While we love spotlighting all of the FREE and inexpensive activities New York City has to offer families, sometimes it's fun to toss your budget aside and splurge on an unforgettable, extra-special experience. Whether you're celebrating a big birthday, holiday, or a stellar report card, visiting on vacation, or just feel like treating your child to some amazing memories, the Big Apple is full of over-the-top options you can't enjoy anywhere else in the world. We've rounded up 10 of our favorites, from ideas to make the best Broadway shows even better, to up close and personal sporting events, to new ways to see our beloved city from the air—and beyond!
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
In TADA! Youth Theater's The History Mystery, an hourlong musical, a trio of history-hating teens is magically transported back in time to meet Martin Luther King, Jr., Eleanor Roosevelt, and others when they were adolescents. Not only do they learn about the experiences that helped shape these iconic figures, they also see how the past impacts our present. For school-age kids living in today's difficult political climate, it's a fun but fact-packed look at how every person, even a child, has the ability to affect positive change.
Winter 2017 in New York City is loaded with cool children's theater. Recently, we spotlighted a pair of high-profile family musicals coming to Broadway this season: long-running London hit Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and a screen-to-stage adaptation of the animated movie Anastasia.
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 tweens, including interactive shows created specifically for the preschool set (Shadow Play and Ear, Nose, and Tail ), eye-popping spectacles for all ages (Erth's Dinosaur Zoo Live and Cirque-tacular's Snowkus Pocus), and stage adaptations of popular picture books such as Elephant & Piggie and Please Bring Balloons. Best of all, most of these shows cost $25 or under, so you can take the whole family for less than the price of one Broadway ticket.
Manhattan may have the glamorous department store holiday windows, but when it comes to private homes decked out for the season, the outer boroughs have it beat. We're not talking about a few strings of twinkling lights and a blowup Santa. Why, these holiday houses are so well-lit, it's amazing they don't cause power blackouts.
We've written about some of these Christmas houses in the past, but here we have photos, precise addresses, a map, and in some cases the stories behind these destination displays that make the schlepping worthwhile—we know, we've schlepped. Considering most are in the far-flung reaches of Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx, and Staten Island, you really need to drive. If you want to avoid the crowds and traffic jams, go early in the evening on a weekday. These places tend to get busy on weekends.
Unless you're a screen-free family, chances are you and your kids have seen Rankin/Bass' classic, stop-motion holiday TV special Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer—probably many times. After all, it's been airing annually on CBS since it debuted in 1964! And if not, you certainly have heard a thing or two about the most famous reindeer of all.
With its iconic aesthetic, and kooky but cute characters like Hermey the aspiring dentist elf, gold prospector Yukon Cornelius, an entire island of misfit toys, and the red-nose afflicted hero, the somewhat surreal tale charms children and sparks warm waves of nostalgia in parents. It was inevitable that some enterprising producers would adapt the property for a live stage show. The big questions are: Is the live version any good; is it worth the money; and which ages is it best suited for? We've got the answers, plus links to deeply discounted tickets!
The heroine of Disney's new animated feature Moana may be the daughter of her Polynesian tribe's chief, but don't go calling her a princess. When her partner in adventure, the demigod Maui, snarkily insists that, "If you wear a dress and have an animal sidekick, you’re a princess,” Moana challenges his preconceived notion—as she does throughout the movie. Yes, from a marketing point of view, she's the latest in a long line of Disney royalty. Yet her character defies and redefines that role. She's a powerful, self-possessed young woman of color who battles climate change and doesn't need a man to save her. In fact, there's zero romance in this film; it's not even mentioned. Instead, she spends most of the flick bickering and bonding with Maui, who acts as a kind of goofy, surrogate big brother on their mission to save Moana's imperiled island homeland.
But while the film's feminist and multicultural elements make Moana feel decidedly 21st century, story-wise it follows the studio's tried-and-true formula of a princess—make that future chieftain—on a dangerous (but inevitably successful) quest. Just how scary is it? We've got the scoop, plus whether it's worth splurging to see her escapades in 3D.
'Tis the season to get the gang all dressed up to see some holiday shows. While there are plenty of spectacles to splurge on beyond the Radio City Christmas Spectacular and all those Nutcrackers, if you've got young children you may not want to blow all of your bucks on theater tickets.
That's why our roundup includes a range of productions, from inexpensive, low-key offerings perfect for fidgety preschoolers, to extravaganzas that are worth the investment. Bonus: We've got the scoop on how to save money to a few of the higher-priced offerings.
From live stage adaptations of holiday classics such as A Charlie Brown Christmas and Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer to tot-friendly puppet shows and jaw-dropping circus skills, here are our top 14 holiday shows for NYC families.
By the end of the year, five of our top 10 Broadway shows for kids will have closed, including longtime favorite Matilda. But the good news is, the family shows must go on!
This spring, a pair of highly anticipated new musicals based on beloved children's properties are heading to NYC: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, inspired by both Roald Dahl's iconic book and the classic 1971 flick; and Anastasia, based on the 1997 animated movie about a Russian orphan who may be royalty. Although performances for both productions don't start until March, tickets already are on sale and make for amazing experiential holiday gifts the whole family can enjoy (even you, mom and dad).
We've got the scoop on these two kid-centric tuners and why they should make your 2017 bucket list.