New York City

CAMP Store in Flatiron Reopens With Sweet Hands-On Cooking Theme

One of our favorite NYC stores where kids can play for FREE (and one of our favorite new additions to NYC last year, period) is the Flatiron District's CAMP Store, which has recently unveiled its second theme: Cooking Camp, as well as a membership program, with the promise of a second location coming to Brooklyn in the fall.

Situated on the corner of 16th and Fifth Avenue, CAMP looks like just another retail shop; albeit one with an onsite Milk Bar and a funky collection of merchandise—from toys and games to books and clothing—but there's something spectacular hiding behind a secret door. Find the entrance (with the help of a super-friendly CAMP counselor) and you're in for hours of fun and a cool new indoor place to play.

C'mon Summer: 50 Things We Can't Wait to Do This Summer in NYC

Every year, the long "home stretch" between spring break and summer vacation seems like a torturous marathon of end-of-year concerts, award ceremonies, and late nights running around followed by early morning lunch-packing woes and kids who, thanks to the longer hours of daylight, stayed up past bedtime...again.

But take heart, the finish line is in sight, bringing with it adventurous summer camp days and afternoons to while away at your favorite playground or water park. We're officially summer dreaming, and you're the beneficiary. We're sharing our list of 50 things we can't wait to do this summer. They're a mix of annual favorites and new openings, plus more more seasonal happenings that prove the best vacation may just be a staycation.

12 of the Best Outdoor Water Parks in the US

If your kids love the adventure of amusement parks but are looking for a way to cool off this summer, an outdoor water park might be just the ticket for your family. We've searched out some of the nation's best to compile this list of our favorite family-friendly water parks with relaxing pools, splash pads for toddlers, and thrilling water slides and rides for teenagers.

From New England to Orlando to California, there are plenty of water parks from which to choose. At some of these water parks, visitors can ride the ups and downs of a water coaster, slip through a trap door on a drop slide and spin around an oversized funnel slide for maximum thrills. To truly chill, just pick up a tube and float down a lazy river or rent a cabana with poolside dining.

Have your heart set on a water park vacation but don't want to risk the weather? Check out our list of the 10 Best Indoor Water Parks for Kids in the US.

12 Cool Themed Playgrounds in NYC to Inspire Kids' Imaginations

Imagination is the stuff of childhood magic—and NYC's cleverest themed parks and playgrounds are designed to inspire your kid's always-active mind. Whether your kid fancies playing prehistoric explorer, dreams of conquering Ancient Egypt, or wants to trek across Africa on safari, there's a playground for that. Here are 12 of our favorite themed playgrounds across all five boroughs.

10 Easy New York State Park Hikes for Families

Late spring is the perfect season for hiking, before the sweltering summer heat takes hold. The beautiful Hudson Valley is home to 18 New York State Parks that offer tree-lined trails, stunning panoramic views, and lots of special features like waterfalls, swimming lakes, and sandy beaches. With so many parks and trails to choose from, it's hard to know where to start!

To help, we've picked 10 of of our favorite kid-friendly hikes in the Hudson Valley. In addition to opportunities to enjoy nature and wildlife, some of these parks—like Bear Mountain and Franklin D. Roosevelt—boast additional attractions such as a zoo, playgrounds, pedal boats, and even a giant swimming pool. Best of all, these hikes are just a quick day trip away from NYC or southern Westchester.

Cirque du Soleil's Jaw-Dropping LUZIA Opens Under the Big Top

One of the reasons my family and I love going to Cirque du Soleil spectacles is we never know what to expect. Sure, there will always be world-class circus artists performing jaw-dropping feats, but what sets the company apart from other troupes are the eye-popping environments it creates through sumptuous design. We know we're going to be transported, but to where? For Cirque's latest extravaganza, LUZIA, currently running at Citi Field in Queens, the destination is a fantastical imagining of Mexico filled with oversize puppet animals; cascading walls of water; mariachi-tinged music; colorful projections; and, of course, gorgeously outfitted acrobats, aerialists, and other athletic performers who seem to defy the laws of physics.

