Upper West Side

Planetariums Near and In NYC Where Kids Can Stargaze

Stargazing in New York City is more likely to mean a celebrity sighting than watching actual celestial bodies. I grew up in the suburbs and have fond memories of standing in my yard with my dad and my telescope, talking about constellations. Even if you’re lucky enough to have outdoor space here, the light pollution precludes seeing anything but the brightest stars. If you can’t book a trip to some remote, rural location, the next best thing is a planetarium—especially since you also get expert guidance as to what you’re seeing.

As most of us know, a complete solar eclipse will happen on August 21, and it might just be the perfect event to spark interest in the solar system for your family. If your child is fascinated by the eclipse, your next stop should be a planetarium, so they can learn more about the stars and planets. We’ve rounded up the planetariums in and around New York City. Happy stargazing!

Find more local NYC eclipse events in our calendar, including viewing parties at local libraries. (Tip: B&H on Ninth Avenue was still selling eclipse glasses at press time.)

NYC Playgrounds with Shade: Shady Park Benches and Equipment

While kids can always cool off in NYC's many sprinklers, we parents are stuck baking in the sun all day during the heat of the city's summer as we supervise outdoor play. It's a problem our readers know too well—each summer we get requests for recommendations of shady spots to play.

Although we know of a couple playgrounds that offer exceptional amounts of shade—Hippo Playground in Riverside Park and Discovery Playground in Fort Washington Park come to mind—we decided to ask our readers if they knew of any super-shady playgrounds in New York City. After clarifying that we were talking about shelter from the sun's rays, not sketchy parks, 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.

A Dozen 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 12 baby 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.

Coding Classes and Camps for NYC Kids

In our increasingly tech-driven world, knowing how to code is an invaluable skill. But kids who code don't really look at it that way—they just think it's lots of fun to design video games, create websites, and make robots move. Take my 10-year-old: He first caught the coding bug in second grade after attending a demo led by RoboFun where he learned about the wonders of Scratch, an easy-to-use programming language specifically aimed at children ages 8 to 16. Ever since, he's continued to learn how to code at home thanks to FREE educational websites like Scratch's official site at MIT and CodeAcademy.

Even though he can work on his own, I'm a big believer in kids learning from other kids (not to mention the benefits of socializing with peers and getting him out of my hair for a few hours). So I recently researched coding classes for children in New York City to locate a program or two that would work for him. What I found were 11 high-quality classes and camps for kids who have an itch to try Scratch or another computer programming language. You can find even more tech fun for kids in our Geek Guide and more NYC classes in our Classes Guide and Directory Listings.

Fashion Classes for NYC Kids

Buying clothing is fun, but nothing beats making your own outfits and accessories. And since New York City is the fashion capital of the world, there are lots of kids' classes where budding designers can learn how to sew, embroider, knit, weave, and crochet.

While tweens and teens can go all in with advanced programs that often include runway shows, younger kids can also get in on the fashion fun by trying less complicated projects, like making tote bags and scarves, and decorating clothing with paint, no-sew appliques, and sparkly embellishments. So for all of the aspiring Vera Wangs out there, here are the best fashion classes for kids in NYC.

Find more NYC classes in our Classes Guide and Directory Listings.

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.

Most classes for wee ones and their caretakers take place in indoor pools. Except for the New York City Parks Department, which offers free swim lessons via lottery, mommy and me classes invariably cost something. We've rounded up eight well-respected programs across Manhattan. If you're further flung, check out our roundups of swimming classes in Brooklyn and Queens.

Find more classes for kids in our NYC Guide and Directory. Don't forget to check out our local DEALS page where you can score discounts on camps, classes, birthday party packages, and more for NYC kids. Check back often as we're constantly adding new ones.

Learn Spanish: Language Classes for NYC Kids

New York City is full of places where young kids can learn how to habla Español. In fact, Many New York City public schools offer wonderful dual-language Spanish programs, as well as other languages.

But rest assured there are plenty of other options if your child's school doesn't offer a language program. We've rounded up some of our favorite Spanish learning centers for New York City kids. So embrace the diversity of New York City culture, where 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.

Karate and Tae Kwon Do Classes for NYC Kids

My husband always said he wanted our sons to know they could take a punch and live to tell about it. To that end, martial arts classes were mandatory in our house, not just for self-defense but also to teach them self-control. (After all, enough of the latter can often stop you from needing the former.)

The two most popular martial arts disciplines for kids in New York City seem to be karate and tae kwon do. So we've rounded up some excellent classes in all five boroughs where kids can get kicking.

Find more NYC classes in our Classes Guide and Directory Listings.

Let's Dance Art Exhibit at CMOM Gets Kids Moving

If you've got a kid who likes to move and groove, put on your dancing shoes and head to the Children's Museum of Manhattan for the newly opened Let's Dance exhibit.

Occupying the museum's ground-floor gallery, which briefly housed its Hello From Japan exhibition earlier this year, Let's Dance offers a vastly different museum experience for youngsters. While many recent CMOM exhibits have been chock-full of vignettes for kids to explore and experience, Let's Dance is an open-ended experience. The gallery space that was filled by busy streets of Tokyo in the spring has been transformed to an open canvas for artistic exploration in Let's Dance.

The Best Boat Rides for Families in NYC

There's something magical about being out on the water in New York City. Whether you are sailing down one of the rivers, taking a FREE kayak out for a spin, or cruising on the ocean looking for whales, it's a lovely and relaxing activity, and a great way to stay cool on a summer day. It's also an opportunity to see the city from a whole new perspective.

Countless operators offer all kinds of boat tours around NYC, and of course, there's now the new citywide ferry service, too! So the question for parents is, which ones are truly family-friendly? After all, once you're on the water you're committed to the ride regardless of tantrums, seasickness, or boredom.

To help you figure out which NYC boat rides will work best for your family, we've broken them down by type (great for tots, wildlife watching, DIY rides, etc.) and highlighted some of our kids' personal favorites. You can find more seasonal activities in our Summer Fun Guide

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