NYC’s Best Spots for Photo Booth Fun

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There’s just something about an old-fashioned photo booth. Despite it feeling a little archaic in the age of the cell phone, it’s hard to pass on the opportunity to step behind the velvet curtain to snap a few fun-filled photos. Nowadays, believe it or not, there are still some traditional photo booths in New York — and a select few still use film. (What?!) For an alternative to the formal family portrait, cram into one of these little photo booth “studios” and let the magic happen! Want more? Head to NYC’s family-friendly arcades! Looking for some old-school New York fun? Try these “Vanishing New York” spots! 

The Ace Hotel

The Ace Hotel is an NYC gem any time of the day. Grab a meal, a quick coffee (they serve Stumptown), or enjoy its free lobby wifi to get some work done, all while your kids enjoy the legendary photo booth. Located in the Flatiron District, this spot is also fun to go grab drinks and dinner without the kids as well!

850 Broadway
Flatiron District
212-679-2222
Online: acehotel.com

Kiehl’s

The folks at Kiehl's want you to capture how radiant their products make your skin look right in store. The Kiehl’s locations in Manhattan's Meatpacking District and Brooklyn Heights have a full photo booth ready to capture your picture perfect complexions.

400 W. 14th St. 
212-337-0406

Online: kiehls.com

UNIQLO Fifth Ave.

Shopping and taking pictures, sounds like a match made in heaven, especially when you have the kids with you. (It’s a good way to keep them from getting bored.) We guess that’s what UNIQLO had in mind when it installed a photo booth inside its massive 89,000-square-foot flagship store on fifth Ave.. Take note!: It’s free for a strip of four pictures. (You will no doubt “pay” for the snaps with the purchase of some of the brand’s duds.) Also good to know: there's also a Starbuck inside the store and cell phone charging stations, so you could stay a while...

UNIQLO
666 5th Ave.
Midtown
Online: uniqlo.com

7B Horseshoe Bar

This spot goes by three names: “The Horseshoe Bar", “Vazac’s”, and “7B”. On the outside it looks like a classic Lower East Side dive bar, because, well, it is. But it's got more than that going for it on the inside. With a bar that's actually shaped like a horseshoe, major LES cred and grittiness, this place has also made cameos in major films like the The Godfather II, Crocodile Dundee, and The Verdict. Its latest star turn? In the incredible, dimension-bending Netflix series, Russian Doll. Photo booth photos $5 for two photo strips.

7B Horseshoe Bar aka Vazacs
108 Avenue B (at E 7th St)
Lower East Side
212-677-6742
Online: facebook.com/7bHorseshoeBarAkaVazacs

The Smith

Getting your kids ready to enjoy brunch at The Smith is as easy as “1, 2, cheese!” the restaurant's Midtown, East Village, Lincoln Square, and NoMad locations all have photo booths for you to enjoy, with some located in the basement by the restrooms, and some, like in NoMad, actually in the restroom. 

55 Third Ave.
East Village
212-420-9800

1900 Broadway
Lincoln Square
212-496-5700

956 Second Ave.
Midtown
212-644-2700

1150 Broadway
NoMad
212-685-4500

Online: thesmithrestaurant.com

Joe & The Juice

Is your face photo-ready thanks to kale and beet smoothies? If so, stop by Joe & The Juice to grab some healthy grub and snap a few photos in its photo booth (near the back of the shop). This is one of the more spacious juice/café spots in NYC, so feel free to bring the kids and stay a while.

67 Spring St. (btwn Crosby & Lafayette St)
Soho
Online: joejuice.com

M&M World New York Store

The M&M store is the ideal spot for kids to explore the magical world of chocolate and document it all with a photo booth keepsake. The three floors of M&M themed candy and gifts is sure to keep both adults and children occupied, but after you’ve got your chocolate fix be sure to head to the photo booth on the 2nd floor and take home some snaps to remember the outing!

1600 Broadway
Times Square
212-295-3850
Online: mmsworld.com

Juice Generation

Yes, another juice joint! While not exactly a photobooth (pics are uploaded to Juice Generation's social media accounts) this one is easier on the environment. Head over to Juice Generation’s Financial District location for a tasty smoothie, an Acai bowl, or even a baked good (don’t worry, even those are healthy here). Hop in the 21st century both to share the health!

Juice Generation
101 Maiden Lane
212-531-1110
Online: Juicegeneration.com

photo: Bubby's

Bubby's Tribeca

Breakfast, lunch, dinner and pies! Oh my! More than two decades ago Bubby's started off by baking pies, and now it’s a full-fledged restaurant with a couple of locations around the city. (Note: they serve some of the best pancakes in the city.) But head to the one on Hudson Street for a little bit of top model action to take some pics. Four black and white photos, $5.

Bubby's
120 Hudson St.
Tribeca
212-219-0666
Online:  bubbys.com

—Elaina Herndon and Ilyssa Smith

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Nailed It! Spas for Kids for Birthdays & Every Day

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With so many spas and nail salons in NYC, it’s no wonder we’ve got nail salons and spas just for kids in town. (As well as grownup salons that will cater to your mini-me.) Perfect for a mommy & me outing just because, or a fabulous spa birthday party, these businesses are very serious about pampering to the max. Some are explosions of pink, others are more subdued and sophisticated—all will leave everyone feeling fab. Here are our top picks for the best kids spas in NYC!

photo: Pink Princess Nails

For Mobile Manis & Pedis

Pink Princess Nails will bring the spa to you in the form of these chic teepees. A six-hour rental for eight kids is $450, and is available anywhere in the Bronx, Manhattan, and Westchester County/White Plains, New York. Pink Princess Nails also has a Mobile Spa Party option for the same rate, if you prefer a non-teepee option. 

Online: pinkprincessnails.com

photo: Milk & Cookies Salon & Spa

For the Cool, Co-ed Birthday Party: Milk and Cookies Kids Spa and Salon

Described as the place where “fun, beauty, and delicious meet” Milk and Cookies Kids Spa is true to its slogan. This Upper East side spot offers great spa services that will inspire your kids to both look and feel great. (With milk and cookies at the end of each service, how could they not!) Milk and Cookies Spa provides amazing birthday packages for both boys and girls, and includes cookies, milk, ice cream and even party favor gift bags for each guest. With services like Yummy facials, Make your own lip gloss, and Slimy booger manicures, your kids will have a blast with their friends and snap some great photos.

Milk & Cookies Kids Spa and Salon
1196 First Avenue (Between 64th & 65th st.)
Upper East Side
646-850-4032
Online: milkandcookieskidsspa.com

photo: Rachel Sokol 

For a Fresh Spot in Queens: Lollipop Spa
Located in the heart of Queens, Lollipop Spa is a just as cute as it sounds. Whimsy with touches of Hello Kitty décor, the inside is cozy, inviting, and, of course, pink. There are 3 party packages available, ranging in price from $409 to $529. Or, just book an appointment anytime for your little princess. Solo, non-party appointments for kids are $25 and include: Mani & Pedi, Glitter Eye Makeup, Pink Robe, and a special, shiny surprise. Every girl needs a pop of pink, and a dash of glitter in their life—why not pamper them at Lollipop?

