Harlem

Celebrate Martin Luther King Day with Kids at These NYC Events

Martin Luther King Jr. Day is peaceful for New York City kids, but it sure isn't boring, with music and storytelling and volunteer activities all focused on celebrating Dr. King's life and teachings with kids. Enjoy interactive peace marches, a special story hour, a FREE bash at BAM in Fort Greene, Brooklyn, and various museum events.

Martin Luther King Jr. Day (Monday, January 21, 2019) is also a National Day of Service, when citizens are encouraged to help out in their communities. So we've included a list of family volunteering opportunities that are wonderful ways to honor King's work. You can find even more things to do on MLK Day in our Event Calendar.

50 Best Things to Do in Harlem with Kids

NYC is constantly changing, but one neighborhood that's undergone a particularly striking transformation in the past decade is Harlem. While my family and I moved into the neighborhood when I was pregnant with my oldest (now a newly minted teenager) there are times we still feel like relative newcomers, and the drumbeat of gentrification has only gotten stronger since we arrived, bringing with it an influx of popular new restaurants, cultural institutions, and more family-friendly finds.

Though I have mixed feelings about the changing face of the neighborhood, the influx of chains, and rising rents, I am quite happy to be raising three bona fide Harlemites. From the the beautiful, old-school, tree-lined blocks to friendly neighbors who represent a rainbow of colors and cultures to acres of green space, Harlem is far removed from the madness of Midtown, yet just a short express train ride away.

Read on for the top 50 things to do in our home neighborhood, which spans 110th to 124th Streets from Manhattan to Fifth Avenues, and 125th to 160th Streets from Riverside Drive to Fifth Avenue.

Free Times to Visit NYC Museums, Gardens, and Zoos

Many of New York City's top museums, zoos, gardens, and cultural institutions offer FREE or reduced admission on certain nights, days, or hours at least once a month—a city perk that no busy, cash-strapped parent should miss out on! Plus, many of the "grown-up" museums let kids in for free year-round.

It can be hard to keep track of when and where these freebies are available, so we've compiled an exhaustive list of reduced or FREE admission days at all of your favorite NYC cultural spots from the Bronx Zoo to the Brooklyn Children's Museum.

As always, you can check our Events Calendar for more budget-friendly kid activities every day or peruse our Free in NYC Guide. Try our Museum Guide or Zoos and Gardens Guide for more on the latest kid-friendly art and exhibitions in NYC. Also, don't forget to put your library card to work for free admission at many of these same places!

Santa Claus Photo Spots in NYC for Christmas 2018

Santa Claus is coming to town, and he’s not camera shy. New York City parents have a host of options for where to see and pose with Santa, from the popular Santaland at Macy's to more casual events, where you can take your own festive photos of the kids while visiting Jolly Old St. Nick.

We’ve rounded up over a dozen of our favorite options for photos with Santa from across the five boroughs, including options for those who want to splurge, bring their pets, or just get it over with, as well as those with special needs. With so many alternatives, chances are, wherever you are, your kids won’t be far from Santa.

Find more seasonal fun, including a Santa brunch or tea, in our NYC Holiday Guide.

Best Places to Trick-or-Treat on Halloween with NYC Kids

One of my favorite childhood memories from growing up in NYC was Halloween in Greenwich Village. Back then, the Village Halloween Parade was just a couple hundred artists and others who marched through the neighborhood. Afterward, we would trick-or-treat up and down the brownstone blocks. Everyone was friendly, and we would come home with our shopping bags completely filled. It was magical.

Although the parade and Greenwich Village have changed a lot since then, your kids can still enjoy that kind of thrilling trick-or-treat experience in many New York City neighborhoods. Which neighborhood is the best for Halloween trick-or-treating depends on who you ask. New Yorkers love to bicker over the best coffee shops, the best (and worst) train lines, and yes, the best places to take their kids on Halloween. We also love to find that secret gem.

So we asked our astute readers and collected recommendations from our parent-driven NYC staff over many, many years to bring you a list of our favorite trick-or-treating spots so you'll know where to bring your kids this October 31.

Join one of the local Halloween parades and then go trick-or-treating throughout the community with local families. Or hit one of the neighborhoods or streets listed below: We have a slew of spots to try in all five boroughs. For more seasonal fun, check out our jam-packed Halloween Guide, showcasing FREE events, haunted houses, pumpkin patches, and more.

9 Outdoor Ice Skating Rinks to Visit with Kids in NYC

Now that the beaches are closed for the season, it's time to bundle up and sharpen those ice skates. Many of New York City's outdoor rinks are open for family fall, er, winter fun.

Whether you prefer an iconic New York City destination like the ice rink at Rockefeller Center or something off the beaten path like Lasker Rink, the city offers plenty of options for beginner and experienced skaters alike — there’s even a FREE skate spot. And if it ever gets too cold to glide outside, you can always hit one of NYC's indoor ice skating rinks.

Best Free Halloween Events for Kids in New York City

What's the one way to make a costume-and-candy-filled Halloween celebration even sweeter? Make it FREE. In New York City there are so many no-cost Halloween celebrations, we've decided to give parents a real treat: a roundup of FREE Halloween events for kids in all five boroughs, including big annual family favorites like Fort Greene's BAMboo! block party, the Halloween Parade and Pumpkin Flotilla in Central Park, and more.

So bring your trick-or-treat bags, but leave your wallets at home for these gratis happenings, and then check out our Halloween Fun Guide for details on the best costume parades, trick-or-treat spots, and other seasonal activities.

Cool Mommy and Me Exercise Classes in NYC

After my daughter was born, our weekly mommy and me yoga class was a bright spot in the middle of some of the longest days. Not only did the class help me regain my strength, it was also a place where I could form lasting bonds with other new parents in the city. Having a self-care routine proved essential for me after becoming a new mama—and my daughter seemed to enjoy the atmosphere, too.

The beauty of a good postnatal class is that instructors have designed workouts just for postpartum bodies, plus they understand if you or your little one are having a challenging day. Parent-baby fitness classes should be a judgment-free, safe zone for you and your baby.

Here are places and programs that regularly offer parent and baby exercise classes in New York City. As with any new exercise program, check with your doctor for the go-ahead. For more classes, check out our NYC classes guide

Mommy and Me Swim Classes in New York City for Babies and Tots

Mommy and me swim classes (or daddy and me) are a wonderful way to spend time with your baby or toddler. Ideally, these lessons should be enjoyable, stress-free, educational, and a good source of exercise for kids and parents.

During the summer, swim lessons offer overheated families the chance to cool off while young kids become comfortable in the water, a skill they'll certainly use a lot in the coming years, what with all the great swimming pools and beaches in NYC. Parent-child swim classes are also offered around the city throughout the fall, winter, and spring, both on weekends and after school.

Most classes for wee ones and their caretakers take place in indoor pools. Except for the free swim lessons offered via lottery by the New York City Parks Department, mommy and me classes invariably cost something. We've rounded up the top parent-child swim programs across the city (and for more options, see our roundups of swimming classes for all ages in Brooklyn and Queens).

Best Summer Festivals for NYC Kids This August

Many families flee the city in August for end-of-summer vacations, but it's actually one of my favorite months to be in NYC. With summer staples like swimming, play fountains, and Governors Island, plus hundreds of free summer activities and only-in-August favorites like Summer Streets and Arthur Ashe Kids' Day, there's plenty to do if you stick around.

So we've rounded up a dozen FREE family-friendly festivals happening throughout the Big Apple in August to help you get the most out of NYC with kids during the last month of summer.

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