Raven Snook

Raven Snook

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Raven is a writer, editor, performer and mom, who was born and bred in NYC, just like her husband, her mother and now, her daughter. As a writer, she's contributed articles to New York Magazine, Time Out New York, The Village Voice, the New York Post, TV Guide, Better Homes and Gardens, iVillage, AOL TV and Moviefone, Parents.com, and worked as an in-house editor for ParentsConnect.com and TimeOutKids.com. As a performer, she's appeared on many downtown stages (sometimes even for pay!), a couple of obscure films and TV shows, and The Maury Povich Show as a female drag queen. She's also the founder of Hot Mama Burlesque, the world's only all-moms burlesque show. After being the NYC editor from March 2011-March 2015, she is now happy to just be a blogger as she pursues additional writing opportunities.

Latest posts by Raven Snook

40 Things To Do in the East Village with Kids

The East Village is the epitome of the luxury bohemian paradox. High-end condos, trendy eateries, chain stores, and shiny new NYU dorms sit kitty-corner from decrepit tenements, old-world restaurants, punk-rock shops, and community gardens blooming with flowers and sculptures. Although it's certainly not the gritty neighborhood of my youth, you can still find traces of the artsy, old-school East Village if you know where to look.

For the purposes of this post, our boundaries are Broadway to the East River between Houston and 14th Streets. Read on for all the top spots and experiences for kids in this eclectic Manhattan neighborhood, from play spots and excellent eats to funky, only-in-the-East Village destinations.

Washington Heights and Inwood with Kids: Top 35 Things to Do

Two distinct neighborhoods make up the northernmost tip of Manhattan: Washington Heights and Inwood. Although these NYC nabes are constantly lumped together, they are really two unique areas that happen to share a lot of incredible history.

The Heights is a mix of multigenerational Hispanic families and young artists and families attracted to prewar apartment buildings and lovely parks. The area overflows with colorful Latino restaurants, shops, and cultural groups, and boasts multiple riverfront green spaces, notably Fort Washington Park, home to the famed Little Red Lighthouse, and Fort Tryon Park, where you'll find the Metropolitan Museum's medieval art mecca, the Cloisters.

Inwood is a quieter residential area that's quite tight-knit. Many family-friendly businesses are owned and operated by locals, like Indian Road Cafe, Bread and Yoga, and apothecary/soda fountain Dichter Pharmacy, which dates back to the 1940s.

Read on for all the top spots for kids in these Manhattan neighborhoods, from playgrounds to great eats.

This Girl Laughs, Cries – and Grows Up: A Tale of 3 Sisters

Like all worthwhile adventures, This Girl Laughs, This Girl Cries, This Girl Does Nothing at Atlantic for Kids starts down a familiar path, hits a fork in the road, and then goes off in unanticipated and delightful directions. Although at the outset this seriocomic play interweaves a number of fairy tale tropes—a sudden death, an evil stepmother, an ineffectual father, and three disparate triplets—it ends up being as kooky and unpredictable as an overtired toddler.

It's also long and explores some complicated themes such as abandonment, longing, and how our childhood dreams evolve as we grow. So is This Girl Laughs, This Girl Cries, This Girl Does Nothing right for your child? Read our review for a sense of what to expect from this unpredictable fable, or check out our complete Theater Guide for NYC Kids for many more options.

The Perfect Monster: All About Friendship and Finding Perfection

An inventive twist on the old Frankenstein tale, The Perfect Monster addresses urgent adolescent issues such as bullying, loneliness, and the perils of perfectionism without getting heavy-handed.

This latest musical from TADA! Youth Theater focuses on shy and friendless Sybil (Kahlea Hsu at the performance attended), a rad scientist who's long been trying to build the perfect pal in her basement. So far, she's only managed to concoct a coterie of oddballs fashioned from odds and ends like mailboxes, kitchen utensils, and shoes. But when she puts prized possessions from the popular classmates she idolizes into her cauldron, out pops Perfection (Ashely Figueroa at the performance attended), a truly flawless friend. Or is she?

Read our review to get a sense of what you're in for—or check out our complete Theater Guide for NYC Kids for loads more options.

Best Off-Broadway Shows Playing in NYC for Kids

Taking kids to a Broadway show is an exciting and memorable experience. It's also a pricey one. That's why it's worth looking beyond the Great White Way to Off-Broadway, where there are a handful of long-running, kid-friendly shows that are less expensive, more offbeat, but no less special.

From a surefire toddler hit to a Harry Potter parody for tweens to those world-famous blue dudes, there are options for all ages and interests, and we've even shared ways you can get deeply discounted tickets. All of these Off-Broadway productions make great birthday party activities, too.

22 Fantastic Winter Theater Shows for NYC Kids

Winter 2018 in New York City is loaded with cool theater for families, including the debut of three super buzzed-about Broadway productions: Disney's Frozen the Musical, Tina Fey's musicalization of her hit movie Mean Girls, and the two-part Harry Potter and the Cursed Child from London. But you don't need to shell out big bucks to give your kids a memorable live entertainment experience in NYC—plenty of engaging family productions are playing off Broadway for a lot less.

This winter there are wonderful options for toddlers to teens, including interactive shows created specifically for the preschool set (A Book of Hours and Waves, All That Glows Sees ), stage adaptations of popular picture books such as A Sick Day for Morris McGee and Owen & Mzee the Musical, and eye-popping spectacles for the whole family (Bromance and Marvel Universe Live!).

Best of all, most of these nearly two dozen shows cost $25 or under, so you can take the whole family for less than the price of one Broadway ticket.

A Dozen Times Square Restaurants for Kid-Friendly Eats

Finding a family-friendly Times Square restaurant that doesn't belong in a mall might be more difficult than navigating the costumed-character-crammed sidewalks of the area with a stroller. The presence of Applebee's, Chevys, Olive Garden, and TGI Friday's might leave you feeling as if you're in the 'burbs, not the crossroads of the world.

But just as there are things to do with kids in Times Square beyond the tourist attractions, there are also a variety of off-the-beaten-track, family-friendly eateries that serve tasty cuisine reflecting our melting pot of a city.

Next time you're in the Theater District, whether seeing a Broadway show, entertaining guests, or just passing through, skip the chains and try one of these 12 kid-friendly Times Square restaurants.

Dyker Heights Christmas Lights: Tour Brooklyn's Holiday Hot Spot

For years I had been hearing about the awesome Christmas displays in Dyker Heights, Brooklyn. I'd seen plenty of videos and photos online. But once I saw those jaw-dropping sights in person, I knew visiting "Dyker Lights" would become a family holiday tradition.

Living in upper Manhattan, reaching Dyker Heights, Brooklyn is a serious schlep. It's really not doable via public transportation, especially at night with kids in tow. One year I hitched a ride with a neighbor, but the following I decided to play tourist and go on A Slice of Brooklyn's Christmas Lights guided bus tour. If you're considering taking the kids to Dyker Heights this holiday season but are wondering about the best way to go, here's how the two experiences compare, plus details on a third, more budget-friendly option.