New York City

NYC Playgrounds With Shade: Play It Cool at These Shady Parks in NYC

Need to find a playground with shade for a hot summer day in NYC? These shady playgrounds in Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Queens offer a break from the sun, but no shortage of fun.

While kids can always cool off in NYC's many sprinklers, there's no reason for us parents to get stuck baking in the heat. A few NYC playgrounds are known to offer exceptional amounts of shade—Hippo Playground in Riverside Park and Discovery Playground in Fort Washington Park come to mind—but we asked 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. But if you're looking for a cool place to play this summer, one of these spots should do the trick.

The World’s Largest Bounce House Opens in Brooklyn This Weekend

Grab your socks and take your summer to new heights. The Big Bounce America, officially the world’s largest bounce house, is landing in Brooklyn at Aviator Sports. The high-flying starts tomorrow, Friday, July 26, with recently-added dates through Sunday, August 4, and timed-entry sessions are selling out fast.

This touring bounce bonanza will put your block party to shame with the world's largest bounce house (Guinness certified!), a 900-foot-long inflatable obstacle course, a giant maze, ball pits, slides, climbing walls, and basketball hoops...all to be enjoyed while a DJ spins, confetti blasts, and beach balls fly through the air. Exhausted yet?

Weekend Fun: Midsummer PowWow, Poetry Fest, City of Science, Storytelling Fest

It's another jam-packed summer weekend in NYC, and after last weekend's deep-fried weather we're hoping to venture out into more temperate temperatures. The spectacular Thunderbird Mid-Summer Powwow brings over 40 Native nations together for a weekend of dance and celebration in Queens, Brooklyn is staking a claim to hosting the world's biggest bounce house, Lehman College in the Bronx is cooking up tons of City of Science fun, Biennial artist Robert Bittenbender is helping kids create a giant velcro installation at the Whitney, and, as usual, there's MUCH more happening around all five boroughs.

At the 9th Annual New York Poetry Festival on Governors Island, kids can go on a word-themed scavenger hunt, speak their minds at the afternoon open mic sessions, and listen to some of America's best poets recite. Meanwhile, the High Line Young Storytellers Fest helps kids build their own tales, Stories at the Statue in Central Park has two classic Hans Christian Andersen tales on the docket this Saturday, and authors read kids' books at Books of Wonder's UWS locale on Saturday and Chelsea store on Sunday. You can always find more story events by searching our calendar.

On Sunday, head over to the Brooklyn Roots Fest at Lefferts Historic House, check out the Ballet Folklorico Mexicano's Guelaguetza Festival at Socrates Sculpture Park, explore Central Park's North Woods on a Discovery Walk specifically designed for families, or boogie with Rolie Polie Guacamolie in Fort Greene.

Keep an eye on our packed Summer Fun Guide and our NYC Event Calendar for a non-stop panoply of fun things to do with the family as we head into August!

7 NYC Ferry Rides With Kid-Friendly Stops to Explore

Ferry rides are a great way to see NYC from a new point of view—and cruising on the water is so much more exciting for jaded city kids than taking the boring old subway. The NYC ferry system makes it easy and fun to hop on a boat for a day trip to a not-so-distant shore.

While we're big fans of all the family activities you can enjoy on Governors Island, and riding the FREE Staten Island Ferry is on our list of the top 100 things to do with kids in this town, there are lots more ferries departing NYC docks all around town. Here are some of our favorite NYC ferry rides to popular places where there are plenty of things to do and see with the kiddos.

Bronx Birthday Party Places for NYC Kids

As a Bronx mom with three kids, I find myself in a perpetual state of birthday party planning. And while we've had many a house party, once I factor in food, decorations, favors, and more, it often costs just as much as a destination bash. Besides, destination parties bring a change of scenery and fun perks such as slides, sports, live animals, spa days, and more to make the celebration memorable. Best of all, I don't have to deal with the cleanup.

The Boogie Down borough has a growing list of cool birthday party spots for kids, from old favorites such as the Bronx Zoo and the New York Botanical Garden, to more recent additions tailored to kids' interests—with a decidedly local flair. We've rounded up a dozen birthday party places in the Bronx, with options for kids of all ages and interests.

18 Family-Friendly NYC Food Halls for an Easy, Delicious Meal

You want to grab a bite out with the kids and the local pizza joint isn't going to cut it—but asking your wriggly, tired kids to sit quietly in a nice restaurant is like lighting a firecracker and then hoping it won't explode. 

Food halls are the perfect solution. In spite of their historic mall­-culture reputation, the model of a casual hall with multiple food options is enjoying a bit of a renaissance, and not just in suburbia. Right here in NYC, food halls are gaining major foodie clout with excellent vendors, artisan marketplaces, and appealing perks (and sweet treats) for families with kids. It's the perfect eatery for families: there's a food option for everyone, minimal wait times, multiple bathrooms, and no one notices if your kid tantrums or drops half their meal on the floor.

We've rounded up and sampled 18 outstanding food halls that offer top-notch eats, spacious seating, and lots to do in the surrounding neighborhoods, including Battery Park, Chelsea, MidtownFort Greene, Brooklyn, and more.

Check out our NYC Restaurant Guide for even more family dining options in just about every neighborhood—and every finicky palate. 

Outdoor Kids' Birthday Party Ideas for Summer Babies

Throw an amazing kids' birthday party right in your own backyard or local park with these outdoor party ideas.

Take all the fun (and the mess) of party games for kids outside and add a little summertime twist for inspired themes, such as camping, sprinklers, outdoor movies, and lawn games. We put together a list of seven sizzling kids' birthday party themes for outdoor parties below, including activity suggestions, decoration ideas, and some memorable munchies that will make your kid's party the event of the summer season.

50+ Ways to Keep NYC Kids Off Screens This Summer

"Brain drain." "Summer slide." No matter what you call it, the phenomenon of students losing months of math and reading skills during the eight-week summer vacation scares parents and teachers alike.  

Luckily, we live in a city that offers tons of opportunities for summertime excitement and learning, many of them FREE. We've put together a list of more than 50 of our favorite NYC activities, events, and even at-home challenges that get kids to exercise their brains, and keep them (and us) off our screens!

So get out there to try some of these ideas for enriching exploration and edu-tainment around NYC with kids this summer. You can find even more ideas in our STEAM Guide, and don't forget to check out our NYC Schools Guide as September approaches.

Family-Friendly Hotels in the Hamptons and North Fork

If you’ve ever visited the Hamptons and North Fork on Long Island, you know there is lodging to meet just about every need. There are hotels near fishing resorts, country inns near golf courses and bed-and-breakfasts within walking distance of the North Fork’s celebrated wineries. Families visiting the East End have options, too, from chain hotels near kid-favorite attractions to mom-and-pop guesthouses with private beaches and pools. We’ve rounded up some of our favorite Hamptons and North Fork hotels, motels and guesthouses for families. 

Disney Cruise to Alaska? 12 Things To Know Before You Go

A Disney Cruise is a memorable experience for any kid (or, really, any grown-up) whether the ship stops in the Bahamas, EuropeJamaica, or some other exotic port—like Alaska. My family recently cruised Alaska Disney style, and if you're considering this particular Disney Cruise, I have a few tips that should make your vacation even more magical. 

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