Washington Heights

11 NYC Neighborhoods to Visit With Your Family This Summer

Whether you're a New York native, a day-tripper, or a tourist from way outta town, summer is the perfect time to explore this action-packed city. And since there's certainly no shortage of warm-weather adventures for kids of all ages, we partnered with the Big Apple pros over at NYCgo to share some of the top can't-be-missed 'hoods worthy of a visit while the sun's out this season.

From sharks to new parks, make it a summer of adventure with these hot, family-friendly neighborhoods across all five boroughs!

Visiting the Met Cloisters with Kids: Best of NYC's Medieval Museum

One of my favorite memories from childhood was a visit to The Met Cloisters with my mother. Growing up on Long Island, any trip to the city was a special treat, and I still remember the neighborhood beauty of Washington Heights and Inwood. But it was the ascent into Manhattan's Fort Tryon Park that created a sense of lure and mystery. The Met Cloisters, which appeared to me like a castle in the sky, inspired a love of learning I would eventually share with my own children.

Decades later, I brought my own children to the Cloisters museum to experience the magic of its medieval chapels, sculptures, tapestries, gardens, and paintings—all of us dressed in Renaissance regalia to fully immerse ourselves in the experience! Here's what to know to make the most of your visit to The Met Cloisters, one of NYC's suggested admission museums where children 12 and under are always FREE.

Things to Do in Fort Tryon Park & Fort Washington Park with Kids

Two of the biggest attractions in Upper Manhattan boast a combined 250 acres of lush lawns and gardens, winding tree-lined paths, multiple ball fields and playgrounds, and three iconic NYC sights: the famed Little Red Lighthouse, the George Washington Bridge (or for fans of the beloved picture book by Hildegarde H. Swift, the Great Gray Bridge), and the Cloisters, the Metropolitan Museum of Art's branch dedicated to medieval art and architecture. Because of the waterfront location at the highest points in Manhattan, the two green spaces—Fort Washington and Fort Tryon Parks—were important strategic points in the Revolutionary War. Today the parks offer visitors spectacular views of the Hudson River and the New Jersey Palisades.

So take the A train up to Washington Heights and Inwood and discover all the wonderful things to do in Fort Washington Park and Fort Tryon Park, with a little bit of help from our guide below.

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.

Washington Heights and Inwood with Kids: Top 35 Things to Do

Two distinct neighborhoods make up the northernmost tip of Manhattan: Washington Heights and Inwood. Although these NYC nabes are constantly lumped together, they are really two unique areas that happen to share a lot of incredible history.

The Heights is a mix of multigenerational Hispanic families and young artists and families attracted to prewar apartment buildings and lovely parks. The area overflows with colorful Latino restaurants, shops, and cultural groups, and boasts multiple riverfront green spaces, notably Fort Washington Park, home to the famed Little Red Lighthouse, and Fort Tryon Park, where you'll find the Metropolitan Museum's medieval art mecca, the Cloisters.

Inwood is a quieter residential area that's quite tight-knit. Many family-friendly businesses are owned and operated by locals, like Indian Road Cafe, Bread and Yoga, and apothecary/soda fountain Dichter Pharmacy, which dates back to the 1940s.

Read on for all the top spots for kids in these Manhattan neighborhoods, from playgrounds to great eats.

Manhattan's Best Drop-in Play Spaces and Kids' Gyms

Finding a non-membership, drop-in play spot for your toddler or preschooler in your neighborhood is like gold to New York City parents—almost as good as scoring a deal on rent. Because when it gets too cold for the city's many playgrounds, and another playdate at home seems dull (or, let's be honest, stressful), taking your kid to a cool indoor kiddie gym or other play space, where everything seems new and someone else will do the cleaning up, is a relief to the whole family.

While the outer boroughs of Queens and Brooklyn dominate the indoor play space market, Manhattan has plenty of creative kid spaces. Some of these dozen awesome spots profiled below allow families to drop in, while others ask that you make reservations, but none require any kind of long-term financial commitment.

For even more wallet-friendly play spaces citywide, see our round up of budget-friendly play spots. And if you've got a child under the age of 5 to entertain, you might also check out our roundup of a dozen indoor play spaces perfect for the pint-sized set.

Best Places to Trick-or-Treat on Halloween with NYC Kids

One of my favorite childhood memories from growing up in NYC was Halloween in Greenwich Village. Back then, the Village Halloween Parade was just a couple hundred artists and others who marched through the neighborhood. Afterward, we would trick-or-treat up and down the brownstone blocks. Everyone was friendly, and we would come home with our shopping bags completely filled. It was magical.

Although the parade and Greenwich Village have changed a lot since then, your kids still can enjoy that kind of thrilling trick-or-treat experience in many New York City neighborhoods. Which neighborhood is the best for Halloween trick-or-treating depends on who you ask. New Yorkers love to bicker over the best coffee shops, the best (and worst) train lines, and yes, the best places to take their kids on Halloween. We also love to find that secret gem.

So we asked our astute readers and collected recommendations from our parent-driven NYC staff over many, many years to bring you a list of our favorite trick-or-treating spots so you'll know where to bring your kids this October 31.

Join one of the local Halloween parades and then go trick-or-treating throughout the community with local families. Or hit one of the neighborhoods or streets listed below: We have a slew of spots to try in all five boroughs. For more seasonal fun, check out our jam-packed Halloween Guide, showcasing FREE events, haunted houses, pumpkin patches, and more.

Best Fall Festivals for NYC Kids in September

Kick off autumn at one of these fun-filled (and mostly FREE) fall festivals in NYC. Annual family favorites abound this month, including top September GoList picks such as the Richmond County Fair and the annual Queens County Fair. For more futuristic fun, make sure you hit up the Maker Faire at the New York Hall of Science. There are also plenty of cool under-the-radar events you may not have heard of, including a marine science fest in Tribeca, a sweet honey fest in Rockaway Beach, and Italian fairs in the Bronx and on Staten Island, which are both a lot less crowded than San Gennaro.

So banish the back-to-school blues by hitting one (or more) of these kid-friendly fetes this September.

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.

Kid Film Festivals and Indie Movie Theaters in NYC

A visit to the movies is tempting in the cold of winter, but big-budget family film options can be lackluster. Why not rediscover the magic of the movies at a children's film festival?

City kids can sit back and enjoy the carefully curated lineup at the BAMkids Film Festival and New York International Children's Film Festival. These showcase international and offbeat shorts and features. You'll also find cool classics every Sunday at Film Forum Jr., as well as a mix of indie and classics at BAM this winter and spring with its BAMkids movie matinee series. Each offers dozens of picks for preschoolers up to tweens. Plus, ticket prices can be less costly—most are less than $15 per person.

Here are details on these festivals, as well as theaters such as the Film Forum known to offer regular indie kid flicks. 

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