Upper West Side

Where to Find Free Classes for Kids at NYC Stores and Public Spaces

We'll just say it: Raising a kid is expensive. Weekend classes, summer camp, after-school care, and dance and music lessons can add up. A 2018 study by Sun Trust Bank found that a majority of parents spend at least $1,000 a year per child on extracurricular activities. And let’s face it New Yorkers, we’re most likely paying much more than that.

That’s why we’ve rounded up more than a dozen FREE classes that run year-round in NYC to lighten the financial load. All the classes listed here are free within free-to-access stores and public places, but there are also plenty of free and low-cost activities inside of NYC museums and gardens that have monthly memberships. Don't forget that your IDNYC card will give you free or discounted access to many cultural institutions.

Check out our Free in NYC Guide for more budget-friendly family fun.

Celebrate Martin Luther King Day with Kids at These NYC Events

Martin Luther King Jr. Day is peaceful for New York City kids, but it sure isn't boring, with music and storytelling and volunteer activities all focused on celebrating Dr. King's life and teachings with kids. Enjoy interactive peace marches, a special story hour, a FREE bash at BAM in Fort Greene, Brooklyn, and various museum events.

Martin Luther King Jr. Day (Monday, January 21, 2019) is also a National Day of Service, when citizens are encouraged to help out in their communities. So we've included a list of family volunteering opportunities that are wonderful ways to honor King's work. You can find even more things to do on MLK Day in our Event Calendar.

Best Winter Theater for NYC Kids 2019

New York City has tons of cool shows for families this winter, including the debut of two buzzed-about Broadway productions aimed at tweens: the Internet-fueled phenomenon Be More Chill and the big-budget musicalization of Beetlejuice. But you don't need to dig into your 401K to give your kids a memorable live theater experience in NYC—plenty of family-friendly productions are playing beyond Broadway for a lot less.

This winter there are wonderful options for kids of all ages from toddlers to teens, including shows aimed specifically at the preschool set (The Naughty Penguin, Sesame Street Live!), stage adaptations of popular picture books such as The Snowy Day, The Magic School Bus and The Stinky Cheese Man, and eye-popping spectacles for the whole family (Thunderbird American Indian Dance Concert and Powwow, Jedi Academy).

Best of all, most of these 28 shows are priced at $25 and under, so you can take the whole family for less than the price of one Broadway ticket.

Manhattan's Best Drop-in Play Spaces and Kids' Gyms

Finding a non-membership, drop-in play spot for your toddler or preschooler in your neighborhood is like gold to New York City parents—almost as good as scoring a deal on rent. Because when it gets too cold for the city's many playgrounds, and another playdate at home seems dull (or, let's be honest, stressful), taking your kid to a cool indoor kiddie gym or other play space, where everything seems new and someone else will do the cleaning up, is a relief to the whole family.

While the outer boroughs of Queens and Brooklyn dominate the indoor play space market, Manhattan has plenty of creative kid spaces. Some of these dozen awesome spots profiled below allow families to drop in, while others ask that you make reservations, but none require any kind of long-term financial commitment.

For even more wallet-friendly play spaces citywide, see our roundup of budget-friendly play spots. And if you've got a child under the age of 5 to entertain, you might also check out our roundup of a dozen indoor play spaces perfect for the pint-sized set.

10 Most Exciting Kid-Friendly Openings Coming to NYC in 2019

If there's one constant in New York City, it's change. The dawning of a new year has us looking at our calendars and into our crystal balls, anticipating all the fun that's still to come for NYC kids. We opened 2019 with some welcome family-friendly news, but that's not the biggest change in store for city families this year. Read on for 10 new places to play, museums to explore, shows to catch, and goodies to eat. If that's not enough kid-friendly fun for you, make sure you've visited our favorite spots that opened last year, too!

Awesome Classes to Try Now for NYC Tots to Teens

Produce an indie film, create a graphic novel, perfect your backhand, or code your own video game. NYC offers amazing options when it comes to kids classes. Even babies and preschoolers can take terrific art, music and swimming classes. Our New York City Classes Guide and Directory list so many options, the hardest part might be finding time to try them all. To get you started, we're sharing a few of our favorite partners to consider signing up for now. 

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 your 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.

Free Times to Visit NYC Museums, Gardens, and Zoos

Many of New York City's top museums, zoos, gardens, and cultural institutions offer FREE or reduced admission on certain nights, days, or hours at least once a month—a city perk that no busy, cash-strapped parent should miss out on! Plus, many of the "grown-up" museums let kids in for free year-round.

It can be hard to keep track of when and where these freebies are available, so we've compiled an exhaustive list of reduced or FREE admission days at all of your favorite NYC cultural spots from the Bronx Zoo to the Brooklyn Children's Museum.

As always, you can check our Events Calendar for more budget-friendly kid activities every day or peruse our Free in NYC Guide. Try our Museum Guide or Zoos and Gardens Guide for more on the latest kid-friendly art and exhibitions in NYC. Also, don't forget to put your library card to work for free admission at many of these same places!

Worth It? Family Memberships in NYC to Consider for Winter

After visiting NYC's top play spaces, museums, and other fun zones, we've rounded up the various membership deals at popular kid-centric destinations. These places keep your kids entertained, active, and out of the cold. Some even offer short-term memberships, so you only have to pay until spring arrives.

In the dead of winter, it can be daunting to schlep somewhere new every weekend, so a membership to one (or two) of your favorite kid play spots makes sense. We've already done the math so you'll know exactly how many visits it takes until these investments pay off—and whether or not the "deal" works for your family. If the math doesn't work out for you, consider buying one of the play spaces' bulk passes instead, which usually knocks a few bucks off the daily drop-in price.

Need more ideas? Check out our Indoor Play Spaces Guide for more romper rooms by borough, bounce houses, and year-round family entertainment.

18 Best New NYC Family Destinations That Opened in 2018

City kids are a lucky bunch. The past year saw a huge crop of new kid-friendly destinations popping up throughout the five boroughs. From a major new exhibit at the New York Aquarium to overhauled and brand new playgrounds and even a whole park, plus indoor places to shop, romp, and create, cool new exhibits, exhibitions, and a brand new museum, our kids have got it made. We're just lucky they let us come along for the ride!

Read on on for our top 18 new kid-friendly destinations in New York City that opened in 2018. If you've already conquered these, see what other adventures await on our list of 100 kid-friendly things to do in NYC before your kids grow up.

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