Central Park

Central Park's Top Playgrounds Ranked for NYC Kids and Visitors

When out-of-towners ask me how I have managed to stay sane with three kids in Manhattan, my answer is always easy: Central Park. It's been our family playground for more than a decade. My son's first steps were taken there, and every day of elementary school in our house has started with a trek across the urban oasis. Our afternoons just don't feel quite right without a stop at the East 110th Street Playground, where my daughter finally conquered the monkey bars.

Central Park is our family's collective happy place, thanks in large part to its diverse array of playgrounds, which always keep us coming back for more (sanity-saving) playtime. In the spirit of our posts ranking the playgrounds in Prospect Park and Brooklyn Bridge Park, we present our top playground picks for Central Park.

Destination Playground: East 110th Street Playground Is a Central Park Gem

As a Harlemite, the northern edge of Central Park has always held a special place in my heart. It's a little off the beaten path, far from the tourist draws in Midtown, but it's still teeming with activity and attractions, including one of our very favorite playgrounds, the East 110th Street Playground. This playground, which was completely rebuilt in 2013, is a prime romping spot for school-age kids, whether they are uptown residents or visitors to this scenic edge of the park.

13 Coolest Places in NYC to Take Photos of Your Kids

Not to brag, but New York City is pretty darn photogenic. The glittering buildings, the amazing public art, the bright blue rivers, the buzzing neighborhood streets...It might just be the coolest family photo studio on Earth. No wonder you can hardly turn a corner in this town without running into a movie shoot.

Whether you're looking for the perfect backdrop for a family photo or just looking to take your Instagram game up a notch, we've rounded up a list of the best spots in the city to take pics of your kids (way beyond the classic "waving in front of the Statue of Liberty"...not that there's anything wrong with that). But of course, it's not just about getting that perfect shot—it's about having a perfect NYC memory, too. Each of these spots is also a great family destination in its own right, with playgrounds, parks, and museums to explore.

Be sure to follow Mommy Poppins on Instagram for more cool places to discover in NYC with your kids, with or without your camera.

NYC Playgrounds With Shade: Play It Cool at These Shady Parks in NYC

Need to find a playground with shade for a hot summer day in NYC? These shady playgrounds in Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Queens offer a break from the sun, but no shortage of fun.

While kids can always cool off in NYC's many sprinklers, there's no reason for us parents to get stuck baking in the heat. A few NYC playgrounds are known to offer exceptional amounts of shade—Hippo Playground in Riverside Park and Discovery Playground in Fort Washington Park come to mind—but we asked our readers if they knew of any super-shady playgrounds in New York City. They came through with a number of great suggestions.

Please keep in mind that the name of the game here is comfort on a hot summer day; though we have visited plenty of destination playgrounds, with a few exceptions, these shady suggestions tend to be neighborhood standbys and small playgrounds that have plenty of shade, but perhaps not too many bells and whistles. But if you're looking for a cool place to play this summer, one of these spots should do the trick.

The Best Zoos and Aquariums in NYC

Ever think you would spot a seal in Manhattan, or a giraffe in The Bronx? Did you ever hope you'd be surrounded by sharks at Coney IslandNew York City zoos offer families the chance to get up close and personal with animals from all over the world. Each borough boasts its own unique zoo experience. Whether your children are big or small, there is a zoo somewhere in NYC suited to their age, interests and attention span. Best of all, access to these creatures doesn't have to break the bank. Free admission can be as easy as picking the right afternoon to visit. Check out our insider tips for making the most of New York City's zoos.

Belvedere Castle Reopens After Extensive 15-Month Restoration

Princes and princesses take note: Following a comprehensive 15-month restoration project, Belvedere Castle reopens to the public today in Central Park, bringing with it structural and decorative upgrades and familiar views waiting to be explored, just in time for summer. For families, new kid-friendly nature programs encourage exploration of the castle's lovely grounds. For a look at what's new (and renewed) at this treasured Central Park landmark, read on.

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

Best Carousels in NYC: 13 Merry-Go-Rounds City Kids Love

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 inside an iridescent fish. We've rounded up the best merry-go-rounds in all five boroughs.

Victorian Gardens in Central Park Is a Just-Right Amusement Park for Preschoolers

Manhattan's only outdoor amusement park, Victorian Gardens, is now open for the 2019 season. It's one of those annual summer attractions you think all New York City families know about and go to—until you realize a bunch of your friends have never even heard of it.

Victorian Gardens is especially wonderful for younger children, which is why we included it in our roundup of best theme parks for preschoolers, although elementary schoolers will enjoy themselves, too. The rides are contained in a small, enclosed space so you don't have to worry about kids wandering off (like at Coney Island), and there's little walking between attractions. Most of the rides are gentle (a few have height requirements), and there aren't any teens rushing through the crowd. Plus, you can't beat the location at Wollman Rink in Central Park, just steps from the zoo, Heckscher Playground and the carousel.

13 NYC Restaurants with Backyards and Patios for Kid-Friendly Dining

Great outdoor dining makes summer in the city tolerable, at least in my book. An hour sitting on a shady patio, sipping a cold drink, steels me for the rest of the week on sweaty NYC subways and dog-pee-scented streets. It's also a great way to savor those first sun-filled days of spring.

Of course, eating out with kids is never as simple as that, so we’ve selected not just sublime outdoor dining spots but ones with enough room to roam. Hopefully, these family-friendly Manhattan restaurants, from the Battery up to Inwood, will make you forget you are in New York City with that backyard living life, even for those of us whose apartments are too small and too dark with nary a leaf to be seen.

We’ve also covered the best backyard outdoor dining in Brooklyn and Queens. See all our restaurant recommendations in the Mommy Poppins NYC Kid-Friendly Restaurant Guide.

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