Queens

Petting Zoos Near NYC Where Kids Can See Farm Animals

We're so fortunate to live in a city that offers an incredible array of fun spring activities for kids, but sometimes I fret over the disconnect from nature. I want my daughter to be as comfortable in the country as she is in the urban jungle, so we're always looking for ways to get out of NYC and explore the expansive farmland that borders the city.

While you can meet some furry friends at the city's wonderful zoos, and even get hands-on at their mini petting zoos, there's something particularly special about enjoying an authentic farm setting. We've rounded up our top petting zoos and animal havens to get some serious face time with furry friends. Get ready to load up the family for a day of donkey petting, goat bottle-feedings, and sheep shearing.

Here are our favorite spots for an up-close animal encounter, all within two hours of NYC.

Easy Day Hikes Near NYC for Families To Explore

When the weather is fine, there are few things New Yorkers like better than a day outside with the family. Although NYC has incredible parks and playgrounds to explore, sometimes it's worth taking a day trip outside the city limits.

So pack a cooler and a picnic blanket and find your new favorite kid-friendly hiking destination among this list that takes you to the Hudson Valley, New Jersey, Long Island, and even some memorable parks within the five boroughs. Each of these hikes has something special to offer, and best of all, they are kid-tested and kid-approved! 

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.

NYC's Best Playgrounds: 18 Parks Worthy of a Subway Schlep

Playgrounds may be as much a part of childhood as potty training and the tooth fairy, but to city families, having a go-to playground is a real sanity saver. When you live in a tiny apartment, the neighborhood park is like your backyard.

While New Yorkers are lucky to have many awesome local play spots, some NYC playgrounds are a cut above the rest. These spots offer plenty of space to romp and enough outdoor entertainment to make them worth a schlep on the subway. Without further ado, read on for 18 of the city's best playgrounds—our NYC playground hall of fame.

The Best Annual Family Festivals for NYC Kids (Mostly Free)

With so much going on in NYC, it can be overwhelming to sift through all the events to land on something that's truly special. The many annual festivals that the city hosts are a great place to start. Some New York City celebrations are so great they're worth going every year, like the interactive, art-filled Figment on Roosevelt Island, the incredible (and educational) World Maker Faire New York, and Street Games, the Parks Department's tribute to old-school pastimes.

I know I'm not the only mom out there who likes to plan ahead, and since the festival season kicks into high gear this month, we figured it was a great time to round up our top annual festivals for families. Every single pick on our list is really worth your time and money—and in many cases they don't cost a penny.

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.

7 Things to Love About the Queens County Farm Museum

While NYC families have full access to the best museums and shows that the world has to offer, life in the city can sometimes leave us feeling disconnected from nature. We’re always seeking ways to let our little ones get their hands dirty, so it’s no surprise that the Queens County Farm Museum in Floral Park is a family favorite.

Spanning 47 acres, the Queens County Farm Museum dates back to the 17th century and features old-fashioned farm buildings, a greenhouse complex, livestock, planting fields, an orchard, an herb garden and a vineyard, all within city limits. As soon as you walk through the gates, you’ll feel miles away from the city.

Here are the reasons we are forever loving New York City's only historic working farm and why it's a fantastic destination for NYC kids. While you’re there, make a day of it with our Queens Family Neighborhood Guide.
 

Outdoor Adventure Parks Near NYC With Kid-Friendly Zip Lines & Ropes Courses

We all need a little excitement in our lives. For some, any of these 13 carousels around New York City will deliver all the excitement in the world. For others, the idea of zip-lining through the air ranks high on their to-do list. Of course, adventure parks aren't for everyone, but there's proof they help children learn problem-solving and collaboration skills. Plus, it's just plain fun to play together as a family and create unforgettable memories.

New York City may not be the epicenter of adventure parks, but it's making strides, especially with Adventures on Governors Island, the Bronx Zoo's Treetop Adventure, and a seriously high-flying outdoor zip line in Queens. Meanwhile, just outside the city limits, there are dozens of rope and zip line courses.

We've rounded up a handful of our favorite outdoor adventure parks either in the city or reachable within a quick day trip. Also make sure to see our brand new guide to 25 outdoor adventures in the city for NYC kids.

Best Mother's Day Brunch Restaurants for Families Across NYC

Mother's Day is fast approaching, on Sunday, May 12, 2019, which means it's time to start planning a special day for the well-deserving mom(s) in your life. Speaking from experience, all moms really want is a little time off. You could choose breakfast in bed, but why not instead forgo chores altogether and hit one of NYC's many delicious brunch spots?

We've rounded up a host of scrumptious, kid-friendly places throughout Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, and the Bronx. As if that wasn't enough, we've got tons more picks in our Family-Friendly Restaurant Guide. Pinpoint your special lady's preference, make reservations, and get ready to dig in.

After brunch, head out to one of these great family events happening that Sunday. However you decide to spend the day, Happy Mother's Day from your peers at Mommy Poppins.

16 Great Parks and Playgrounds for NYC Kids' Birthdays

Savvy DIY parents know that during the warmer months, New York City's parks make a fun (and inexpensive) backdrop for a birthday bash. Granted, this type of party requires more work than booking one of those all-inclusive packages, but you get to control most of the details, including the cost (though sadly, not the weather).

Find more party spots in our NYC Birthday Guide, including inexpensive room rentals for when bad weather threatens the fun.

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