65-23 Grand Avenue
Maspeth, NY
718-326-0033
Online: Lollipopspa.com

 

photo: Emer D. via Yelp

For the Sweetest Spot in Greenpoint: Cotton Candy Spa
Visiting this adorable venue would make even storybook character Pinkalicious squeal with delight. Of course, the whole place is decorated in shades in pink with a classic black-and-white checkered floor. A variety of spa packages are available for the birthday Diva and their guests, ranging in price from $409 (Pink Package) to Rainbow Package ($469), plus sales tax. Each birthday party is two hours and include mani/peds with glitter designs, use of pink robes, soothing facial, makeup application, cupcakes, pizza, and more. Add-ons include glitter tattoos, hair extensions, tween magazines, and the chance to make a personalized perfume, depending on the birthday package. Packages are for 9 guests; $25 per each additional child. All spa packages are recommended for kids ages 4 to 12, and at every party refreshments are available for the adults, too.

587 Humboldt St.
Greenpoint
718-388-8197
Online: CottonCandySpa.com

photo: Pink Lemon Park Facebook page 

For the Young, Native Manhattanite: Pink Lemon Park 
Known for being one of the most sanitary salons in Manhattan—especially because they don’t use whirlpool foot baths, super sanitize all their nail equipment, and every customer gets their own buffer and nail file—Pink Lemon Park offers glam salon services for kids.  Kids can indulge themselves in: Little Princess Manicure (8-and-under) $10, Tween Princess Manicure $15, Little Princess Pedicure $20, Tween Princess Pedicure (9-12 years) $35. Party packages include Little Princess Children’s Package (manicure + pedicure + cupcake/drink) and Tween Princess Package (manicure + pedicure + cupcake/drink). Call for pricing info on spa party packages. (Hair & makeup services available upon request, as an add-on.)

1335 Madison Ave.
Upper East Side
212-348-8890
Online: pinklemonpark.com

 

photo: Seriously Spoiled Salon and Spa via Facebook

For the Princess in Training Spa Birthday Party… Seriously Spoiled Salon and Spa
At Seriously Spoiled Salon and Spa, the name says it all. This spa for girls (ages 18 and under) has all the pampering every young girl could want. With services ranging from mani/pedis to hairstyling, and fun accessories like luxurious robes and pink lemonade out of champagne glasses, Seriously Spoiled will make sure your birthday celebration is one to remember. With fun and luxurious birthday packages  (including a limited edition Glitter Party!) Seriously Spoiled will make sure all of your guests leave feeling like a princess, especially the birthday girl! Our favorite feature allows girls to bring their American Girl Dolls to the party, and the spa will also provide services to your doll for a fun added plus (extra charge, call directly for details).

Seriously Spoiled Salon and Spa
75-24 Metropolitan Ave
Middle Village, Queens
718-326-4300
Online: seriouslyspoiledsalonandspa.com

 

For the At-home, Spa Birthday Party: Ritzy Glitzy Girlz Club
Think pink! Turn your home into a spa fit for a diva with Ritzy Glitzy Girlz Club’s fun, glamorous party packages. Their team will come to you fully prepared to get the party started with whatever package you choose. With services like cooling peppermint facials and sparkling manicures and pedicures, your children and their guests will be sure to enjoy a party that’s nothing short of fabulous, all in the comfort of your own home. If you’d prefer, all packages are also offered on-location at Ritzy Glitzy’s Pink Boutique.

Ritzy Glitzy Girlz Club
245 Jericho Turnpike
New Hyde Park
516-327-4526
Online: ritzyglitzygirlzclub.com

 

photo: Just 4 Kids Salon & Birthday Party Boutique via Yelp

For a Spa Party with a Theme: Just 4 Kids
With fourteen different themed birthday parties ranging from ‘Alice in Wonderland’ to ‘Munster Madness’, this popular Hoboken spa for children has got you covered for a maxed out themed spa party. With party themes for girls, boys and co-ed gatherings, Just 4 Kids  takes themes to the next level and customizes services accordingly. Each party includes a professional coordinator and hostess, fun take-homes, and a special gift for the birthday boy or girl.

720 Monroe St., Suite E-313
Hoboken, NJ
201-653-5887
Online: just4kidssalon.com

For the Luxurious Family-Outing Spa birthday party: Allure Day Spa

Midtown's Allure Day Spa has lots of options for parties, including Spa for Boys ($84.95 per person), the Pampered Princess package (mani/pedi and facial, for $89.95 per person), Family Day (a personalized experience for the whole clan). They'll even bring the spa to you, setting up treatment chairs and tables at your home and providing everything from mani/pedis, to braids, up-dos, facials and more. Treatments come with a robe and slippers to wear, and chocolate and sparkling cider!

Allure Day Spa
139 E. 55th St.
Midtown
212-644-5500
www.alluredayspa.com

For Spa AND Sports: Artistic Stitch

This popular sports complex in Glendale, Queens also happens have a perfectly pink deluxe spa party room for birthday kids wanting to be pampered—with manis and pedis, crystal tiaras, spa robes, scented towels, glitter hairspray and more. But what we especially love about Artistic Stitch spa parties is that you can combine the primping with some sporty fun, too! (See a combo party in action, here.) Basic spa packages start at $595 for an hour and 45 minutes of fun for seven kids, with the birthday person free. You also get pizza, paper goods and invitations. More deluxe packages for larger groups (there are many, going up to $2,995, include a dance party element and DJ, robes to keep, ice cream cake, popcorn and candy and other add-ons to choose from. 

7908- Cooper Ave.
Glendale, Queens 
718-416-1380
Online: artisticstitchsportscomplex.com

For Serious Party Packages: Fresh As a Daisy Kids

This Canarsie, Brooklyn spot offers services for kids ages three to 14, and will throw a bash that will make your birthday child (and guests) feel totally fab. Guests settle in to pink chairs and fluffy robes for Orbeez manicures, flavored pedicures, an edible facial, and then take to the "pink carpet shoot." Cake, decor, and kid-friendly music is included, and add-ons range from glitter tattoos and makeup application to a keepsake tiara crown for the guest of honor. Minimum of five guests; call for rates. (FYI: they'll also come to your house as a mobile spa!)

Fresh As A Daisy Spa
9305 Glenwood Rd. 
Canarsie
917-650-9402
Online: freshasdaisy.com

photo: via Dashing Diva Greenpoint Facebook page

For a Location (Probably) Near You: Dashing Diva
The positively pink nail salon chain is happy to accommodate a group of tiny divas. For guests eight years old and younger, manicures and pedicures are $8 and $20, respectively; it’s $12 per mani and $20 per pedi for kids nine and up. Call in advance to book and inquire about maximum number of guests; a 50 percent deposit is required to book. Note: It’s likely you won’t be able to bring food into the salon, so plan to cake it somewhere else.

