Long Beach and The Rockaways

7 NYC Ferry Rides With Kid-Friendly Stops to Explore

Ferry rides are a great way to see NYC from a new point of view—and cruising on the water is so much more exciting for jaded city kids than taking the boring old subway. The NYC ferry system makes it easy and fun to hop on a boat for a day trip to a not-so-distant shore.

While we're big fans of all the family activities you can enjoy on Governors Island, and riding the FREE Staten Island Ferry is on our list of the top 100 things to do with kids in this town, there are lots more ferries departing NYC docks all around town. Here are some of our favorite NYC ferry rides to popular places where there are plenty of things to do and see with the kiddos.

Camp Rockaway Brings Family-Friendly Glamping to Riis Beach

If you love family camping, but don't love the thought of hauling all that gear (or even if you're not a huge fan of camping, but you sure do love the beach) good news: Camp Rockaway has returned for a third season of family-friendly glamping with a side of urban beach. Located in a sandy courtyard behind the historic Jacob Riis Bathhouse, Camp Rockaway offers families a chance to sleep over at at the beach, with comfy tents, queen-sized beds, and hot showers, all just steps from the waves. Read on for a peek inside the tent flaps.

Kid-Approved Rockaway Beach Restaurants

Headed to the family-friendly beaches of the Rockaways this weekend? Be sure to pack an appetite along with your bathing suits. Queens' Rockaway dishes up plenty of options. You'll find typical beach fare of course, with hot dogs and burgers aplenty, but the area has also earned a reputation with foodies for its more adventurous eats. Whether you're looking for the best eats on the boardwalk or a delicious dinner to cap off a day of splashing in the waves, here are the best places to eat in the Rockaways with kids. 

7 Family-Friendly Rooftop Hotel Pools to Visit in NYC

While we have much love for our FREE NYC pools, sometimes it's worth the splurge for a day pass to a private pool, where there are fewer rules and smaller crowds.

In summertime, the outdoor swimming options expand to include rooftop pools, thanks to NYC's creative hotel scene. Whether you're a local looking for a day pass or a tourist searching for a family-friendly hotel for an upcoming vacation, here are seven hotels with kid-friendly rooftop pools worth checking out. Some offer day passes, while others are open only to hotel guests—but even if you have to book a night, a staycation that includes a swim with a view can make a weekend into a special occasion.

Rockaway with Kids: 25 Things to Do at the Beach and Beyond

Why schlep to the Hamptons? Thanks to its weekend-getaway vibe, Rockaway, Queens is a popular family staycation destination in summer, and with the Rockaway ferry making daily round-trips, it's easy to get to.

Rockaway's beautiful beaches have soft sand and formidable Atlantic Ocean waves—it's the only shore in NYC where you're allowed to surf. Although this area was ravaged by Hurricane Sandy, the boardwalk and Rockaway Park have been renovated with amazing playgrounds and water play areas. Read on for all you need to know to get to and enjoy this NYC summer favorite. 

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 Beaches Near NYC: A Guide for Families

Summertime means beach time, and while there are lots of beaches near and even in NYC, some are more family-friendly than others. After packing up your gear and schlepping the kids by car, train, bus, or ferry, the last thing you want to find out is your chosen beach has no bathroom or bathing suits are optional. Skip the guesswork with our roundup of eight easy-to-reach beaches for NYC families, including detailed info on attractions, food, bathrooms, and hidden costs. Most are within two hours of Manhattan by car and are easily accessible via public transportation as well, so you can plot a great staycation for your family.

Find more beach fun in our Beaches, Pools, and Water Playgrounds Guide, or check out these summer day trip ideas.

The Best Boat Rides for Families in NYC

Going out on the water in New York lets you see the city from a whole new perspective. Whether you're sailing down one of the rivers, taking a FREE kayak out for a spin, or cruising on the ocean looking for whales, it's relaxing, refreshing, and a great way to stay cool on a summer day with the kids.

While there are all kinds of boat tours on offer around NYC, from the Circle Line to the citywide ferry service, the question for parents is, which ones are truly family-friendly? After all, once you're on the water you're committed to the ride regardless of tantrums, seasickness, or boredom.

To help you figure out which NYC boat rides will work best for your family, we've highlighted some personal favorites, and broken down the best options by type, including the best boat rides for wildlife watching, best for would-be pirates, best for your budget, and more. Discover even more family-friendly things to do this summer in our Summer Fun Guide

How to Get to NYC Beaches by Ferry or Train

Fourteen miles of beautiful beaches can be found in four of NYC's five boroughs (sorry river-locked Manhattan), many easily accessible by ferry or train. As much as we enjoy hitting the Jersey Shore, Fire Island, and other Long Island beaches, we're not big fans of renting cars and sitting in traffic. Luckily it's easy to hit the sand and surf by taking a ferry or subway to the shore. From the "Bronx Rivera" to iconic Coney Island and the Rockaways, these urban seasides often offer just about everything suburban ones do—except the out-of-town commute.

Best Water Playgrounds and Sprinklers for Kids in NYC

When we were growing up, New York City playgrounds had sprinklers. Now parks and playgrounds across the five boroughs have "water features"—fountains, geysers, rivers, pumps, and beautiful spraying statues. Kids just love them, and we parents prefer these newfangled playgrounds because they're pretty and cool, and make us feel as if our exorbitant NYC housing costs are justified.

Sprinkler season in NYC parks kicks into gear when the temps reach 80 degrees, although some parks may turn on water features earlier. There are hundreds of water features in NYC parks, and we've highlighted some favorites by borough: the best in Brooklyn, best of Queens, and best of the Bronx. Some are cooler (literally and figuratively) than others, and more amazing ones seem to open every year. When we first published this article in 2008, we had five favorite splashing spots. Now we're up to 27 fancy playgrounds where kids can get wet in NYC. See if your favorites made our list.

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