Upper West Side

Free Outdoor Kids Music Concert Series in NYC This Summer

While lots of New York City's fantastic seasonal events are kid appropriate, children hold a special place in their hearts for music. And what's better than not just one but a series of spectacular, outdoor, family-friendly and FREE music performances?

It's likely that your neighborhood parks, playgrounds, piers and plazas right around the corner have a kiddie-filled line-up throughout the summer, so scroll, click, and set reminders with your favorites. With top family bands playing annual series like Mad. Sq. Kids and SummerStage Family Workshops, you're sure to find something everyone can wiggle to from one week to the next. We've already told you about the great concerts playing in June for NYC kids, and now we're rounding up the rest of the summer with concerts in July and August to keep the kids grooving all summer!

For specific family concert picks, check out our roundups of the best performances, or you can find even more family fun in our jam-packed Summer Guide.

9 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? It's all completely FREE.

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

Special Needs Programs and Classes for New York City Kids

Some kids take so many extra-curricular activities they barely have time to play, but for other kids, after-school classes can be a challenge. Whether your child has a developmental challenge, disability, or disorder, or they just struggle with all things organized, the slew of general after-school activities might not work well for them. Luckily, no matter how small or great a child's challenges may be, NYC offers a number of options for children of every ability.

We've rounded up more than two dozen great classes for kids with a special need or disability. Don't forget to ask about summer camps and holiday mini camps. Many of these programs offer them, too.

Check out our NYC Special Needs Guide for more ideas, programs and services, including sensory gyms, support groups, and sensory activities.

Best Family Hotels in New York City with Perks for Kids

As a born and bred New Yorker who is raising children here myself, my out-of-town friends always ask my advice when planning their NYC family vacation. They want to know everything: the best things to do, places to eat, museums to explore and, perhaps most importantly, where to stay.

New York City is, of course, loaded with hotels, many of which are kid-friendly. And while it's nice to have options, there are so many it can feel overwhelming. That's why we've compiled this list of 16 NYC hotels for families based on a combination of personal experience, trusted recommendations from friends and great reputations. Some have pools, others offer gratis strollers, while a number of our choices are located smack next to top kid attractions; some are more budget-friendly and others a splurge.

Our picks aren't all in Midtown Manhattan. We included places to stay with kids in downtown Manhattan, the Upper West Side, and Upper East Side, and even hotels that are in hot neighborhoods in Brooklyn and Queens.

Big Apple Circus Readies Its Return to NYC

The past few years have been rough on circus lovers. After flying high since 1977, NYC's homegrown troupe, Big Apple Circus, announced last summer that it was folding up its tent and selling off its assets due to financial woes. And just last month, Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey took its final bow after 146 years.

But this news should turn your sad clown frown upside down: Big Apple Circus is set to return this fall under new management, with a spectacle-studded show under the big top at Lincoln Center’s Damrosch Park. And longtime fans should be particularly thrilled to hear that the company's veteran comic star, Grandma, who bid Big Apple adieu in 2012, is rejoining the circus. We've got the scoop on what to expect when you take a bite out of this overhauled Big Apple.

While you wait for the new show to debut, stay busy with our Summer Fun Guide.

23 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 possess "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.

As the city's sprinkler season gets into gear, it's good to know where to find the wildest and wettest playgrounds around. There are hundreds of water features in NYC parks, and we've highlighted some favorites by neighborhood: 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 23 fancy playgrounds where kids can get wet in NYC. See if your favorites made our list (and if not, clue us in via Facebook).

Lincoln Center Launches Arts Festival for Children with Autism

Lincoln Center is making headlines in the New York City special needs community. The iconic cultural institution is launching the "Big Umbrella Festival," a month of arts programming dedicated to autistic kids and their families. The inaugural festival is set to take over stages on the cultural campus and at local schools in April 2018, Autism Awareness Month.

The stated mission is to "enrich the lives of children on the autism spectrum through inclusive art that engages, educates, and inspires." While still a year away, the monthlong festival is surely a welcome addition to city's existing cultural programs for kids with autism.

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.

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