Queens

Cool Party Places to Celebrate Your Tween's Birthday

By the time you've hit the tween years, you've been to enough birthday parties to feel like you've seen it all. Looking for a new celebratory experience worthy of increasingly grown-up interests for your 10 to 13 year-old? We've rounded up 13 too-cool party spots to celebrate your tween's next big birthday. With party packages this out of the ordinary, you'll be able to please even the pickiest tween with unique fetes like zombie laser tag, DIY chocolate or ice cream, and jewelry making with semi-precious stones.

Free Kayaking, Canoeing, and Rowboat Options in New York City

With all the water surrounding New York City, it's no wonder there are so many sightseeing cruises and fun ferry rides to great kid destinations. If you want to be your own captain, NYC offers many seasonal opportunities for NYC families to get out on the water by themselve—kayaking, rowing, canoeing, and sailing. Much of the fun kicks off Memorial Day weekend or early summer.

We've rounded up 11 great New York City organizations that offer boating sessions on our wonderful waterways—and they're all FREE. Ahoy!

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.

Almost 50(!) Free Things to Do in May With NYC Kids

This month is all about outdoor spring fun, and we've got the lowdown on all the great FREE events happening in NYC, including some stellar street fairs and festivals, and even the start of outdoor movies and music. There's also the opening of Governors Island, a Memorial Day Weekend concert, and Kids Food Fest. With most of the events happening alfresco, New York City families will have a bit more space to spread out, throw down a blanket, and enjoy the (late!) arrival of the warmer temps.

Read on for more than 50 FREE things to do this May in New York City, including in Brooklyn, Queens, and the Bronx. Find more top events in our May GoList, or our always packed daily NYC Event Calendar.

Finally, get ready for the summer season with our roundup of the city's best beaches (opening Memorial Day), and a handy list of nearby water parks.

Queens Art Crawl With Kids: Noguchi, MoMA PS1, Socrates Sculpture Park

While the Upper East Side's Museum Mile gets lots of love and tons of fanfare, there are other cool culture spots to visit in this diverse city. One of our favorite outer-borough destinations just might be Long Island City, which has solidified itself as the queen of Queens' vibrant art scene. In addition to a slew of funky galleries, the 'hood has a trio of art-centric museums worth visiting: MoMA PS1, the Noguchi Museum, and the outdoor oasis, Socrates Sculpture Park.

Read on for our review of these artsy spots, plus the kid-friendly programming that makes them worth visiting, whether you're a local or not.

New York City Libraries with Great Play Spaces and Children's Rooms

It’s too cold or rainy to play outside and the kids are bouncing off the walls. What to do? Don’t feel like spending money to take the kids to an indoor play activity? The best default option, hands-down, is the library. Your kid can never finish reading all the books available, and many libraries also have children’s rooms and activities. And not only is a trip to the library an always-FREE activity, your library card gets you free access to more than 40 other institutions around NYC. To mix things up, venture beyond your own local library to these gems that have some of the best children’s play spaces in the city.

Best Family Festivals and Street Fairs in NYC This May

There are street fairs—and then there are street fairs. We don't mean those random ones selling irregular socks and fried Oreos; we're talking about true community festivals. Each one is unique, reflecting the character of its neighborhood, and many feature rides, performances, activities, and food. The hard part, of course, is deciding which community fairs to hit with the family in a calendar packed with options, but don't worry: We've taken the guesswork out of managing your family's busy festival schedule for you.

We've gone through the city's list of top annual festivals, street fairs, and carnivals and put together our roundup of top picks for May—more than two dozen. Most of these fetes are FREE or cost just a couple of bucks, and in many cases your dollars go to support a local charity or school. Here are some awesome fests happening in NYC this May.

You can find even more seasonal activities in our Spring Fun Guide.

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.

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.

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