Jody Mercier

Jody Mercier

Jody Mercier's picture

When asked to illustrate her career goal as a first grader, Jody drew a picture of a mom with one kid on each hip and another clinging to her leg. All these years later, that is her reality, raising three kids in this crazy city. Since her dream job only pays in hugs and kisses, she has spent her professional career as an editor at SI.com, espnW.com and SportsonEarth.com, and also freelanced for Care.com.

Latest posts by Jody Mercier

Best Free NYC Swimming Pools for Toddlers and Kids

It's summertime and the livin' is easy—beaches, sprinklers, and awesome days at the playground. Oh the hard life of a New York City kid. And now, the NYC Parks Department is poised to open its outdoor pools on Thursday, June 29, 2017, the day after public schools let out.

We've rounded up our picks for the best free pools in the city. These are all places we've visited personally, or have come highly recommended by families we know. But the city hosts more than 50 outdoor pools this summer, so it will be hard not to find one you like. Time to get swimming!

Hidden NYC: 21 Fun Things To Do in Central Park

Central Park was created as a respite for the teeming masses of Manhattan. The 843-acre jewel is home to woodlands, meadows, lakes, and wildlife, and years later still offers a respite to all New Yorkers. Today, more than 40 million people annually visit the lush expanses of one of the country's earliest public parks. Its 21 playgrounds make it a destination for families from all over the city and world.

Central Park isn’t a place to tire of easily. My family's daily commute to school takes us back and forth across the park, for which I thank my lucky stars. But it's easy to lose perspective and forget how much this massive green space has to offer locals and visitors alike. With that in mind, we've rounded up 21 fun sites and scenes worth exploring in New York City's big backyard, from the obvious playgrounds and sledding hills to more obscure destinations. Enjoy.

Register for Free Swimming Lessons for NYC Kids

The New York City Parks Department offers FREE aquatic programs for children under 18 all year round, as well as adults, but you have to apply through an online lottery for each session. Summer swimming lessons are on the horizon; the lottery for the first two-week session opened on Monday, June 12 and runs through Sunday, June 25.

Summer swimming takes place in NYC's many outdoor pools, which open Thursday June 29, and are held each day during a session, meaning it's a great summer vacation activity to fill up the day for kids out of school.

Read on for the details on where to swim for free, or check our directory of paid kid swim classesmommy-and-me swim lessons for babies and toddlers, including those specifically in Brooklyn and in Queens.

Macy's July 4th Fireworks 2017: Where to See Them in NYC

Macy's is gearing up for its annual July 4th fireworks in New York City. On Tuesday, July 4, 2017, fireworks will light up the sky over the East River, and the show promises to be bigger than ever as it celebrates its 41st anniversary. Spectators should be able to catch the show from many neighborhoods in Midtown Manhattan as well as parts of Brooklyn and Queens, but there are some important changes afoot this year.

The fireworks will take to the sky along the East River near Midtown. More than 60,000 are scheduled to burst forth at a rate of 2,200 per minute and all will be synchronized to a soundtrack of patriotic standards. New-in-2017 effects will include never-before-featured shells like color-changing chrysanthemums and happy faces in an eye-popping array of colors.

If you're hoping to watch Macy's 4th of July Fireworks live, it's never too early to start planning your viewing strategy. Tickets for paid viewing options like Fourth of July Fireworks cruises are already on sale and going fast. Of course, you don't need to spend a penny to see the sparklers, but there are some important things to know before you go. We've got the scoop on how to find the best places to watch, when to go, and what to bring.

And don't forget, there are frequent fireworks shows in NYC during the summer, from Coney Island to Central Park. Read our roundup of where else to see cool displays this summer.

9 Play Fountains Where NYC Kids Can Get Totally Soaked

While all three of my kids love to go for a dip, heading to one of NYC's public pools requires advance planning and me donning a bathing suit. Often, our summer fun is more spontaneous. For those hot summer days when we're out and about or need a last-minute distraction, I keep this list of play fountains in the back of my mind.

A more immersive experience than standard sprinkler parks, these play fountains feature shallow pools of water for wading, plus jets shooting H2O sky high. They're the perfect place for kids to frolic and get completely doused without mommy having to go all in—literally. Best of all? It's all completely FREE.

Here are nine fun play fountains in NYC where kids can get absolutely soaked. Most open for the season over Memorial Day weekend, though some start flowing earlier if temperatures hit 80 degrees.

Special Needs Programs and Classes for New York City Kids

Some kids take so many extra-curricular activities they barely have time to play, but for other kids, after-school classes can be a challenge. Whether your child has a developmental challenge, disability, or disorder, or they just struggle with all things organized, the slew of general after-school activities might not work well for them. Luckily, no matter how small or great a child's challenges may be, NYC offers a number of options for children of every ability.

We've rounded up more than two dozen great classes for kids with a special need or disability. Don't forget to ask about summer camps and holiday mini camps. Many of these programs offer them, too.

Check out our NYC Special Needs Guide for more ideas, programs and services, including sensory gyms, support groups, and sensory activities.

Beach Clubs In or Near New York City with Kid-Friendly Vibes

We're always writing about great things to do during your NYC summer staycation with the kids, but we want to add a new one to our ever-growing list: Join a beach club. All of these clubs offer members similar amenities: massive swimming pools; organized kids' activities like sports and arts and crafts, and sometimes even a day camp; spas, restaurants, and lounges; and, of course, access to pristine private beaches, so you have plenty of space to spread out.

Beach clubs sell seasonal memberships from Memorial Day to Labor Day, which give you access to their facilities. Most also offer optional rental accommodations like bath cabins or cabanas. Many are on Long Island’s South Shore and are most easily accessible by car, but we managed to find one in Brooklyn you can take the subway to.

Bounce Houses and Trampoline Spots Where NYC Kids Can Jump

As any veteran NYC parent knows, there's only so much in-apartment bouncing your downstairs neighbor can handle. If you've got active kids and hop-happy toddlers to entertain during spring's showers, summer's heat, or winter's freeze, what's a parent to do? Nothing cures the bad-weather blues like a trip to a big old bounce house.

These inflatable favorites are a staple of outdoor festivals and street fairs, but it's such a bummer waiting on a long line to shell out several dollars for a two-minute session. Luckily NYC is home to several high-flying play spaces. You'll find all kinds of fun, including trampolines, long bouncy slides, tunnels, and obstacle courses at these spots. Best of all each location hosts regular open-bounce sessions, so your kids jump all they want for one low price.

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