New York City

37 Kid-Friendly Restaurants and Snack Spots for Beachy Summer Eats in NYC

If anything redeems the humidity and heat of a NYC summer it’s got to be all the great summer eats. Our family can’t get enough of seafood boils, barbecue, tacos, lobster rolls, and frozen treats. Add a beachy outdoor dining vibe, and dinner out becomes a mini vacation.

New York City has so many great kid-friendly outdoor dining spots, it's hard to choose the best, but this summer foods must-eat bucket list will help you pack in some serious seasonal outdoor dining before sweater weather sets in. Read on to find my picks for the best kid-friendly restaurants in NYC to get your summer vibes on. 

Harry Potter Heaven: Warner Brothers Studio Tour Is a London Must

Most American Potter fans know that Universal Studios has created a little piece of Hogwarts heaven in two locations—The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Hollywood and at Universal Studios Orlando—but it should come as no surprise that the true center of the Potter universe is in London, England, where all of Harry’s adventures began. Apart from all of the real life British places a muggle might want to snap a photo (e.g. Kings Cross Station for platform 9 3/4, which British Rail good naturedly erected a few years back), the true wizard Mecca is Warner Brothers Studio Tour London – The Making of Harry Potter, housed at the film studio that was Harry's world for the decade or so that the films were in production. Fans of wizardry and magic can walk in the very footsteps of their heroes at the Warner Bros Tour.

Summer Must-Dos: 33 Things to Do in NYC Before School Starts

With August upon us and the start of a new school year looming, my kids and I are in a panic about all the things we haven't yet crossed off our NYC summer bucket list.

Sure, we've had a lot of fun tooling around the city, enjoying our local swimming pool, reigniting a love for some favorite playgrounds, and soaking up all the FREE entertainment. There are plenty of great activities we haven't gotten to, though.

So as a reminder to us, and to you, we've crafted this list of 33 things to do before summer ends. Some are summer-only events happening all month; others are one-time-only affairs, so read on and get ready to dive in before the summer sun sets!

NYC Playgrounds with Shade: Stay Cool With Shady Park Benches and Equipment

While kids can always cool off in NYC's many sprinklers, we parents are often stuck baking in the sun all day during the heat of the city's summer as we supervise outdoor play. It's a problem our readers know too well—each summer we get requests for recommendations of shady spots to play.

Although we know of a couple playgrounds that offer exceptional amounts of shade—Hippo Playground in Riverside Park and Discovery Playground in Fort Washington Park come to mind—we decided to ask our readers if they knew of any super-shady playgrounds in New York City. They came through with a number of great suggestions.

Please keep in mind that the name of the game here is comfort on a hot summer day; though we have visited plenty of destination playgrounds, with a few exceptions, these shady suggestions tend to be neighborhood standbys and small playgrounds that have plenty of shade, but perhaps not too many bells and whistles.

The Best Zoos and Aquariums in NYC

Ever think you would spot a seal in Manhattan, or a giraffe in The Bronx? Did you ever hope you'd be surrounded by sharks at Coney IslandNew York city zoos offer families the chance to get up close and personal with animals from all over the world.  Each borough boasts its own unique zoo experience. Whether your children are big or small, there is a zoo somewhere in NYC suited to their age, interests and attention span. Best of all, access to these creatures doesn't have to break the bank. Free admission can be as easy as picking the right afternoon to visit. Check out our insider tips for making the most of New York City's zoos.

Six Flags NJ: An Amusement Park with Big and Little Thrills

Braving the thrill rides at Six Flags Great Adventure & Safari in Jackson, NJ, is practically a rite of passage for kids who live in and around the Garden State. Perhaps for this reason, I wasn't 100-percent sure my young children (ages 2, 5, and 7) were old enough to fully enjoy it—but we decided to test the waters. And as I did my planning, I realized, "Holy cow! There's a ton of things to do at Six Flags!"

