New York City

Where to Eat in Central Park Beyond the Pretzel Vendors

You're in Central Park with the kids and haven't packed a lunch. What are your food options when hunger strikes? It used to be tough to find much in the park other than pretzels, hot dogs, and ice cream.  City food staples? Yes. Healthy or yummy? Not so much. Now, thankfully, there are some better, and healthier, places to grab a bite and refuel in between your playground hopping. Here's a look at some food stops now open around Central Park and some that are coming soon.

The Best Annual Family Festivals for NYC Kids (Mostly Free)

With so much going on in NYC, it can be overwhelming to sift through all the events to land on something that's truly special. The many annual festivals that the city hosts are a great place to start. Some New York City celebrations are so great they're worth going every year, like the interactive, art-filled Figment on Roosevelt Island, the incredible (and educational) World Maker Faire New York, and Street Games, the Parks Department's tribute to old-school pastimes.

I know I'm not the only mom out there who likes to plan ahead, and since the festival season kicks into high gear this month, we figured it was a great time to round up our top annual festivals for families. Every single pick on our list is really worth your time and money—and in many cases they don't cost a penny.

PJ Library Delivers Free Children's Books Every Month

Reading to kids and making sure they have access to plenty of good books is one of the best gifts you can give. Luckily, PJ Library helps parents deliver by providing free high-quality literature celebrating Jewish culture, values, and heritage to children ages 6 months to 11 years old.

Free books? So, what's the catch? There isn't one! Made possible through the Harold Grinspoon Foundation in partnership with philanthropists and local Jewish organizations, PJ Library mails more than 600,000 professionally curated books to families around the world every single month. No matter your family's level of Jewish observance or knowledge, PJ Library has a diverse selection of books that will enrich your home with wonderful stories and more quality reading time.

Some of the books introduce Jewish holidays like Passover, the Hebrew alphabet, and Bible stories, while others focus on traditional folk tales and themes like immigration and environmentalism. You'll find picture books like I Dissent, Ruth Bader Ginsburg Makes Her Mark, and chapter books like Zlateh the Goat, a collection of tales by Isaac Bashevis Singer and illustrated by Maurice Sendak. The selection even includes Caldecott-honored books such as Joseph Had a Little Overcoat and It Could Always Be Worse. Family favorites!

Easter Weekend Fun: Easter, Earth Day, Dino Safari, Auto Show

This time of year, the Mommy Poppins calendar gets so big and juicy that one roundup cannot do it justice. So we're reminding you up front this week to check it out: This article is packed, but the calendar is even more packed.

Of course, part of that is because: Easter. So. Much. Easter. The big ticket is Sunday's annual Parade, of course, but among this weekend's FREE egg hunt options, we have St Luke in the Fields, the NYSoM Easter Eggstravaganza, LIC's 10th Annual Egg Hunt in Gantry Park, and the massive hunt in Clay Pit Ponds State Park. Rivers Run Community Garden in the Bronx goes the extra mile and combines its free Easter Egg Hunt with Earth Day activities.

Speaking of Earth Day, NYC does it big, with over 18 major family-friendly happenings around town this weekend, and even more in the coming week. Highlights include the celebration at the NY Botanical Gardens, the Mother Earth PowWow in Brooklyn, Earth Day in Brooklyn Bridge Park, Harlem Grown's annual fest, and the literal cherry on top, the annual Sakura Matsuri extravaganza in Flushing this weekend, which promises Japanese tea ceremonies, drum and dance performances, and lots of blossom peeping. And we naturally (see what we did there?) have the 411 on NYC's other cherry blossom festivals, too.

Other awesome happenings include the Bronx Zoo's Dinosaur Safari opening (a perfect pairing with the fresh T. rex exhibit at the American Museum of Natural History) and The International Auto Show. Vrrrroooom!

By the way, NOW is the time to score tickets to the awesome kids' activities coming up in May with the PEN America World Voices Fest. They're reasonably priced ($5-$15) and some activities are free, but you have to register and they disappear in a flash. Get 'em while you can.

