South Shore

How to Get to NYC Beaches by Ferry or Train

Fourteen miles of beautiful beaches can be found in four of NYC's five boroughs (sorry river-locked Manhattan), many easily accessible by ferry or train. As much as we enjoy hitting the Jersey Shore, Fire Island, and other Long Island beaches, we're not big fans of renting cars and sitting in traffic. Luckily it's easy to hit the sand and surf by taking a ferry or subway to the shore. From the "Bronx Rivera" to iconic Coney Island and the Rockaways, these urban seasides often offer just about everything suburban ones do—except the out-of-town commute.

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.

15 Revolutionary War Sites in NYC That Bring Our Country's History to Life for Kids

As a diehard history nerd, I've taken my nine-year-old son to Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia (twice!), and we've visited Philadelphia and Boston, both cities with major Colonial cred, numerous times. But some of the most important Revolutionary War battles and key events took place right here in NYC, so, really, you can bring the birth of our nation to life in a way no textbook can just by using your MetroCard. 

See where George Washington slept during the war and the Bible he used for his inauguration; check out where the battles of Fort Washington, Harlem Heights and Brooklyn were waged; and tour Founding Father Alexander Hamilton's home all without leaving the boroughs. Plus, many of these sites host special interactive activities like living historical reenactments, battles and commemorations.

Here are 15 NYC sites where kids (and grown-ups!) can connect with the events and people who helped found our country.

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 Animal Shelters: Dog and Cat Adoption Tips in New York City

So you have finally given in to your kids' pleas and agreed to adopt a family pet. Good timing, as October is Adopt-a-Shelter-Dog Month. The ways to adopt a dog, cat, kitten or puppy in NYC are endless, from drives at your local pet supply store to sophisticated shelters like Bideawee, which matches you to your potential pet like a dating service.

Read on to learn some differences between adopting from a large organization versus a smaller independent rescue center, and why buying an animal from a pet store may not be your best option.

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.

Another New York Beach: The Beaches of Staten Island, That Is

With all the tall buildings, noise and traffic, it is easy to forget that New York is really just made up of a bunch of islands, with swimable beaches all around. When you think bout Staten Island, your first thought may not be "beach", but Staten Island is home to many beaches, which are close-by, reachable by public transportation, and free ways to escape the buildings, fast-walkers and chaos of everyday life, without heading to the Garden State. Find out some of the best Staten Island Beaches below.

Get Ready for Summer with Free Swimming Events


Summer is just around the corner and summer means swimming. In preparation of summer and swimming season get your feet wet at these free swimming events.

The Big Swim
April 12, 2008
The Big Swim is a one-of-a-kind open swim meet where 1,000 New York City children ages 6-16 participate in a free day of competitive swim races. Each child experiences the excitement of a real race with starting blocks, officials, and a timed finish. Races are all supervised by lifeguards and swimming Asphalt Green aquatics staff. This event has been recommended to me by other parents who said that your child does not need to be an very strong swimmer to have a great time. The environment is not competitive and each child goes home a winner with a medal, a photo with Olympians, a t-shirt, and a goody bag.

The Big Swim takes place on April 12, 2008, but registration forms must be received by March 30th. For more information on the meet, call 800.NYC.SWIM (800.692.7946) or go to the website to register online.

Asphalt Green's The Big Swim
555 East 90th Street
New York, NY 10128

YMCA Splash Week
April 21-25, 2008
The YMCA of Greater New York is hosting a week of free swimming lesson during their Splash Week to promote water safety for kids and families. During Splash Week local YMCA branches will be offering free half-hour swimming lessons to anyone aged 3 and up. Yes, there will even be free adult swimming classes as well as lifeguarding classes for anyone who's dreaming of getting a job as a lifeguard this summer. You won't find any information about Splash Week online. You must visit or call your local YMCA branch to find out the schedule of classes, but if you don't know where the nearest YMCA branch is you can find it at the YMCA website. Participating branches can be found in Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, The Bronx and Staten Island.

If you're looking for swimming classes for read our swimming classes post. It includes mommy and me swimming classes and classes for older children as well.

Free Parks Programs Let City Kids Discover the Nature All Around

I think I love being out in nature in the Fall better even than in the summer. The smell of the damp leaves on the ground, the crisp autumn air, it's very relaxing and great being outdoors with the kids at this time of year.

But you don't need to hop in the car to get your walk in the woods. There are woods all around us and the NYC Parks Department has tons of programs to help families enjoy them and teach NYC kids about nature. There are too many in one weekend to even list, but here's the top ones in every borough.

Staten Island: Haunted Hike
Explore the haunted history of Conference House Park, which was once a Native American burial ground. 7PM Friday, Nov 2.

Manhattan:Inwood Park Nature Walk
How would you like a guided nature walk by no less than the chief naturalist of the NYC Parks Department? Spot songbirds and learn about the ecosystems of Manhattan's last natural forest and salt marsh. Sat., Nov. 3. 8-10AM, Inwood Park

Queens: Fall Migration
Help Rangers count raptors as they pass by on their Fall Migration. Raptors are always cool and kids will love that they are helping the Rangers. Flushing Meadows Corona Park, 10AM Sat, Nov. 3.

Brooklyn: Backyard Ecology Walk
A kid-friendly introduction to Fort Greene's wildlife will teach NYC kids about the nature that lives right in their own backyards. Sure to open city kids' eyes to the world of nature around them. Sat., Nov. 3, 1PM, Fort Greene Park.

Bronx: Fall Foliage Walk
Enjoy some of the most exquisite fall foliage in the city on a guided walk through an oak, hickory and sweet-gum forest and search for the special 400 year old white oak. Pelham Bay Park, 2 PM. Sunday, Nov. 4.

Want more NYC nature walks?

Check out trails.com. A member fee is required, but it gives you unlimited access to detailed guides for hiking, biking, kayaking and more all over the US. There's tons of guides for NYC and the surrounding areas and even ideas for hikes with kids. You can try it out with their 14 day free trial.

Gorp is free site that has lots of hiking and other outdoor activity ideas around NYC and the country. The information is less detailed than what you'll find on trails.com or in a book, but it's a good starting place.

Best Hikes with Children in the Catskills and Hudson River Valley

is a book that features 51 easy hikes to enjoy with your kids in the area.

 

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