Dashing Diva
Locations throughout the New York Area
Online: dashingdiva.com

—Ilyssa Smith & Rachel Sokol

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Where You Can Zipline In & Around NYC

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No one could blame you and the kids for wanting to get out of the house, feel the wind in your hair and maybe let out a primal scream or two. Fall is the time to get in your last licks on ziplines before they close for the season—and the views? [Chef’s kiss.] Here are places you can go ziplining with the kids in or near NYC on Long Island, in the Poconos, Connecticut and elsewhere. Be sure to book your tickets in advance and sign the waiver! (In many cases, you’ll find a ropes course, too!)

For a Fresh Place in Westchester: Boundless Adventures

The newest place to zipline in the area, Boundless Adventures is an aerial obstacle course that incorporates many ziplines of varying heights and lengths. You get to choose from four courses, with challenges ranging from easy to difficult. The six-acre park opened in late 2019 and is located on the campus of SUNY Purchase. You can get a discounted, two-hour ticket here if you go during off hours, they offer a night climb (complete with lasers), and host birthday parties as well. Covid-19 precautions are in place, with mandatory reservations, increased cleaning, waivers and more. 

Mar. 27-June 12, Fri., 1-8 p.m., Sat. & Sun. 9 a.m. - 8 p.m.; June 13-Sept. 6, Sun. - Thurs., 9 a.m. - 8 p.m., Fri. - Sun., 9 a.m. - 10 p.m.
Tickets: Ages 12 and up, $63; ages 7-11, $58; discounts for seniors, military & college students 
735 Anderson Hill Rd. 
Purchase, NY 
Westchester
914-893-4550
Online: boundlessadventures.net

For a Zip With a View of Lady Liberty: Adventures at Governors Island

Adventures at Governors Island offers a few ways to have fun on the island. Among them is the "Flywire Zipline," a 300-foot ride that starts from a 35-foot peak and reaches up to 21 miles per hour. Two adventurers fly side-by-side, and views on the way down include the Statue of Liberty and the skyline of lower Manhattan. (Riders must be at least 40 inches tall and weigh between 45 and 250 pounds. Cost is $14 per person, or $25 for two people. Additional attractions in this fun zone include the 3,600-square-feet Amazen' Maze (that requires finding your way out and cracking a code while you're in there); a 3D climbing challenge, and Mini Golf. check the park's Facebook account for breaking info on hours due to weather, etc. 

Closed Mon-Wed., Thurs. & Fri., Noon-5p.m., Sat. & Sun., 11 a.m.-6 p.m.
Governors Island, western shore, opposite Liggett Terrace 
Online: facebook.com

photo: New York Zipline Canopy Tours at Hunter Mountain

To Zip in the Catskills: New York Zipline Canopy Tours

Zip above it all at New York Zipline Canopy Tours. The company recommends its mid-mountain tour for families and beginners, which has six ziplines and four elevated bridges; the longest zipline on the tour measures 650-feet and is 60 feet above the ground. (You can come back for the Sky Rider Tour and the Night Zip!) Remember this spot in the fall, when the foliage provides a stunning backdrop for your thrills! You must weigh at least 50 pounds and no more than 250 to do the tour; height limit is 6'5".

Fri.-Sun., 9:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. through May 31; seven days a week, 9:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. starting June 1
Tickets: $99/person
7740 Main St. 
Hunter Mountain Ski Bowl
Hunter, NY
Online: ziplinenewyork.com

photo: Julie Larsen Maher/WCS

For the Zip at the Zoo: Treetop Adventure and Nature Trek at the Bronx Zoo

The Bronx Zoo's Treetop Adventure and Nature Trek is home to a couple of ziplines. There are some new rules, of course. Tickets must be reserved and purchased online in advance, masks are required at all times, and you must practice social distancing.

Spanning more than 400 feet in each direction, the pair of ziplines travel 50 feet above the Bronx River, with the platform for the zip back even higher than the initial launch pad. (You zip across, then zip back.) The zipline is outfitted with dual, side-by-side lines for double the zipping fun.

Additionally, each course of the ropes course Treetop Adventure does include a short zipline element in various forms, such as the boat zip, pictured above.  Participants must be age seven or older, between 50 and 275 pounds, and able to reach 5’6″ from flat feet. Visitors can choose to do just the ropes course, just the zipline, or opt for a combo ticket to do it all. Read our full review here! 

Bronx Zoo Treetop Adventure and Nature Trek
Tickets: $59.95/combo Treetop Adventure and Zipline; $24.95/zipline only, $129.95/unlimited annual pass
2300 Southern Blvd.
Bronx
718-367-1010
Online: bronxzoo.com

To Zip Along the Beach & Lots of Options

You can zip, climb and jump at Wild Play Element Park in Jones Beach. Opening day for 2021 was April 16. You can see the COVID-19 safety measures Wild Play is instituting here

This extreme fun spot features a 700-foot zipline along the beach, and there are four ziplines side-by-side, so you can zip as a family if you like. (Kids must be seven or older and minimum height is 4' 8".)   There's also adventure courses (rope ladders, platforms, ziplines, etc.) for all levels—classic, extreme, and a kids course, that's just 15 feet in the air. In search of even more thrills? Try the WTF Jump (What's To Fear? Jump), a quick, but safe descent from 40 feet off the ground. Regular zipline is $19.99; kid's zipline is $24.99, and adults can come along to help. 

Fri.-Sun., April 16-May 21; Daily, May22-Sept. 6
Wild Play Jones Beach
2600 Ocean Pkwy.
Wantagh, NY
Online: wildplay.com

To Traipse Among the Trees: The Adventure Park at Long Island

The Adventure Park at Long Island's "Aerial Forest Adventure Park" is an elevated obstacle course of sorts made up of 15 ziplines and 140 challenge bridges. (Its newest one, "Grand Rapids", has nine ziplines.) Spread out over seven acres of woodland, the park features five different color-coded trails (similar to those found at ski resorts) so each member of the family can pick their own degree of difficulty. For really little ones ages three to six, there's an Adventure Playground that's just 24 inches off the ground. Reserve tickets online for three hours of fun, which also includes the park's safety orientation. Ziplining is for those ages seven and up. 

The Adventure Park at Long Island does lots of special sessions, like "Glow in the Park" (evenings with lights and music, $54), "Firepit Friday" (a session that ends with s'mores around the fire, $48) and "Last Call" at the end of the day when you can climb for a reduced price of $48. Book online for a reduced rate. They also do birthday parties!

