Central Park

Visiting the Central Park Zoo with Kids: Best Things to See and Do at the Zoo

Nothing beats a day in Central Park with kids. From carriage rides to carousels, Central Park is full of possibilities for children of all ages, but the best way to spend a day in the park with kids might just be the Central Park Zoo, where children under three are always FREE

Nestled on the east side of the park near 64th Street and 5th Avenue, the Central Park Zoo feels like a natural extension of the tranquil green space. Limestone carvings of animals adorn the brick buildings, and are reminders of the history of this iconic spot. I recently visited the Central Park Zoo with my two toddlers on a Monday in the early summer. Here are our toddler-tested (and parent-tested) highlights, including where to see sea lions...and where to find bathrooms.

Best Summer Theater and Shows for NYC Kids 2018

Think the dog days of summer are a cultural wasteland and that all the cool new openings won't start again until fall? That's not the case when it comes to the stage—New York City's family theater scene is hotter than a heat wave.

There are shows for all ages, interests, and budgets throughout the summer season, including a number of FREE options such as no-cost high-quality Shakespeare, and alfresco shows for tots inspired by Peter Pan and Little Red Riding Hood. Plus enjoy eye-popping indoor spectacles for the whole family like MOMIX and Mummenschanz. Best of all, many of our picks cost less than $25 per ticket, and six are 100 percent FREE!

Free Outdoor Kids Music Concerts in NYC This Summer

What's better than a spectacular, outdoor, family-friendly, FREE music performance? A whole series of free outdoor concerts for kids! We've already told you about the great concerts in June for NYC kids, and now we're rounding up all the free concerts in July and August, to keep the kids grooving all summer.

There are free concert series for kids in parks, playgrounds, piers and plazas across the five boroughs, so scroll, click, and set reminders with your favorites. With top family bands playing annual series like Madison Square Kids and SummerStage Family Workshops, you're sure to find something the whole family can shake a tail feather to. 

For even more free family fun, see our jam-packed Summer Guide and our roundup of 100 free things to do with kids in NYC this summer.

The Best Boat Rides for Families in NYC

Going out on the water in New York lets you see the city from a whole new perspective. Whether you're sailing down one of the rivers, taking a FREE kayak out for a spin, or cruising on the ocean looking for whales, it's relaxing, refreshing, and a great way to stay cool on a summer day with the kids.

While there are all kinds of boat tours on offer around NYC, from the Circle Line to the citywide ferry service, the question for parents is, which ones are truly family-friendly? After all, once you're on the water you're committed to the ride regardless of tantrums, seasickness, or boredom.

To help you figure out which NYC boat rides will work best for your family, we've highlighted some personal favorites, and broken down the best options by type, including the best boat rides for wildlife watching, best for would-be pirates, best for your budget, and more. Discover even more family-friendly things to do this summer in our Summer Fun Guide

Enjoy Free Family Camping in NYC Parks with Urban Park Rangers

Contrary to what you might think, you don't need to invest in expensive equipment or even leave New York City to pitch a tent and camp this summer. The Urban Park Rangers offer FREE overnight family camping in city parks at select times and locations throughout the spring, summer, and fall. Bonus: They bring almost everything you need for a night spent under the stars, including the tent!

The annual program kicks off a little before Memorial Day and although it's FREE, advance registration is required for all campouts. Read on to find out how to snag a spot at one of these cool camping trips.

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 in 2016, 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 few family-friendly screenings. Movies usually begin when evening falls, between 8 and 8:30pm, but plan to arrive early...the well-known series fill up fast, and many parks offer pre-movie entertainment.

Even if your local park is screening a flick you've watched a dozen or so times at home, it's a totally different experience viewing it in the open air alongside several hundred other fans. It's a thrilling, communal event, and a summer rite of passage for New Yorkers of all ages.

So grab your calendars and start plotting your FREE summer of entertainment now. And be sure to check out the other amazing seasonal activities in our Summer Fun Guide.

Beyond Macy's: (Mostly) Free Fireworks Across NYC This Summer

There's no denying that when it comes to sparklers, Macy's Fourth of July Fireworks are the main event in New York City. But that's certainly not the only explosive display in town this season. Some of these fireworks honor our nation's birthday, others just celebrate summer in the city, from ball games to concerts in parks city wide.

Read on for all the places and dates when you and the kids can catch a fireworks show in New York City—besides the East River on the Fourth of July.

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.

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.

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.

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