Uptown

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 New York City 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 NYC Families.

Free Kayaking, Canoeing, and Rowboat Options in New York City

With all the water surrounding New York City, it's no wonder there are so many sightseeing cruises and fun ferry rides to great kid destinations. For times when you want to be your own captain, there are many seasonal opportunities for NYC families to get out on the water by themselves with kayaking, rowing, and canoeing. Much of the fun kicks off Memorial Day weekend or early summer.

We've rounded up 11 great New York City organizations that offer boating sessions on our wonderful waterways—and they're all FREE. Ahoy!

Free Outdoor Movies for NYC Kids This Summer: Hundreds of Them!

New York City will screen hundreds of FREE outdoor movies this summer, many of them just for kids and families. The popular Movies Under the Stars series, which debuted with screenings in parks and at playgrounds in all five boroughs last year, returns along with many of our favorite annual series. 

A few outdoor movie series, such as RiverFlicks for Kids in the West Village, are aimed specifically at children. But even grown-up series, such as those in Bryant Park and Brooklyn Bridge Park, include a family-friendly screening or two. Movies usually begin between 8 and 8:30pm, but plan to arrive early: The well-known series fill up fast. Sometimes there is even pre-movie entertainment.

So grab your calendars and start plotting your FREE summer of entertainment now. Find more seasonal activities in our Summer Fun Guide.

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.

Best Broadway Shows for Kids and Families

Whether you're visiting NYC or live here year-round, seeing a Broadway show is a special family experience. Kids are sure to remember it vividly, and chances are parents won't soon forget the credit card bill. That's why it's so important to pick a production wisely, especially when bringing young children to their first Broadway performance.

While Disney juggernauts The Lion King and Aladdin are popular options, there are other kid-friendly choices that aren't as obvious. We've rounded up our 10 best Broadway musicals for families and organized them by age appropriateness. As a bonus, we've also got the scoop on how to save big bucks on tickets thanks to various deals.

Find more upcoming NYC shows in our event calendar, or read reviews of current family productions to find the one that best suits your children.

Lincoln Center Launches Arts Festival for Children with Autism

Lincoln Center is making headlines in the New York City special needs community. The iconic cultural institution is launching the "Big Umbrella Festival," a month of arts programming dedicated to autistic kids and their families. The inaugural festival is set to take over stages on the cultural campus and at local schools in April 2018, Autism Awareness Month.

The stated mission is to "enrich the lives of children on the autism spectrum through inclusive art that engages, educates, and inspires." While still a year away, the monthlong festival is surely a welcome addition to city's existing cultural programs for kids with autism.

16 Great Parks and Playgrounds for NYC Kids' Birthdays

Savvy DIYers know that during the warmer months, New York City's parks make a stunning backdrop for a birthday bash. Granted, this type of party requires more work than booking one of those all-inclusive packages, but you get to control most of the details, including the cost (though sadly not the weather).

Find more party spots in our NYC Birthday Guide, including inexpensive room rentals for when bad weather threatens the fun.

Best Family Festivals and Street Fairs in NYC This May

There are street fairs—and then there are street fairs. We don't mean those random ones selling irregular socks and fried Oreos; we're talking about true community festivals. Each one is unique, reflecting the character of its neighborhood, and many feature rides, performances, activities, and food. The hard part, of course, is knowing which is which, but don't worry, we've taken the guesswork out of it for you.

We've gone through the city's list of top annual festivals, street fairs, and carnivals and put together our roundup of top picks for May. Most of these fetes are FREE or cost just a couple of bucks, and in many cases your dollars go to support a local charity or school. Here are 20 awesome fests happening in NYC this May.

You can find even more seasonal activities in our Spring Fun Guide.

Mother's Day Brunch Spots in Manhattan and the Bronx

Mother's Day is fast approaching, which means it's time to start planning that special day for the well-deserving mom or wife in your life. Speaking from experience, all moms really want is a little time off. You could choose breakfast in bed, but why not instead forgo chores altogether and hit one of NYC's many delicious brunch spots?

We've rounded up more than a dozen of scrumptious places throughout Manhattan and the Bronx. Each is by preference, including those looking for a waterfront view or moms who prefer a restaurant with vegetarian options. Pinpoint your special lady's preference, make reservations and get ready to dig in. 

Also check out our Mother's Day brunch suggestions for Brooklyn and Queens. After brunch, head out to one of these 25 great family events happening that Sunday. However you decide to spend the day, Happy Mother's Day from your peers at Mommy Poppins.

A Dozen Miniature Golf Courses for NYC Kids

For many families, mini golf is a quintessential spring and summer activity that they look forward to every year. My son loves it, so we've tried just about every putt-putt course in the tristate area.

While there are plenty of courses on Long Island and in New Jersey, you don't need to head out of town for putt-putt golf. There are currently a dozen places to play mini golf right here in New York City. And as sports go, it's typically fairly inexpensive—often as little as $5 a round for kids. Another bonus is that it's one of those rare activities that parents and kids can play together. You can even host a birthday party at most of these spots.

Read on to find out where to play mini golf with the kids in the city, and I'll see you on the green!

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