Fiona Taylor

Fiona Taylor

Latest posts by Fiona Taylor

45 Fun Things to Do with Kids in Long Island City, Queens

About 15 years ago, a friend told me that Long Island City and Hunter’s Point were going to be the places to be.  At the time, the area seemed too industrial to be the next hot spot, but the subsequent years have proved my friend right.

Who would have thought that former warehouses would be renovated to become restaurants and boutiques and that LIC would be full of young families, eager to enjoy the amazing waterfront parks and amenities? Unfortunately, not me.

When you visit LIC now, you can see construction going up everywhere. So much has changed in just the last few years that we wanted to update our last list of fun things to do. Go forth and explore!

Why Every Harry Potter Fan Should See Puffs

My 10-year-old daughter is a Harry Potter fanatic. She’s read the series six times, watched all the movies, and still sincerely hopes for an acceptance letter from Hogwarts when she turns 11. We’ve both taken online quizzes to figure out which Hogwarts house we’d belong to. (She got Gryffindor, and I got Ravenclaw.) When I heard about Puffs, a play that recounts the Harry Potter story from the perspective of the Hufflepuffs, who were mostly background characters in the Harry Potter saga, I knew we had to see it.

Puffs is charming, entertaining, and fast-paced. The premise is simple: No one really wants to be a Puff, not even the Hufflepuffs. When the characters receive their house assignments, the new Puffs feel a little bewildered. What is being a Puff really about?

Read on for our full review, or check out our NYC Theater Guide for more family shows playing now, and coming soon, such as Frozen and SpongeBob.

Planetariums Near and In NYC Where Kids Can Stargaze

Stargazing in New York City is more likely to mean a celebrity sighting than watching actual celestial bodies. I grew up in the suburbs and have fond memories of standing in my yard with my dad and my telescope, talking about constellations. Even if you’re lucky enough to have outdoor space here, the light pollution precludes seeing anything but the brightest stars. If you can’t book a trip to some remote, rural location, the next best thing is a planetarium—especially since you also get expert guidance as to what you’re seeing.

As most of us know, a complete solar eclipse will happen on August 21, and it might just be the perfect event to spark interest in the solar system for your family. If your child is fascinated by the eclipse, your next stop should be a planetarium, so they can learn more about the stars and planets. We’ve rounded up the planetariums in and around New York City. Happy stargazing!

Find more local NYC eclipse events in our calendar, including viewing parties at local libraries. (Tip: B&H on Ninth Avenue was still selling eclipse glasses at press time.)

Review: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory Is a Fun New Take on an Old Classic

Whether you couldn't put down the classic book or can hum along to all the hits from the iconic movie, most adults remember Charlie and the Chocolate Factory from our childhoods. Producing a new musical version of such a popular story might sound risky, but Warner Brothers took that challenge and ran with it, with a Broadway production of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory that opened this past April at the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre. There are definitely a couple of things you should know about this dark tale before deciding to take the kiddos, but all in all, the show received a well-earned round of wild applause from children and adults alike.

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Ice Cream Bucket List: 10 Over-the-Top Shops To Try This Summer

Ah, August in the city! You've probably got your routine down pat at this point: art exhibits, subway-accessible beaches, and Summer Streets are all regulars in your summer schedule. As are trips for cool treats. If your neighborhood ice cream shop is feeling a tad too familiar at this point in the summer, it's time to step it up—and step it out of your 'hood.

We’ve rounded up 10 over-the-top ice cream establishments that are a little more under the radar than say Black Tap, but are the perfect way for you and your kids to enjoy before summer's over. Get ready to be blown away (and say goodbye to Mister Softee, for now): There’s rolled ice cream, innovative soft serve, make-it-yourself ice cream, and cutting-edge ice cream sandwiches. Go forth and enjoy, and check out our NYC Restaurant Guide for more great family eats.

9 Queens Water Playgrounds and Sprinkler Parks

Let’s face it, sometimes you just don’t want to live by the schedule of open swim hours at your local NYC pool. Sometimes you just want to tire your kids out so they sleep until 6 (or even 7 ) in the morning. And sometimes you just want to relax outdoors with iced coffee and a book, but your children aren’t as into that idea as you are. This is why water playgrounds were invented; we're pretty sure, anyway.

While we already have profiled some of the top water playgrounds in other parts of the city as well as some of the top fountains for splashing, we realized we had neglected our Queens families. So in the interest of parenting solidarity we’ve put together a list of nine spraygrounds or water playgrounds in Queens. They’re all FREE, and as an added bonus most usually have an ice cream truck in the area—for the children, of course, totally for the children. 

Check out our NYC Beaches, Pools, and Water Parks Guide for more summer splashing or our Summer Fun Guide for more seasonal activities for the kids.

Family-Friendly Campsites (with Extras for Kids!) Near NYC

I’m not going to lie. My favorite part of camping is the s’mores, but my daughter loves the entire experience, no matter how muddy or muggy or cold it gets.

If your kids are more like me— itching to get out of the city, but are perhaps not fully prepared to truly rough it— we’ve got some great campsites for you. We've told you about great New York area campgrounds in the past, including where to pitch your tent within New York City. But now we've put together a list of campgrounds that come with some sort of extra entertainment options for kids— whether it’s a Family Movie Night, a petting zoo, or just tubing down a river. You can even learn to milk a cow!

Whale Watching Boats for NYC Kids: See Dolphins and Whales

Most New Yorkers were entranced back in 2014 when the unexpected happened—a humpback whale surfaced in New York Harbor and not only survived, he (or she) toured the city for days. My office was all abuzz, and my daughter and I tracked the whale on social media. (Who says New Yorkers hate tourists?)

When I moved to New York 20 years ago, I'd never have dreamed that we'd have healthy marine life frolicking in our waters, but apparently, whales started appearing in 2010. The numbers have increased exponentially every year since, which is great news for urban kids who want to see a whale outside of the American Museum of Natural History.

We've rounded up four local whale watching cruises, all about a two-and-a-half-hour drive from NYC. (One is even in Queens!). And if you want to make a vacation out of it, we've got the scoop on the best place for a whale-watching weekend getaway on the East Coast. 

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