Upper West Side

Free NYC Halloween Parades for Kids

Everyone loves a parade, but there's nothing quite like a neighborhood Halloween parade. While families with older kids may venture out to the iconic Village Halloween Parade on Sixth Avenue in Manhattan, it can be pretty scary—it's always insanely crowded and loud, and many of the costumes are risque, gory, or in poor taste. If your children aren't up for that big Hallow-baloo, there are plenty of smaller, kid-friendly NYC neighborhood parades in Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, and the Bronx, including the Ragamuffin Parade in Bay Ridge, the mega Jackson Heights parade, the famed Park Slope march, and a G-rated Village parade for little ones.

We've rounded up community-driven Halloween processions for families to watch or march in, most of which are FREE. If you don't live in a great trick-or-treating area, these parades are a wonderful way to hunt for candy in another neighborhood. Find even more seasonal happenings in our Halloween Fun Guide.

The NYC Parents' Guide for Visitors: 10 NYC Must-Sees Beyond Times Square

There are so many great things to do and see with kids in NYC, from museums to zoos to destination playgrounds, it's hard to narrow down to a reasonably sized list. But knowing what NYC families like doing best in their own hometown is a solid place to start if you're planning a visit! 

As veteran New Yorkers, my family has their own list of absolute must-see and must-visit spots around the city. Some are off the beaten path, and some might be considered a bit touristy, but all of them are places we love—and love experiencing with visitors, in particular. Whether you're visiting NYC with kids for the first time or the fiftieth time, here is a list of some of the best places to go right now, as recommended by parents who live here.

Find more top sights in our NYC Visitors Guide for Families.

NYC Hotel Rooms with Views of the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade

Chances are you're not even thinking about Thanksgiving yet. After all, we still have Halloween to get through! But as anyone in the NYC hotel industry will tell you, families looking to book a hotel where they can watch the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in Midtown Manhattan do so up to a year ahead of time. For a room with a view of Snoopy, Spidey, Hello Kitty, and their other inflatable pals, you've really got to plan in advance.

It's not just NYC tourists who splurge on hotels for the Thanksgiving parade, either. Over the past few years, we've had many New Yorkers write in asking which hotels looked out on the Macy's Parade route (it sure beats watching from the street). While most of these hotels still have availability at the time of this writing, call right away as they'll most likely sell out soon. And if you do get shut out, it's worth checking closer to Thanksgiving since there are sometimes last-minute cancelations.

For a budget-saving alternative, catch a prime viewing spot the night before the parade as the giant balloons are inflated on the Upper West Side.

13 Not-So-Scary Halloween Events in NYC for the Preschool Set

When my son was a baby, I wondered if he'd ever know the joy of trick-or-treating door to door like his suburban counterparts. But over the years, I've learned that NYC really knows how to celebrate Halloween. There are tons of FREE Halloween celebrations, kid-friendly costume parades, and close-knit communities that dole out copious amounts of candy to trick-or-treaters.

For little New Yorkers, Halloween can sometimes seem more scary than sweet—and a lot of it takes place after bedtime. So we've put together a list of 13 Halloween events perfect for the preschool set, many of them FREE. Enjoy the gentle spirit of these Halloween events while you can—your kids will be celebrating at the Village Halloween Parade before you know it.

For more Halloween happenings, check out our Halloween Guide and our events calendar, which is continually updated with new, fun events as we find out about them.

Best Free Halloween Events for Kids in New York City

What's the one way to make a costume-and-candy-filled Halloween celebration even sweeter? Make it FREE. In New York City there are so many no-cost Halloween celebrations, we've decided to give parents a real treat: a roundup of FREE Halloween events for kids in all five boroughs, including big annual family favorites like Fort Greene's BAMboo! block party, the Halloween Parade and Pumpkin Flotilla in Central Park, and more.

So bring your trick-or-treat bags, but leave your wallets at home for these gratis happenings, and then check out our Halloween Fun Guide for details on the best costume parades, trick-or-treat spots, and other seasonal activities.

Awesome Party Places for NYC Kids

New York isn't exactly a cookie-cutter city, so it may not come as a surprise that there are kids' party places for just about every interest under the sun. Sports fanatics can invite guests to hit an indoor ice skating rink or a high-tech golf driving range, while little athletes can celebrate with trampolines and obstacle courses in state-of-the-art gyms. Imaginative birthday boys and girls can mark the day with a fairytale-inspired fantasy ballet party, while tech lovers can throw LEGO- or Minecraft-themed bashes. There are even animal encounters for underwater enthusiasts and mobile pizza parlors for fun-loving foodies.

If you're on the hunt for a venue for your own one-of-a-kind kid, take a look at these awesome spots with packages for tots, tweens, and teens (plus, plenty of help from experienced party pros). For even more ideas, take a look at the New York City Party Guide, or browse our directory for party places, entertainers, and even party supplies.

Best Family-Friendly Restaurants in NYC Now

New York City kids live in one of the culinary capitals of the universe—and fortunately for all of us parents, some of the best new restaurants in our food-obsessed city are totally family-friendly. Whether you're headed out for a special celebratory meal as a family, eating out after a long day of family fun exploring NYC's museums and neighborhoods, or just need a break from cooking, here are some the of hottest NYC restaurants to check out with the kids. 

Best Family Theater in NYC This Fall

Autumn marks the start of a new theater season, but you don't need to shell out big bucks on Broadway shows to give your kids a memorable live entertainment experience in NYC. In fact, this fall boasts more high-quality theater productions for young audiences than ever—so many in fact, we have a whopping 25 picks, and that's after whittling down the contenders.

Preschoolers will be excited for the return of old friends Pete the Cat and Angelina Ballerina, plus the debut of a new show based on a Laurie Berkner song. Older kids will be inspired by That Inventions Show, the interactive improv piece Show Up, Kids!, and the immersive Gumshoe, which takes place throughout the 125-year-old Henry Street Settlement. There's also funky fare for tweens at Lincoln Center and the New Victory Theater, plus everyone in your family can enjoy the Big Apple Circus. Best of all, many of our picks are $25 or less per ticket.

Maker Spaces for Drop-In Creator Fun with NYC Kids

The maker movement is alive and well in NYC, annually bringing one of our favorite festivals, Maker Faire, to the New York Hall of Science.

But what to do with your inventive child the other 51 weekends of the year? Of course there are after-school classesbirthday parties, and summer camp options, but for drop-in, one-off workshops and tinkering sessions? Not as many. Still, we've dug in and rounded up nine NYC maker spaces offering chances for year-round STEM-inspired making, building, and creating, from robots to 3D printing and creative coding.

If you're looking for a longer-term commitment, check out our STEM Guide to read up on all the options for maker-inspired camps, classes, and DIY fun.

Destination Playground: Hippo Playground on the Upper West Side

New York City doesn't lack for spectacular destination playgrounds, but Hippo Playground is more than a great place to play. Nestled among honey locust trees and a stone's throw away from the Hudson River in Riverside Park, Hippo Playground serves as the heart of the community for this slice of the Upper West Side and countless tots have grown up playing in the cool shade of its trees.

What the Hippo Playground may lack in modern bells and whistles, it makes up for in community and character, starting with the playful pachyderms who form the centerpiece of the playspace.

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