North Shore

Worth It? Family Memberships in NYC to Consider for Winter

After visiting NYC's top play spaces, museums, and other fun zones, we've rounded up the various membership deals at popular kid-centric destinations. These places keep your kids entertained, active, and out of the cold. Some even offer short-term memberships, so you only have to pay until spring arrives.

In the dead of winter, it can be daunting to schlep somewhere new every weekend, so a membership to one (or two) of your favorite kid play spots makes sense. We've already done the math so you'll know exactly how many visits it takes until these investments pay off—and whether or not the "deal" works for your family. If the math doesn't work out for you, consider buying one of the play spaces' bulk passes instead, which usually knocks a few bucks off the daily drop-in price.

Need more ideas? Check out our Indoor Play Spaces Guide for more romper rooms by borough, bounce houses, and year-round family entertainment.

10 Budget-Friendly Staten Island Birthday Party Spots for Kids

Although we have a ton of ideas for kids' birthday parties for every budget in New York City, celebrations in Manhattan or Brooklyn typically cost more than they do in other boroughs, especially when compared to Staten Island. You might not already know it unless you live on Staten Island, but this borough offers a ton of great, affordable birthday party options—ice skating, roller skating, bowling, museums, park and zoo parties, and even a few surprises.

If you're not a Staten Island resident, getting to the island for a party may take a little more effort and planning to schlep a group of kids on the ferry (which will probably be totally cool to them, by the way) or by car, but with the cash you'll save, it just might be worth it. And if you do live on Staten Island, read on for a few ideas to bookmark for your next birthday party.

Hobby Shops for NYC Kids: Model Trains, Planes, and Robots

Just like authentic New York soda fountains and ma-and-pa stores, old-fashioned hobby shops are seemingly an endangered species in NYC. But they're not dead yet.

Thanks to the popularity of the maker movement, hobby shops are enjoying a resurgence as kids (and grown-ups) look for fun, hands-on projects that range from assembling intricate models to flying remote-control airplanes, building robots, and racing model trains. That last option is one of my 9-year-old's favorite pastimes.

Although you can buy most of these kits online, visiting a brick-and-mortar hobby shop can be an inspiring experience for children who like to tinker, experiment and create. Plus, they get a chance to meet their fellow enthusiasts and learn from the vets. Whether your kids are into planes, trains, or automobiles, here are 10 hobby shops across the five boroughs where families can stock up on all their DIY model-building needs.

The Best NYC Kid Destinations that Opened in 2015

If NYC had a Facebook page, its Year in Review would go something like this: debuted three new museums, two cat cafes and one seriously jaw-dropping carousel. And that's not all! Dozens of cool kid attractions opened in New York City in 2015 and we've rounded up the 15 best new destinations to add to your family bucket list.

Read on to see how many you've already visited (they're all over the five boroughs, yes, even the Bronx and Staten Island), and then make an early New Year's resolution to check out the rest of these must-dos over holiday break (or, for seasonal spots, in 2016). Don't forget to post pics on Facebook to make your out-of-town friends Grinch-green with envy.

Free Sledding and Hot Chocolate in NYC Parks Saturday, January 4, 2014

It's official... an official snow day that is. On Saturday, January 4, the Parks Department is inviting New Yorkers to come out to a neighborhood park for some winter fun. White-capped hills around the city are open for sledding, snowman-making and more. And at five designated locations, the Parks Department will be handing out sleds and free hot chocolate while supplies last from 11am to 3pm.

Breaking: Spots Available at NYC Parks Experience Summer Camps, Possibly New York's Most Affordable Day Camp

With so many great summer day camps in NYC, finding a good one isn't an issue, but it's hard to find a camp that's as great a deal as NYC Parks Experience Summer Day Camp at just $500 for the entire summer. Usually parents have to enter a lottery to get a place at these coveted camps, but the Parks Department has given Mommy Poppins the inside scoop that there are some select spots still available.

Run by the New York City Parks Department, this seven-week program has multiple locations throughout the five boroughs. Campers enjoy outdoor adventures like hiking in local parks, a variety of sports including swimming, as well as educational activities like field trips to museums and other cultural destinations.

You can no longer apply through the Parks' Department website. The only way to snag one of these spots is with the information in this post. So read on to find out about NYC Parks Experience Summer Day Camp locations with availability, and how you can register your child.

Or check out other hot deals on cool summer camps where kids can engage in a wide range of activities, from chess to pottery to language immersion to circus.

Staten Island Kids Party Places: 10 More Great Birthday Ideas

In the past we've touted Staten Island as a great place to find a birthday party bargain. But there are so many fun Staten Island party spots, we thought it was time to do a new roundup.

Not only do Staten Island parties tend to be some of the least expensive options in NYC, they often offer the kind of fun you usually only find in the 'burbs, like bumper cars, go-karts and massive video game arcades. So in addition to our original list of Staten Island party places, here are 10 more spots where you can throw a memorable birthday bash. You can find even more options in our Party Guide.

