New York City

Best Things to Do With NYC Kids: September GoList

Just because the kids are heading back to school doesn't mean the fun has to stop. In fact, September is one of the best months for FREE outdoor fun. There are a slew of alfresco festivals for families, including Brooklyn's biggest street fair, Atlantic Antic, the perfect-for-preschoolers West Side County Fair, and farm fun at the Queens County Fair, including the return of the Amazing Maize Maze, NYC's only corn maze.

Other September highlights include fun on the water with the Great North River Tugboat Race & Competition, Bay Ridge's costume-filled Ragamuffin Parade, and the annual Kids Fest at Madison Square Park. It's also the last chance to take a dip at one of NYC's FREE outdoor public pools and beaches, many of which are staying open through Sunday, September 8.

Plus, tickets go on sale September 3 for the Hudson Valley's best Halloween activity, the Great Jack O'Lantern Blaze. (If you want to see Blaze, it is best to get your tickets now.) Read on for our 12 favorite things to do with kids in September in NYC, many of which are FREE.

Here's the NYC Public School Calendar for 2019-2020

If you've got a child in public school, you live by the school calendar. Many local NYC preschools follow the public school schedule too. The New York City Department of Education's calendar for the 2019-2020 school year is below, and you'll want to bookmark it now for reference—and to help with planning family vacations and school break camp coverage

With the exception of the occasional unplanned snow day or case of the sniffles, these are all of the dates you can count on your kiddos being out of school during the 2019-2020 school year.

Best Fall Festivals for NYC Kids in September

Kick off autumn at one of September's 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 a lively local celebration, make sure you hit up the One Crown Heights Neighborhood Festival at the Brooklyn Children's Museum. 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 festivals this September.

The Best Playgrounds in Queens

Although every pocket and corner of Queens has a neighborhood playground, we’ve taken the time to scout the cream of the crop for NYC kids. Whether you're visiting from another borough or just want to explore a new-to-you-neighborhood, here are 11 of our favorite romping spots in Queens, from Astoria to the Rockaways. These parks offer clean, safe equipment with innovative and fun details that go beyond the jungle gyms of the past, like rope spider webskid-sized Ferris wheels, and super cool sprinklers

Looking to make more of a splash? Check out our roundup of the top water playgrounds in Queens or find more playgrounds across the five boroughs in our NYC Parks & Playgrounds guide.

Things to Do Labor Day Weekend: West Indian Fests, Tugboats, and Unicycles

For NYC kids, Labor Day weekend means one last chance to check off a few boxes on that summer bucket list. On Governors Island, take a spin at NYC's annual unicycle fest and then stick around for the Japan Performing Arts fest. Or head to an outdoor carnival at the Richmond County Fair on Staten Island. This weekend's big West Indian Day celebrations include the Junior Carnival Parade on Saturday, CMOM's West Indian and Caribbean Celebration Sunday and Monday, and the West Indian American Day Carnival on Monday. And don't miss the spectacular Great North River Tugboat race!

If you forgot to enter the advance lottery for Public Theater's rendition of Disney's Hercules, don't despair. Tickets can still be scored with a little luck and perserverence. All you have to do is register for a Patron ID and try the daily in-person lottery system. You never know! And if your efforts come to naught, you can still hustle over to Bryant Park for Othello.

There's still time to end the summer with your beach game strong: Hit the Jersey shore with our handy-dandy guide, daytrip to Long Beach or Asbury Park, take the subway (or ferry) to the beach, or hit the road for a nearby freshwater swimming lake. For less sandy but equally fun options, see our guide to outdoor pools and sprinklers within the five boroughs, plus nearby amusement parks and water theme parks.

​Looking for something low impact and close to home? Enjoy family brunch outdoors at one of these kid-friendly restaurants in Manhattan or Brooklyn, or go for an ice cream crawl at these worthy NYC sweet shops. If the clouds don't stay away this weekend, we've got suggestions for rainy day fun at museums and play spaces.

Read on for all of our Labor Day weekend picks. You'll find additional suggestions in our Event Calendar and September GoList. So long, summer!

Entering NYC Kindergarten: 5 Things to Know

The first day of kindergarten is exciting, nerve-wracking, hectic, tear-jerking and adorably photogenic all over the country. But New York City kids (and parents) face a unique set of challenges when headed to school for the very first time.

I have three children, ages 16, 12 and 8. That means I’ve been through NYC kindergarten three times. (I’ve also been through the admissions process three times, and wrote an entire book, Getting Into NYC Kindergarten, of tips and tricks.)

Over the years, I’ve learned five things that all families must know in order to have a successful transition from pre-K (public or private) into elementary school (public, private, charter, gifted, magnet, religious; like I said, it’s NYC, things are different here).

Check out the list below and learn from my mistakes, rather than your own.

65 School Lunch Ideas: Back-to-School Lunches Kids Will Actually Eat

Chances are you've had a healthy, well-packed school lunch delivered back into your hands virtually untouched at the end of the school day. There should be a special name for the heartbreak one endures at the words, "I told you I hate peanut-butter and jelly," when not only is this the first you're hearing of it, but you spent extra on organic jelly and freshly ground peanut butter. And if not PBJ, then what? Well, we've got 65 answers to the question of what to pack in a successful school lunch.

After-School Registration Now Open for Free NYC Program

We've told you all about the lottery for swimming classes operated by the NYC Parks Department, but did you know it also has you covered after school? Registration for the FREE after-school program run by the Parks Department opened on August 21, 2019 for NYC kids ages 6 to 13, and we've got details on what the program offers and how to sign up.

Find more after-school options in the Mommy Poppins Classes Guide.

31 Things We Can't Wait to Do This Fall in NYC

The other day, I spotted the first of the Halloween pop-up shops that dot city streets come Fall, and it hit me: Though my AC is working overtime, and I'm still cramming as much summer fun in with my kids as possible, the winds of change are blowing.

Rather than lamenting the things we didn't get to, though, we decided to look forward to what's on tap, so here's our season-long look at the family-friendly fall fun we can't wait to get started on. After all, we've got lots of assorted school holidays and long weekends to fill before the weather really changes. Without further ado, here are 31 things we're looking forward to doing this fall in NYC, a mix of seasonal favorites and new openings that has us actually looking forward to September.

13 Perfect Fall Weekend Getaways Near NYC for Families

Fall in the Northeast is a lovely time of year for a family getaway. The crisp air, fall colors, and outdoor activities are hard to resist for most kids (and grown-ups). New Yorkers can experience that magic right in the city's gorgeous parks, some of which feel almost like a countryside retreat during a foliage walk. But for a weekend away, perhaps over those fall school holidays, consider a weekend trip to fully immerse the family in fall fun.

We’ve rounded up 13 options, from a luxury retreat in Connecticut to glamping in New Hampshire to an Adirondack wilderness retreat where you can really unplug. 

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