New York City

Crotona Park

The largest park in the South Bronx, Crotona Park is a 127 acre natural oasis containing 28 different species of trees, a 3.3 acre lake, 11 playgrounds, playing fields, and basketball courts. Most Bronxites would agree that the true gem of Crotona Park is the 300 foot public pool… it’s the perfect spot to take the kids to cool off on a hot summer day. Other big draws for families with young children who visit the park are the recreation and nature centers, both of which offer outstanding programming to introduce kids to nature. Crotona Park also has the honor of appearing in Mommy Poppins’ "Best Sledding Hills in New York City” post. For all you tennis buffs out there, Crotona Park’s 20 tennis courts are home to the annual Bronx Pro Tennis Classic.

Pelham Bay Park

At nearly 3,000 acres, Pelham Bay Park is the largest park in New York City (take that, Central Park!). Home to Orchard Beach, the Bartow-Pell Mansion, the Pelham-Split Rock Golf Course (the only 36 hole course in NYC), and a stone’s throw away from City Island, Pelham Bay Park provides almost any distraction you’re looking for to spend a day outdoors with the kids. From hiking to horseback riding to biking, this park has it all. The only negative aspect of Pelham Bay Park can be the crowds during the summer, but this is mostly an issue at Orchard Beach. With 3,000 acres, there’s plenty of space to go around!

Bronx Museum

The Bronx Museum is a wonderful resource for art lovers in the Bronx. Its exhibits tend to be fresh, exciting, and uniquely urban. However, we recommend planning ahead if you’re visiting with the kids in tow. Visit the website and take a look at the upcoming events. Quite often, the weekend events are free and catered towards children. Visiting just to tour the galleries may be a bit boring for kids if there are no workshops or activities planned. Beginning June 21st, 2009, there will be a groundbreaking exhibit installed along the length of the Grand Concourse. Dubbed the “Tree Museum,” artist Katie Holten has designed a ‘museum without walls’ as a celebration of the Grand Concourse’s 100th birthday. We cannot think of a better museum for kids than one without walls!

Barretto Point Park

Barretto Point Park may be small, but its position right along the banks of the East River makes it a must-see for families looking for a waterfront recreational option in the Bronx. The park’s access to the East River makes for some interesting amenities, such as piers perfect for fishing and a site from which to launch kayaks and canoes. The park’s recent claim to fame was that it was home of the hugely popular "Floating Pool” for the 2008 summer season.

Brook Park

Located in the heart of the South Bronx, Brook Park is described as a “garden oasis” in the city. Brook Park is home to a bird sanctuary, chickens, and vegetable beds. Bronx youth and adults are introduced to indigenous teachings, and can take part in Labyrinth walks, art and dance workshops, a summer film series, park cleanups, and even canoe tours. The park prides itself on building multi-cultural bridges and has welcomed visitors from around the world.

Van Cortlandt Park

At over 1,000 acres of land, Van Cortlandt is the fourth largest park in New York City. The possibilities for family fun at Van Cortlandt are endless… There are playing fields and courts for every sport imaginable (baseball, basketball, tennis, softball, football, soccer, Gaelic football, bocci, cricket, handball/paddleball), along with an 18-hole golf course, a 9-hole golf course with driving range, hiking trails, four playgrounds, and a world-class cross country running course. Van Cortlandt is also home to the Riverdale Equestrian Centre, which provides riding lessons for both children and adults. If horseback riding isn’t enough to make you forget you’re in the city, you can also take the kids fishing in Van Cortlandt Lake. The park offers countless programs and educational opportunities for kids throughout the year. There’s even a pubic pool at Van Cortlandt… and it’s not gross! In Summer 2008, it was named the borough’s best pool by the Daily News due to its cleanliness and impressive amount of lifeguards on duty. Just remember if you plan on swimming, you should bring a lock with you. They are very strict about making sure everyone’s belongings are protected and won’t let you in without one.

Valentine-Varian House/Museum of Bronx History

Home of the Museum of Bronx History, the Valentine-Varian House was built in 1758 and is the Bronx’s oldest remaining farmhouse. The first level of the farmhouse is open to the public and houses three different galleries dedicated to commemorating the rich history of the Bronx. Exhibits at the museum rotate bi-annually. If you have young children, perhaps the best thing about the Valentine-Varian House is its close proximity to the Williamsbridge Oval. This wonderful public park is the perfect place for the kids to let loose after taking part in the educational programming offered at the Museum of Bronx History. The Valentine-Varian House is open to the public on Saturdays and Sundays, and during the week by appointment. Admission is $5 for adults and $3 for children and seniors.

Orchard Beach

As part of Pelham Bay Park, Orchard Beach is over 100 acres of sandy beach situated along the Long Island Sound. There is a heavily trafficked promenade complete with shops, food vendors, and locker rooms. Orchard Beach also features two playgrounds, two picnic areas, and 26 courts for volleyball, basketball, and handball. During the summer the only indication visitors to Orchard Beach have to remind them that they’re in the city are the crowds. Don’t fret… the promenade is usually the most crowded part of the Orchard Beach. It’s certainly large enough that you can find you own little slice of sandy heaven if you are willing to walk a bit. Orchard Beach is perfect for families with children because the waters of the Long Island Sound are relatively calm and safe. Since parking is the only thing you’ll have to pay for to spend the day at Orchard Beach, treat yourselves to a delicious meal over on City Island (located just over the City Island Bridge) at the end of the day. Almost all the restaurants along City Island Avenue cater to kids and are absolutely delicious.

Hall of Fame for Great Americans

Completed in 1900, this attraction is on the campus of Bronx Community College and is the original “Hall of Fame” in the United States. Warning: This is a really quick sight to see, and it won’t be for everyone. It’s essentially just an open air promenade lined with busts of noteworthy Americans. We do recommend it for its beauty, historical value, and affordability: it’s completely free to check out the Hall of Fame. Another plus is that it’s a museum-worthy exhibit that is outside… so no worrying if the little ones are going to break something or are making too much noise.

Bartow-Pell Mansion

Located in Pelham Bay Park, the Bartow-Pell Mansion is a gorgeous New York City landmark which dates back to 1842. The prestigious beauty of the mansion itself will certainly be appreciated by adults and older children, while younger kids will enjoy running through the well manicured gardens, or participating in the hands-on demonstrations and craft projects which are offered year-round. If you’re looking to visit the mansion on a budget, keep in mind that entrance to the surrounding grounds and gardens is completely free. Admission prices for the mansion and carriage house are as follows: Adults - $6, Children/Seniors - $3, Children under the age of six are free.

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