Uptown

10 Things to Love About Northern Central Park

My family has long thought of Central Park as our backyard. And while we've romped across most of its 843 acres, and enjoy an occasional visit to the zoo or our favorite playground on the southern end, we're just as happy to leave that portion of the park to the tourists.

Instead, you'll find us exploring above 100th Street, in the northern reaches of the park, which are just wooded enough to make you forget the urban jungle for a bit. A recently-announced $150 million dollar renovation project will update the aging pool and skating rink at Central Park's Harlem Meer, while creating new trails and restoring the landscape—but there's no reason to wait until that project's estimated 2024 completion date to enjoy this beautiful parkland.

From a babbling stream, to renovated playgrounds, rolling meadows, perfectly manicured gardens, and the wild of the North Woods, here are 10 things to love about Central Park's northern edge.

9 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 parks around NYC to confidently share this list of trails that vary in length, scenery, and difficulty (including those just right for little legs), and that reward hikers with views of 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. 

14 Not-So-Scary Halloween Events in NYC for the Preschool Set

With a little one who gets tired after one or two blocks of trick-or-treating, I find myself hunting for Halloween events that are more geared towards his age group. Luckily for us, NYC boasts plenty of less spooky, pre-bedtime events for the littlest ghouls and goblins. 

With that in mind, we've put together a list of 14 Halloween events perfect for the preschool set, many of them FREE. Enjoy these gentle Halloween events while you can—your kids will be celebrating at the Village Halloween Parade before you know it.

Find even more festive happenings for all age groups in our Halloween guide (including kid-friendly costume parades around the city), and of course in our events calendar, which is continually updated with new, fun events as we find out about them.

Popular Upper West Side Preschools (and How to Know Which One Is Best for You)

Gearing up for the great preschool hunt? In neighborhoods like the Upper West Side where preschool spots are in high demand, some preschools may require you to send your application in September the year before your child will enroll, after which you'll be invited to visit and confirm your interest in the school (some have early admissions and wait lists!), with final acceptance letters going out in February or March. If that sounds unsettlingly like college admissions to you, you're not alone.

But never fear. The Upper West Side is home to a lot of great preschools, and your odds of finding a comfortable fit for your family are excellent. We've compiled our best Preschool Admissions Tips as well as 10 Questions to Ask During a Preschool Tour, and don't forget that our Preschools Directory is an excellent resource. And to start your preschool search on the right foot, we've highlighted some of our favorite preschools in the Upper West Side and broken them down into categories to help you decide which may be best for your family. Good luck!

Jewish Museums in NYC: 6 Cultural Spots for Kids

One of the best aspects of growing up in NYC is that kids are exposed to lots of different cultures. In fact, it's not uncommon for children of all backgrounds to want to celebrate Hanukkah, Kwanza, Christmas, Purim and Lunar New Year—and perhaps even teach their parents how it's done.

Exploring various traditions at school and with friends is fun, but there are also many New York City institutions where you can learn about different cultures in more depth, from the Museum of Chinese in America to the Japan Society to the National Museum of the American Indian. As the Jewish high holidays of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur approach, here are six great NYC spots where kids can learn about Jewish culture, traditions, and history.

Best Events This Fall for NYC Preschoolers

Let the fall fun begin! This autumn there are loads of events, festivals, and shows in NYC just right for the preschool set, and as an added bonus, many are FREE! With fall fairs, petting zoos, and musical performances to choose from, you're bound to find the perfect event for your preschooler.

If you're looking for a festive day trip, find out where preschoolers can pick their own apples or even find the perfect pumpkin.

Free and Cheap After-School Programs for NYC Kids and Teens

Tis the season for after-school program enrollment. Families looking for reasonably priced enriching and fun programs for their children have tons of sports, arts, academics, and other kinds of classes to choose from. In fact, a handful of high-quality after-school programs are actually free or super inexpensive!

Some places, like the New York City Parks Department, offer after-school coverage Monday through Friday. Other programs like those found at the Children’s Museum of Art (CMA) only meet once or twice a week. We've rounded up organizations that offer complimentary or reasonably priced classes to kids, tweens and teens throughout the five boroughs. Lots of the programs on this list have multiple enrollment periods per year. Check in with Mommy Poppins regularly to stay on top of enrollment options during the fall, winter, and spring.

Best Fall Festivals for NYC Kids in September

Kick off autumn at one of September's 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 a lively local celebration, make sure you hit up the One Crown Heights Neighborhood Festival at the Brooklyn Children's Museum. 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 festivals this September.

After-School Registration Now Open for Free NYC Program

We've told you all about the lottery for 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 21, 2019 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.

31 Things We Can't Wait to Do This Fall in NYC

The other day, I spotted the first of the Halloween pop-up shops that dot city streets come Fall, and it hit me: Though my AC is working overtime, and I'm still cramming as much summer fun in with my kids as possible, the winds of change are blowing.

Rather than lamenting the things we didn't get to, though, we decided to look forward to what's on tap, so here's our season-long look at the family-friendly fall fun we can't wait to get started on. After all, we've got lots of assorted school holidays and long weekends to fill before the weather really changes. Without further ado, here are 31 things we're looking forward to doing this fall in NYC, a mix of seasonal favorites and new openings that has us actually looking forward to September.

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