New York City

9 Easy Fall Family Hikes in NYC

It finally feels like fall in New York City, which means my family is headed to the hiking trail. At least once a quarter, usually coinciding with the change of seasons, someone in the family decides it's time to escape to the woods for a little urban relief. And really, there's no need to head upstate or to the 'burbs to get that outdoors fix.  

Did you know that our fair city is home to over 300 miles of hiking trails through 10,000 acres of unencumbered Mother Nature? We have sampled enough parks around NYC to confidently share this list of trails that vary in length, scenery, and difficulty (including those just right for little legs), and that reward hikers with views of water, bridges, and yes, that gorgeous fall foliage. Whatever borough you call home, my boy, who helped to compile this list, and I hope you will have a blast lacing up and hitting the trails. Note: He is too young to share mommy's byline. 

Free NYC Halloween Parades for Kids

Everyone loves a parade, but there's nothing quite like a neighborhood Halloween parade. While families with older kids may venture out to the iconic Village Halloween Parade on Sixth Avenue in Manhattan, it can be pretty scary—it's always insanely crowded and loud, and many of the costumes are risque, gory, or in poor taste. If your children aren't up for that big Hallow-baloo, there are plenty of smaller, kid-friendly NYC neighborhood parades in Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, and the Bronx, including the Ragamuffin Parade in Bay Ridge, the mega Jackson Heights parade, the famed Park Slope march, and a G-rated Village parade for little ones.

We've rounded up community-driven Halloween processions for families to watch or march in, most of which are FREE. If you don't live in a great trick-or-treating area, these parades are a wonderful way to hunt for candy in another neighborhood. Find even more seasonal happenings in our Halloween Fun Guide.

Hersheypark's Brand-New Chocolatetown Looks Mighty Sweet

Just when you thought a visit to Hersheypark couldn't get any more tempting, the Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, amusement park announced a sweet surprise for fans of its chocolate emporium. It's adding a Chocolatetown, an all-new section of the theme park that will connect Hersheypark and Hershey's Chocolate World, opening in the summer of 2020. Expect a major new roller coaster, and yes, plenty of chocolate, including new dessert spots.

The expansion will further the vision of Milton S. Hershey, a real-life Willy Wonka, who brought his sweet dream to life in 1907 when he built the 121-acre amusement park as a perk for his chocolate factory workers and their families.

The NYC Parents' Guide for Visitors: 10 NYC Must-Sees Beyond Times Square

There are so many great things to do and see with kids in NYC, from museums to zoos to destination playgrounds, it's hard to narrow down to a reasonably sized list. But knowing what NYC families like doing best in their own hometown is a solid place to start if you're planning a visit! 

As veteran New Yorkers, my family has their own list of absolute must-see and must-visit spots around the city. Some are off the beaten path, and some might be considered a bit touristy, but all of them are places we love—and love experiencing with visitors, in particular. Whether you're visiting NYC with kids for the first time or the fiftieth time, here is a list of some of the best places to go right now, as recommended by parents who live here.

Find more top sights in our NYC Visitors Guide for Families.

New Bilingual Nursery Threes Program Arrives at the Lycée School

The earlier the better when it comes to learning a second language. And that's exactly why the launch of the Lycée's bilingual Nursery Threes Program in September 2019 is really big news for "mamans" and "papas" who are hoping to raise young French-speakers—and anyone hoping to raise bilinguals in today's interconnected world.

Established way back in 1935, the Lycée Français de New York has been considered one of the most renowned bilingual schools in the city for years, providing students with an authentic, immersive French educational experience that features aspects of a classical European education, while incorporating the creativity, ingenuity, and optimism associated with American programs. The school offers an engaging project-based curriculum and rigorous academics across high school, middle school, elementary school, and now preschool. In fact, with the addition of the new Threes Program, the Lycée actually offers the complete "cycle one" of the French primary school system, also known as "the early learning cycle" or "maternelle.

Haunted Halloween Houses and Not-Too-Spooky Walks for NYC Kids

Looking for a not-too-scary Halloween fright for the kids? A tricked-out haunted house or slightly spooky Halloween trail just might be the right kind of boo for you.

Haunted houses long have been a popular suburban Halloween stapleLong Island and Westchester have dozens. And while NYC has several spooky haunted houses of its own, including Blood Manor, most are definitely grown-ups only. There are, however, a handful of haunted houses in New York City that offer gentler Halloween chills for families.

