Upper West Side

13 NYC Restaurants with Backyards and Patios for Kid-Friendly Dining

Great outdoor dining makes summer in the city tolerable, at least in my book. An hour sitting on a shady patio, sipping a cold drink, steels me for the rest of the week on sweaty NYC subways and dog-pee-scented streets. It's also a great way to savor those first sun-filled days of spring.

Of course, eating out with kids is never as simple as that, so we’ve selected not just sublime outdoor dining spots but ones with enough room to roam. Hopefully, these family-friendly Manhattan restaurants, from the Battery up to Inwood, will make you forget you are in New York City with that backyard living life, even for those of us whose apartments are too small and too dark with nary a leaf to be seen.

We’ve also covered the best backyard outdoor dining in Brooklyn and Queens. See all our restaurant recommendations in the Mommy Poppins NYC Kid-Friendly Restaurant Guide.

10 New and Updated NYC Playgrounds You (Probably) Haven't Visited Yet

Are your kids suffering from a bit of "been there, climbed that" playground fatigue at their tried-and-true favorite play spot? It may be time to explore a new romping ground. Fortunately, the NYC parks are ever changing. Here, we present 10 new (or nearly new) and updated playgrounds you probably haven't visited yet.

And of course, you can find all our favorite spots, old and new, in our Parks and Playgrounds Guide.

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 have "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.

Sprinkler season in NYC parks kicks into gear when the temps reach 80 degrees, although some parks may turn on water features earlier. 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 27 fancy playgrounds where kids can get wet in NYC. See if your favorites made our list.

12 Cool Themed Playgrounds in NYC to Inspire Kids' Imaginations

Imagination is the stuff of childhood magic—and NYC's cleverest themed parks and playgrounds are designed to inspire your kid's always-active mind. Whether your kid fancies playing prehistoric explorer, dreams of conquering Ancient Egypt, or wants to trek across Africa on safari, there's a playground for that. Here are 12 of our favorite themed playgrounds across all five boroughs.

13 Brain-Boosting NYC Playgrounds That Build Physical and Mental Skills

Playtime should be fun, but that doesn't mean you can't learn a few lessons along the way. In an age when STEM activities are all the rage, and we race our kids from class to class, sometimes it's worth slowing down and setting the kids free in a park or playground to see what skills they pick up on their own.

We've rounded up a baker's dozen NYC play areas that foster old-fashioned playground skills—like balance, strength, and coordination—while also offering unique features that encourage brain-boosting skills—like problem-solving, engineering, physics, cooperation, imagination, resilience, and teamwork. Plus, they're some of the coolest play zones in the city.

Best Destination Sandboxes at Local Parks for NYC Kids

There's no denying it—kids love diving into a sandbox, running their shovels and hands through the grains of sand, dumping a full bucket over and generally getting their hands dirty.

Though NYC parents might get grossed out at the thought of what could be lurking in our uncovered, urban sandboxes, it's hard to refuse one of a preschooler's most beloved sensory experiences. So pull up a bench (and your cup of coffee; you'll be here a while!), and check out these eight toddler-tested, mom-approved NYC sandboxes. We've done our best to find the cleanest ones across the city. Besides, you can always wash their hands in the nearby sprinklers or park bathrooms when you're finally able to get them out.

And hey, you don't have to hoof it out to the local beach to reach this sand, which just means more time for other NYC kid activities. Find more destination playgrounds in our NYC Parks & Playgrounds Guide.

NYC's Best Playgrounds: 18 Parks Worthy of a Subway Schlep

Playgrounds may be as much a part of childhood as potty training and the tooth fairy, but to city families, having a go-to playground is a real sanity saver. When you live in a tiny apartment, the neighborhood park is like your backyard.

While New Yorkers are lucky to have many awesome local play spots, some NYC playgrounds are a cut above the rest. These spots offer plenty of space to romp and enough outdoor entertainment to make them worth a schlep on the subway. Without further ado, read on for 18 of the city's best playgrounds—our NYC playground hall of fame.

Best Places to See Cherry Blossoms as a Family 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. 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.

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

8 Free New York City Skateboard Parks

Skateboarding is one of the few sports actually designed for urban spaces, which may be why NYC kids love it so much. Skating uses the city environment as the stage for its tricks, but finding a safe place to skate can be tough. Skate parks provide a perfectly designed place to practice those skateboarding fakie flips and to grab some air. These spots in and near New York City are great for beginners and seasoned skateboarders alike. (Sometimes you'll also spy inline skaters or BMX bikers.)

All these skate parks put safety first. Athletes must wear helmets, kneepads and elbow pads, and kids under age 18 are also required to put on wrist guards. That said, most skate parks are unsupervised and have an enter-at-your-own-risk policy. Some even require parents to sign waivers for their children. So be safe, and enjoy the spring weather! For more outdoor sports and kid-friendly fun, see our guide to NYC's best parks and playgrounds.

Top Summer Camps in NYC — STEM, Arts, and More

Most parents know the importance of STEM learning in this tech-focused world, but the arts—and balance—are just as meaningful. Once school lets out, summer is the perfect opportunity for kids to mix things up with more arts and active play, either as part of a STEM program or not.

We've gathered some of our favorite partner camps that offer amazing visual arts, film, dance, theater, and cooking programs; super cool STEM curriculums featuring everything from forensics to Minecraft; and some that keep kids on their toes by offering a little bit of this and that. For even more ideas, check out our New York City Camp Guide, or browse our Summer Camp Directory by location, type, and age!

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