New York City

Weekend Fun: Governors Island, Lincoln Center, Free Comics, Star Wars, NYC Bikes

They don't call it MAYhem for nothing: May in NYC means a zillion things for families to celebrate and do. From the 21st Annual Blessing of the Bikes to Bike Expo New York, to fun fests like the Lincoln Center Block Party, the Transit Museum's Party on Wheels, CMA's Japanese Cultural Festival, Brooklyn's Inventgenuity Fest, and the Urban Wildlife Fest, you can't help but get into the spring swing this weekend.

It's opening weekend—at last—on Governors Island, which means The Yard is ready for kids to start constructing (or deconstructing), and Adventures on Governors Island is back with its zip line, maze, and climbing walls. New on Governors this year: the 1st Annual Shindig asks families to pitch in around the isle in exchange for an exclusive afternoon party. Bonus: The ferries are FREE for opening week!

The Children's Museum of Manhattan rolls out a full weekend of Star Wars-themed fun for May the Fourth Be With You Day. May 4 is also FREE Comic Book day: Be sure to check with your local comic haunt for goodies. And it's Big Swim Big Kick day at Asphalt Green! Meanwhile on Staten Island, the Willowbrook Park carousel opens, and Cinco de Mayo gets a salute with a park screening of Coco.

A bumper crop of school fairs are happening this weekend, including Calhoun (West 81st), PS 116, and Columbia Greenhouse (West 116th). The annual Hippo Playground Fair romps onto the calendar with pony rides and bouncy castles. And PS 56 in Brooklyn is full STEAM ahead, with a fair dedicated to interactive science and math fun.

Be sure to glance at our May GoList and our guide to May Fairs and Festivals around NYC, and maybe get a leg up on Mother's Day (next weekend!) with our updated Mother's Day Brunch picks or top 25 activities. This weekend is especially packed with possibilities, so don't forget to review our calendar for more ideas.

Destination Playground: Hester Street Playground Is a Play Oasis in Chinatown

Playground season is finally upon us, and what better way to celebrate warmer weather than to hit a new-to-you destination playground? The promise of a trek to the Hester Street Playground in the heart of always-packed Chinatown was enough to get even my weary teen off the couch during spring break...especially with the promise of delicious post-playground eats in Chinatown.

Located on the southern end of the 7.85-acre Sara D. Roosevelt Park, Hester Street Playground is a hotbed of activity no matter the season. Bookended by a soccer field and track on one side, and basketball courts on the other, there's fun for all ages here.

Almost 50(!) Free Things to Do in May With NYC Kids

This month is all about outdoor spring fun, and we've got the lowdown on all the great FREE events happening in NYC, including some stellar street fairs and festivals, and even the start of outdoor movies and music. There's also the opening of Governors Island, a Memorial Day Weekend concert, and Kids Food Fest. With most of the events happening alfresco, New York City families will have a bit more space to spread out, throw down a blanket, and enjoy the (late!) arrival of the warmer temps.

Read on for more than 50 FREE things to do this May in New York City, including in Brooklyn, Queens, and the Bronx. Find more top events in our May GoList, or our always packed daily NYC Event Calendar.

Finally, get ready for the summer season with our roundup of the city's best beaches (opening Memorial Day), and a handy list of nearby water parks.

Queens Art Crawl With Kids: Noguchi, MoMA PS1, Socrates Sculpture Park

While the Upper East Side's Museum Mile gets lots of love and tons of fanfare, there are other cool culture spots to visit in this diverse city. One of our favorite outer-borough destinations just might be Long Island City, which has solidified itself as the queen of Queens' vibrant art scene. In addition to a slew of funky galleries, the 'hood has a trio of art-centric museums worth visiting: MoMA PS1, the Noguchi Museum, and the outdoor oasis, Socrates Sculpture Park.

Read on for our review of these artsy spots, plus the kid-friendly programming that makes them worth visiting, whether you're a local or not.

Best Things to Do in Coney Island with Kids: Luna Park, Aquarium, Beach, Mermaids

The shores of Coney Island and Brighton Beach open for the season on Memorial Day weekend, but the amusement park rides have been spinning since the first weekend of April, and the boardwalk and New York Aquarium are open year-round, making this season the perfect time for a Brooklyn day-cation!