Tickets: $64/14 and up, $54/seven to 13
Fri.-Sun, April 5-June 16; Daily, June 17-Sept. 6
Adventure Park at Long Island
75 Colonial Springs Rd.
Wheatley Heights, NY
613-983-3844
Online: longislandadventurepark.org

photo: Camelback Resort

To Tag Team with a Friend: Camelback Resort

Just 90 minutes away from New York City in the Pocono Mountains, Camelback Mountain Adventures at Camelback Resort is home to the longest twin Zip-Flyers in North America (that's 4000 feet!), as well as 1000-foot dual zip lines, a TreeTops adventure course, and Pennsylvania's only Mountain Coaster. Riders must be at least six years of age and 60 pounds for ziplines, and drivers on the coaster must be at least nine years old. Other height and weight restrictions may apply. Tickets sales for TreeTop Adventure and 4000-foot zipline coming soon. 

Opens April 2, 2021
Tickets: $22/1000-foot zipline; $17/mountain coaster 
301 Resort Dr.
Tannersville, PA
570-629-1663 Ext. 3
Online: camelbackmountainadventures.com

To Get Your Adrenaline Pumping: The Adventure Center at Skytop Lodge

Not for the faint of heart, Skytop's 3000-foot Treetop Adventure Course includes 16 zip-lines, plus obstacles like elevated bridge-ways, logs hanging from ropes to walk across, ladders, and a cargo net. Reservations for the four-hour experience must be made in advance, and if one high-octane journey isn't enough, you can opt to stay the night at Skytop's historic mountain lodge and do it all again the next day. Paintball, rock climbing, and more await the adventurous. Riders must be over 10 years old, be able to reach 5’11, weigh less than 275 pounds, have a waist size smaller that 42 inches and thigh size smaller than 26 inches.

Tickets: $60/person for non-guests; $50/person for guests
The Adventure Center at Skytop Lodge
1 Skytop Lodge Rd.
Poconos, PA
Online: skytop.com

To Make the Most of a Day Trip: Essex County Treetop Adventure Course at the Turtle Back Zoo

Here's another place to combine your zipline with a zoo—although you can do the zipline, and the Treetop Adventure Course, a "world-class aerial obstacle course", without even entering the zoo. There are two adventure courses here, Junior and Adult, 10-feet and 35-feet high, respectively. You must be at least 6 years old and weigh 60 pounds to do the Junior adventure and the zipline here. To get a guaranteed spot, make a reservation online. Temperature checks and face masks are required. 

Weekends only, starting April 17
Tickets: $15/zip-line; Junior Course/$20; Adult Course/$30; Combo ticket Junior/$27, Combo ticket adult/$35
560 Northfield Ave.
West Orange, NJ
Online: turtlebackzoo.com/ropes-course

To Do 2 in 1: Boating and Ziplining at Kittatinny Canoes

Despite the company's name, Kittatinny Canoes can also hook you up with a zipline — dual racing ziplines, as a matter of fact, and the only one on the Delaware River. Zip from Kittatinny's private mountain and drop 36 stories at speeds up to 60 miles per hour before hitting land again. (The up to two-minute ride features views of the Delaware River, the trees below, and cars you can wave to.) Zipliners must weigh at least 60 pounds and be eight or older, but children who are 40 pounds or more can canoe, kayak or raft even if they can't fly through the air.

April –October, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.
Tickets: $30/Weekdays; $40 Weekend & holidays. Discounts are given if multiple rides are purchased per person and for bundling activities.
3854 State Route 97
Barryville, NY
Online: kittatinny.com

To Adventure Locally: Adventure Course at Alley Pond Park

If you're dreaming of an American Gladiator sort of zipline experience for the family, get ready to pinch yourself, because that exact scenario exists in Queens. Created as a team-building exercise for groups, the Adventure Course at Alley Pond Park tests a participant's courage, strength, and endurance for free on Sundays — and it's within city limits! The free Sunday programs are held August - October 31  at 9:30 a.m. and 1 p.m., weather permitting. Individuals are welcome, just make sure to get there early; participation is first-come, first served. In August, you can pre-register each Monday via lottery.

Adventure Course at Alley Pond Park
Alley Pond Main Path and Winchester Boulevard, off of Union Turnpike, Queens.
Online: nycgovparks.org

For an Indoor Starter Zipline: Kids 'N Shape in Queens or Staten Island

If you want to start off a little less extreme, check out either location of indoor playground and kids fitness center Kids 'N Shape, where in addition to lots of other diversions (bounce houses, slides, ball pits, tumbling mats, and oversized blocks and balls) there are indoor ziplines. Both locations (Staten Island or Howard Beach) hold Open Play sessions throughout the week, and the ziplines are opened periodically throughout these times. (A staffmember supervises.) Check the open play calendar for times. You must make a reservation in advance. Cost is $15 for two hours of open play.

162-26 Cross Bay Blvd.
Howard Beach
718-848-2052

153 Main St. 
Tottenville, NY
718-227-8300
Online: kidsnshape.com

— Mimi O’Connor

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Maybe you picked some cherries this summer, or any number of berries recently, but have you ever ventured into acres of flowers of all kinds and snipped a few stems right from the field? From wildflowers to sunflowers, zinnias, peonies and more, here are our favorite farms near NYC for flower picking.

For a Wide Variety: Brittany Hollow Farm

Head to Brittany Hollow Farm in the Hudson Valley for one of the best selections of pick-your-own flowers near NYC. Flower varieties include zinnias, cosmos, black-eyed susans, strawflowers, snapdragons, celosia, sunflowers, butterfly weed, statice, and more, and the farm is open July through early October. Flowers are $15 per bucket, and you take the bucket home with you—bring it back for $10 buckets all season long. The fields are open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. seven days a week.

Brittany Hollow Farm
7141 Albany Post Rd.
Rhinebeck, NY
845-417-7099
Online: brittanyhollowfarmflowers.strikingly.com

For "Gazillions" of Flowers, Veggies & A Winery: Terhune Orchards

A major player in the "you pick" scene, Terhune Orchards offers the chance to pick something throughout the growing season.  They offer a great selection of flowers here, available from late June to October. Planters and culinary herbs are also available on site, as are numerous other fruits and veggies—both in the fields for picking and the farm store for purchase. Terhune also operates its own winery. FYI: Leave your pets with a friend—they aren’t allowed on the farm. 

Terhune Orchards
330 Cold Soil Rd.
Princeton, NJ
609-924-2310
Online: terhuneorchards.com

 

For Gorgeous Blooms For the First Time: Spring Wind Farm

Lucky us. This New Jersey farm is offering a you-pick option for the very first time in 2021. The stunning blooms are grown sustainably, and flowers for picking include sunflowers, zinnias, cosmos, celosia, gomphrena and more. Pick for a mason jar or a three-gallon bucket; prices start at $16. Purchase tickets online in advance here

95 Holmes Mill Rd. 
Cream Ridge, NJ
Online: springwindfarm.com

For Super Sunflowers & Farm Fun: Johnson's Corner Farm

Johnson's Corner Farm loves its sunflowers. (The farm even holds Sunflower Celebrations.) In addition to lots of barnyard fun and picking produce, you can pick sunflowers for $1 a stem here, and zinnias for 25 cents each. Entrance to the field is $5/person on weekdays, and $6/person on weekends; buy tickets online to guarantee admission. 

