Staten Island

5 Must-Try Laser Tag and Paintball Arenas for NYC Kids

Are your big kids bored of bowling? Not quite ready for the zip line? Consider laser tag or paintball, both fun party options and action-fueled activities you can find right here in NYC.

For the uninitiated, laser tag is a high-energy game of tag meets hide-and-seek that’s played with infrared laser guns in a darkened arena. Paintball pelts participants with small dye pellets. The object of both games: Get to your opponents before they get to you out by strategically shooting, running, and hiding from cover to cover. Don't worry, the laser guns emit harmless, invisible rays that register a "kill" by lighting up a spot on your adversaries' vests and paintball pellets might sting for a few seconds, but there's no long-lasting effects.

Check out one of these five fast and furious laser tag and paintball spots.

Snug Harbor Cultural Center and Botanical Garden Is Worth The Trip

Have you ever wondered what would happen if you actually got off the Staten Island Ferry when you arrived? I know, it seems like a radical idea, but Staten Island actually has plenty for kids to do, making it well worth your while to exit on the other side. Recently, my family and I took a day trip to Snug Harbor Cultural Center and Botanical Garden. We were all pleasantly surprised that this little nook in Staten Island holds so many treasures in one location.

5 Must-See Interactive Art Exhibits in NYC That Close Soon

If the purpose of art is to make us think about and see the world from a different perspective, taking your kids to see creative works is a double whammy. Kids always seem to see the world with fresh eyes, so having an art-venture is a super fun way to get a new POV as a family.

The city is bursting with FREE outdoor art over the summer, as well as several new exhibits just for kids. But we recently stumbled upon some extra fun, interactive art happenings that although not necessarily designed for kids, are actually perfect for them. Most of these close as summer winds down and fall blows in, so read on to get the scoop now.

Staten Island with Kids: Top 50 Things to Do for Families

When you ask most New Yorkers what they know about Staten Island, they name-check the Staten Island Ferry and then just stare blankly. But as a mom raising her two sons in NYC's "forgotten borough," I know firsthand how enriching and fun Staten Island can be for families, both residents and visitors.

St. George, where you disembark from the ferry, is probably the neighborhood that feels most like the rest of NYC, in large part because it offers awesome views of the downtown Manhattan skyline to remind you of where you are. Many borough attractions are located here, including the Minor League Staten Island Yankees stadium, the stunning St. George Theatre, the sobering Staten Island September 11 Memorial, the Staten Island Museum, plus lots of restaurants, quaint Victorian townhouses and the in-development 630-foot-tall observation wheel.

But go further inland and it's not just all malls and suburban sprawl. With almost 12,300 acres of protected parkland, Staten Island is rightly known as the greenest borough and boasts some of the most beautiful parks in the city like the Greenbelt, which is home to living history museum, Historic Richmond Town, and the Carousel for All Children. We also have a lot of drop-in indoor play spaces, including one of NYC's few remaining roller rinks, and even a trampoline park. And there are lots of culture spots, too, like the Snug Harbor Cultural Center & Botanical Garden and small, esoteric museums located in lovely historic homes like the Alice Austen House. While a car is helpful in terms of getting around, we actually do have public transportation.

Check out the top 50 things to do in the borough with kids.

Karate and Tae Kwon Do Classes for NYC Kids

My husband always said he wanted our sons to know they could take a punch and live to tell about it. To that end, martial arts classes were mandatory in our house, not just for self-defense but also to teach them self-control. (After all, enough of the latter can often stop you from needing the former.)

The two most popular martial arts disciplines for kids in New York City seem to be karate and tae kwon do. So we've rounded up some excellent classes in all five boroughs where kids can get kicking.

Find more NYC classes in our Classes Guide and Directory Listings.

Musical Theater Classes Where NYC Kids Sing, Dance, and Act

We love musical theater in our family and feel lucky we live just a few subway stops from the Great White Way. But in New York City, kids can do more than just watch a show—they can become budding Broadway babies.

New York City offers a slew of musical theater classes for children than run practically from birth through high school. We could never cover every one of these programs in one post, but we have rounded up our favorites, with options in all five boroughs.

Find more NYC classes in our Classes Guide and Directory Listings.

Best Summer Festivals and Fairs for NYC Families in July

So far this summer, we've posted about FREE outdoor movie screenings, FREE children's concerts, FREE kayaking, and FREE things to do every day with kids in New York City. Now we're rounding up our favorite and (mostly) FREE family festivals and city street fairs going on in this month.

Two of our favorite NYC annual fests take place this month, including the big Bastille Day street fair on the Upper East Side and City of Water Day on Governors Island. If neither of those tickles your fancy, we've rounded up several other options, including Come Out & Play Family Day and Boogie on the Boulevard. Still making your July 4th plans? We've got the details on that holiday, including where to see the fireworks.

So go get your calendar! Here are the best sizzling summer fests for New York City families.

100 Free Things To Do This Summer with Kids in New York City

Summer is the season of FREE in NYC—and here it comes. There's no-cost fun everywhere you turn, from festivals, outdoor movies, and concerts, to kayaking, and fireworks. With the public school break upon us, and the kids are itching to play (and swim), we've rounded up FREE things for families to do every single day of summer vacation. Starting with Thursday, June 29 and running all the way through Wednesday, September 6, 2017, we've compiled the best FREE children's entertainment in NYC all summer!

Of course, this list isn't comprehensive. There are literally hundreds of FREE fun events happening across our city this school break. You can find more cool seasonal activities and destinations in our Summer Fun Guide, including beach day trips, FREE splash pads, and more. Peruse our Events Calendar for more events.

Still searching for a summer camp for a week or two? Check out our NYC summer camp directory and guide.

Best Free NYC Swimming Pools for Toddlers and Kids

It's summertime and the livin' is easy—beaches, sprinklers, and awesome days at the playground. Oh the hard life of a New York City kid. And now, the NYC Parks Department is poised to open its outdoor pools on Thursday, June 29, 2017, the day after public schools let out.

We've rounded up our picks for the best free pools in the city. These are all places we've visited personally, or have come highly recommended by families we know. But the city hosts more than 50 outdoor pools this summer, so it will be hard not to find one you like. Time to get swimming!

Register for Free Swimming Lessons for NYC Kids

The New York City Parks Department offers FREE aquatic programs for children under 18 all year round, as well as adults, but you have to apply through an online lottery for each session. Summer swimming lessons are on the horizon; the lottery for the first two-week session opened on Monday, June 12 and runs through Sunday, June 25.

Summer swimming takes place in NYC's many outdoor pools, which open Thursday June 29, and are held each day during a session, meaning it's a great summer vacation activity to fill up the day for kids out of school.

Read on for the details on where to swim for free, or check our directory of paid kid swim classesmommy-and-me swim lessons for babies and toddlers, including those specifically in Brooklyn and in Queens.

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