New York City

11 Great Shows for Kids in New York City: Culture Guide Spring 2011

It’s not just gardens that are blooming this season. NYC’s family theater scene is bursting with new, colorful stage productions. As a total theater geek who grew up going to Broadway spectacles (back when regular folk could afford to do that on a regular basis), I love taking my daughter to shows. Luckily in this town, the Great White Way isn’t the only option. There’s a ton of amazing Off-Off Broadway offerings for young audiences—and you don’t have to be a millionaire to afford the tickets.

While some shows play for a while, there are lots of worthwhile one-offs that come into town to play for a day, and then move on to another city. So be sure to look carefully at the dates when checking our recommendations.

From fractured fairy tales to page-to-stage adaptations of classic kid-lit to circus feats to cool original musicals, here are 11 shows to take your kids to this spring.

Staten Island: Spend a Day Exploring St. George With Your Family

For many kids, a ride on the Staten Island Ferry is a fun activity in itself. (That's why it's No. 69 on our list of 100 Things to Do With Your Kids in NY Before They Grow Up!) The 5.2-mile, 25-minute nautical jaunt offers crisp air, a great view of Lady Liberty and the thrill of moving on the water—all for free.

Once you're off the boat, you could go further inland to hit the Snug Harbor Cultural Center (there are some gorgeous flowers blooming there right now). But you don’t need to take a bus or train to get a taste of the borough. There's plenty of fun to be had within earshot of the ferry horn.

Here are my kid-tested suggestions for a day trip to St. George, Staten Island. With the amazing St. George Day Festival coming up on Saturday, April 21, you'll want to make a note of these!

What's Blooming in NYC this Spring: Macy's Flower Show, Cherry Blossoms, Tulips and Daffodils

Last week we told you how to get your city kids into growing and gardening. But we realize that some people don't have a green thumb. Families that prefer to watch Mother Nature do all the work can visit New York City's gorgeous gardens, green spaces and other fantastic flora-filled spots.

From the Brooklyn Botanic Garden's Cherry Blossom Festival in late April to the New York Botanical Garden's current Orchid Show to Macy's Flower Show, which debuts this Sunday, to less well-known buds and blooms, we've got the scoop on where to get your flower fix in the city this Spring.

Meet the New Baby Goats at the Central Park Zoo

Now that the weather's so lovely (most of the time, anyway), there are so many things to do, including trips to the Central Park Zoo. My toddler loves looking at all the animals, especially the babies. Even though it was cold and rainy when we visited on Monday, we were still thrilled to meet the Zoo's latest additions, four baby mini-Nubian goats that just made their debut at the Children's Zoo!

There's Cole, a spunky one-month-old, plus three other as-yet-unnamed babies: caramel-colored, two-week-old twins and another kid. Get ready to coo at the adorable photos (which were taken last week on a warm and sunny day), and find out more about these babes.

Tartan Week: Get a Wee Bit Scottish with Your Wee Ones

Last week it was all about St. Patrick's Day and yesterday we highlighted a series of amazing Japanese cultural events. But starting April 1 the kilts come out as NYC goes a wee bit Scottish in honor of Tartan Week.

While some of the events, like a parade with thousands of bagpipers and a festival filled with music, dance and games, only happen once a year, there are other ways to celebrate the culture year-round. Here's how to get Scottish in the city with your clan.

Japanese Culture in NYC Spring 2011: JapanNYC & Sakura Matsuri

New York City is a great town for exposing your kids to different cultures. You can eat at Indian restaurants, celebrate Mexican Dia de los Meurtos and enjoy lots of other activities. This Spring, the city's hosting two fantastic Japanese events. The first is JapanNYC, a citywide cultural festival, which we originally told you about back in December, and Hanami, the cherry blossom viewing season.

The recent earthquake and subsequent tsunami that ravaged Japan on March 11 will certainly affect these upcoming celebrations, but that makes it an even more significant time to learn about the country's traditions and arts.

If you'd like to make a monetary donation toward the disaster relief effort, we've rounded up reputable and super-easy ways to contribute. Every little bit helps. So as we celebrate Japanese culture here in NYC, please don't forget the disaster that has forever changed that country and its people.

Growing in the City: Gardening Classes, Events, Farms and Community Gardens for NYC Kids & Families

You can't blame New York City kids for thinking that vegetables magically appear at the grocery store enclosed in plastic bags (or arrive at the door in a cardboard box), or that flowers sprout from the concrete every Spring. But it's not hard to teach them the real facts of nature. There are so many places for families to learn about and even grow their own bounty in this concrete jungle, from classes at the big gardens to working on plots in a community green space to visiting a working farm...within the city limits!

Here's how to get your kids growing this Spring.

Destination Playground: Gantry Plaza State Park

[UPDATED: September 3, 2012]
 

Located in the Hunters Point section of Long Island City, Queens, this former industrial-hub-turned-picturesque-retreat along the East River is a stunning destination. Gantry Plaza State Park was named for the apparatus used to load and unload ship cargo back in the 1920s. The spot's history is immediately apparent: Two giant gantries remain as the plaza's focal point, and the back of them serve as the frames for the pair of famous red neon Long Island signs. (Queens' other iconic sign, Pepsi Cola, is located next to the park.)

While parents will certainly appreciate the sleek design and tranquil vibe, kids will love all the places to play, and there are a lot of them. Read on for the scoop on Queens' waterfront oasis.

Vital Theater's Awesome Allie Is Out of This World

And that's certainly appropriate, since it's about a little girl who becomes the world's first kid astronaut. Unlike Vital Children's Theatre's long-running hits Pinkalicious and Angelina Ballerina, this loopy musical, which is best for kids six-and-under, isn't based on a popular children's book. Scott Elmegreen's script does a great job of conjuring up a realistically kooky kids' world all its own.
 

Favorite New York City Indian Food Restaurants for Eating with Kids

Some people might not think of Indian food as very kid-friendly since it is famous for its spiciness, but you know, kids in India eat too and there are tons of very child-friendly foods that your kids will love. In fact, Indian food is my kids' favorite food and we eat it almost weekly in one form or another. I even send samosas in their lunch boxes.

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