Uptown

SpongeBob SquarePants Aims for a Broadway Splash This Fall

Although you'll have to wait until spring to catch the highly anticipated stage adaptations of Frozen and Harry Potter on Broadway, there's another popular kids' character hitting the boards this fall. After a well-reviewed Chicago run, Nickelodeon's SpongeBob SquarePants musical sails into town this November featuring all the beloved Bikini Bottom denizens including Patrick, Squidward, and the endlessly optimistic title character who lives in a pineapple under the sea.

While I realize this production may sound like a soulless cash grab by Nickelodeon, which has long been interested in getting into the theater biz like its rival Disney, there are actually several reasons I expect this production to make a splash on Broadway. In fact, I think this may be one of those rare family shows that works on multiple levels, thrilling the brand's young fans while also winning over grown-ups with its stunning design, quirky humor, and songs by some of the biggest rock stars of all time—including the late David Bowie.

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 2017 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.

7 Spots to Explore the Immigrant Experience with City Kids

No matter your political leanings, immigration is a hot topic of conversation these days, and New York has a rich and ongoing history as a gateway to our country. We've combed through our city's top museums and cultural institutions to pinpoint some of the most kid-friendly destinations for those curious about the immigrant experience, or looking to teach children about diversity and tolerance for others.

Of course NYC often plays host to rotating art exhibits related to this theme, which you can always find in our event calendar. One upcoming highlight is the annual outdoor Photoville exhibition in Dumbo, where families will find both American and global diversity and immigration stories on display, from Syrian refugee tales to a Newark campus to Detroit.

Now, here are seven NYC spots where history leaps off the pages for interactive exploration.

Free Times to Visit NYC Museums, Gardens, and the Zoos

Many of New York City's top museums, zoos, gardens, and cultural institutions offer FREE or reduced admission on certain nights, days, or hours at least once a month—a city perk that no busy, cash-strapped parent should miss out on! Plus, many of the "grown-up" museums let kids in for free year-round.

It can be hard to keep track of when and where these freebies are available, so we've compiled an exhaustive list of reduced or FREE admission days at all of your favorite NYC cultural spots from the Bronx Zoo to the Brooklyn Children's Museum.

As always, you can check our Events Calendar for more budget-friendly kid activities every day or peruse our Free in NYC Guide. Try our Museum Guide or Zoos and Gardens Guide for more on the latest kid-friendly art and exhibitions in NYC.

Which Preschool? NYC Parents Spill on How They Found 'The One'

When it comes time to choose a preschool for your NYC kid, especially the first child, the decision can seem daunting. What if you pick wrong and she hates it? What if you hate it? What if he won’t get the leg up you’re hoping for at this school? What if...what if...what if….?

At the time, it might even feel like the biggest parenting decision you’ve made to date, besides perhaps where to give birth or which pediatrician would care for your new baby. Seasoned parents, however, will tell you: It’ll be OK. 

Trust your gut—and it’ll be OK—and if it’s not, switch, or there’s always next year!

Don’t take my word for it, though. Here are four NYC parents who have been through the sometimes agonizing process of picking out a preschool and are now sharing their stories on how they whittled down the choices, selected a school, and made it on to pre-K and kindergarten without losing their...marbles. 

6 New Playgrounds in NYC You Gotta See This Fall

Summer may be coming to an end, but the crisp weather of fall is a great time to get out and explore your local park in New York City. Even better, check out a new playground—and with the recent influx of capital dollars, all five boroughs are boasting freshly renovated play spots begging to be explored during your next outdoor adventure.

We've rounded up six completely revamped playgrounds that reopened during the past six months, plus another handful to be revealed before we ring in the new year. So grab those sneakers and get ready to explore one of these shiny new play spots. You can always find more of our favorite playgrounds in our NYC guide.

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 calendar.

Don't forget to check out our September GoList and Best NYC Fall Festivals for even more great fall events, and our just released Fall Fun Guide. Looking for a special day trip? Preschoolers are old enough to pick their own apples this September or even the perfect pumpkin as the season rolls on.

Best Fall Festivals for NYC Kids in September

Kick off autumn at one of these fun-filled (and mostly FREE) fall festivals in NYC. Annual family favorites abound this month, including top September GoList picks such as the Richmond County Fair and the annual Queens County Fair. For more futuristic fun, make sure you hit up the Maker Faire at the New York Hall of Science. There are also plenty of cool under-the-radar events you may not have heard of, including a marine science fest in Tribeca, a sweet honey fest in Rockaway Beach, and Italian fairs in the Bronx and on Staten Island, which are both a lot less crowded than San Gennaro.

So banish the back-to-school blues by hitting one (or more) of these kid-friendly fetes this September.

After-School Registration Now Open for Free NYC Program

We've told you all about the lottery for free kid activities and swimming classes operated by the NYC Parks Department, but did you know it also has you covered after school? Registration for the FREE after-school program run by the Parks Department opened on August 16, 2017 for NYC kids ages 6 to 13, and we've got details on what the program offers and how to sign up.

Find more after-school options in the Mommy Poppins Classes Guide.

Destination Playground: Central Park's Heckscher Playground

The Central Park Conservancy has been on a mission of late renovating playgrounds all along its border from south to north, but one playground has stood the test of time, not only in the decade-plus since I've been a parent, but well beyond: Heckscher Playground.

Ask any native New Yorker, and they'll tell tales of their youth spent frolicking on the interconnecting pyramid-like structures in this 1.8-acre kiddie paradise, which is Central Park's oldest and largest playground.

Though originally built in 1926, Heckscher Playground was last renovated in 2006. Featuring different play areas for preschoolers and big kids, the playground is smartly designed. It's pyramids are hard to resist in any season, but it's a particularly cool destination in the summer when the spectacular sprinklers send towering jets of water into the air, and it's water-filled walkways provide a cool respite for tired toes.

Looking for more inspiration for your next playground day? Visit our Parks and Playgrounds Guide.

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