New York City

How to Pick a Daycare That You Actually Love

Whether it's your first child or your third, finding the best daycare option for your family comes with its share of challenges. Most parents are looking at factors like cost, hours, location, safety, and child-teacher ratio, but of course, another major requirement is an environment that's warm, inviting, and family-friendly. While trying to find the perfect daycare can make any parent anxious, the relationships and beautiful memories you'll create as a family will make all the effort worthwhile.

To help guide your search for the right daycare, we reached out to childcare program directors, Mommy Poppins editors, teachers, and professional moms to collect their stories and consolidate their advice. These daycare veterans have had time to reflect on their choices, and are ready to share their wisdom and lessons learned, which, together with your area's Daycare Listings, can help you pick a daycare that you actually love.

Color Factory in Soho: A Peek Inside NYC's Most Colorful Pop-Up

The Big Apple is one of the most colorful cities in the world: Its beautiful spectrum of diversity is reflected in all the city's sights, sounds, tastes, and smells. And now you can see, hear, taste, smell, and touch your way through a rainbow of NYC-inspired installations at the Color Factory, an interactive art experience in Soho. Based on the popular exhibit of the same name that ran in San Francisco last year, NYC's Color Factory opened to the public on August 20, and is currently selling tickets through September 30.

Photo-ops abound at almost every turn as different color-filled environments invite you to shake your groove thing, create a sound vibe, find your soul color, and more. Each installation flows into the next, ultimately leading to the grand finale, which features illustrations by Tamara Shopsin and a massive ball pit filled with 500,000 sky blue balls, where visitors can dive and play. My daughter and I visited right around opening day: Read on for a sneak peek inside this delightful display of color.

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; the loopy NYC Unicycle Festival on Governors Island; and there's farm fun at Historic Richmond Town's old-fashioned County Fair, as well as the Queens County Fair.

Other September highlights include fun on the water with the Great North River Tugboat Race & Competition. And we haven't even mentioned one of our annual favorites: The Maker Faire New York takes over the grounds of the New York Hall of Science on September 22-23.

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 9.

Plus, tickets go on sale September 4 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.)

Best Apple Picking Orchards and Farms Near NYC

Starting just before Labor Day weekend and continuing through the fall, orchards around the tri-state area offer families the chance to pick their own apples. Many also host cool kids' attractions, including hayrides, petting zoos with barnyard animals, bouncy houses, and corn mazes. Some even sell home-baked treats like apple cider donuts.

While there was a time when apple trees thrived in NYC (ever wonder how Orchard Street got its name?), city families today need to head out of town to pick their own fruit. There are plenty of wonderful apple orchards in the Hudson ValleyNew Jersey, Long Island, and Connecticut, although many are quite a long drive, and we know nothing derails a fun family outing like a stressful commute. So we've rounded up a dozen places to pick your own apples that are an hour or less from midtown Manhattan by car. A few are even accessible by train.

For other fun farm outings, check out our Pick-Your-Own Guide.

Preschool Watchlist: 5 New NYC Preschools

Shopping around for a preschool program is a daunting task. At the top of your preschool criteria list are probably cost, location, and a good personality fit for your child, with class size and educational philosophy factored in as well. Fortunately New York City parents have a broad range of options when it comes to finding the right preschool fit. Interested in bilingual immersion, Montessori, Reggio-Emilia inspired, or a traditional preschool program? Are your goals for your child academic, social, learning through play, or all the above? Maybe your child has a love of nature you would like to see celebrated in an outdoor classroom

Our Preschool Guide is a resource that can help you find the perfect preschool for your child. Below we've highlighted a few preschools that are new to the MommyPoppins Preschool Directory to add to your watchlist.

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 15, 2018 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.

Popular Brooklyn Preschool of Science Opens New Location

Where can you find an enormous fish-filled 300-gallon tank and greenery growing sideways from hydroponic plant systems? How about an animatronic stuffed dinosaur, a pixel peg LED light board, and terrariums full of Madagascar hissing cockroaches and crested geckos? Well, would you believe me if I said your child's preschool...?

After nearly two decades as a New York City public school teacher, Carmelo Piazza—known by fans of all ages as "Carmelo the Science Fellow"—opened the first Brooklyn Preschool of Science back in 2013. The Brooklyn native and father of four confesses that he didn't even like science growing up, as he recalls boring slideshows and lectures, but insists that a hands-on science methodology course in college changed all that. Shortly after graduating, he accepted a teaching position at PS 261 and quickly realized the effectiveness of science in motivating kids to embrace other key subjects too.

Weekend Fun: US Open Kids' Day, Battle of Brooklyn, Soapbox Derby, and Sprinklers

Tennis anyone? The annual Arthur Ashe Kids' Day is back, bringing tennis stars and music superstars to NYC in advance of next weekend's US Open. Can't get to Queens? Check out the US Open Experience down in the Financial District for kids' clinics and big-screen tennis viewing.

For old-fashioned summer fun, soapbox contraptions roll through Park Slope at Saturday's South Slope Derby, or get soaked at Sprinkler Day at Asphalt Green. History buffs can celebrate the anniversary of the Battle of Brooklyn, fought in 1776 on land that is now part of Green-Wood Cemetery, at the Battle of Brooklyn Monuments Tour or the Battle of Brooklyn Commemoration on Sunday.

Also on Sunday, it's time to Boogie on the Boulevard up in the Bronx. The center lanes of the Grand Concourse from 162nd Street to 170th Street are closed to cars and open to a world of fun—with free music, art, and activities. This weekend is also your last chance to snag a free hot dog from the Hot Dog Bus.

Check a few more things off that "before school starts" summer bucket list—or start planning for fall: Tickets for Smithsonian Museum Day Live, offering FREE access to museums all around the city on September 22, are available to download now. Get 'em before they're gone! For more end-of-summer fun, check our August GoList and Event Calendar.

25 Things to Do With Kids in Brooklyn Heights

Affectionately known as America's First Suburb, Brooklyn Heights is a historic nabe with lots of kid-friendly things to do, see, and eat. The classic architecture and warm neighborhood vibe attract young families to the area, and the beautiful waterfront parks—notably the Promenade and Brooklyn Bridge Park—make Brooklyn Heights well worth a visit. 

While so many parts of Brooklyn seem to be rapidly modernizing and changing, Brooklyn Heights has managed to maintain much of its original historic charm. The Brooklyn Heights Historic District is one of the first designated historic districts in the city and includes homes that have been around since the 1820s. Here are the best places to eat, shop, play, and learn with kids in Brooklyn Heights.

Best Bike Riding Paths for NYC Families

When our family moved back to NYC from Boston last summer, we sadly left our bicycles behind and removed the bike rack from the car, believing that we had to trade in our bike wheels for scooters (which at least are compact, foldable, and easy to store in our apartment). Even though we have embraced rollerblading, skateboarding, rip sticking, and scooting like every NYC family, there is still nothing like a good old fashioned bike ride.

Imagine my delight when I rediscovered bike paths for NYC families—many of which can be used not only on bikes but on scooters, rollerblades, and skateboards, too. This summer as part of our August staycation, I planned a week of excursions exploring NYC bike paths with my growing family of five.

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