Stephanie Ogozalek

Stephanie Ogozalek

Stephanie Ogozalek's picture

Stephanie was only eight-years-old when she watched Rhoda Morgenstern attempt to toss her hat into the air in the middle of a busy, '70s NYC street. She knew right away that she had to live there. Nearly 40 years later, Stephanie does live here, is married with a son, and can’t imagine residing anywhere else. In addition to being mom and all the “jobs” that come with that title, she is a freelance writer whose work has appeared in the magazines Saveur, Chile Pepper and Family Fun, and on Disney’s website Go.com. She makes sure the Mommy Poppins NYC Events Calendar is chock-full of the best the Big Apple has to offer, and shares her family's adventures in her many posts. If you're planning a cool kids' event, let her know at stephanie@mommypoppins.com. You can follow her on Google+.

Latest posts by Stephanie Ogozalek

7 NYC Arcades for Kid Video Game Birthday Parties

Arcades are an ideal place to celebrate a kid's birthday. Blinking lights, spinning wheels, ringing bells, and mechanical jingles give arcades a festive atmosphere, and the assortment of amusements offers something for everyone. If you have a rare child who isn't a video-game enthusiast, these gaming parlors usually offer air hockey, skee-ball, and basketball games; some even have laser tag. These kid-pleasing party spots are full service, so hosts only have to provide a cake or cupcakes. Many offer games that award tickets redeemable for prizes to fill a goody bag.

Our list of seven arcades for kid birthday parties features spots in every New York City borough, from Manhattan to Staten Island, plus a mobile arcade that comes to you. Read on for all the details.

Looking for more birthday party ideas? Check out our NYC Party Guide or directory of birthday fun suppliers.

Dine-In NYC Movie Theaters for Family Brunch or a Night Out

After a recent boom in dine-in movie theaters, NYC parents can combine dinner or brunch and a movie in one fell swoop for a perfect family outing, special occasion or treat for a deserving kid, or a much-needed date night. These theaters and screening rooms offer restaurant-style eats, and a fun, new way see movies, no matter what your age, and range from seriously swanky to indie theater cool. 

The dining menus at these theaters, many of which are brand-new in the last year, are packed with easy-to-eat snacks, some even offer sandwiches, salads, and tacos. While none of the theaters here have kids' menus they all serve up things sure to delight little moviegoers. Plus, these theaters have full bars so adults can indulge in a glass of wine, a local beer or a cocktail, which just might be the thing to help parents sit through some of these kid flicks.

Read on to find out what you can expect from your visit. 

A World of Miniatures Will Open in NYC with Gulliver's Gate

UPDATE: We're hosting a Facebook Live scavenger hunt with lots of ticket giveaways and a sneak preview of amazing Gulliver's Gate. Follow the Mommy Poppins Facebook page on Tuesday, 3/7 at 4PM to participate.

One of the biggest things to debut this year in New York City will be quite small. It's Gulliver's Gate. We told you about the miniature world coming to Times Square in our 2017 GoList and now are back with a deeper look into this incredible not-yet-open display.  

Scheduled to open in early April near Times Square, Gulliver's Gate (named with a nod to Jonathan Swift's famous protagonist Lemuel Gulliver) shrinks the globe and even some time periods to Lilliputian proportions, small enough to fit on a football field or, for us city people, one block. 

The immersive display features iconic manmade and natural landmarks from around the globe set in 300 tiny scenes. But it won't be only something to look (er, gape) at. Gulliver's Gate features interactive elements, educational tidbits, and even a chance to have yourself shrunk down and placed in the exhibit. It's a perfect opportunity to show your kids the world without ever leaving NYC.  

Hobby Shops for NYC Kids: Model Trains, Planes, and Robots

Just like authentic New York soda fountains and ma-and-pa stores, old-fashioned hobby shops are seemingly an endangered species in NYC. But they're not dead yet.

Thanks to the popularity of the maker movement, hobby shops are enjoying a resurgence as kids (and grown-ups) look for fun, hands-on projects that range from assembling intricate models to flying remote-control airplanes, building robots, and racing model trains. That last option is one of my 9-year-old's favorite pastimes.

Although you can buy most of these kits online, visiting a brick-and-mortar hobby shop can be an inspiring experience for children who like to tinker, experiment and create. Plus, they get a chance to meet their fellow enthusiasts and learn from the vets. Whether your kids are into planes, trains, or automobiles, here are 10 hobby shops across the five boroughs where families can stock up on all their DIY model-building needs.

DIY Chocolate: NYC Spots Where Kids Can Make Their Own Candy

Hitting one of NYC's cornucopia of candy shops is nice, but being able to make your own treats is seriously sweet. A do-it-yourself chocolate workshop is a creative hands-on way to satisfy your kid's sweet tooth.

I enjoy sharing culinary experiences with my 10-year-old son, but since he's a bit picky, it can be hard to talk him into cooking or going on a food crawl. However, when sweets are involved that gets his attention, and I suspect your kids' too?

Check out these five NYC spots below where making chocolate is always on the menu.

See National Parks for Free in 2017 on These Free Entrance Days

A trip to one of our nation's incredible national parks may already be on your family travel to-do list for 2017. Whether it is or not, you may want to check out the just released FREE admission days at some of the country's largest parks. Courtesy of the National Park Service, the 10 FREE days all take place on easy-for-planning weekends, school breaks, and national holidays at select parks.

While many parks have free admission every day of the year, more than 100 of them, including some of the most popular destinations, charge $15 per person or more. Those waiving admission for these 10 holidays include some of those iconic, bucket list spots like the Grand Canyon, Yellowstone, Yosemite, Acadia, Zion, Shenandoah, Glacier National Park, Olympic National Park, Harpers Ferry, Everglades National Park, and the Cape Cod Seashore. The freebies also extend to a few historical sites under the National Park Service's purview, like the New York home of celebrated American president Franklin D. Roosevelt and national historic parks like Morristown National Historic Park, the scene of an American Revolutionary War battle.

Mark your calendars as the first FREE admission day is coming up this month, Monday, January 19, Martin Luther King Day; and now, read on to find out the rest of the FREE days, and get a peek at some of the kid-friendly parks that are waiving admission. 

Basketball Classes and Lessons for NYC Kids

Baseball may be our national pastime, but drop by any of NYC's parks and it seems like basketball is our local favorite.

In New York City, there are many basketball programs that teach kids the basics in friendly, non-competitive environments. They differ from basketball leagues, which assume players are ready for full-on competition. With these intro-to-basketball classes, kids learn the rules and fundamentals, and work up to one-on-one or small-team play.

Here are 16 basketball programs for kids in NYC, along with info on where to find one-off FREE clinics. You can find more posts about kids' sports classes in our Classes Guide and Directory of Class Listings

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