With two jaded teens in tow who've seen many a circus, I worried they might pull a been there, seen that 'tude. Heck, I figured I might feel that way, too, because I've been attending Cirque shows since before I became a mom. But at 13, 16, and even my advanced age, we were all as wide-eyed with wonder as the youngsters sitting behind us, because LUZIA is one of the most breathtaking Cirque creations in years.

Brooklyn Bridge Park: 35 Top Things to Do with Kids

There is no shortage of warm weather family activities in Brooklyn, but I find myself continuously making the trip to Brooklyn Bridge Park throughout the spring and summer months. Spanning 1.3 miles along the East River, Brooklyn Bridge Park is an 85-acre waterfront space promising recreation, sustainability, and environmental exploration. Where else can you fish, roller skatekayak, barbecue, hit some of the city's most innovative playzones, catch the ferry to Governors Island, see FREE outdoor movies and concerts, explore a sensory labyrinth or an environmental education center, and get a free dose of cool public art? Plus, the Lower Manhattan skyline views never fail to impress.

We've rounded up our favorite things to do to help you explore the park with your little ones, including some of the exciting new offerings in one of the city's most fascinating parks

Cool Party Places to Celebrate Your Tween's Birthday

By the time you've hit the tween years, you've been to enough birthday parties to feel like you've seen it all. Looking for a new celebratory experience worthy of increasingly grown-up interests for your 10 to 13 year-old? We've rounded up 13 too-cool party spots to celebrate your tween's next big birthday. With party packages this out of the ordinary, you'll be able to please even the pickiest tween with unique fetes like zombie laser tag, DIY chocolate or ice cream, and jewelry making with semi-precious stones.

Mother's Day Weekend Fun in NYC: Festivals, Gardens, Kites, Outdoor Films...and Sheep Shearing

Mother's Day weekend is always especially busy and this year is no exception, with a weekend-long celebration at the New York Botanical Garden, plus Wave Hill's mash-up of brunch, picnicking, and kids' workshops and CMOM's gift-prep programs (bath pods and pillows!). We have piles of possibilities on the Mommy Poppins calendar, as well as brunch recommendations and fun ways to spend the day. Happy Mother's Day from all of us!

Kids can give back to their community this weekend, too. Stop by Riverside Park's annual Sandsational event to help get ten playgrounds ready for summer. By the way, Summer on the Hudson's Play Dates and STEAM the Streets programs kick off on Saturday as well.

Movies under the stars are starting to shine: This weekend, bring a blanket and a picnic to FREE screenings of Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (PG) near Lincoln Center or in Brooklyn's Prospect Lefferts GardensSolo: A Star Wars Story (PG-13) on Staten Island, or Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again (PG-13) in Greenpoint. And Habana Outpost launches its summer-long free Sunday night movie screenings with Selena (PG).

Just want some fair and festival options? How about the Kids Food Fest (FREE all weekend), Japan Day in Central Park, Brooklyn Bridge Park's exhilarating Kite Fest, the LIC Springs Block Party, the Sheep Shearing Fest in Queens, or the cool lit programs for kids that are part of the PEN America World Voices Festival? And LEGO fans, don't miss Brick by Brick! The calendar has it all.

As summer nears, get ready with our list of Free and Cheap Summer Sports Programs for NY Kids, the always-helpful May GoList, and 50 FREE things to do this month in NYC!

Free Kayaking, Canoeing, and Rowboat Options in New York City

With all the water surrounding New York City, it's no wonder there are so many sightseeing cruises and fun ferry rides to great kid destinations. If you want to be your own captain, NYC offers many seasonal opportunities for NYC families to get out on the water by themselve—kayaking, rowing, canoeing, and sailing. Much of the fun kicks off Memorial Day weekend or early summer.

We've rounded up 11 great New York City organizations that offer boating sessions on our wonderful waterways—and they're all FREE. Ahoy!

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