Mon. – Fri. 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.; Sat. & Sun .,  10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Wed. & Fri. evenings, 5-7 p.m.
133 Church Rd. 
Medford, NJ
609-654-8643
Online: johnsonsfarm.com

For Lavender Lovers: Lavender By the Bay

To be fair, you can't pick the lavender at Lavender By the Bay, but it's a must for fans of this soothing herb, and peak bloom for French lavender is happening now, and more to come late summer! Plus: you can load up on sachets and sprigs in the gift shop. This farm has two locations on Long Island, growing more than 80,000 plants in hues of purple, lilac, white and beyond. (FYI: The Calverton spot is across the street from water park Splish Splash.) It's $12 to enter the field and stroll in the fragrant fields. Tickets must be purchased beforehand. 

Open daily, 9 a.m.-6 p.m.

7540 Main Rd.
East Marion, NY
631-477-1019
Online: lavenderbythebay.com

47 Manor Rd.
Calverton, NY 
631-477-1019

For a Butterfly Moment: Melick's Town Farm

You can pick apples and peaches at Melick’s, but from July through September its stunning gardens are open for picking as well. You'll find flowers such as zinnias, sunflowers and snapdragons here, and no appointment is necessary, but they do ask that you bring your own clippers. (They advise calling ahead to find out what is blooming before you head over.) The farm charges per stem and also has pre-picked bouquets and arrangements if you need to grab a bouquet on the go. Melick's Town Farm is open seven days a week from 9 a.m. to 6.pm., and on a nice day, butterflies flock to the gardens, making for nice Instagram fodder.

Melick’s Town Farm
170 Oldwick Rd.
Oldwick, NJ
908-439-2955
Online: melickstownfarm.com

 

For Flowers, Berries & A Side of Fresh Ice Cream: Patty’s Berries and Bunches

If you’re looking to ditch the scissors, but pick up some berries, this is the place to go. Patty's "bunches" are flowers, which are sold pre-picked and include blossoms such as sunflowers, dahlias, peonies, and zinnias. You can also pay $7.50 to walk through the flower fields for the perfect photo op!  The farm features an "Ice Cream Patch,” where visitors can buy scoops of seasonal flavors which are made with fresh ingredients grown on site. This 40-acre Long Island farm is one of our favorites for U-pick berries. Open daily, 9:00 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.

410 Sound Ave.
Mattituck, NY
631-298-4679
Online: pattysberriesandbunches.com

For Evergreen & Sunflower Mazes & Lots of Produce to Pick: Alstede Farms

Alstede is a popular place for picking many, many things. Not only can you pick your own flowers at Alstede Farms, they've also added a cute evergreen maze, which is included with admission. Picking season runs mid-July through September, and flowers go for $1 a stem. The farm is packed with beautiful sunflowers ready for picking, and the farm’s annual sunflower maze is also open for navigation. This farm is also one of our favorites for “U-pick” fruits & veggies as well. Sweet Corn, vegetables (peppers, eggplant, tomatoes), peaches, cantaloupe, nectarines, honeydew and canary melon are all in season during the “cut your own flower” season, so you can pick up some "Jersey Fresh" produce while you're at it. Check this page to see if flowers are open for picking. 

1 Alstede Farms Ln.
Chester, NJ
908-258-6245
Online: alstedefarms.com

— Mimi O’Connor

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Love to pick your own fruit? Cherries are the first crop to ripen in the summer, and June is cherry-picking time! (FYI: unlike apples, cherries all ripen at the same time, so you need to strike when that happens.) This season, you may need to make a reservation in advance, and farms recommend coming earlier rather than later, as it’s picking while supplies last. (Your best bet is to check a farm’s social media feeds before heading out.) Cherries are typically gone by early July, which means there won’t even be any in your CSA box. But you can still pick your own berries at one of these farms near NYC! 

New York

Lawrence Farms Orchards
Visit Lawrence Farms Orchards for a day out in the country. Bring along your basket to pick sweet (black, red, and white!) or sour cherries. After you’ve collected enough to make a pie or two it’s time to take the kids on a carriage ride around the farm. Stop in and visit the chickens and the goats, and check out the “Little Village” which is small-scale replica of an old fashioned New England farm town.

Good to know: Admission is $3 dollars a person (children under 2 free). Lawrence Farms offers special packages for birthday parties if you’re looking to host a bucolic kid’s celebration.

Where: 306 Frozen Ridge Rd, Newburgh, NY
Phone: 845-562-4268
Hours:  9 a.m – 4 p.m., daily
Online: lawrencefarmsorchards.com
Distance from NYC: 1.5 hours

Ochs Orchard
Take a trip to the scenic Hudson Valley and visit Ochs Orchard. When you’re done picking, stop in at the small petting zoo to see ducks, miniature goats, a Sicilian donkey and a miniature donkey. An on-site farm market sells other in-season fruits and homemade baked goods if you want to take even more bounty home.

Good to know: Ochs serves homemade ice cream from July through October, with many of the flavors made with the orchard’s own fruits. Also, leave your pooch at home, no dogs allowed here.

Where: 4 Ochs Lane, Warwick, NY
Phone: 845-986-1591
Hours:  9 a.m. to 5 p.m., call for days as they change weekly
Online: ochsorchard.net

Distance from NYC: 1.5 hours

Wickham’s Fruit Farm
With 200 acres of fruit, Wickham’s Fruit Farm is one of the larger u-pick farms in the area.  The farm provides containers for your pickings, so all you need to bring is your gang ready to reach! Wickam’s estimates cherries will be available in early July this year, so check their website for when they officially have cherries available.

Good to know: The farm is closed on Sundays.

Where: 28700 Route 25, Cutchogue, NY
Phone: 631-734-6441
Hours:  9 a.m. – 4 p.m., Mon.-Sat.
Online: wickhamsfruitfarm.com

Distance from NYC: 1.75 hours

 

New Jersey

Terhune Orchards
Terhune Orchards offers up sweet varieties across its two-acre cherry patch. On the weekend, your family can take a wagon ride out to the orchard, but during the week you will have to walk it. Bring your own receptacle or pick up a bag at the farm. After you’re done cherry picking stop in for a visit with the animals or peruse the goods at the farm store.

Good to know: You can monitor Terhune’s Facebook page to check weather conditions and find out when cherry picking will take place. They also have an newsletter to provide updates.

