-rounds in all five boroughs.

7 Best Children's Gardens in NYC Where Kids Can Dig, Grow, Explore, and Play

While we’re beyond grateful to live in a city with endless amounts of theater and museums to expose little ones to, sometimes it’s essential to get outside and let them be one with nature. Thanks to beloved children's gardens throughout New York, our city kids have a chance to explore different plants, participate in workshops, and get their hands in the dirt.

Now that the city is in full bloom, it’s the perfect time to head to one of the many children’s gardens in NYC. So bring your nature-obsessed kiddos to one of these top children’s gardens in NYC.

12 Cool Themed Playgrounds in NYC to Inspire Kids' Imaginations

Imagination is the stuff of childhood magic—and NYC's cleverest themed parks and playgrounds are designed to inspire your kid's always-active mind. Whether your kid fancies playing prehistoric explorer, dreams of conquering Ancient Egypt, or wants to trek across Africa on safari, there's a playground for that. Here are 12 of our favorite themed playgrounds across all five boroughs.

Cirque du Soleil's Jaw-Dropping LUZIA Opens Under the Big Top

One of the reasons my family and I love going to Cirque du Soleil spectacles is we never know what to expect. Sure, there will always be world-class circus artists performing jaw-dropping feats, but what sets the company apart from other troupes are the eye-popping environments it creates through sumptuous design. We know we're going to be transported, but to where? For Cirque's latest extravaganza, LUZIA, currently running at Citi Field in Queens, the destination is a fantastical imagining of Mexico filled with oversize puppet animals; cascading walls of water; mariachi-tinged music; colorful projections; and, of course, gorgeously outfitted acrobats, aerialists, and other athletic performers who seem to defy the laws of physics.

With two jaded teens in tow who've seen many a circus, I worried they might pull a been there, seen that 'tude. Heck, I figured I might feel that way, too, because I've been attending Cirque shows since before I became a mom. But at 13, 16, and even my advanced age, we were all as wide-eyed with wonder as the youngsters sitting behind us, because LUZIA is one of the most breathtaking Cirque creations in years.

13 Brain-Boosting NYC Playgrounds That Build Physical and Mental Skills

Playtime should be fun, but that doesn't mean you can't learn a few lessons along the way. In an age when STEM activities are all the rage, and we race our kids from class to class, sometimes it's worth slowing down and setting the kids free in a park or playground to see what skills they pick up on their own.

We've rounded up a baker's dozen NYC play areas that foster old-fashioned playground skills—like balance, strength, and coordination—while also offering unique features that encourage brain-boosting skills—like problem-solving, engineering, physics, cooperation, imagination, resilience, and teamwork. Plus, they're some of the coolest play zones in the city.

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 refuse one of a preschooler's 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.

Queens Party Places: 33 Top Spots for Kids' Birthdays

We've profiled cool NYC party places in the past, but there are so many awesome birthday spots in good old Queens alone that it deserves a post of its own.

These Queens birthday party places cater to all kinds of kids, from active to artsy to animal lovers. As a Queens mom with two children, I've been to many of these spots personally. You can find additional birthday inspiration in our NYC Party 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. 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.

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

8 Free New York City Skateboard Parks

Skateboarding is one of the few sports actually designed for urban spaces, which may be why NYC kids love it so much. Skating uses the city environment as the stage for its tricks, but finding a safe place to skate can be tough. Skate parks provide a perfectly designed place to practice those skateboarding fakie flips and to grab some air. These spots in and near New York City are great for beginners and seasoned skateboarders alike. (Sometimes you'll also spy inline skaters or BMX bikers.)

All these skate parks put safety first. Athletes must wear helmets, kneepads and elbow pads, and kids under age 18 are also required to put on wrist guards. That said, most skate parks are unsupervised and have an enter-at-your-own-risk policy. Some even require parents to sign waivers for their children. So be safe, and enjoy the spring weather! For more outdoor sports and kid-friendly fun, see our guide to NYC's best parks and playgrounds.

Best Shows for NYC Kids and Families for Spring 2019

The spring is always a great time for family theater, but the next few months look particularly exciting. There are page-to-stage adaptations of young-adult favorites (The Lightning Thief: The Percy Jackson Musical, Anne of Green Gables); wordless spectacles to captivate all ages (Snap, Cirque du Soleil's new extravaganza); and a few thought-provoking choices for young teens (The Adventures of Alvin Sputnik: Deep Sea Explorer, Silent Voices: Lovestate).

While on Broadway it's all Beetlejuice and Be More Chill, there's no need to shell out big bucks to give your kids a memorable live entertainment experience in NYC. Most of the 22 shows we're spotlighting are just $25—or less—per ticket.

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