Long Island City

4 Freaky & Fun Zombie Experiences for NYC Tweens & Teens

We spend a lot of time writing about Halloween fun for little kids like costume parades and tame seasonal fetes. But what happens when your tween outgrows those kinds of all-ages celebrations? A lot of eye-rolling, that's what. As the mom of a nine-year-old desperate to grow up, I know that firsthand. But I also know he's not quite ready for full-on adult Halloween events like those super-freaky haunted houses.

Take for instance the monster of the moment: zombies. He's very into the walking dead but I won't let him watch The Walking Dead. (Especially not this season—yikes!) However, we have been able to enjoy a few freaky but not mega-frightening zombie experiences as a family. These interactive events like zombie laser tag and a zombie escape are way too intense for tots but thrilling for tweens and teens, not to mention adults. So if you're tired of hearing the "this is for babies!" complaint, take your angsty adolescent to one of these zombie-themed events.

Free Outdoor Summer Music Festivals & Concerts in NYC: Best Bets for Families

Although some New York City outdoor music and performance series are created specifically with children in mind, there are lots of grown-up ones that families can enjoy, too. At these wonderful alfresco events—most of which take place in parks and plazas—families can pack a picnic, stake out a spot, lay down a blanket and soak up some culture at no cost. Don't worry if the kids aren't totally into it; sit along the perimeter and let them run around, dance and play and they'll be happy.

While many series including SummerStage, Celebrate Brooklyn! and Lincoln Center Out of Doors host dedicated family days, it's worth browsing their full schedules. There's no minimum age to enjoy jazz, classical or rock, right?

We've rounded up NYC's best FREE outdoor music and performance series and highlighted the events we think will be of particular interest to families. You can find even more family fun in our jam-packed Summer Guide.

Free Kayaking with NYC Kids: Places to Kayak and Tips for Families

We may live in a concrete jungle but there are still plenty of great ways to connect with nature in New York City. And with the renewed interest in waterfront access in NYC, it's easier than ever to get out on the water to row, canoe and kayak during the summer months.

As part of our ongoing commitment to highlighting interesting nature outings for families in NYC, Mommy Poppins is proud to launch a series of guest posts by the Appalachian Mountain Club’s Kids Outdoors New York City. Kids Outdoors is a FREE online community for families filled with ideas on outdoor activities in the NYC area and expert advice on how to get started. Our first post is by Cheryl and William de Jong-Lambert, Outdoors with Kids New York City authors and local parents. They took their children, ages 7 and 10, kayaking in NYC for the first time and shared their experience and important tips for families. They've got the scoop on the best places to go kayaking with kids for FREE in Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens.

NYC Play Spaces with Sibling Discounts

While there are plenty of great drop-in indoor play spaces in Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens, as a mother of two young girls under age 5, the deciding factor for me is always financial. Can I afford to take both of them without hocking my wedding ring? If the answer is no then I have to move on, regardless of how fabulous the indoor playground is or how stir crazy my kids are.

In an attempt to save money this winter, I decided to look into whether any play spaces offered discounts for siblings or (even better) charged a flat fee per family. Turns out my research paid off: I found 10 indoor romping spots in New York City that fit the bill (make that reduced the bill). So skip the pawn shop: Here are drop-in play spaces with deals for siblings.

Crafts for Kids in Queens: 8 Awesome Drop-in Art Spots for Families

Doing crafts with your kids is a wonderful family activity. It's creative, fun, inexpensive and easy to do at home. But sometimes your personal supply of glitter, glue and Popsicle sticks just doesn't cut it. Your children want to try more sophisticated projects involving things you don't have lying around the house, like a palette, a kiln and professional arts educators. Sounds like it's time to hit a drop-in art studio.

In the past, we've rounded up kids' craft spots in Brooklyn and Manhattan, and today we're focusing on drop-in art studios in Queens. From museums with frequent family art programs to places to paint plaster to FREE workshops at the Queens Library, here are eight spots where kids of all ages can tap into their creative talents.

Best NYC Kids' Concerts for Fall 2013: 12 Live Rockin' Music Shows

So far this month, we've told you about the best museum exhibits for kids and family theater shows debuting this autumn. Now we wrap up our fall culture preview with a roundup of the top 12 kindie rock concerts to catch this season.

Sadly, due to the closing of 92YTribeca last summer, one of our favorite family music series, Bring Your Own Kids, is no more. But don't start singing the blues yet: There are still plenty of cool kids' groups playing NYC this fall, including Grammy nominee Justin Roberts, history-loving crooner Lloyd Miller of the Deedle Deedle Dees and bouncy bilingual band Moona Luna. Bonus: Most of the shows are inexpensive or FREE. In fact eight of our picks don't cost a penny. So put on your dancing shoes and shake your booty at a dozen super-fun family concerts this fall.

Enriching After-school Classes for NYC Kids

NYC kids have it good when it comes to enriching after-school programs. The choices for hands-on learning fun are seemingly endless. Our Classes Guide is packed with posts about sports like basketball and tennis, performing arts such as musical theater and dance, language immersion for Spanish and Chinese, and even offbeat offerings like trapeze and archery. And every year we hear about fresh specialty programs.

Last year our new classes post featured many places that had just opened. This year is a little different as tried-and-true favorites like the 92nd Street Y, the Art Farm in the City and Long Island City Kids add new and notable offerings to their schedules. We've leafed through the catalogs and picked out the most exciting new kids' classes debuting this fall. Be sure to browse our Classes Guide for even more options.

Favorite Family Restaurants in Queens

As a proud Queens native, I'm always looking for new ways to encourage others (including my own family) to explore my home borough. And since it's famous for being culturally diverse, a do-it-yourself food tour is a great way to get a taste of all the different neighborhoods.

Queens boasts some of the best kid-friendly restaurants in New York City—and I'm not just saying that because I was raised here. You can introduce your children to a wide variety of authentic cuisine at reasonable prices, and the portions are so big you always end up with leftovers to take home. Plus there are off-the-beaten path gems that have incredible kid appeal, like coffee house Waltz-Astoria and its family concerts and old New York soda fountains Eddie's Sweet Shop and Jahn's.

I thought about all of the places I've eaten in Queens over the years and came up with my personal list of the top ten restaurants, bakeries and ice cream parlors that are all worth schlepping the kids to, even if you live in another borough. See if your favorites made the cut and feel free to share your additions in the comments as I know there are many, many more.

All Aboard! Train Museums, Miniature Train Shows and Train Rides for NYC Kids

My father-in-law is a model train lover and my kids have inherited his enthusiasm. My oldest was still in diapers when his Grandpa first took him to the annual Holiday Train Show at the New York Botanical Garden, and it didn't take him long to learn that in New York City area, you can be a railfan (yes, that's actually a word) year-round. We've rounded up our favorite places to take aspiring engineers in or near NYC.

Best NYC Kids' Concerts for Spring 2012: 13 Live Family Music Shows

Last week we told you about 13 wonderful kids' shows playing in NYC this spring. Today we're sharing the best kids' bands rocking out on city stages this season.

My four-year-old daughter and I love seeing live concerts, and some of our favorite family bands are playing over the next few months, like the Deedle Deedle Dees and Alastair Moock. I'm especially excited to introduce my kid to a few groups she hasn't heard yet, like Bing Bang Boom and the Bari Koral Family Rock Band, at the annual Kindiefest concert. Here are 13 NYC kids' concerts to put in your calendar, including FREE shows from Hot Peas N' Butter, Elizabeth Mitchell and The Rockdoves.

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