Uptown

Best Free Halloween Events for Kids in New York City

What's the one way to make a costume-and-candy filled Halloween celebration even sweeter? Make it FREE. In New York City there are so many no-cost fetes, we've decided to give parents a real treat: a roundup of FREE Halloween events for kids in all five boroughs, including big annual favorites such as Fort Greene's BAMboo! block party, Brookfield Place Halloween Party, and the Halloween Parade and Pumpkin Flotilla in Central Park, and the one-night-only theatrical spectacle at Brooklyn's Halloween 313 house.

So bring your trick-or-treat bags, but leave your wallets at home for these gratis happenings. Then check out our Halloween Fun Guide for details on the best trick-or-treat spots and other seasonal festivities.

7 Easy Fall Family Hikes in NYC

It finally feels like fall in New York City, which means my family is headed to the hiking trail. At least once a quarter, usually coinciding with the change of seasons, someone in the family decides it's time to escape to the woods for a little urban relief. And really, there's no need to head upstate or to the 'burbs to get that outdoors fix.  

Did you know that our fair city is home to over 300 miles of hiking trails through 10,000 acres of unencumbered Mother Nature? We have sampled enough to confidently share this list of trails that vary in length, difficulty, and scenery, including those just right for little legs and spots with water, bridges, and yes, that gorgeous fall foliage. Whatever borough you call home, my boy, who helped to compile this list, and I hope you will have a blast lacing up and hitting the trails. Note: He is too young to share mommy's byline. 

Best Family Shows at the New Victory Theater This Season 2016

For more than two decades, the award-winning New Victory Theater in the heart of Times Square has been a local family favorite to catch entertaining and affordable productions for all ages. But it's much more than just a place to go see a show. Through a range of educational offerings like hands-on workshops, interactive pre- and post-show activities, and performances to accommodate audiences with special needs, the organization is raising the next generation of theatergoers.

Mommy Poppins is proud to partner with the New Vic for the fourth year in a row. Throughout the season, we'll be giving you access to its incredible lineup of shows and special exclusive events for Mommy Poppins readers. We kick off our partnership with a preview of the New Victory's 2016-2017 season, including show recommendations for every age and stage, tips on how to save on tickets, and video clips from the upcoming productions.

Petting Zoos Near NYC Where Kids Can See Farm Animals

I thank my lucky stars for the incredible cultural opportunities living in New York City offers my kids. But sometimes I fret over the disconnect from the natural world, especially since my mom was a certified country girl.

I want my three kids to be as comfortable in the country as they are 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 feed them at places like Prospect Park Zoo, there's something special about getting a bit closer, or enjoying that farm setting. We've rounded up nine petting zoos or animal havens to get some serious face time with furry friends—whether you're petting a donkey, bottle-feeding a baby goat, hand-feeding a giraffe, or letting a lorikeet land on your shoulder.

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

Penguins, Puppets, and Daniel Tiger! Fall Theater for NYC Kids

Autumn marks the start of a new theater season, but you don't need to shell out big bucks on Broadway shows to give your kids a memorable live entertainment experience in NYC. This fall, preschoolers will go gaga for engaging, page-to-stage adaptations of some of their favorite picture books and TV shows like The Ugly Duckling, Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood, and Mr. Popper's Penguins. Meanwhile, school-age children can catch a pair of steampunk-styled spectacles—Cirque du Soleil's Kurios and Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea—plus avant-garde offerings at Lincoln Center and La MaMa. Best of all, 10 of our picks are $20 or less per ticket.

A Dozen Baby and Me Music Classes Around NYC

Music classes are often the first "mommy and me" experience parents try, so it's no coincidence such classes are offered all over the city. When you're ready to get out and spend some time jamming with other adults and their wee ones, check out one of these 12 baby music classes in Manhattan and beyond.

We also have roundups of parent and child classes in Queens and music classes in Brooklyn. As always, you can find even more NYC classes in our Classes Guide and Directory Listings.

Preschool in the Park? Outdoor and Nature-Themed NYC Classes

Nature provides the perfect classroom for preschool-aged kids. Even New York's little urbanites love to jump in puddles, make mud pies, climb trees, and dig for worms. For parents looking for a classroom that draws its lessons from nature, we've rounded up the city's best preschools, "forest schools," and toddler classes in which kids spend a significant part of each day outdoors or interacting with the natural world. As classes are often held rain or shine, proper outdoor gear is a must, so get some sturdy boots and rain pants and let your kids explore!

For more preschool options, be sure to check out the directory of schools, as well as our New York City Preschool Guide with tips on what to ask during a tour and how to ease the transition for kids (and parents).

Storytimes for NYC Kids: Read Your Way Around Manhattan

Storytimes are a great free—or super low-cost—kid activity that can often provide the incentive families need to get out of the house on those rainy, cold or snowy days when cabin fever is likely to set in. Hosted throughout NYC at libraries, bookstores, museums, and other fun places, most of these baby and kid reading sessions don't require reservations, making it easy to just drop in. Plus, many of these storytimes incorporate arts and craft projects and, considering the venues that host them, a story hour can easily turn into a full morning or afternoon of fun.

Read on for our most up-to-date list of storytimes for fall and winter 2016 in Manhattan. Also, be sure to peruse our post on NYC's best independent bookstores for kids for more reading inspiration, and if you're in the outer boroughs, we've also written about storytimes in Brooklyn and in Queens.

Must-See NYC Fall Art: Garbage Trucks, Outer Space, Politics

New York City museums seem to always offer plenty of wonderful art collections, but this fall families in the five boroughs will find interesting exhibits on math, history, and more. Fittingly during this election season, a few museums have focused on past and current presidents.

While you might think kids would find exhibits about our country’s leaders and current events a bit boring, these museums have curated displays that ought to spark curiosity. Plus, if your child is at all like mine, this election has been a surprisingly hot topic among friends, which only proves New Yorkers of all ages love a good political debate.

Whatever your child’s interests, you’re sure to find something on this list that appeals and educates. After all, to quote a karaoke favorite, "the children are our future." (Sorry about the earworm.)

Best Events This Fall for NYC Preschoolers

This fall preschoolers are being showered with great events, festivals, and theater in NYC. There are oh so many fall fairs with petting zoos, music, and performances, plus hands-on art making, great toddler and preschooler shows—and plenty of FREE options. We have rounded up more than two dozen of the best the city has to offer this fall, so get ready to add some activities to your yearly GoList.

Don't forget to check out our September GoList and Best NYC Harvest Festivals for even more great fall events.

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