Meanwhile, be sure to take full advantage of our April GoList, check out a local day hike or a destination sandbox, and don't forget to bookmark our curated list of the best NYC Spring Festivals.

Queens Party Places: 33 Top Spots for Kids' Birthdays

We've profiled cool NYC party places in the past, but there are so many awesome birthday spots in good old Queens alone that it deserves a post of its own.

These Queens birthday party places cater to all kinds of kids, from active to artsy to animal lovers. As a Queens mom with two children, I've been to many of these spots personally. You can find additional birthday inspiration in our NYC Party Guide.

7 Things to Love About the Queens County Farm Museum

While NYC families have full access to the best museums and shows that the world has to offer, life in the city can sometimes leave us feeling disconnected from nature. We’re always seeking ways to let our little ones get their hands dirty, so it’s no surprise that the Queens County Farm Museum in Floral Park is a family favorite.

Spanning 47 acres, the Queens County Farm Museum dates back to the 17th century and features old-fashioned farm buildings, a greenhouse complex, livestock, planting fields, an orchard, an herb garden and a vineyard, all within city limits. As soon as you walk through the gates, you’ll feel miles away from the city.

Here are the reasons we are forever loving New York City's only historic working farm and why it's a fantastic destination for NYC kids. While you’re there, make a day of it with our Queens Family Neighborhood Guide.
 

25 Ways Kids Can Get Their Hands Dirty in NYC

Get your rain boots ready! Springtime means muddy puddle stomping and mud pie making season for kids—even NYC children. It's a great excuse to get outdoors for some unstructured, messy playtime. So we’ve rounded up 25 dig-in-dirt, you're-gonna-need-a-bath-tonight ways for city kids to enjoy the coming warm days beyond just the usual ramble through the neighborhood park.

If the weather is uncooperative, check out 50 things to do indoors with kids or get crafty with our WeeWork series.

Outdoor Adventure Parks Near NYC With Kid-Friendly Zip Lines & Ropes Courses

We all need a little excitement in our lives. For some, any of these 13 carousels around New York City will deliver all the excitement in the world. For others, the idea of zip-lining through the air ranks high on their to-do list. Of course, adventure parks aren't for everyone, but there's proof they help children learn problem-solving and collaboration skills. Plus, it's just plain fun to play together as a family and create unforgettable memories.

New York City may not be the epicenter of adventure parks, but it's making strides, especially with Adventures on Governors Island, the Bronx Zoo's Treetop Adventure, and a seriously high-flying outdoor zip line in Queens. Meanwhile, just outside the city limits, there are dozens of rope and zip line courses.

We've rounded up a handful of our favorite outdoor adventure parks either in the city or reachable within a quick day trip. Also make sure to see our brand new guide to 25 outdoor adventures in the city for NYC kids.

Best Water Theme Parks Near NYC for Families

While there are no full-fledged outdoor water theme parks in NYC (yet), you don't have to go too far to find some awesome ones. We've rounded up 13 of our favorites for families in the tristate area, mostly in New Jersey, including beachside spots, and Pennsylvania, and all are less than a two-hour drive from Midtown Manhattan. There's also a great pick in the Hudson Valley and on Long Island. No two are alike: Each one offers different experiences and thrills.

Find more rides in our Theme and Water Parks Guide, including indoor water parks for those rainy or cold days.

NYC Summer Camps With Bus Transportation for an Easy AM Commute

Just when you think the end of the school year means maybe life will slow down a bit, summer camp starts and it's even more schlepping and lunches to pack. That's why camps that will pick up your kids at home, or at least in your neighborhood, are our summertime salvation. We've rounded up top New York City camps that offer the convenience of transportation. If you're looking for a country camp, check out our articles on summer camps in Long Island, New Jersey, or Westchester that offer bussing, as most of them pick up from areas of NYC too.  

To find even more camps, check out our NYC Summer Camp Guide and or use our Directory to filter by type of camp or locations. 

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