NYC Kids' Eyeglasses: Where to Find Children's Eyewear in New York City

[UPDATED: December 1, 2012]

Shopping for kids' eyeglasses isn't like shopping for clothes or shoes. With prescription glasses, the fit and the style have to be perfect—after all, your child will be wearing them every day. So while there are many excellent eyewear stores in New York City, it's best to go to one that has experience fitting glasses for kids, especially since your child may not realize if a prescription is slightly off or if the frames are pinching the nose. It's also important to find a shop with an onsite optometrist and a wide selection of children's eyeglasses so your kid can find a pair that makes him feel comfortable, confident and even cool.

We contacted a number of well regarded local pediatric ophthalmology offices and asked where they send their clients for kids' glasses in NYC.

Staten Island Parks

Staten Island, though perhaps infamously known for the dump (which is currently being turned into a mega-park), is actually the “greenest borough.” Since Central Park is a bit of trek for locals, they can be found riding bikes, feeding the ducks and rowing boats in one of many of the island’s green playgrounds. Here’s a look at some that are definitely worth the free ferry ride over.

Free Activity-a-Day for President's Week Break

diy.gifIt's mid-winter break and whether you just have the four day President's Weekend off or the whole 10 day vacation, you need a plan for things to do to filling those days with fun and memory-making activities that won't break the bank. I can't believe some of the great free activities going on in the city this week.

So I put them together to create the Mommy Poppins Do-It-Yourself Mid-Winter Break Camp! It's fun, it's free and it's sure to fill your vacation days with awesome memory-making activities. The only draw-back is you don't get to ship your kids off to do all the fun stuff with someone else. Oh wait, that's a plus too!

Day One: Friday February 15
Free Skating Prospect Park Wollman Rink 8:30 am to 9pm
Get in the mood for your wintry vacation with a special evening of free ice skating followed by hot chocolate at Prospect Park Wollman Rink. Actually the skating is free all day today, but doing something a little out of character like skating in the evening is a great way to break your everyday routine and get into the vacation mood without leaving New York.

Day Two: Saturday, February 16
Fill your kids with a little culture at some unusual performances around the city. Your pick: Sword Dancing, Gospel or Ice Skating Competition.

Two separate, free sword dancing performances in one day??”at the Museum of the City of New York 1:30pm or at Jefferson Market Public Library 1pm??”what are the odds of that? [Thank you to New York Magazine for clarifying to me that these two performances are actually part of a sword dance festival going on throughout the city both Saturday and Sunday. Check the festival homepage for more free locations around Manhattan, Brooklyn and the Tri-State Area]

Meanwhile at the World Financial Center enjoy Gospel Choir Competition with singers from all over the country. Youth groups will sing first, starting at 10am with adults following at 1:30 to 5pm. How sweet it is.

And at Sky Rink at Chelsea Piers the Skating Club of New York will hold it's Showcase Competition in Theatrical Skating at 1:30pm.

Note: The sword dancing at the Museum of the City of New York is free with admission and children under 12 are free, but adults will have to pay the $9 museum admission.

Day Three: Sunday, February 17
Family Arts Workshop: MAKING A MARK 1 - 3 pm
Enjoy a child-friendly docent-led tour of the current funky abstract art In Context exhibit followed with an art making workshop. Space is limited. Please call or email Rose at 212.598.0400 x229 or Rortiz@henrystreet.org to reserve your place.

Day Four: Monday, February 18
The Metropolitan Museum of Art is usually closed on Mondays, but will open for this President's Day. There will be special family programs throughout the day, including story times, films, and gallery sketch talks.

Take advantage of a free complimentary family pass for free admission for up to 6 people. Register and print out the invitation for your free pass plus a $5 off coupon to the museum store.

Day Five: Tuesday, February 19
Play at the Parks??”Actually every day throughout the vacation break the NYC Parks Department is hosting a winter festival with fun activities for kids.

Historic Lefferts House offers Coming in from the Cold where kids can experience and learn what children did for fun over 100 years ago with historic indoor games and projects. February 16-24 12pm -4pm.

The Audubon Center hosts a Children's Film Festival with kid-friendly nature films followed by nature crafts.

See all the offerings at the winter festival website.

Day Six: Wednesday, February 20
Fort Greene Park will offer its own daily educational activities during the break. On the 20th, kids can learn about the urban wildlife that lives all around them and create an animal craft. 11am.

Day Seven: Thursday, February 21
The Brooklyn Children's Museum On-the-Go will be having a Tales for Tots at the Brooklyn museum with international stories illustrated by real artifacts from the Brooklyn Museum's collections.

Day Eight: Friday, February 22
It's been a long week. How about chilling out at a free storytime yoga class at Karma Kids Yoga.

Day Nine: Saturday, February 23
They Might Be Giants promote their new album, Here Come the 123s with a free performance at Borders in the the Time Warner Center! 3-5pm

Day Ten: Sunday, February 24
Princess Katie and Racer Steve perform for free in Chelsea Market at 10:3am in honor of Steve's birthday. Costumes encouraged.

Whew! I hope that keeps you as busy all week having fun as it kept me writing it up. Don't forget about our Winter Fun Guide. If any of these ideas don't tickle your fancy one day, there's plenty of other fun stuff to do with kids in New York in there. Working parents, you can print this post out for the sitter too.

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