You're sure to find spooky, family-friendly attractions at pretty much every Halloween festival and fall fair. But we're skipping those to tell you about the best of the city's more elaborate and kid-friendly haunted houses and other spooky attractions for kids this year. Read on for the scoop—and heed the age warnings. While grade-school kids can attend most of these, not all are suitable for preschoolers.

NYC Hotel Rooms with Views of the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade

Chances are you're not even thinking about Thanksgiving yet. After all, we still have Halloween to get through! But as anyone in the NYC hotel industry will tell you, families looking to book a hotel where they can watch the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in Midtown Manhattan do so up to a year ahead of time. For a room with a view of Snoopy, Spidey, Hello Kitty, and their other inflatable pals, you've really got to plan in advance.

It's not just NYC tourists who splurge on hotels for the Thanksgiving parade, either. Over the past few years, we've had many New Yorkers write in asking which hotels looked out on the Macy's Parade route (it sure beats watching from the street). While most of these hotels still have availability at the time of this writing, call right away as they'll most likely sell out soon. And if you do get shut out, it's worth checking closer to Thanksgiving since there are sometimes last-minute cancelations.

For a budget-saving alternative, catch a prime viewing spot the night before the parade as the giant balloons are inflated on the Upper West Side.

The Gerber Baby Photo Search Is Happening Now on Instagram

Think your kid is the cutest? Well, baby food maker Gerber just opened its annual Gerber Baby photo contest, so it’s time to take your best shot.

Parents can enter newborns to children up to age 4 in the photo search contest that selects a child ambassador for the brand. Simply post a photo of your cutie to Instagram with the hashtag #GerberPhotoSearch2018 between October 1 and October 20 to join in the fun. Remember to make your profile public, so Gerber can see your photo.

Weekend Fun: Columbus Day, Fall Fests, Harry Potter, and Animal Blessings

Columbus Day weekend is here, and there's so much to do with kids around NYC it would take another three-day weekend to fit everything in. The annual Columbus Day Parade steps off in Midtown, of course, and there are Indigenous Peoples' Day celebrations at the National Museum of the American Indian and the Museum of the City of New York.

This weekend also brings FREE fall festivals in full force, including the Harlem Harvest Festival, the Greenbelt Pumpkin Festival, and the Jefferson Market Garden Children's Festival. Plus there's Fall Family Day at the Museum of the Moving Image, Honey and Harvest Festival at the NYBG, and the rocking and rolling 25th Annual Bus Festival in Dumbo.

Great kid-friendly concerts, exhibits, and shows abound, too: It's opening weekend for the Harry Potter: A History of Magic exhibit at the New-York Historical Society (and as of this writing, there are still ticket times available Monday afternoon) as well as Laurie Berkner's Pillowland at New York City Children's Theater. Michael and the Rockness Monsters kick off the season at Symphony Space, Charlotte's Web spins its enchantment on Saturday in Tribeca, and two Fringe Jr shows open their doors (The Odyssey and Super: The Musical). There's also a FREE performance by Jazzy Ash and the Leaping Lizards Saturday at Lincoln Center.

And it's time for animal blessings! Head to Grand Army Plaza in Brooklyn on Saturday and St. John the Divine on Sunday to watch a parade of animals both exotic and domestic—bring your own Horace T. Goldfish or Woofs A. Pup for a blessing on the pulpit green. To the delight of tiny creature fans, the butterflies are back at the American Museum of Natural History this weekend, too.

Read on for our top picks for the coming weekend, or check out our list of 25 Fun Things to Do on Columbus Day in NYC. Also, be sure to check our October GoList and just released Halloween Guide to help you plan out the rest of this fall. As always, our Event Calendar is full of activities and events for every day of the week.

Pop-Up Museum for Dogs and Dog Lovers Opens in NYC

Raising kids in New York City isn’t without challenges, but it’s certainly never dull. Each weekend, we have the luxury of choosing between a variety of playgrounds, museums, and events—and lately, it seems like the city has been awash in Instagrammable popups. In the past six months alone, new museums and experiences devoted to dreams, candy, color, tea, and even optical illusions have opened here.

But it's New York, which means there's always room for one more cool thing to do. Since my family is always on the hunt for dog-friendly activities, we were excited to check out Human’s Best Friend, a new pop-up experience for dogs and the people who love them, located in the West Village. Read on for an inside look at NYC's latest pop-up for pooches—and their paparazzi.

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