Jamaica

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.

Get Out and Drop In! Best Queens Play Spaces and Gyms for Kids

From Queens' formerly industrial waterfront to deep in the borough, family-friendly spots and amenities are on the upswing. There are wide-open spaces to run with abandon, playgrounds aplenty, and indoor play spaces with open play hours are strong in number: In fact, Queens has more indoor play zones than Manhattan and is gaining on Brooklyn.

We found 20+ indoor romping locations in the borough that offer drop-in sessions open to the public (no membership required). Bonus: All of these spots host birthday parties, too, and most are much more affordable than their Manhattan competitors.

Harvest Fests, Pumpkin Patches, and Hayrides Right Here in NYC

If you think you need to head out to the 'burbs for an authentic fall harvest experience, we've got good news: You can pick the perfect pumpkin, go on a hayride, meet farm animals, and even get lost in a massive corn maze right here in NYC.

So if you're looking to skip the car rental, hop onto the subway instead to head out to these fall harvest festivals and pumpkin patches, all located within the five boroughs. Looking for more fall fun? Check out our NYC Fall Fun Guide for the best of the season.

Hey Jamaica! Mini Galaxy Play Cafe Opens for Queens Kids

Jamaica families, your wait is over! A brand-new play café has arrived in the neighborhood, and it is a treat for kids and parents alike. With play spaces popping up all over Queens and Brooklyn, it was only a matter of time before Jamaica got in on the action.

Located just two blocks from the F train on Jamaica Avenue, Mini Galaxy Play Café is a bright, open space that is set up so that caregivers can sit back with a cup of coffee (or delicious pastry) while watching their little ones have a blast.

Jump N Play Is the Latest Must-See Queens Bounce House

Queens already has more indoor bounce houses than any other NYC borough, but it just added another! Jump N Play opened this past summer in Ozone Park, a neighborhood that's also rapidly growing its list of exciting indoor play spaces.

This location, with its fire-engine-red exterior, is impossible to miss. Inside is even harder to resist. The humongous two main rooms offer one bounce house after another. My 5-year-old's jaw dropped and he went speechless for about a full 60 seconds. Read on for our review and important know-before-you-go details about this new play spot.

The Best Playgrounds in Queens

Although every pocket and corner of Queens has a neighborhood playground (we frequent Playground Thirty-Five multiple times a week), we’ve taken the time to scout the cream of the crop for NYC kids. From Astoria to the Rockaways, with rope spider webs to kid-sized Ferris wheels, these parks offer clean, safe equipment with innovative and fun details that go beyond the metallic jungle gyms of the past.

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

12 Mother’s Day Brunch Spots in Queens

Just as its population is diverse, so are options for Mother’s Day brunch in Queens. It’s mom's special day, and she'll want to relax with family, sip a mimosa and eat great food knowing that spills won't be met with rolling eyes. So we’ve curated this family-friendly list of brunch options in the borough, offering inventive twists on traditional favorites. Don’t worry, omelets and French toast still are represented.

Check out our suggestions for how to spend the rest of your 2017 Mother's Day in NYC, or peruse Brooklyn or Manhattan brunch options if you're thinking of hopping boroughs.

Must-See Christmas Lights in NYC's Five Boroughs

Manhattan may have the glamorous department store holiday windows, but when it comes to private homes decked out for the season, the outer boroughs have it beat. We're not talking about a few strings of twinkling lights and a blowup Santa. Why, these holiday houses are so well-lit, it's amazing they don't cause power blackouts.

We've written about some of these Christmas houses in the past, but here we have photos, precise addresses, a map, and in some cases the stories behind these destination displays that make the schlepping worthwhile—we know, we've schlepped. Considering most are in the far-flung reaches of Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx, and Staten Island, you really need to drive. If you want to avoid the crowds and traffic jams, go early in the evening on a weekday. These places tend to get busy on weekends.

You can find even more seasonal fun in our Holiday Guide as well as posts on amazing holiday displays on Long Island, in New Jersey, Hudson Valley, and Connecticut.

News: STEM Apps, Kid Environmental Center Opens and Extended Beach Days

New York City kids are privy to some of the best museums in the world, and this week, the city's cultural institutions seemed to be trying to outdo one another with great family programming.

The New York Hall of Science launched a suite of apps poised to bring STEM-inspired fun straight to your iPad, while the Staten Island Museum's new location at the Snug Harbor Cultural Center prepares for a grand-opening, Lincoln Center expanded free family programming to the outer boroughs and the Metropolitan Opera kicked off its late Summer Festival lineup.

In other news, don't pack away your sunblock just yet. For the first time in decades, NYC beaches will remain open past Labor Day! With additional funding for lifeguards and other beach workers, New Yorkers can now enjoy the city beaches through Sunday, September 13. NYC public pools, however, still close on Labor Day.

Read on for more news throughout the five boroughs.

82nd Street Academics: Preschool & Elementary School for a Lifetime of Learning

When you’re getting ready to enroll your child in preschool, thinking about college can seem a bit silly. But taking into account that only 65 out of 100 students in New York City graduate from high school, it doesn’t seem that far-fetched that parents might be worrying about their child’s academic future while he’s still in pull-ups.

Our sponsor, 82nd Street Academics in Queens, is interested in a child’s early steps to college, with a proven track record when it comes to not only inspiring kids academically, but also strengthening their skills in areas such as social-emotional health, physical development, language and literacy, and mathematical/cognitive thinking. The end result is clear: 50 percent of kids who have experienced just one program at 82nd Street Academics go on to college, while 80 percent of those who participate in five programs throughout their preschool and elementary school years go on to higher education.

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