Where:  330 Cold Soil Rd., Princeton, NJ
Phone: 609-924-2310
Hours:  Farm, 9 a.m.-6 p.m. daily, Picking Orchard, 9 a.m.-5 p.m., daily
Online: terhuneorchards.com

Distance from NYC: 1 hour

Stoneyfield Orchard
Stoneyfield Orchard features both sweet and sour cherries for picking. Your family can also take advantage of the year-round retail farm stand featuring fresh produce and cider. A family owned and operated orchard, they are kid-friendly and have animals (cows and other farm animals) for children.

Good to know: No credit cards accepted here, so be sure to bring cash or check.

Where:  5 Orchard Street, Belvidere Nj
Phone: 908-475-5209
Hours:  Thursday and Friday (3 pm to dusk), and Saturday (10 am to 6 pm)
Online: stoneyfieldorchard.com

Distance from NYC: 1.5 hours

Battleview Orchards
Battleview Orchards offers some of the best sour cherries in the area. Established in 1908, this orchard is open all year round and features a great country store in addition to its U-pick selection. The orchard also offers senior citizen discount days on Monday and Thursday if grandparents are looking to join in the fun and get a 10% discount!

Good to know: This orchard is cash only and no pets. Call in advance, follow on Facebook or join their e-newsletter for updated timings and availabilities.

Where:  91 Wemrock Road, Freehold, Nj
Phone: 732-462-0756
Hours:  Open Daily, 9am to 6pm
Online: www.battlevieworchards.com

Distance from NYC: 1.5 hours

 

Connecticut

Ellsworth Hill Orchard and Berry Farm
Visit Ellsworth Hill Orchard and Berry Farm to pick cherries and  then spend the day in the area participating in outdoor activities such as rafting, horseback riding and fishing. At the farm, you can pick your own cherries, or, if working in the hot sun is not for you, you can buy a bag of fresh cherries already picked for you. Fresh veggies from the farm are also for sale.

Good to know: Bags used for picking must be purchased from Ellsworth.

Where: 461 Cornwall Bridge Rd, Route 4, Sharon, CT
Phone: 860-364-0025
Hours:  Dates and times vary, call to confirm
Online: ellsworthfarm.com

Distance from NYC: 2 hours

Belltown Hill Orchards
Located amongst the scenic hills of South Glastonbury, Connecticut, Belltown Hill Orchards offers u-pick opportunities almost all year long, and even sells pre-cut Christmas trees in December. You’ll find sweet and tart cherries at this family-run farm, as well as fresh baked goods, honey made with the help of the farm’s bees and applesauce in the Belltown store.

Good to know: Call ahead for picking conditions as it is weather and crop dependent. Go earlier in the season for sweet cherries, and later for tart cherries.

Where:  483 Matson Hill Rd., South Glastonbury, CT
Phone: 860-633-2789
Hours:  8 a.m.-5 p.m. daily
Online: belltownhillorchards.com

Distance from NYC: 2 hours

What To Do With All Those Cherries!

You arrive home after a productive day picking and suddenly wonder what to do with your crop! No worries—both sweet and sour cherries freeze well after they have been gently washed, and left to dry thoroughly. You can leave the pits in or take them out, and if you have the space in your freezer, spread them out on a cookie sheet to freeze first before putting them in a bag or container for long-term storage. This makes it easier to pull out a handful or a cup when you need it. Keep the stem attached for storage, and right before eating, remove the stem, wash, and dry, and you’re ready to go.

Both varieties can be used in piesjelliesjamschutneyscobblerscompotescrumbles, and strudels. Sour cherries corner the market on salsa, which can be used to adorn grilled pork or chicken, and the sweet ones can be dropped into cocktails or eaten right away! Don’t forget cherries are also a great source of vitamin A and C as well as other antioxidants and minerals. Enjoy!

— Ilyssa Smith

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One of the loveliest elements of the holiday season, the Christmas tree, can lose its luster pretty quickly once the new year arrives. Good news! the city’s Mulchfest program makes it easy for you to recycle your Christmas tree and do some good for the city’s parks and young trees. Here’s how get rid of your Christmas tree and do a little green good this year. (Plus: the last day for sanitation tree pickup and recycling!)

5348168436_dd46745b8b_b

photo: Allison Meier via Flickr

Treecycle it: MulchFest2020

MulchFest is back! NYC’s own “TREECYCLE” tradition is taking place from December 26, 2020 to January 9, 2021.  Last year the city mulched more than 50,000 trees, and it’s pumped to set a new record for 2020!

Bring your tree (free of all decorations, netting and wrapping) and it will be recycled into wood chips to nourish trees and plants on NYC streets and gardens. Drop it off at one of the many Mulchfest locations around the city (there are many n every borough), or bring it on a “Chipping Saturday”, January 2 and 9, to see your tree reduced to bits live.

Bonus: If your own backyard needs some sprucing up, you can get a free bag of mulch to take home with you after your tree is chipped. (Locations marked with an asterisk have mulch for the taking.)

Click here to find all Mulchfest info, including chipping and drop-off locations.

million-trees-2

photo: via MillionTreesNYC Facebook Page

Spread the Love — and the Mulch!
Feel like spreading some of that green love around? You and the kids can volunteer to add that awesome mulch to city trees.  (The mulch helps protect young trees, shrubs and garden beds from the winter cold, helps plants retain moisture and provides a nice decorative touch.) Sound like the green, civic activity your family’s been seeking? Events are happening in all boroughs on weekends in January. Click here to see locations, dates, and times and to register! (And remember, dress warmly, wear closed-toe shoes and a mask!)

million-trees-facebook

photo: via MillionTreesNYC Facebook page

Kick it To the Curb — and still recycle it!: Dates for Department of Sanitation Pick-Up
Bring your tree down for curbside pick-up by the Department of Sanitation from January 4-15. Trees will be recycled into compost for NYC’s public spaces (parks, gardens, etc.). Be sure to remove all decorations from the tree and do not place the tree in a plastic bag.

Note: trees left curbside with holiday decorations of any kind remaining on them will be collected as garbage. If your metal or plastic imitation tree has worked its last holiday season, dispose of it with your normal recycling and it’s off your hands.

tree-mulch

photo: Philip Bump via Flickr

Have Someone Else Do the Heavy Lifting — and still recycle it!: Removal Services

If you’re unable to physically take your tree down to the curbside or to a MulchFest chipping location or drop off site, don’t worry. Services like NYC Trees can come to your home, remove the tree, and take it directly to a recycling location for you. Starting at $70 for a four-to-five-foot tree, NYC Trees makes the tree removal process (and clean up!) about as easy as it gets. (If you want them to take off your lights, ornaments, etc. expect to pay more.)