New for 2019, Luna Park is debuting a brand-new, circus-themed section, with plenty of high-flying, ropes-course style fun, while the new-in-2018 home for certain sharp-toothed aquarium residents are sure to draw continued crowds, too. You can also enjoy the old-school favorites like the carousel and Deno's Wonder Wheel, visit the Coney Island Museum or Circus Sideshow, and scarf down a Nathan's Famous hot dog. And we haven't even mentioned the sandy beach and waves and Friday-night fireworks. Without further ado, here are the best things to do in Coney Island with kids this season.

New York City Libraries with Great Play Spaces and Children's Rooms

It’s too cold or rainy to play outside and the kids are bouncing off the walls. What to do? Don’t feel like spending money to take the kids to an indoor play activity? The best default option, hands-down, is the library. Your kid can never finish reading all the books available, and many libraries also have children’s rooms and activities. And not only is a trip to the library an always-FREE activity, your library card gets you free access to more than 40 other institutions around NYC. To mix things up, venture beyond your own local library to these gems that have some of the best children’s play spaces in the city.

May GoList: Best Things to Do With NYC Kids

May is beloved in NYC for the return of warm weather, outdoor dining options, and family-centric holidays such as Mother's Day and Memorial Day weekend. And get ready for the unofficial start of summer as Governors Islandcity beaches, water parks, and amusement parks all open for the season this month.

There are fairs and festivals everywhere you turn in May, and our GoList includes the top things to do with kids in New York City this month, many of which are FREE. Enjoy no-cost annual favorites such as the New York Dance Parade, Bike Expo New York, and the Urban Wildlife Festival. There's a ton of exciting new spring theater for families, too.

For more activity ideas, see our Event Calendar and our Spring Fun Guide. It's also a great month to check out our NYC Parks & Playgrounds Guide.

Secrets of Atlantis: 10 Tips for a Bahamas Family Vacation with Kids

Like many kids, my boys started begging to go to Disney around the time they could walk. Once they were swimming, however, the object of their spring break fantasies became Atlantis—the Bahamas mega-resort known for its gigantic water park, marine life encounters, and luxe casino. For years, unsure whether a place nicknamed "Vegas by the Sea" was the best choice for a family vacation, my husband and I brushed aside their pleas. But after another harsh Boston winter, we broke down and booked a trip, figuring our boys were at the ideal ages—12, 10, and 7— to appreciate all the 'tweeny bopper fun that Atlantis offers (and for which it charges big).

We had a fun-packed five-day stay, and along the way, accumulated plenty of advice for other families who are considering an Atlantis trip, including whether or not it is a kid-friendly destination. Here are the main things moms and dads should know to make sure their vacation in Paradise (Island) lives up to the hype.

Find more top places to stay on vacation in our Hotels & Resorts Guide for Families.

Best Family Festivals and Street Fairs in NYC This May

There are street fairs—and then there are street fairs. We don't mean those random ones selling irregular socks and fried Oreos; we're talking about true community festivals. Each one is unique, reflecting the character of its neighborhood, and many feature rides, performances, activities, and food. The hard part, of course, is deciding which community fairs to hit with the family in a calendar packed with options, but don't worry: We've taken the guesswork out of managing your family's busy festival schedule for you.

We've gone through the city's list of top annual festivals, street fairs, and carnivals and put together our roundup of top picks for May—more than two dozen. Most of these fetes are FREE or cost just a couple of bucks, and in many cases your dollars go to support a local charity or school. Here are some awesome fests happening in NYC this May.

You can find even more seasonal activities in our Spring Fun Guide.

Petting Zoos Near NYC Where Kids Can See Farm Animals

We're so fortunate to live in a city that offers an incredible array of fun spring activities for kids, but sometimes I fret over the disconnect from nature. I want my daughter to be as comfortable in the country as she is in the urban jungle, so we're always looking for ways to get out of NYC and explore the expansive farmland that borders the city.

While you can meet some furry friends at the city's wonderful zoos, and even get hands-on at their mini petting zoos, there's something particularly special about enjoying an authentic farm setting. We've rounded up our top petting zoos and animal havens to get some serious face time with furry friends. Get ready to load up the family for a day of donkey petting, goat bottle-feedings, and sheep shearing.

Here are our favorite spots for an up-close animal encounter, all within two hours of NYC.

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