New Jersey's largest theme park, Six Flags is known for heart-dropping roller coasters like Nitro and Kingda Ka (the world's tallest coaster)—but there are also plenty of attractions geared toward the smaller set and those who enjoy tamer thrills. You can see zebras, giraffes, and other cool creatures on the Safari Off-Road Adventure; ride the Porky Pig Ferris Wheel in Bugs Bunny National Park; make a splash on the Saw Mill Log Flume; and much, much more. You also might want to set aside another day for Hurricane Harbor, Six Flags' massive water park.

Read on for details of our visit, along with tips for making your trip super-fun for kids of all ages. 

Weekend Fun: Summer Streets, Kids Rule, Outdoor Jazz

It may be August, but summer is far from winding down for New York City kids. Proof? Two words: Summer Streets. For three straight Saturdays beginning August 4, Manhattan blocks traffic on an unbroken route from the Brooklyn Bridge to the Upper East Side and replaces it with fun outdoor activities—even a climbing wall and a zip line—at stops along the way. See our full lowdown on Summer Streets.

Up in the Bronx, Kids Rule Weekend returns to Lehman College with pony rides and water slides for the toddler and preschool set. The annual Great Jazz on the Great Hill dance party in Central Park on Saturday is always a hit for kids of all ages. And Sunday's International Day of Friendship in Brooklyn is a great choice to cap off the weekend, complete with cultural performances, a global village, and international cuisine.

There's lots happening on NYC's riverfronts this weekend, too: Light a lantern for peace at the Hindu Lamp Ceremony in Brooklyn Bridge Park, or show off your dance moves at the Sweet Spot Festival at West Harlem Piers Park.

Our August GoList has all the must-do events for families coming up this month, and don't forget the Summer Fun Guide, bursting with cool stuff to do, including how to get to the beach in a hurry, water park day trips, and even FREE splash pads.

Mommy and Me Swim Classes in New York City for Babies and Tots

Mommy and me swim classes (or daddy and me) are a wonderful way to spend time with your baby or toddler. Ideally, these lessons should be enjoyable, stress-free, educational, and a good source of exercise for kids and parents.

During the summer, swim lessons offer overheated families the chance to cool off while young kids become comfortable in the water, a skill they'll certainly use a lot in the coming years, what with all the great swimming pools and beaches in NYC. Parent-child swim classes are also offered around the city throughout the fall, winter, and spring, both on weekends and after school.

Most classes for wee ones and their caretakers take place in indoor pools. Except for the free swim lessons offered via lottery by the New York City Parks Department, mommy and me classes invariably cost something. We've rounded up the top parent-child swim programs across the city (and for more options, see our roundups of swimming classes for all ages in Brooklyn and Queens).

Learn Spanish: Language Classes for NYC Kids

Many New York City public schools offer wonderful dual-language Spanish programs, as well as other languages. But if your child's school doesn't offer a language program, there are lots of Spanish language programs around the city that teach young kids to habla Español. We've rounded up some of our favorite Spanish language learning centers for New York City kids. And best of all: Thanks to the wonderful diversity of New York City culture, your kids will certainly get to practice what they learn in the classroom!

Find more NYC classes in our Classes Guide and Directory Listings, and check out our guide to Foreign Language Camps for NYC Kids.

Game On: 8 Soccer Classes for NYC Kids

We've rounded up all the best NYC soccer programs for budding kid athletes, from preschoolers just learning to kick that checkered orb, to middle-schoolers ready to master the roll and step over dribble.

Kids' soccer is a year-round sport in NYC: You can get your kids into the game through a day camp over the summer, at drop-in classes throughout the year, or by participating in a season-long program with one of the youth soccer organizations listed below. Bonus: Many of these places also offer soccer-themed birthday parties

Read on for eight spots offering soccer sessions to NYC kids. You can find even more options in our NYC Directory and our NYC Classes and Enrichment Programs Guide.

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