Upper East Side

Where to Find Awesome Classes for NYC Kids This Fall

Back to school season isn't just new backpacks and long lists of school supplies. It's also time to get your little New Yorkers signed up for fall classes!

Thankfully, this city's got something for kids of all ages, from babies and tots to tweens and teens. Whether you're looking for a morning mommy-and-me class or an awesome after school program, there's no shortage of sports, dance, art, theater, and academic options to keep everyone happily busy.

You can search through dozens of classes by type or location in our Classes Guide and Directory Listings, but we've also rounded up some of the top options for fall 2018. Take a look at these family favorites!

Ice Cream Shops Near Great Playgrounds in Brooklyn and Manhattan

We're well into playground season now, and New York City parents are steeling themselves to endure hearing the Mister Softee theme playing on a loop until September. While there's nothing wrong with grabbing a cone from your friendly neighborhood ice cream truck, I admit that I prefer play spots that have really fantastic ice cream vendors nearby. Cold and sweet, a few scoops of mint chocolate chip or strawberry (my flavors of choice) make sticking out the sticky New York City weather that much more manageable. And my kids don't mind eating it either.

Here are some of my favorite spots to grab a scoop, plus fun places to play before or after.

Destination Playground: Ancient Playground in Central Park

Originally built in 1936, the Ancient Playground on the Upper East Side may seem to have earned its moniker (according to our kids, anyway), but its name is really an homage to its proximity to the Egyptian galleries at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, right across the street. The ancient-civilization-themed romping spot, packed with fun climbing structures and water features, is a popular playground for locals and tourists alike, cementing its place on our list of Central Park's top playgrounds.

Read on for more details on why this classic old gem of a playground, at 85th Street and Fifth Avenue, ranks among the city's best.

Spotlight on STEM Programs for Kids in NYC

If you have a child who's interested in science and math, you may already be familiar with some of the incredible STEM programs available to kids around New York City. The great thing about many of these programs is that they encourage creativity and experimentation—​two pillars of childhood fun, and great motivators that support learning outside a school environment. Read on for awesome exploration-based STEM enrichment programs for New York City kids focusing on science, math, technology, and creativity

Learn Spanish: Language Classes for NYC Kids

Many New York City public schools offer wonderful dual-language Spanish programs, as well as other languages. But if your child's school doesn't offer a language program, there are lots of Spanish language programs around the city that teach young kids to habla Español. We've rounded up some of our favorite Spanish language learning centers for New York City kids. And best of all: Thanks to the wonderful diversity of New York City culture, your kids will certainly get to practice what they learn in the classroom!

Find more NYC classes in our Classes Guide and Directory Listings, and check out our guide to Foreign Language Camps for NYC Kids.

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).

Special Needs Programs and Classes for New York City Kids

Some kids take so many extra-curricular activities they barely have time to play, but for other kids, finding the right after-school classes can be a challenge. Whether your child has a developmental challenge, disability, or disorder, general after-school activities might not work well for them. Luckily, NYC offers a number of options for children of every ability.

We've rounded up more than two dozen great classes for kids with a special need or disability. Don't forget to ask about summer camps and holiday mini camps. Many of these programs offer them, too.

Check out our NYC Special Needs Guide for more ideas, programs and services, including sensory gyms, support groups, and sensory activities.

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.

Summer Streets Returns This August: Explore Car-Free NYC with Kids

Summer Streets, easily one of our favorite NYC seasonal festivals, returns for its 11th season of car-free Saturdays on August 4.

The annual Summer Streets event gives New Yorkers three consecutive August Saturdays of car-free summer fun, with a seven-mile stretch of city streets from the Upper East Side to the Brooklyn Bridge closed to cars and open exclusively to pedestrians and bicycles. Sadly, one major change in 2018 is the absence of the giant slide—a big hit of the past few years. But while the slide may not be returning, there is still plenty of fun in store, all aligned with this year's Summer Streets theme, "Finding Joy in Unexpected Moments."

Most of the interactive stations are 100% FREE but some require advance registration. Read on for all the details for this ultimate summer street fest.

11 NYC Neighborhoods to Visit With Your Family This Summer

Whether you're a New York native, a day-tripper, or a tourist from way outta town, summer is the perfect time to explore this action-packed city. And since there's certainly no shortage of warm-weather adventures for kids of all ages, we partnered with the Big Apple pros over at NYCgo to share some of the top can't-be-missed 'hoods worthy of a visit while the sun's out this season.

From sharks to new parks, make it a summer of adventure with these hot, family-friendly neighborhoods across all five boroughs!

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