Date night (or whatever you call it in your house) helps keep couples happy and reminds kids that their parents really do have lives of their own. Unfortunately, it's a pretty pricey proposition once you tally up drinks, dinner, an activity and, of course, a reliable sitter—who sometimes costs more than the meal!
Sure, every once in a while you can swap kid-watching duties with another family, and as children get older, there are sleepovers and sleepaway camps. But in the meantime, the cost of a night out scares many couples into settling for the couch, Netflix and a bottle of Chardonnay.
But date night doesn't have to be that way. Several play spots in the city offer safe, supervised drop-off evening care for kids, often for less than your average sitter. Better still: Not only do you get some adult time, your kids enjoy a night out with their peers, too.
Brooklyn Explorers Academy – Brooklyn Heights
110 Schermerhorn Street near Boerum Place
Friday 6-9pm except holidays
$15 per child
During the Literary Parent-Free Pajama Party, kids enjoy activities inspired bya classic children's book. After hearing the tale, tots make a craft and see a movie based on the story, plus chow down on pizza and ice pops, all in a supervised environment. Visit the website for more info and to register.
JCC in Manhattan Kids Night Out – Upper West Side
Select Saturdays 6-9pm
334 Amsterdam Avenue at 76th Street Ages 5-10
$45 per child
In fall and winter, this Upper West Side culture spot hosts special nights when parents can drop off their children for an evening of fun including sports, games and dinner. Kids are organized by age and preregistration is required. Email Caroline at email@example.com for upcoming dates.
Kids Design the World – Prospect Heights
Unfortunately this spot closed in Spring 2015.
This children's interior design store and classroom offers drop-off events with storytelling, crafts and dramatic play. Need more than two hours? With advance notice, Kids Design the World can accommodate children of all ages for both sessions, giving you four hours of leisure time. If you're a first timer, take advantage of the three classes for $30 deal. Prefer a weekend brunch date? There are also Saturday morning drop-off sessions at 9 and 11am. Visit the website for more info and to register.
Ms. J's Gymnastics & Dance Kids Night Out – Williamsburg
289 Kent Avenue between South 1st and South 2nd Streets
Third Saturday of every month 6-9pm
Ages 3 and up, must be potty trained
$40 for first child, $35 for siblings
Kids will have a blast running around this gym, learning to jump and tumble on the trampoline, and hiding underneath the parachute. The evening ends with a pizza dinner. Visit the website for more information.
New York Kids Club Pajama Party – Manhattan, Brooklyn & Long Island City
Various locations; visit the website for a complete list.
Friday 6-8pm and Saturday 6:30-8:30pm
$36 per child
A New York Kids Club membership isn't required for these drop-off fetes. Kids can monkey around in the gym, snack on pizza, make crafts, cook in the kitchen and shake their booties on the dance floor. (Sounds like they may end up having more fun than their parents!) Every party has a theme (wild wild west, under the sea and Seussville are past favorites). If two hours seems too tight for a date, some locations offer an extra hour for children ages 4 to 8 for extra dough. Check the website of the New York Kids Club nearest you for more info and to register.
PLAY – Greenpoint
33 Nassau Avenue between Guernsey and Dobbin Streets
$40 for first child, 10% discount for siblings
During this tot spot's weekly drop-off parties, kids enjoy arts and crafts, games and even special attractions like a bounce house. Water, juice and snacks are provided, but you can also send a meal if you'd like. Visit the website for more information and to register.
Project Playdate – Manhattan & Brooklyn
Various locations, visit the website for a complete list.
Friday and Saturday nights; visit the website for a complete schedule.
$60 for first child, $40 for siblings
Children have a ball at these pajama parties, which are held at Playgarden, a fantastic (and famously clean) indoor play space in Tribeca, as well as Citibabes, City Treehouse, Klub4Kidz in Williamsburg and multiple Kidville locations. Guests play games, make crafts and romp around. A healthy dinner is served and a short movie is screened toward the end of the evening. Not only do parents get a few blissful hours to themselves, but all proceeds benefit Powerhouse NYC, a transitional housing program for homeless teen mothers. Visit the website for more info and to register. If you're are a first timer, use the discount code SHAREPLAY to save 25% on your reservation.
The Tiny Scientist – Park Slope
Select Saturday nights; visit the website for the complete schedule.
1624 Eighth Avenue at Windsor Place
Ages 5 and up
$45 for first child, $10 for siblings
Aspiring scientists enjoy experiments, STEM-inspired games, and watch Bill Nye the Science Guy or other educational program. Visit the website for more info and to register.
Blueberry Kids – Prospect Heights
Unfortunately this spot closed in Spring 2015.
While this newish Brooklyn boutique and play space officially requires a membership for its Date-N-Drop Saturdays and Drop-N-Care weekdays, when we called, the staff said exceptions are made to this policy. That said, the membership is less expensive than most NYC play spots with monthly and annual options, and purchasing one gets you a discount on the hourly rate. An on-staff sitter ensures consistent care and familiarity from one drop-off to another. Children must come with their own beverages, snacks, diapers, wipes, etc. All drop-off programs require 24 hours advance notice. Call 718-450-8811 to make a reservation.
Other drop-off date night options: Do you belong to a YMCA? Many local Ys offer affordable parents’ night out programs for their members. Meanwhile, national kiddie gym chains The Little Gym and My Gym offer parents' night out programs.
This post originally published in May 2011.