Harlem

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.

Destination Playground: Harlem's Riverbank State Park

If you're looking for an escape from the city that costs nothing more than a MetroCard swipe, hop the bus to Denny Ferrell Riverbank State Park, one of a handful of state parks within New York City limits. Riverbank State Park occupies 28 acres on Manhattan's west side in Harlem, offering beautiful views and tons of options for outdoor fun. An afternoon here feels almost like an out-of-the-city day trip.

Whether you're in the mood for a dip in the pool, a run through the sprinklers, or a twirl around the rink in winter or summer, this complex has it all, plus plenty of reasonably priced classes, sports programs, and even an inexpensive summer camp.

Best Children's Museums for Families to Visit in New York City

New York City doesn't lack for world-class museums and cultural institutions. While I've been to The Met more times than I can count (and still haven't seen it all) and can while away an afternoon at The Whitney no problem, sometimes my kids need something with a little more action.

That's where New York City's many family-friendly children's museums come in. We've rounded up a dozen of our favorites, ranging from totally interactive playspaces to spots for making art, studying history, and much more. All of NYC's kid museums provide plenty of fun things to do, and are great indoor activities whether you're beating the summer heat or escaping winter's chill.

Gymnastics Classes for NYC Kids: 18 Spots for Little Olympians

Whether your kids were inspired by the stunning flips, turns, and acrobatics of the Final Five or you just need a safe place for them to get the wiggles out without disturbing your downstairs neighbor, gymnastics provides a great introduction to sports. Often called the "mother of all sports" for its conditioning qualities and focus on strength, balance, and flexibility, gymnastics gives kids an early fitness foundation.

My daughter doesn't care about any of that, of course. She just wants to tumble, jump, and dance, which is how the sport came into our lives. From the traditional artistic disciplines made famous by NBC's prime-time Olympic coverage to the lesser-known rhythmic gymnastics, in which gymnasts use props like ribbons, balls, and hoops while performing acrobatic moves to music, we've got the lowdown on where to find gymnastics classes in NYC. Bear in mind, many of these classes run on a school-year calendar, meaning fall is the peak time to register.

You may also want to check out our NYC Classes Guide or peruse our Directory Listings for more classes.

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!

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.

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.

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 (and inexpensive) 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.

Roller Skating Rinks for Kids in NYC and the 'Burbs

All city dwellers seem to go crazy for ice skating season, but once the ice thaws and spring is upon us, where's a skater to go? It's time to introduce the kids to the old-school art of roller skating at one of these rinks within city limits and just beyond.

In addition to retro skating fun, many of these spots offer extras, including arcade games, bounce houses, and party packages. So lace up your skates and get moving at these rinks!

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