Upper West Side

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.

10 Montessori Preschools in New York City

Picking out a preschool is no simple feat. From dual-language and immersion programs to outdoor and nature-themed classes, there are so many options and, as always, so little time. But, if you're considering sending your child to a Montessori school, this roundup of some of the most popular ones in New York City could save you some stress.

For the uninitiated, Montessori is an educational philosophy developed more than a century ago that encourages kids to be independent and learn at their own pace. Typically students are grouped by ability rather than age, classrooms are outfitted with specific learning materials, and specially trained teachers act as observers and facilitators. Read on to see what makes these 10 NYC schools extra special, and you just might find the perfect fit for your preschooler.

Find more options in our Preschool Guide and Directory.

NYC Museums Open Doors for Free on Inauguration Day

As the country swears in a new president Friday, January 20, a number of New York City museums are opening up their doors for FREE. Many others will host American- or historical-themed events, or even protest sign making at one.

Perhaps it should come as no surprise that in a city where residents overwhelmingly voted against President-elect Donald Trump, that NYC is in less of a celebratory mood than a reflective or even defiant one. Protests continue, including the Women's March on NYC, this Saturday. But the museums' outreach, a sort of taking in of those looking for camaraderie on Inauguration Day, is a welcome touch.

And in the spirit of making lemonade out of lemons, we've rounded up 11 ways to commiserate your Inauguration Day away. Whether you spend it taking in one of the city's cultural institutions FREE of charge, or in the company of like-minded friends we wish you the best on what still strikes us as a truly surreal day.

DIY Chocolate: NYC Spots Where Kids Can Make Their Own Candy

Hitting one of NYC's cornucopia of candy shops is nice, but being able to make your own treats is seriously sweet. A do-it-yourself chocolate workshop is a creative hands-on way to satisfy your kid's sweet tooth.

I enjoy sharing culinary experiences with my 10-year-old son, but since he's a bit picky, it can be hard to talk him into cooking or going on a food crawl. However, when sweets are involved that gets his attention, and I suspect your kids' too?

Check out these five NYC spots below where making chocolate is always on the menu.

Best Winter Shows for NYC Kids: Dinos, Circus Acts, Peter Pan

Winter 2017 in New York City is loaded with cool children's theater. Recently, we spotlighted a pair of high-profile family musicals coming to Broadway this season: long-running London hit Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and a screen-to-stage adaptation of the animated movie Anastasia.

But you don't need to shell out big bucks to give your kids a memorable live entertainment experience in NYC—plenty of engaging family productions are playing Off-Broadway for a lot less. This winter there are wonderful options for toddlers to tweens, including interactive shows created specifically for the preschool set (Shadow Play and Ear, Nose, and Tail ), eye-popping spectacles for all ages (Erth's Dinosaur Zoo Live and Cirque-tacular's Snowkus Pocus), and stage adaptations of popular picture books such as Elephant & Piggie and Please Bring Balloons. Best of all, most of these shows cost $25 or under, so you can take the whole family for less than the price of one Broadway ticket.

Foreign Language Camps for NYC Kids

New York City is home to an estimated 800 languages, and by virtue of living here, our kids are exposed many of them. It's no surprise, then, that NYC has a number of language-immersion summer camps for kids interested in going beyond hola! and bonjour. Whether your child yearns to master Chinese, French, German, Italian, Hebrew, or Spanish, summer is a great time to give language learning a try in a relaxed camp environment. Many of these programs include swimming, yoga, cooking, arts and crafts, music and dance, games, and other typical summer camp activities to supplement and enhance the instruction. Instructors and counselors are fluent or native speakers and not only teach kids the language but also expose them to the culture through activities and field trips.

For more ideas on summer camps, check out our Summer Camp Guide for NYC Kids. Got a preschooler? We've also rounded up immersion preschools for dual-language learning in Manhattan and Brooklyn.

Kids Discover Cuba with Natural History Museum's New Exhibit

Curious about Cuba, but not ready to splurge on flights? You're in luck. ¡Cuba!, a vibrant celebration of the island nation, recently opened for a nine-month run at the American Museum of Natural History on Manhattan's Upper West Side. 

Although the exhibit's debut seems perfectly timed to coincide with the passing of Fidel Castro, and the recent softening of relations between the United States and Cuba, museum officials said it has been in the works for a century, with AMNH researchers delving in to the country's rich biodiversity for decades, working hand-in-hand with local scientists even while the countries' leadership feuded. It's the largest island (actually an archipelago of 4,000 islands and keys) in the Caribbean, and while it is well known for its cigars, vintage automobiles, politics, and vibrant music, it also boasts a unique natural history, hundreds of plant and animals species you can't find anywhere else, and is one of the most biologically diverse islands on the planet.

The new exhibit honors Cuba's rich history, changing culture, famous Salsa music, cuisine, and incredible biodiversity in an immersive, unexpected way and is presented in both English and Spanish. Kids will enjoy the many hands-on interactives, recreated habitats, and live reptiles and amphibians on display.

It joins several ongoing exhibits at the Natural History museum that are expected to close in January 2017, including Dinosaurs Among Us and Crocs: Ancient Predators in a Modern World. Don't worry, though, that titanosaur is still hanging out on the fourth floor with the rest of the dinos! And don't forget that the seasonal butterfly atrium opens soon, too.

Gertrude Ederle Playground Opens in NYC on Upper West Side

I've paid my dues at New York City's playgrounds after a decade of parenting in this city. My family has visited our share of parks and even ranked our favorites, but we're always looking for our next big adventure. With kids ages 3, 7, and 10, it's no easy task to find a playground where all three are entertained, but our recent visit to the newly opened Gertrude Ederle Playground on West 59th Street was an all-around hit.

The Battle of Brooklyn: History Comes Alive Close to Home

The New-York Historical Society's new exhibit, The Battle of Brooklyn, focuses on one of the earliest, largest, and closest-to-home battles of the Revolutionary War. Though not specifically designed with kids in mind, this exhibit offers a behind-the-scenes look at the American Revolution, with remnants of history still seen in today's Brooklyn. Older school-aged kids will enjoy exploring this immersive installation of the not-so-legendary skirmish that took place shortly after the signing of the Declaration of Independence.

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