Uptown

Take the Subway to NYC Beaches: Coney, Rockaway, Orchard Beach

Fourteen miles of sparkling sand and crashing waves can be found in four of the five boroughs (sorry river-locked Manhattan), which is good news for NYC families. Because 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.

New York City's beaches are just a subway, bus, or ferry ride away. From the "Bronx Rivera" to iconic Coney Island and the Rockaways, these urban seasides often offer just about everything suburban beaches do except the out-of-town commute.

22 Best Water Playgrounds and Sprinklers for Kids in NYC

When we were growing up, New York City playgrounds had sprinklers. Now parks and playgrounds across the five boroughs possess "water features"—fountains, geysers, rivers, pumps, and beautiful spraying statues. Kids just love them, and we parents prefer these newfangled playgrounds because they're pretty and cool, and make us feel as if our exorbitant NYC housing costs are justified.

As the city's sprinkler season gets into gear, it's good to know where to find the wildest and wettest playgrounds around. There are hundreds of water features in NYC parks, and we've highlighted some favorites by borough: the best in Brooklyn, best of Queens, and best of the Bronx. Some are cooler (literally and figuratively) than others, and more amazing ones seem to open every year. When we first published this article in 2008, we had five favorite splashing spots. Now we're up to 22 fancy playgrounds where kids can get wet in NYC. See if your favorites made our list.

27 Reasons Yorkville May Be The Most Family-Friendly Neighborhood in NYC

With the long-awaited arrival of the Second Avenue subway, Yorkville has become the best of both worlds -- a slightly off-the-beaten-path enclave with zippy Manhattan train access. The cozy Upper East Side neighborhood between East Harlem and East 79th Street has also seen an influx of kid-friendly amenities, like new restaurants and play spots, adding to the established old-time favorites, wonderful parks, and great schools.

To meet the demand, beautiful new luxury buildings, like Citizen360, offer zen-inspired design, envy-inducing views, spacious apartments and a long list of top-notch features — think relaxing residents' lounges and private entertaining suites, yoga studios, infrared saunas, and stress-free on-site parking. Surprisingly, with so much going for the neighborhood, apartments still go for less than Manhattan averages, making Yorkville a smart choice for families looking to have it all.

Things to Do in Fort Tryon Park & Fort Washington Park with Kids

Two of the biggest attractions in Upper Manhattan boast a combined 250 acres of lush lawns and gardens, winding tree-lined paths, multiple ball fields and playgrounds, and three iconic NYC sights: the famed Little Red Lighthouse, the George Washington Bridge (or for fans of the beloved picture book by Hildegarde H. Swift, the Great Gray Bridge), and the Cloisters, the Metropolitan Museum of Art's branch dedicated to medieval art and architecture. Because of the waterfront location at the highest points in Manhattan, the two green spaces—Fort Washington and Fort Tryon Parks—were important strategic points in the Revolutionary War. Today the parks offer visitors spectacular views of the Hudson River and the New Jersey Palisades.

So take the A train up to Washington Heights and Inwood and discover all the wonderful things to do in Fort Washington Park and Fort Tryon Park, with a little bit of help from our guide below.

Best Amusement Parks for Preschoolers in and Near NYC

For young children, a ride on a carousel’s painted pony, a spin with dad around the bumper car track, and a dripping swirl of frozen custard are the stuff summer memories are made of. No need to seek out the latest scary high-tech roller coasters (which means you can cross Luna Park's most scary rides off your list).

Rides that look mild (or frankly, downright boring) to big people usually provide just the right amount of thrills for toddlers and preschoolers. Happily, there are a number of amusement and water parks in or near the New York City metro area that offer these kinds of tame attractions. Here's our roundup of theme parks perfect for the pint-sized.

Find more seasonal rides in our Theme and Water Parks Guide for families.

July 4th Fireworks Cruises in NYC: See Macy's Show on a Boat

The promise of NYC summer fun is right around the corner. One of our favorite annual events, the Macy's Fourth of July fireworks display, is ready to light up the city skyline. The display illuminates the East River annually, and nothing quite compares with watching the celebration up close from the water. Plus, you don't have to battle the insane crowds with the kids.

Of course, these special cruises don't come cheaply and many are only open to ages 21 and older. We set out to find the lowest-cost July 4th fireworks cruises in NYC that also welcome children. If you're interested, book quickly. Some already have sold out and the remaining tickets will be gone before you know it.

NYC Carousels: 13 City Merry-Go-Rounds To Spin You Around

There's something wonderfully nostalgic about kids getting a thrill from a ride on a carousel. It's the simplest of amusement park attractions, and there are more than a dozen merry-go-rounds in New York City alone. It's easy to stumble upon them on your next park outing.

Each city carousel offers a unique spin on this traditional kiddie ride, from harbor views to a ride in a iridescent fish. With spring in full swing, it's a great time to take your first ride of the season, so we've rounded up the merry-go-rounds in all five boroughs.

Hidden NYC: 23 Fun Things To Do in Central Park

Central Park was created as a respite for the teeming masses of Manhattan. The 843-acre jewel is home to woodlands, meadows, lakes, and wildlife, and years later still offers a reprieve to all New Yorkers. Today, more than 40 million people annually visit the lush expanses of one of the country's earliest public parks. Its 21 playgrounds make it a destination for families from all over the city and world.

Central Park isn’t a place to tire of easily. My family's daily commute to school takes us back and forth across the park—for that, I thank my lucky stars. But it's easy to lose perspective and forget how much this massive green space has to offer locals and visitors alike. With that in mind, we've rounded up 23 fun sites and scenes worth exploring in New York City's big backyard, from the obvious playgrounds and sledding hills to more obscure destinations. Enjoy!

NYC Fun Zone Gives Upper East Side Toddlers a New Play Space

The Upper East Side is already packed with plenty to do for neighborhood families. It's almost made for kids, and we're told that the Yorkville neighborhood east of Third Avenue is booming with kid fun, too. In fact, the Manhattan nabe just got a brand-new play space that's steps from Carl Schurz Park, and it truly is a gem nestled among the shops on York Avenue.

The minute you enter NYC Fun Zone you notice its inviting, clean space for babies up to kindergarten-aged kids. Toddlers will feel right at home. Even my 5-year-old had a blast and didn't want to leave! 

Get all the details on the bright and fun new uptown venue below.

Bryant Park and More Midtown West Parks and Playgrounds to Visit

Romping room may not be tops on your list of Midtown West destinations, but most city dwellers know about the not-so-hidden emerald gem Bryant Park, which abounds with enough family- (and budget-) friendly fun for an entire day's worth of entertainment, no matter the season. Twirl on the carousel in warm weather or the city's only FREE ice skating rink come winter.

We've got the lowdown on all the fun this green space has to offer for locals and visitors alike, plus five playgrounds off-the-beaten Midtown path, where kids can climb, swing, and slide to their heart's content.

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