New York City

Beyond the Goody Bag: 10 Great Birthday Party Favor Ideas for Kids

Whether you love them or hate them, party favors are still a huge part of any child’s birthday celebration. I happen to love figuring out favors for these festive occasions, because it’s creative and challenging—something I can happily pat myself on the back for, if done successfully. For that to happen, it needs to be equal parts pleasing for the kids and their parents, and either edible, memorable, practical, shareable, or charitable.

Do yourself a favor and read on for 10 ultra unique ideas to take your little guy or girl’s goody bag from basic to brag-worthy.

For more unique ways to fete your youngsters, check out our list of free ways to celebrate and 10 sweet alternatives to birthday cake, or learn how to create a DIY photo booth for the big event. Planning to celebrate your little one's first birthday soon? We've got ideas for your soon-to-be-turning-one babes, too. Whatever you're looking for, we’ve got birthday hints in the bag.

Weekend Fun: Free Zoo, Brick Fest, Carnival, and Hello Kitty

Even if you don't live in Brooklyn, this weekend provides the perfect excuse to meander out to Prospect Park. Not only is it Little League Opening Day (complete with an 1860s-themed exhibition game by the Brooklyn Atlantics, an adorable parade, and ceremonial first pitches), but Saturday also marks the Prospect Park Opening Day Fair (plus a scavenger hunt and an evening campfire!) and the opening of the Audubon Center. Take a spin on the newly reopened carousel to top things off. All weekend, admission to the Prospect Park Zoo is free for kids!

Perhaps you're in the mood for some bagpipe music and men in kilts? Excellent, because it's Tartan Week, and that means the return on Saturday of the Shearing of the Heather Fest in Fort Tryon Park and the Fifth Avenue Tartan Day Parade. Pro tip: If all that marching takes a toll on little legs, get to Bryant Park early for a pre-parade Pipes and Drums performance. On Sunday, Bryant Park hosts a concert of music from the highlands. You can also play mini golf in the park, beginning this week!

In Queens, kids can enjoy the outdoor Children's Carnival at the Queens County Farm Museum or the Lego-paradise that is Brick Fest Live at the New York Hall of Science. The popular Hello Kitty Cafe rolls into the borough, too, but beware the lines!

Don't forget to apply for these FREE summer STEM camps (Friday is the deadline), or to get your tickets for these lovely children's shows playing this spring, including The Little Red Fish, which opens this weekend. Tickets are also on sale for two fun pop-ups opening this week in NYC, an interactive Egg House with swings and snacks, and the Dream Machine with bubbles, a ball pit, and sleep-related fun.

Although we're kissing spring break goodbye, the last vestiges still offer lots of fun all weekend. And we're endlessly adding to our Event Calendar, so don't forget to check it before heading out. Plus, please peruse the April Go ListApril Spring Festivals, and FREE things to do this month to prep for the amazing month ahead in NYC!

NYC's Best Playgrounds: 15 Parks Worthy of a Subway Schlep

Playgrounds may be as much a part of childhood as potty training and the tooth fairy, but to city families, finding a go-to playground is a real sanity saver. When you live in tiny apartments, the neighborhood park is akin to a backyard, and while New Yorkers are lucky to have many awesome local play spots, some are a cut above the rest.

These spots offer plenty of space to romp and enough outdoor entertainment to make them worth a schlep on the subway. Without further ado, read on for 15 of the city's best playgrounds—our NYC playground hall of fame.

A Dream Machine Pop-Up Experience Is Coming to Brooklyn

If you’re looking for an especially unique experience for you and your kids on a rainy day this spring in NYC, consider taking a journey through your dreams together. Dream Machine, an interactive pop-up experience is opening in Williamsburg on April 5 and will run through the end of May. Akin to other Instagram-friendly spots like the soon-to-launch Museum of Candy and the past Museum of Ice Cream, this new spot is ready for snaps.

Dream Machine visitors will take an hourlong, self-guided journey through 10 immersive rooms, each inspired by our sleep cycles. These elaborately decorated spaces encourage dreamers to get hands-on in the middle of the magical REM cycle.

NYC Opens Free Summer STEM Camps...But Apply Now!

New York City is offering public school kids in kindergarten through 12th grade the chance to attend a STEM-focused summer camp for FREE, but applications are due Friday, April 6.

The camps will take place at about a dozen popular NYC institutions known for STEM programs, including zoos, museums, and botanical gardens. There are also internship and college-credit courses available for NYC high schoolers. Charter school students in NYC may also apply.

12 Miniature Golf Courses for NYC Kids

For many families, mini golf is a quintessential spring and summer activity that they look forward to every year. My son loves it, so we've tried just about every putt-putt course in the tristate area.

While there are plenty of courses on Long Island and in New Jersey, you don't need to head out of town. There are currently more than a dozen places to play mini golf right here in New York City. And as sports go, it's typically fairly inexpensive—often as little as $5 a round for kids. Another bonus is that it's one of those rare activities that parents and kids can play together. You can even host a birthday party at most of these spots.

Read on to find out where to play mini golf with the kids in the city, and I'll see you on the green!

Best Events This April Vacation Week for Kids in NYC

Trying to put together a great staycation schedule for your NYC kids for Spring Break? We've rounded up the best of Easter weekend, as well as the top things to do specifically on Easter Day. Now we're collecting the best family events happening this very week, Monday, April 2-Friday, April 6, across New York City.

And good news! This break comes right after Easter with some run-off events on Monday, right in the middle of Macy's Flower Show, and the chance to be outside (forecast: sunny!) toward the end of the week.

So don't dread the break—enjoy it just as much as they do by reading on for more great family-friendly fun. Find even more options in our daily Event CalendarApril GoList, and just released Spring Fun Guide, including day trip ideas and fairs and carnivals.

Spring 2018 Festivals in the Lower Hudson Valley

Despite what Mother Nature thinks (snow? really?), spring is definitely here, and that means outdoor festivals will soon dot the landscape of Westchester and the Lower Hudson Valley! That's great news for those of us suffering from the winter blues and daydreaming about warm, sunny days and budding flowers.

We’ve rounded up many fun fairs and festivals throughout Dutchess, Orange, Ulster and Rockland counties. In addition to featuring kiddie favorites like rides, games and live entertainment, many of these fetes celebrate the local environment, with workshops and educational activities for the entire family. Read on for all the details, and be sure to check out our Event Calendar for even more options.

Best NYC Spring Festivals, Fairs, and Carnivals in April 2018

New York City's spring outdoor festival season kicks off this April with more than a dozen fun and mostly FREE fairs, fetes, parades, and carnivals. Some annual Mommy Poppins favorites take place, including the Brooklyn Botanic Garden's Cherry Blossom Festival, the Queens County Farm Museum's Children's Carnival, Staten Island's St. George Day celebration, and the annual Street Games in East Harlem.

These events aren't just fun, they also foster community spirit by bringing folks together for a common cause. Many include old-fashioned games, eco-activities, homemade treats, and live performances. Here are some awesome NYC fairs, carnivals, and festivals for families this April.

Hey Jamaica! Mini Galaxy Play Cafe Opens for Queens Kids

Jamaica families, your wait is over! A brand-new play café has arrived in the neighborhood, and it is a treat for kids and parents alike. With play spaces popping up all over Queens and Brooklyn, it was only a matter of time before Jamaica got in on the action.

Located just two blocks from the F train on Jamaica Avenue, Mini Galaxy Play Café is a bright, open space that is set up so that caregivers can sit back with a cup of coffee (or delicious pastry) while watching their little ones have a blast.

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