Upper West Side

Best Family Festivals and Street Fairs in NYC This May

There are street fairs—and then there are street fairs. We don't mean those random ones selling irregular socks and fried Oreos; we're talking about true community festivals. Each one is unique, reflecting the character of its neighborhood, and many feature rides, performances, activities, and food. The hard part, of course, is knowing which is which, but don't worry, we've taken the guesswork out of it for you.

We've gone through the city's list of top annual festivals, street fairs, and carnivals and put together our roundup of top picks for May. Most of these fetes are FREE or cost just a couple of bucks, and in many cases your dollars go to support a local charity or school. Here are 20 awesome fests happening in NYC this May.

You can find even more seasonal activities in our Spring Fun Guide.

NYC Restaurants Where Kids Eat Free

Back when my daughter was in kindergarten, her class got into a conversation about world hunger. Her solution? Just go eat at a restaurant. (Marie Antoinette would have been proud.)

Clearly, my child has been raised on a diet that's heavy on eating out, and why not? New York City has some of the best kid-friendly restaurants anywhere.

Of course, dining out doesn't come cheaply, especially in this town—unless you happen to be a child. For NYC kids, there really is such a thing as a free lunch, brunch, and sometimes even dinner, if you know where to go. At these nine local eateries, you can feed those hungry mouths for the unbeatable price of $0, while you get a break from playing chef. We know what you'll be making tonight: reservations.

9 NYC Batting Cages That Hit it Outta the Park

For my family, no season is as sacred as spring since it means the start of Little League and hours spent at our local ball fields. Of course, leading up to the season shift my son, who is serious about baseball, is itching to get some real reps in.

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. Check out our roundup and be sure to click through to each spot's website for details on current operating hours and prices.

Find more action in our Kids' Sports Center Guide for NYC Families.

Best Places to See Cherry Blossoms in NYC

There are few more delightful ways to celebrate the arrival of spring than by viewing the beautiful cherry blossoms flowering all over New York City. Everyone seems to know about the Sakura Matsuri Cherry Blossom Festival at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, but there are other places to enjoy these gorgeous blossoms without the crowds this April and even deeper into the spring season.

In Japan, cherry blossom-viewing is taken to almost religious heights. Blooming flowers are carefully watched, enjoyed, and celebrated. Traditional Sakura Hanami parties feature eating, drinking, and music.

Here are the best places to see cherry blossoms in New York City this spring.

Ancient Mummies Arrive at Natural History Museum for NYC Exhibit

Mummies, a new exhibit at the American Museum of Natural History, is an exciting glimpse into the ancient past made possible through modern technology. The exhibit—on loan from The Field Museum in Chicago—showcases 18 mummies from ancient Egypt and Peru, many of which have been in storage since the 1893 Chicago World's Fair.

Yes, that's right—more than 100 years ago. Amazing. Kids will be fascinated by the mummies, while parents will find the science that made it all possible equally enthralling. (More on that later.) The exhibit, which opened Monday, March 20, gives a sense of who the mummies were, what their lives were like, and even what several of them looked like. 

Best NYC Children's Bookstores to Spend an Afternoon In

Only a small number of dedicated children's bookshops exist in NYC—Books of Wonder and Bank Street Bookstore, we're looking at you!—but there are a number of other indie stores with impressive children's book sections. Many of these lit havens host children's activities, including read-alongs but also author events, and writing workshops.

My kids have a particular weakness for books, possibly because it's the one thing I never deny them—as evidenced by the overflowing bookshelves at home. We love exploring new-to-us, local shops and spending lazy afternoons getting lost in the stacks, so we've rounded up some of our favorite bookstores around the city, including two new ones coming soon.

Whether shopping for a birthday gift or looking for a local storytime, the neighborhood independent bookstore is a great bet for NYC families.

8 New Summer Camps for NYC Kids in 2017

Does the summer camp search already have you stressed? While there’s no need to panic just yet, it’s definitely the right time to start your search, as New York City’s most popular picks start to fill up with repeat customers and parents eager to catch those early-bird specials.

If you’re looking to narrow down your search a bit, take a peek at these eight summer camps that are featuring new programming or locations—or that are just plain new in 2017. You can’t go wrong with one of these fresh and exciting offerings.

Looking for even more ideas? Take a look at our Summer Camp Guide or browse our directory, and don't forget about those ongoing camp open houses.

Take a Day Trip to Japan with New Children's Museum Exhibit

If a trip to Japan is just slightly over your budget, but you're still crazy—or curious—about Japanese culture, the newly reopened Hello from Japan! exhibit at the Children's Museum of Manhattan is a perfect, albeit petite, alternative. This exhibit—the third in the Upper West Side museum's Global Cultural Exhibition Series, following exhibitions on Ancient Greece and China, and preceding the ongoing Muslim culture exhibit—originally graced the museum in 2015 and has returned for another run, offering an immersive experience for NYC's youngest art and museum fans.

Broadway Playhouse: Interactive Musical Theater for NYC Kids

A trip to Broadway is always a treat, and one I can't wait to enjoy with my son—when he's a little older! Still, this is NYC, so of course there's a great show for everyone. The Broadway Playhouse, an NYC institution gently introduces kids ages 4-11 to the fun of Broadway by incorporating interactive elements into each performance, including sing-alongs, games, and even discussions with the actors.

It sounded just about right for my music-loving family, enough so that we made the trek from Brooklyn to the Upper West Side with a toddler in tow for a special kid-friendly tribute to the legendary Jazz Age songwriting duo, George and Ira Gershwin.

Best Sledding Hills Across NYC

The best thing about a snow day is, of course, sledding! Hit these neighborhood hills across New York City for some wintertime fun with the kids.

In compiling this list, we asked our readers, family, and Mommy Poppins writers and editors for their top recommendations for sledding hills across the five boroughs, but we're always looking for more suggestions. Feel free to chime in if you're favorite isn't here.

Not sure if school is on or off? Read our post on how to know if snow has canceled class or not.

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