Upper West Side

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.

Best Lincoln Center Restaurants for Families

Though many of the restaurants and cafés surrounding Lincoln Center might seem too upscale for family dining or a quick, inexpensive snack, there are plenty of affordable, kid-friendly eats hidden in plain sight. As a plus, most of these places cater to the pre-theater crowd, know local productions and schedules, and are more than happy to make sure you're in and out with time to spare before the curtain rises. Whether you're in the neighborhood for a concert, the circus, or the ballet, or just to check out the famous fountain, here are our favorite spots to grab a bite without breaking the bank—or your patience.

Find more great kid-friendly eateries in our NYC restaurant guide.

New Year's Eve Fireworks in NYC and More 2019 Family Celebrations

There are plenty of ways to ring in 2019 in New York City. We've rounded up the city's best family-friendly options from daytime celebrations for wee ones to Brooklyn fireworks and FREE bike rides to swanky (and admittedly expensive) Times Square parties. 

However you welcome the New Year, we hope it's a blast. You can find even more seasonal fun in our Holiday Guide, and more fun things to do with kids on school break.

Where to Donate Kids' Clothes, Toys, and Gear Across NYC

With two adults and three kids in my family's typically small NYC apartment, the holiday season stresses me out. Not because of all the things I need to do, but because of all the extra "stuff" that I know is about to flood our home. That's why this is my favorite time of year to donate my kids' gently (or sometimes never!) used clothes, toys, books, and other items so we can free up some space, support worthy charities, and get the whole family in a giving mindset.

We've gathered details on several organizations where you can donate quality used items during the holidays and beyond. Be sure to contact the charities directly to confirm what they accept and how best to drop off. 

Best Toy Stores in NYC: 14 Family Favorites and Destination Toy Shops

Whether your toy shopping trip is a winter day activity, a pre-birthday party stop, a bit of Santa research, or a special family outing, NYC's toy store options do not disappoint. From painstakingly curated indie experiences to unforgettable big-brand toy extravaganzas, we’ve rounded up over a dozen of our favorite go-to toy stores across New York City, where you’re sure to find the perfect item for your little one or the winning gift for a birthday party

Lincoln Center with Kids: 15 Fun & Mostly Free Things to Do

Lincoln Center, the grand performing arts mecca on Manhattan's Upper West Side, may seem out of reach to many. Prices for the fancy, high-culture shows are beyond most family budgets, but that shouldn't keep you away. From watching the iconic fountain dance to rooting out hidden gem performances that cost little-to-nothing, Lincoln Center is a rich cultural destination you don't need to be rich to enjoy. Here are our top 15 FREE or low-cost things to do with kids at Lincoln Center.

Best Hot Chocolate Spots Around Manhattan

A cup of molten chocolaty goodness is one of the best ways to thaw out and warm up—in fact, it's one of the best things about winter and the holiday season.

We took on the heinous job of running around Manhattan taste-testing hot chocolate (don't say we've never done anything for you) and narrowed it down to nearly two dozen of our favorites. These spots are definitely worth the brief trip out into the cold, so read on for our recommendations for cafes and restaurants that have turned hot cocoa sipping into an experience not to be missed.

By the way, we've also rounded up our favorite Brooklyn hot cocoa cafes and those in Queens. Find more great eats in our NYC Restaurant Guide for Families.

Best High Tea Spots in NYC to Enjoy a Cup with Kids

Whether you're celebrating a special occasion or just looking for a memorable experience, afternoon tea—sometimes called high tea in New York City—can be a fun outing with kids. It's an especially great winter outing and particularly fitting during the holidays.

Several places serve high tea in New York City, with varying degrees of appropriateness for children. From the fancy Eloise Tea at the Plaza Hotel to the less frilly Russian Tea Room, there are teas—and goodies—for children of all ages and parents of all budgets. Here's our take on some of the best spots for afternoon tea with kids in NYC.

See Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade Balloon Inflation with Kids

Thanksgiving in New York City wouldn't be what it is without the annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. If you're eager to take your kids to glimpse those giant balloons and don’t want to rise before dawn, visit the area near the American Museum of Natural History on Wednesday, November 21, 2018, to watch the giants come to life, including the brand-new balloons for 2018.

While the balloon inflation isn't crowd-free, it’s an only-in-New York event all its own—and a must-do holiday event for families. Read on for tips on when to go and where to eat dinner afterward. In need of more holiday inspiration? Visit our Thanksgiving Fun Guide.

Big Apple Circus Returns to NYC with New Ringmaster and Incredible Acts

At a time when the world sometimes feels like a circus, it's soothing to find a real, true, exuberant circus wowing audiences at Lincoln Center. The Big Apple Circus is back for its 41st edition under an intimate one-ring big top, where no seat is more than 50 feet from the stage. While many of the thrills are new, the joyful effect remains the same.

Stephanie Monseu, the fabulous new female ringmaster, keeps the show moving at an exhilarating clip alongside two wonderful clowns, Mark Gindick and Adam Kuchler. And the jaw-dropping array of acts, all backed by a live band, includes both veterans (Jenny Vidbel and her adorable animals) and first-timers (horizontal juggler Victor Moiseev). We've got the scoop on all the audience favorites, whether it's worth splurging on VIP tickets, and how you can connect with the circus stars after the show.

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