Central Park

Best Holiday Shows for NYC Kids

'Tis the season to get the gang all dressed up to see some holiday shows. While there are certainly lots of spectacles to splurge on beyond the Radio City Christmas Spectacular and all those Nutcrackers, if you've got young children you may not want to blow all of your bucks on theater tickets. That's why our roundup includes a range of productions, from inexpensive, low-key offerings perfect for fidgety preschoolers, to extravaganzas that are worth the money. Bonus: We've got the scoop on how to save money to a few of the higher-priced offerings.

From live stage adaptations of holiday classics like A Charlie Brown Christmas and Elf to tot-friendly puppet shows to offbeat, eye-popping circus and dance, here are our top 16 holiday shows for NYC families.

East 72nd Central Park Playground Reopens After Eight-Month Renovation

The East 72nd Street playground in Central Park reopened this month, welcoming kids with slides, swings, a redesigned sandbox and climbing structures after an eight-month rehab. The Central Park Conservancy has undertaken a massive playground renovation project with a lofty goal of upgrading all 21 of the park's perimeter playgrounds

The playground debuted in 1936! It underwent renovations in 1969 and again in 2000. The current project was more of a facelift than a total overhaul, with improvements focused on increasing accessibility and updating safety standards. We couldn't wait to have a look—and the many happy, romping kids seem to have given their seal of approval.

On Location: Family Tours of NYC's Most Famous Movie Sites

From King Kong to Batman, New York City is one of the most famous settings for countless movies and TV shows. Filming is so ubiquitous here that locals can barely make it down the block without tripping over a production crew. Still, there's a thrill in seeing such iconic movie sites in person—and not just for kids.

Families looking for an off-beat, outdoor adventure can DIY their way to these big (and small) screen "sets" for FREE with our list of top NYC movie spots, or hop onto one of the many bus and walking tours to narrate your way through the city's most famous locations like a certain Ghostbusters' downtown firehouse and a Smurf landing in Central Park.

NYC's Summer Streets Kick Off Saturday with a Mega Water Slide

Great news for all the intrepid New Yorkers staying put this August: Summer Streets kicks off this weekend! This beloved annual event is set to take over nearly seven miles of Manhattan streets over the next three Saturdays. As in years past, Summer Streets will be jam-packed with fun and FREE events and activities, including a brand-new attraction, Slide the City, that kids (and parents) are sure to love. We've got the scoop on this new attraction, including what to expect and how to claim a spot.

News: MoMath's New Competition, Free Coding for Teens, Parks Update

As summer kicks into high gear, parks all over NYC are undergoing (or finishing up) major rehab projects—and we've got the details for you here. Other news this week includes an upcoming FREE coding event for tweens and teens, MoMath's songwriting competition and news about test-making company, Pearson, that will affect next year's state standardized tests. Read on for this week's news highlights and be sure to sign up for our free newsletters, if you haven't already, to stay up to date on the latest NYC news, reviews and more. 

Free Family-Friendly Shakespeare in NYC Parks: Shorter & Less Crowded Than Central Park

To see, or not to see... with kids? That is the question when it comes to Shakespeare. While FREE outdoor mountings of the Bard's iconic plays abound in NYC every summer, some are more family-friendly than others. Yes, the Public Theater's Shakespeare in the Park productions in Central Park get all the press and feature big stars, but they also involve insane ticket lines and long running times, plus prickly patrons who may give you the stink eye if your child gets fidgety. Happily, lots of other local troupes put on quality, no-cost Shakespeare shows in various NYC parks. These revivals don't require tickets or reservations, are engaging and accessible, and often cut down to under two hours, so your kids have a better chance of making it all the way through (and if they don't, just leave quickly and quietly—no money wasted!).

I started taking my 9-year-old daughter to outdoor Shakespeare when she was 7, and now she's totally hooked. Here are seven FREE Shakespeare shows to enjoy with your kids this summer, plus tips on how to make the most of the experience.

See Immersive Art in Central Park & Snag Some Free Ice Cream

My 9-year-old may not have a big backyard like her suburban peers, but she does have Central Park. The northeastern corner of Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux's 843-acre masterpiece is literally across the street from our apartment. But while it's got some amazing attractions, like the recently renovated East 110th Street Playground, the Lasker Rink and Pool, the Harlem Meer for catch-and-release fishing and the gorgeous Conservatory Garden, this part of the park isn't as well known as the rest. That's why the Central Park Conservancy decided to make it the setting for Drifting in Daylight, a new immersive pubic art installation celebrating the nonprofit's 35th anniversary.

The Conservancy collaborated with Creative Time to curate eight site-specific works of art, including special performances and experiences, that complement this serene section of Central Park. Some are so subtle, you and your kids may not even notice them! And that's exactly the point. Drifting in Daylight isn't about spectacle; it's about creating memories. From listening to soothing classical music, to watching recreations of famous movie scenes, to indulging in FREE ice cream (definitely the kid-friendliest piece of the bunch), Drifting in Daylight is a great reason to discover (or revisit) northern Central Park with kids.

Design, STEM and Theater: 6 More New Summer Day Camps for NYC Kids

Although we published a post about the best new camps set to debut in NYC this summer a few months back, we have since found a half-dozen additional camps worthy of highlighting. There are two new high-tech STEM options, camps for budding artists and actors, a program for young entrepreneurs, plus a popular writing program has expanded its offerings.

If you are still in summer camp planning mode like I am, be sure to check out our jam-packed Camp Guide for info on lots of other summer programs in NYC, as well as sleepaway options. We even have a Camp Directory, which allows you to search for programs by interest, age and area. Keep in mind: Many camps offer discounts if you sign up for multiple weeks, so check the official websites for more info.

Go Fish: Where to Go Fishing with NYC Kids for Free (Even If You Don't Have Gear)

Fishing is a classic summertime activity but it can only be done outside of NYC, right? Wrong. My husband and I have been fishing with our 9-year-old son in the five boroughs since he was a preschooler. It's relaxing and a great way to bond, plus it teaches patience (you definitely need it for this sport).

Not only does NYC offer different kinds of fishing experiences (freshwater, salt water, catch-and-release), there are organizations that even supply the rod, reel, tackle and bait so all you need to bring is a good attitude. Children under age 16 don’t need a license to fish in New York State, however grown-ups do, so make sure you get one if you're looking to drop a line, too. If you have your own equipment, NYC's shorelines offer great saltwater angling while our inland bodies of water are perfect for freshwater catch-and-release fishing. Our rivers, lakes, ponds and beaches are truly teeming with fish, and we've got the scoop on where you and your kids can catch them.

Best Places for Families to Bike Ride in Manhattan

May is Bike Month in NYC making it a great time to learn how to ride (for free), join a group tour or participate in other fun cycling events. Of course, bike-riding season lasts all spring, summer and fall.

Taking a spin in the city is one of my family's favorite pastimes. Until recently, we zipped around town with our son in a bike seat. We'd ride to work, the park, really anywhere we had to go.

Now that he's outgrown his seat, my son's working very hard on mastering his two-wheeler so we can continue biking everywhere. In the meantime, we're planning a bunch of awesome riding routes for the summer. Here are our picks for the best places to bike with kids in Manhattan and beyond.


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