New York City

Get Almost Free Admission to Luna Park on Opening Day

It's no secret that all of us here like "FREE." We're always on the lookout for free activities around NYC, play spaces, and even summer camps. But Luna Park's March 24 opening day event at Coney Island, Brooklyn, makes the four-letter word all the better, as almost all proceeds from donations will serve the Girls Scouts' 6000 troop.

Read on to find out what's included in this almost-FREE day and who you'll be helping with your small donation.

SpongeBob the Musical Hammers Home All the Right Messages

SpongeBob SquarePants (the cartoon) might be pretty far down on your list a parent-approved media. But SpongeBob SquarePants: The Broadway Musical just made it to the top of mine. Talented actors, a solid storyline, and insanely imaginative sets—and a complete lack of hokeyness—made this performance a family Broadway standout. You won't find oversized sponge or starfish costumes, but the talent seamlessly translated the characters (none of whom are human) to the stage and easily transported the audience to a quirky and much-loved Bikini Bottom.

Read our review for a sense of what to expect from this infectious performance, or check out our complete Theater Guide for NYC Kids for many more options.

Greenpoint, Brooklyn Food Crawl: Best Polish Restaurants and Fun Spots

If you’ve been itching to try to decipher signage in a foreign language, step into a market that smells like 15 kinds of sausage, and stuff your face with foods from the Old World, then all you and the kids need to do is hop on over to Greenpoint, Brooklyn.

Somehow, despite the fact that neighboring Williamsburg has become the poster child for rampant development and gentrification, Greenpoint has managed to maintain its charm and Polish flavor. That’s not to say that the neighborhood hasn’t changed or that skyrocketing rents haven’t impacted local families, but many of the shops along Greenpoint’s main drag, Manhattan Avenue, are still locally owned markets and restaurants often specialize in Polish foods. If you have Eastern European roots, locals might even address you in Polish. All this makes a day in Greenpoint feel like a trip to the Old Country.

Greenpoint is just one of many ethnic foodie thoroughfares in the city. We aim to help you travel the world airfare-free with the Mommy Poppins Passport Series. We'll spotlight the best international streets in all five boroughs. Introduce kids to the diverse food and fun that immigrants have brought to New York City’s streets, including in Astoria, Manhattan's Chinatown, and even at a Queens mall.

Mohonk Mountain House: A Favorite Hudson Valley Resort Reviewed

For a luxurious family getaway in the Hudson Valley, Mohonk Mountain House is a delicious splurge in any season. The historic Victorian castle, just 90 miles from New York City and North Jersey, is surrounded by thousands of acres of forest, miles of hiking trails and breathtaking mountain vistas. It attracts both locals and guests from around the country, including the tristate area.

Cozy guest rooms include fireplaces or rocking-chair balconies, but no televisions, so get ready for hours of family togetherness. Don't worry, there's a kids club, myriad indoor and outdoor activities, an award-winning spa, and decent wi-fi signal. We revisited the local family resort this winter for a long weekend getaway and are happy to share our review with Mommy Poppins readers.

Top Traditional Summer Camps (with Modern Offerings) for New York City Kids

New York City has always been the best place on Earth to find uh-mazing summer camps, but the options for families looking for that traditional, all around camp experience have only gotten better over the years. Between city camps with tricked-out facilities, and lots of outdoor time, and accessible-by-bus destinations just outside the city, there are plenty of places that deliver those tried-and-true camp activities and then some, combining canoeing, arts and crafts, sports, and swimming with more modern camp curriculums and amenities.

If you'd like to stay within city limits, there are day camps across the five boroughs complete with 75-foot pools and outdoor ball fields, trips to amusement parks and adventure courses, fully-equipped air-conditioned gyms, and fun-filled days at the beach or the park. Meanwhile, if your kiddo is ready to travel, you'll find completely un-plugged media-free nature day camps, lush 27-acre campuses right nearby, lakes with boating and fishing, multiple-day overnight trips to state parks, and of course, that classic sleepaway camp experience.

Unseen Oceans: Explore Aquatic Wonders at New AMNH Exhibit

With last year's opening of National Geographic Encounter: Ocean Odyssey and the much-anticipated opening of Ocean Wonder: Sharks! at the New York Aquarium this summer, there seems to be a renewed interest in our oceans—and with good reason. Oceans cover 70 percent of the earth's surface and new science and technological advances have allowed marine explorers to learn more about our oceans than ever before.

The American Museum of Natural History is at the forefront of oceanic exploration and discovery, and its newest exhibit, Unseen Oceans, is designed to take visitors deep beneath the surface of the sea to a world scientists are just now beginning to understand—all presented in a series of family-friendly, easy to understand, visually stunning galleries.

New NYC Spyscape Museum Offers Global Spy Action for Kids

Calling all junior special-ops hopefuls and history buffs: Spyscape is Midtown Manhattan's newest destination for spy fans. Using immersive technology, interactive challenges, and true stories, this new museum explores the exciting, daring, and groundbreaking work of intelligence agencies and spies worldwide.

My 14-year-old son and I couldn't wait to check it out, and we were not disappointed. This family-friendly destination—not too far from Gulliver's Gate and National Geographic Encounter: Ocean Odyssey—offers a unique experience, especially for your older kids and teens. Read on for full details.

The One Reason Families Are Applying to BASIS Independent in Droves

There is an educational renaissance happening in New York City. In the past few years we’ve seen dozens of new schools open, adding more public, private, and charter options to the mix. Two of those new programs are part of BASIS Independent Schools, a network of five independent schools nationwide. Their two brand new campuses in New York City offer a PreK-grade 12 in Red Hook, Brooklyn, and a PreK-8 on Manhattan’s Upper West Side.

Register for Free Swimming Lessons for NYC Kids

The New York City Parks Department offers FREE aquatic programs for children under 18 all year round, as well as adults, but you have to apply through an online lottery for each session. Spring swimming lessons are on the horizon, and the lottery for registration opens Monday, March 12, 2018 at noon through Monday, March 19, 2018 at 11:59pm.

The spring swim lessons will take place Monday, March 26, 2018 through Thursday, June 7, 2018.

Read on for the details on where to swim for free, or check our directory of paid kid swim classes, and mommy-and-me swim lessons for babies and toddlers, including those specifically in Brooklyn and in Queens.

Great News! Good Day Play Cafe Opens in Park Slope

You might be wondering if Park Slope needs another play space, but after you see the inside of a Korean-inspired Good Day Play Cafe, your answer will be a confident, "yes." Think: Stumptown coffee and cold brew, a Hinoki cypress wood cube sensory pit, and a clear view of the entire play area from the minimalist-chic cafe.

The owners, who already have a location in Queens, balance good food, inviting ambiance, and strong coffee with their kid-oriented play area to create a place adults and children can genuinely enjoy. The play cafe trend is booming in Brooklyn and Queens, and we can't get enough of it. Get the details on the new space, including rates and hours, below.

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