Kids

The Best Long Island Libraries

This post was written for us by Jill DeMarco.

I have to get out of the house! I know it is already officially Spring, but not every day is park weather. So where is a bored mom to go? The library!   I always forget how great the library is and how a good one can keep us all entertained for hours...oh and did I mention it’s FREE? Almost all our local LI libraries with a children’s department have programs geared towards kids of all ages and most usually have a play and reading area, toys and many have computers for our budding electronic generation. But, a few libraries have special amenities that make them even more enjoyable and are worth a visit:

Free Swimming Events in New York City

It may be April showers outside now, but it'll be bright, sunny and 75 degrees before you know it. You can plunge into the spirit of summer right now and get swimming season off to an early start with these free indoor swimming events that are perfect for kids of all ages. Read on to find out about YMCA Splash Week free swimming lessons and water safety and Asphalt Green's Big Swim event. 

Free NYC Weekend Events for Kids April 10-12: Easter Bunnies, Hunts and Parades, Plus Earth Day, Squirrels and a Book Swap

The bad news is it looks like rain is in the forecast for Saturday. The good news is that if you want to brave the weather and go to an Easter Egg Hunt in New York City or Long Island anyway, the crowds won't be so bad. But make sure to check the websites or call ahead and find out if the event is cancelled or not before heading out.

Either way, we've got the skinny for the best Easter activities and alternative cool, free events for this weekend:

NY Botanical Garden's 'Chocolate and Vanilla Adventures' Worth a Visit

Living literally down the block from New York Botanical Garden, I have the pleasure of visiting with my 1 year old, Pearl, at least once or twice a week. As many of you know, in addition to offering acres and acres of natural beauty, NYBG also provides some great programming for kids. Although Pearl is pretty much too young to really enjoy many of the kids activities, I recently took a stroll though the Everett Children’s Garden to check out ‘Chocolate and Vanilla Adventures,’ an educational component of The Orchid Show aimed at introducing kids to the history of the vanilla orchid and Theobrama cacao tree.

Kids of Hanami Photo Contest

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Hanami is the Japanese tradition of viewing and cherishing the cherry blossom season. And there's no better place to enjoy the beauty and grace of cherry blossoms than at Brooklyn Botanic Garden, which has more flowering cherry trees in one place than anywhere else in the world outside of Japan! Strolling beneath the stunning, pink canopy of blooms is a wonderful spring tradition the whole family can enjoy and Sakura Matsuri, the two-day cherry blossom festival (May 2 and 3, 2009), has delighted families for over 25 years.

For children, Hanami is a delightful learning experience: watching the seasonal magic of spring as the trees show their first buds, burst into a luscious bloom, and finally send out a flurry of petals that carpet the ground in pink and are replaced on the trees by the tiny green leaves of summer.

To celebrate Hanami, Mommy Poppins is teaming up with Brooklyn Botanic Garden for a great photo contest.

STILL TIME TO ENTER. CONTEST EXTENDED THROUGH MAY 5th!

Enter our Hanami Photo Contest to win an incredible prize package.

Cool NYC Restaurants for Kids with Food Allergies or Vegetarians

It can be hard eating out when your child’s on a restricted diet: You struggle to find a place that serves what he can eat, or you find one and he won’t eat what they serve. But you won’t have those problems at these places, which are convenient and kid-friendly. We've rounded up a handful of restaurants which serve meals that all kids will like and can eat even if they are vegan, vegetarian or have food allergies. Plus, they're all cool and fun for New York kids.

Crotona Park

The largest park in the South Bronx, Crotona Park is a 127 acre natural oasis containing 28 different species of trees, a 3.3 acre lake, 11 playgrounds, playing fields, and basketball courts. Most Bronxites would agree that the true gem of Crotona Park is the 300 foot public pool… it’s the perfect spot to take the kids to cool off on a hot summer day. Other big draws for families with young children who visit the park are the recreation and nature centers, both of which offer outstanding programming to introduce kids to nature. Crotona Park also has the honor of appearing in Mommy Poppins’ "Best Sledding Hills in New York City” post. For all you tennis buffs out there, Crotona Park’s 20 tennis courts are home to the annual Bronx Pro Tennis Classic.

Pelham Bay Park

At nearly 3,000 acres, Pelham Bay Park is the largest park in New York City (take that, Central Park!). Home to Orchard Beach, the Bartow-Pell Mansion, the Pelham-Split Rock Golf Course (the only 36 hole course in NYC), and a stone’s throw away from City Island, Pelham Bay Park provides almost any distraction you’re looking for to spend a day outdoors with the kids. From hiking to horseback riding to biking, this park has it all. The only negative aspect of Pelham Bay Park can be the crowds during the summer, but this is mostly an issue at Orchard Beach. With 3,000 acres, there’s plenty of space to go around!

Bronx Museum

The Bronx Museum is a wonderful resource for art lovers in the Bronx. Its exhibits tend to be fresh, exciting, and uniquely urban. However, we recommend planning ahead if you’re visiting with the kids in tow. Visit the website and take a look at the upcoming events. Quite often, the weekend events are free and catered towards children. Visiting just to tour the galleries may be a bit boring for kids if there are no workshops or activities planned. Beginning June 21st, 2009, there will be a groundbreaking exhibit installed along the length of the Grand Concourse. Dubbed the “Tree Museum,” artist Katie Holten has designed a ‘museum without walls’ as a celebration of the Grand Concourse’s 100th birthday. We cannot think of a better museum for kids than one without walls!

Barretto Point Park

Barretto Point Park may be small, but its position right along the banks of the East River makes it a must-see for families looking for a waterfront recreational option in the Bronx. The park’s access to the East River makes for some interesting amenities, such as piers perfect for fishing and a site from which to launch kayaks and canoes. The park’s recent claim to fame was that it was home of the hugely popular "Floating Pool” for the 2008 summer season.

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