NYC is overflowing with cool new carnival rides this summer! Hot on the heels of the opening of Queens' Fantasy Forest at the Flushing Meadows Carousel and the beautifully restored B&B Carousell in Coney Island comes Fête Paradiso, a summer-long festival of vintage French carnival rides and carousels on Governors Island. We've got the details on when it opens, what kind of rides you'll find and how much they cost. Other tidbits this week include a new light show and roller coaster for Coney Island, drop-in soccer classes for the summer, a free way to play tourist in your own town, summer reading fun and dad crafts!
Cool new kids' rides in NYC We are so excited about Fête Paradiso on Governors Island that we plan to go on opening day! On weekends from July 13 to September 29, you can take retro rides on vintage French carousels, flying swings and other carnival attractions from the late 1800s and early 1900s. Admission to the festival is FREE and rides are $3 a pop. But really it's the old-fashioned atmosphere that sounds thrilling: There will be a Music-Hall Ball Guzzler, a carnival game featuring life-size caricatures of Josephine Baker, Maurice Chevalier, Charlie Chaplin and other period stars; a bumper car pavilion repurposed as a beer garden and a children’s carousel that will function as a live performance space. The curators say they're going for a Fellini-esque feel—we can't wait to experience it!
Meanwhile Coney Island is getting a fresh roller coaster next year, inspired by a famous ride past. Luna Park announced that Thunderbolt 2.0, which will hit speeds of 65 mph and feature a terrifying 125-foot drop, will debut in summer 2014 near the historic B&B Carousell and the revamped Steeplechase Plaza. Another addition to that plaza this season? Spectacular lighting on the Parachute Jump at night. See the illuminated color-changing display whenever Luna Park is up and running and the sun is down.
Play tourist for free Even though we're lucky enough to live in NYC, we recently tried one of Stray Boots interactive walking tours/scavenger hunts just for fun and had a blast exploring Chinatown with our kids. Despite knowing the neighborhood well, the app revealed new-to-us info and cool historical tidbits about the area. Now you can try Stray Boots for FREE. The company is offering one complimentary digital tour to the families of NYC middle and high school students. All you need to do is send in a pic of your child in school gear (T-shirt, hat, etc.) and you'll receive a code for the free download. You'll find all the info, including tours offers and where to email the photo, on the website.
Soccer, anyone? While there are certainly tons of FREE sports programs in NYC for kids, we have yet to hear of no-cost soccer lessons. But if your little one is set on bending it like Beckham (or whoever takes over for him now that he's retired), Super Soccer Stars is offering affordable drop-in classes all summer long, in case you don't want to commit to a camp.
Dad crafts Of course when it gets too hot to play soccer (or anything really) outdoors this summer, you're going to need some indoor fun beyond video games to keep you busy. While our Indoor Activity Guide is filled with lots of great ideas, there's always room for one more. I'm particularly excited to try some of the cool sounding projects in popular blogger Mike Adamick's brand-new offering Dad's Book of Awesome Projects, which is intriguingly subtitled From Stilts and Super-Hero Capes to Tinker Boxes and Seesaws. Best of all: Most of these projects require inexpensive or common household items.
Reading is fun-damental NYC's Summer Reading program kicked off earlier this month. It's truly important to make sure your kids continue to read throughout the season to avoid the dreaded and very real summer slide. So encourage literacy by taking out books at your local library, earning free reads via Barnes & Noble's open-to-all program and dropping by the main branch of the New York Public Library to check out The ABC of It: Why Children's Books Matter, a new exhibit that spotlights the importance and artistry of kid lit. There are more than 200 items from three centuries on display, notably a copy of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland that belonged to the real-life Alice, the umbrella owned by Mary Poppins author P.L. Travers and lots of original artwork. But the interactive bits are the best for kids, like a life-size installation of Margaret Wise Brown’s room from Goodnight Moon, an Alice-style rabbit hole and a fur wall inspired by Maurice Sendak’s Where the Wild Things Are. And of course there are plenty of places to plop down and read with your child.