Upper West Side

First Birthday Parties: Manhattan Spots to Celebrate Your Tot

By the time you've reached your baby's first birthday, you may be ready to rock out.

After all, you've survived sleepless nights, blowouts, mounds of laundry, and lived to tell the tale. Birthday parties are big business in New York City; where you celebrate that first milestone depends largely on how much of a blowout you desire, and how much cash you wish to spend. Keeping in mind that you've got years of birthday parties in your future, we've rounded up 10 spots in Manhattan to celebrate that all-important first birthday.

Whether the party is about your kid and his or her crew, or you need to cater more to grown-ups than little people, we've got a spot for you. So prime the camera and get ready to celebrate.

8 New NYC Bookstores and Libraries To Check Out With Kids

New York is filled great bookstores and neighborhood libraries. As parents, we know these lit havens can mean lifeline to sanity on cold and rainy days and hot and humid ones, along with giving a safe and kid-friendly place to play through all those stages they seem to whip through so quickly, from cruising toddler to inquisitive adolescent.

Sure there are the standard spots to rely upon week after week, year after year. But just in case you're tiring of the same four walls, we've rounded up the top openings and renovations of NYC libraries and bookstores around the city. Get ready for some fresh kid lit!

Awesome Specialty Summer Camps for NYC Kids

Here in New York City, finding a summer camp for your kiddo isn't the hard part. It's picking one from all of the awesome options that's tough!

If you're looking to narrow your search, specialty camps are the perfect way to fuel your kid's passion or even help them hone in on a new hobby. For science- and tech-lovers, there are a number of STEM/STEAM camps, teaching everything from artificial intelligence and 3-D printing, to marine biology and wood working. Aspiring athletes can get in on a game of soccer or gaga ball at a sports-centered camp, or try their hand at figure skating or parkour. There's even Chinese language instruction for budding linguists, performing arts camps for kids who love the spotlight, programs that take your tiny historian back in time, and even hands-on cooking camps for the littlest foodies.

With half-day and full-day options, and sessions ranging from one week to the entire summer, there's truly something for everyone. Take a look at some much-loved specialty camps below, and browse our New York City Camp Guide for even more options.

Robots, Rockets, and Explosions Wow Kids at NORY STEM Camps

Summer is a time when kids should be trying new things, asking crazy questions, and exploring wild possibilities, even if it sometimes means failing along the way. At least that’s what the two dads who founded NORY believe.

NORY is a summer camp for New York City’s youngest innovators. Kids ages 3-12 can sign up for STEM-focused programs with weekly themes that are totally worth geeking out over, like wood working, kitchen science, and chemical engineering and explosions. The 5 to 1 ratio of curious campers to inspiring instructors helps to keep kids totally engrossed in the hands-on curriculum. And it’s clearly doing the trick, because the popular camp is expanding to three main campuses in FiDi, Midtown East, and the Upper West Side this year.

Kids' Happy Hour Activities in NYC to Keep 'Em Busy Until Bed

Even for the most innovative parent, the gap between late afternoon and bedtime can be challenging to fill—especially during bad weather. When it's too cold and dark for the park, the "witching hour" can feel like an endless desert of time. Most play spaces, libraries, and museums close the doors before 6pm, so it's hard to justify schlepping across the city for a short window of playtime, especially when getting everyone fed is a factor. What's a parent to do? Well, check out our borough-by-borough breakdown of kid-centric locales that are open "late!" to keep your kids (little and big) busy till bedtime. 

17 Popular Preschool Summer Camps in NYC

Finding a cool and enriching summer camp that's right for your kid always takes a bit of work. Finding one that's a good fit for your first-time, preschool-age camper can be downright nerve-racking. You want their initial camp experience to be fun, safe, and memorable, but not over-stimulating or overwhelming. With so many high-quality camps for NYC preschoolers, it's hard to figure out which one to choose.

That's why we turned to the experts: our friends at the American Camp Association of New York and New Jersey. They've selected a handful of awesome New York City programs that offer preschoolers a well-rounded summer experience filled with games, arts, sports, socializing, and plenty of outdoor time, and we've added more options to it. Best of all, many of these camps grow with your child, taking kids in elementary school and beyond.

Keep in mind, every camp has its own philosophy and program so check out the website, call the director, and, if possible, attend an open house to get all the information you need. Check out our Summer Camp Guide Directory for more ideas, or these Brooklyn and Queens preschooler camps for more outer borough options.

13 Tween and Teen Birthday Spots for NYC Kids

If you're getting eye rolls just uttering the words "bounce house" to your New York City tween or teen when birthday-party talk comes up, we've found 13 fresh party ideas at venues new and old, all of which are sure to be a hit with the guest of honor and his or her (equally judgmental) friends. With party packages this cool, it's a shame to celebrate but once a year.

Find more awesome kids' birthday ideas in our jam-packed NYC Party Guide.

7 New Summer Camps for NYC Kids in 2018

There may be snowflakes a flying, but it's officially summer camp searching season in New York City. While the metro area and surrounding suburbs don't lack for choices, there's always something new on the horizon for our kids!

In 2018, we've found a number of new summer camps, from cooking to outdoor nature and even coding and science. Without further ado, we present seven new this year camps for city kids.

The New IDNYC Card Perks for Families You Don't Want to Miss

It's no secret that living in New York City and raising kids here isn't cheap. So one of my favorite finds has been the IDNYC program, which, among other things, offers FREE and reduced-price memberships more than 40 cultural institutions across the city.

Since the municipal ID program launched in 2015, more than 1 million people have turned up at IDNYC centers to get their free ID cards and the benefits that being a card-carrying citizen of this great city brings. In 2018, the city introduced several new institutions to the program, including two that might interest NYC families: Aviator Sports and Events Center in Brooklyn and Chelsea Piers are now IDNYC partners. At Aviator, you can nab an individual membership for 20 percent off and score 15 percent off party bookings. Chelsea Piers invites you to enjoy 2-for-1 admission at its indoor ice skating rink as well as discounts at its driving range.

The IDNYC card offers more than cultural benefits: Families can take advantage of discounts on prescription drugs, car-share memberships, movies, sporting events, and more. It even acts as a public library card and can help you open an account at a bank or credit union.

I've put my card to use to take advantage of these benefits and more, so read on for a dozen reasons to sign up for your FREE card, including discounted admission to some of the city's best children's museums and zoos.

Best Indoor Play Spots for Toddlers and Preschoolers in Manhattan

The playground isn't always an option for keeping antsy little New Yorkers (and the grown-up variety) busy. When the weather turns and the stir-craziness sets in, it's time to search out indoor options that are not your apartment. 

After finding myself searching for indoor play options a few too many times, I'm offering my mom-tested picks for the top spots for the toddler-and-preschool set in Manhattan. None of these places—kid gyms, museums, and even atriums—require a membership, and all will help you, your little one, and, most importantly, your apartment survive a long, cold winter or rainy day.

Read on for a dozen of the best places to play with your preschooler in Manhattan, including FREE spots.

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