908-318-4220
Online: nyctrees.com

—Ilyssa Smith

Main photo: NYC Department of Parks & Recreation 

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Like everything else 2020, New Year’s Eve will be different this year. But that doesn’t mean it can’t still be fun. (Bonus: much less FOMO!)  We’ve rounded up kid-friendly New Year’s activities where families can celebrate together, from in-person light shows to online dance parties, and yes, the completely reimagined, virtual New Year’s Eve in Times Square experience! Read on to find the NYC kid-friendly New Year’s Eve event perfect for your family!

photo: VNYE

Celebrate in Times Square Virtually with VNYE

Clearly, hundreds of thousands of people will not be gathering in Times Square to watch the ball drop on New Year's Eve. But the party will rage on, virtually. One Times Square has "gamified" the Ball Drop experience with Virtual New Year’s Eve,  an interactive gaming experience that is so jam-packed, it started 12/19.

"Players" can be in the center of Times Square, via a personalized avatar and a downloadable app. There's a lot to do: tour the 2020 Remembrance Hall, a look back at the past year; explore Times Square Plaza, and head to an observation deck where you can take in the sights of the city and Times Square’s iconic billboards.

Plus: there's a gaming lounge, performances by emerging musical artists Alex Boyé , Armani White, and Chloe Gilligan (as avatars), a dance floor, and an art gallery of 60 works by more than 45 contemporary artists. The show "Hi-Resolution" focuses on New Year’s resolutions, and how we can set our intentions for the coming year. 

On December 31 at midnight, a livestreamed Ball Drop event will top it off—and you can attend with friends and family from anywhere! 

Online: nye2021.com

photo: Story Pirates

DJ Squirm-a-lot's New Years Bash

Celebrate with the Story Pirates on New Years Eve (day). DJ Squirm-a-lot is planning a huge party to ring in 2021, but his old nemesis Yorma the ice dragon is trying to spoil the fun. With your kids' help, DJ Squirm and the Story Pirates might be able to save the bash. 
This one-of-a-kind event will have games, songs, surprises and a thrilling caper involving dragon magic. And yes, DJ Squirm-a-Lot will lead a huge celebration to close out the year! 

Tickets: $15/family
Dec. 31, 3-4 p.m.

Click here to learn more!

photo: King County Library System

The Rock Cats in Concert

This is a west coast event, but how could we resist? Comprised of animagi, The Rock Cats are the only cat band in the entire world! Disguised for muggles as ordinary house cats, this troupe of former orphans, rescues and strays travel across the country performing entertaining and educational shows while encouraging and supporting feline fostering, rescue and adoption. (Their sister group, the Amazing Acro-Cats, even appeared on the Late Show with Stephen Colbert.) Space is limited--register now! 

Dec. 31, 8-8:30 p.m.

Click here for more info!

Celebrate with Snoopy & the Schulz Museum

The Schulz Museum in Santa Rosa, California holds a New Years Eve celebration every year—and now you can go, too! Enjoy a virtual "Noon-year’s eve" celebration with Peanuts-themed crafts, special appearances by Snoopy and Woodstock, and a countdown to the Museum’s annual up-down balloon drop at Noon. (Which will be at 3 p.m. ET.) 

Tickets: $15
Dec. 31, 2-3 p.m.

Click here for more info! 

photo: iStock

Attend a Baby Rave

The award-winning Bay Area Children’s Theatre’s popular Baby Rave is inviting families with toddlers nationwide to join the party this New Year's Eve. This fun and inspired childhood development-focused dance party encourages participants to “rock out” live with DJ ET live! Join up to 1,000 families around the country for this live streaming video of dance parties in action. And don't forget to dress up!

Click here for more info! 

photo: WCS/Bronx Zoo

Get Wild at the Zoo

Head to The Bronx Zoo for a night of illuminated animal lanterns, ice carving, hot chocolate and more wintry fun. Dazzling light displays cover several acres of the zoo in a walk-through experience with wildlife-themed displays, custom Asian lanterns, and animated light shows on the historic Astor Court.

Click here for more info!

—Mimi O’Connor

featured photo: VNYE

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Planning an NYC birthday party for a toddler and worried the weather won’t cooperate? Don’t sweat it. We have ideas where tiny tots can have a blast inside — including running around like a nut. Jump and tumble, meet and greet with farm animals, get crafty or whip up something in the kitchen — you can do all this and more. Read on to check out our favorite spots for inside fun.

For a Wide Range of Wild Parties: The Art Farm

The Art Farm has been offering kids and families "a break from city life" on the Upper East Side for 17 years, and over that time has curated an impressive list of birthday party options at a variety of price points. Themes include the classic Art Farm Party for $975; a Treasure Hunt Party for $1,250; an Exotic Animal Party (hands-on with lizards, snakes, alligators) for $1,355; and a Princesses and Knights Party for $1,350. (All prices are for 10 guests; additional guests can be added for a fee. Maximum capacity is 25-30 children.) Exact activities vary by theme, but often include a craft, music time, play time, and food. Parties are two hours and you get the whole place to yourself. For more budget-friendly options, consider a weekday party ($745) or Art Farm On the Mooooove, a 30-minute animal education presentation (with live critters) that comes to you for 15 kids for $350. 

NOTE!: Due to renovations happening in The Art Farm building, all programming and classes are taking place at 431 E. 91st Street, on the second floor. (There is private elevator access for strollers and wheelchairs.) 

431 E. 91st. 
Upper East Side 
646-307-0846
Online: theartfarms.com

For the Sporty Tyke: Chelsea Piers Field House

West side spot for all things sports, Chelsea Piers offers a bunch of celebration options for athletic tykes. Parties happen on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays and last a total of two hours, with 75 minutes for activities and 45 minutes in a party room. Choose from time in the Toddler Gym (kids ages one to four), a safe and fun environment for kids to play and explore, with games and singalong time are included); Tots Gymnastics (ages three to five) with experienced instructors leading kids in more structured gymnastics exercises on mats and equipment in the Field House's Fit For Tots Center (plus: ball pit time), or the Ultimate Tykes Challenge (ages three to five), with fun games and races like tug-of-war, scooter and tricycle races, "steal-the-bacon", and time in an oversized sports-themed moon bounce. Packages range from basic (starting at $685 for a single sport, with balloons, paper goods, candles and a T-shirt for the birthday child) to $990 (two sports with pizza, beverages, cake, invites, and more.) Pricing is for 10 kids, with additional kids costing $32-36. 

Chelsea Piers Field House
Chelsea Piers
Pier 62
212-336-6518
Online: chelseapiers.com

photo: Treasure Trunk Theatre

For the Drama King or Queen: Treasure Trunk Theater

If you’ve got a child that loves dress up and has a big imagination, look no farther than Treasure Trunk Theater. Welcome to a world that promises a “dramatic adventure”, complete with themed costumes and props from a treasure trunk of endless possibilities. Kids can (of course) choose to be Anna of Frozen, become a captain of a pirate ship, join the Avengers, lead a space adventure — just to name a few options. Bonus: The Trunk people are accommodating: they can come to your home, you can go to them in one of two Brooklyn locations, or they can do their thing at a venue of your choice. Add-ons include food, decorations, as well as and props and costumes that can be purchased as party favors. Expect a 45-minute structured event, with a Treasure Trunk staffer leading kids on a dramatic and magical adventure, customized to the guest of honor’s liking. Rates start at $225.

