Upper West Side

Best Free Annual Parades in New York City for Kids

As the saying goes, everyone loves a parade. And in NYC, we have plenty of processions to choose from. During the warmer months, there are parades practically every week celebrating a wide variety of cultures and causes, and all of them are FREE.

While it's always cool to watch the colorful costumes, floats, and performers pass by, there are certain annual parades that are particularly great for families. These processions are either exceptionally vibrant like Chinatown's Lunar New Year Parade or the Three Kings Day Parade, or invite costumed kids to get in on the action like the small Halloween Parades that are much less intense than the big one in Greenwich Village.

Included in our list are parades we've attended—some many times—or others that come highly recommended. So, get our your calendar and save these dates to see if you can catch them all!

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).

10 Spots to Explore the Immigrant Experience with New York City Kids

No matter your political leanings, immigration is a hot topic of conversation these days, and New York has a rich and ongoing history as a gateway to our country. We've combed through our city's top museums and cultural institutions to pinpoint some of the most kid-friendly destinations for those curious about the immigrant experience, or looking to teach children about diversity and cultural acceptance.

Of course NYC often plays host to rotating art exhibits related to this theme, which you can always find in our event calendar. Read on for ten NYC spots where history leaps off the pages for interactive exploration.

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 the incredible STEM programs available to kids around New York City. The great thing about many of these programs is 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 programs for New York City kids focusing on science, math, technology, and creativity.

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.

Baby and Me Music Classes Around NYC

Music classes are often the first "mommy and me" experience parents try, so it's no coincidence such classes are offered all over the city. When you're ready to get out and spend some time jamming with other adults and their wee ones, check out one of these music classes in Manhattan and beyond.

We also have roundups of parent and child classes in Queens and music classes in Brooklyn. As always, you can find even more NYC classes in our Classes Guide and Directory Listings.

Basketball Classes and Lessons for NYC Kids

Baseball may be our national pastime, but drop by any of NYC's parks and it seems like basketball is the local favorite.

In New York City, there are many basketball programs that teach kids the basics in friendly, non-competitive environments. They differ from basketball leagues, which assume players are ready for full-on competition. With these intro-to-basketball classes, kids learn the rules and fundamentals, and work up to one-on-one or small-team play.

Here are 15 basketball programs for kids in NYC, along with info on where to find FREE one-off clinics. You can find more posts about kids' sports classes in our Classes Guide and class directory

Gymnastics Classes for NYC Kids: 17 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.

9 NYC Batting Cages That Hit It Outta the Park

For my family, no season is as sacred as the spring and summer baseball season, with its hours spent watching the game and playing Little League at our local ball fields. My son, who is serious about baseball, is always itching to get some real reps in, but there's only so much that can be tackled within the four walls of a cramped New York City apartment.

Luckily, the city has a slew of batting-cage options. Some even include private instruction and facilities where players can work on their fielding skills. Batter up!

10 Play Fountains Where NYC Kids Can Get Totally Soaked

While all three of my kids love to go for a dip, heading to one of NYC's public pools requires advance planning and me donning a bathing suit. Often, our summer fun is more spontaneous. For those hot summer days when we're out and about or need a last-minute distraction, I keep this list of play fountains in the back of my mind.

A more immersive experience than standard sprinkler parks, these play fountains feature shallow pools of water for wading, plus jets shooting H2O sky high. They're the perfect place for kids to frolic and get completely doused without mommy having to go all in—literally. Best of all? They're all completely FREE.

Here are 10 fun play fountains in NYC where kids can get absolutely soaked. Most opened for the season over Memorial Day weekend, though some start flowing earlier if temperatures hit 80 degrees.

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