Price: $225 for up to 7 children; $275 for 8-17 children; $325 for 18-24 children; $375 for 25-30 children

Locations:

Treasure Trunk Studio
141 Atlantic Ave.
Brooklyn Heights
Online: treasuretrunktheatre.com

Brooklyn Heights:
Xtend Barre Studios
147 Remsen St., 2nd Fl.
347-762-9475

Prospect Heights:
Brooklyn Brainery
190 Underhill Ave. at Sterling Pl.

For Active Kids: ACT at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine

Throw a Saturday celebration at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, where you will find endless amounts of indoor and outdoor space to party like a toddler should.  Their Preschool Mat Party is a two-hour party for 12 kids or more and, as the name implies, is geared for the younger crowd. Parties include your choice of a  theme (with a focus on sports or arts), an attentive host and activity specialist, use of gym, mats, climbing equipment, and activity options preschoolers love such as parachute games, circle time with story and songs and tag games.  Add-ons like a bouncy castle, beverages, cotton candy, carnival games and the like can be arranged at an additional cost.  The facility includes access to a kitchenette, food, tables with table covers and chairs, as well as staff to setup and clean up.  For the “older” crowd (ages seven and up), they offer a Wii dance party and Cathedral Clue Hunt. More info on parties can be found here; Book parties by using this form.

Rates vary based on package, but start at about $620.

1047 Amsterdam Ave.
Morningside Heights
212-316-7530
Online: actprograms.org

photo: Alice's Tea Cup

For Little Ladies and Lads: Alice’s Tea Cup

Known as New York’s “most whimsical tea house” where “tea time is magic”, Alice’s Tea cup serves up an enchanting fete. Expect savory and sweet menu options, a backdrop screaming tea party style, as well as kid-focused favorites such as face painting, arts and crafts, story time, magic and balloon creations.  Sing-a-long with Alice from Alice in Wonderland, decorate your own princess crown with Faerie Princess herself, or let Mad Hatter the magician wow you with amusing tricks. Finally, make tea time unforgettable with party favors such as fairy dust necklaces, wands and wings.

Rates vary based on package and location. Choose the “wee tea” menu priced at $29/child for children ages 2 to 12.

102 West 73rd St.
Upper West Side
212-799-3006
156 East 64th St.
Upper East Side
212-486-9200

220 East 81st St.
Upper East Side
212-734-4832
Online: alicesteacup.com

photo: Carmelo the Science Fellow

For the Scientist in the Making: Carmelo the Science Fellow

Put on your lab coats, grab your safety goggles and head over to Carmelo the Science Fellow for a birthday filled with “crazy-fun science.”  Carmelo Piazza has been teaching science to Brooklyn kids for almost two decades and knows how to make science fun, funny and engaging for the junior set. Parties include close encounters of the animal kind (get up close with blue-tongued skinks, crested geckos, bearded dragons, king snakes, gerbils, hissing Madagascar roaches to name a few), a hands-on science project such as making glow-in-the-dark silly putty or fake snow, paper rockets or giant ten-foot-long slime worms, and time enough for food and cake.

Request pricing by emailing: info@carmelothesciencefellow.com

300 Atlantic Ave.
Downtown Brooklyn
718-722-0000
Online: carmelothesciencefellow.com

photo: Apple Seeds

For A Rockin’ Good Time: Apple Seeds

Take a rockin’ adventure in this jam-packed birthday party, filled with music played by professionals, an interactive show complete with kid-sized instruments for the guests to try out, pizza and juice, birthday treats, party favors, and private admittance to the indoor playground.  Feel like bringing the party home?  You can book the Songs for Seeds band at any location of your choice.  Pricing for the band starts at $275.Rates vary based on the package.

10 West 25th St.
212-792-7590

252 First Avenue
Stuyvesant Oval (off of the Ave. C loop)
212-792-7590

Online: appleseedsplay.com

photo: Bambino Chef

For Kids that love to Cook:  Bambino Chef

Calling all foodie cuties.  If you’ve got a little one that loves playing in the kitchen, delight their inner chef with a Bambino Chef party.  Throw a cooking party at the Bambino headquarters in Jersey City or at a location of your choice, complete with party supplies and a themed party package.  Party themes range from Lego, Cars and Construction to Princesses, Tea Party and Barbie, and more.  While the main draw of Bambino Chef is a cooking party, it also offers a non cooking bash that can include face painting, craft projects, candy or ice cream bar.

Varies on package.  Rates start at $490.

213 Newark Ave.
Jersey City
201-333-9090
Online: bambinochef.com

photo: CMOM

For a Well-Curated Extravaganza: Children’s Museum of Manhattan

Children’s Museum of Manhattan uses interactive exhibitions and programs to fuel children’s understanding of themselves and our culturally diverse world.  Simply put, they have what it takes to engage kids, so it’s no surprise they know how to throw a party!  Armed with enthusiastic educators and a stimulating sensory-driven environment, CMOM offers packages for kids from one to 10 years old.  Themed parties include America to Zanzibar, Adventures with Dora and Diego, Magic Show with Justin the Magician, Dynamic H2O, Enter the Wondrous World of PlayWorks™, and more.  All packages include invitations, educators, musicians, a personalized birthday cake from Magnolia Bakery, pizza and juice (they offer kosher cake and pizza if requested), party favors, admission to the museum for the entire party crew, as well as themed decorations.

Rates vary based on the package.
212 West 83rd St.
Upper West Side
212-721-1223
Online: cmom.org

photo: Children's Museum of the Arts

For the Next Picasso: Children’s Museum of the Arts

Does your child like to get sticky with it?  The Children’s Museum of the Arts offers an art-filled party space with free time to explore the museum’s interactive workshops, an art project of your choice guided by teaching artists, as well as food and cake to boot.  Art projects are age-appropriate; the WEE Arts Extravaganza is geared for ages 1 to 3 and offers activities such as creating an original Jackson Pollock-styled collaborative mural, or decorating their own animal masks or wacky hats.  Ages 4 to 6 get more sophisticated art activity choices like working with clay, designing their own hand-made masks, and using acrylic paint to decorate their own T-shirts.  Ages 7 through 14 can experience F.A.B. (Fabulous Animation Birthday), which includes a short animation lesson, an exploration of claymation and pixilation, and a “world premier” of the birthday movie.  Best of all, proceeds from CMA’s Birthday Parties help support community programs, which provide access to the arts for all.

Rates start at $700 (non-catered) and $900 (catered) and vary based on package.
103 Charlton St.
Soho
212-274-0986
Online: cmany.org

For the Train-Obsessed: New York Transit Museum

A quintessentially New York destination for little locomotive lovers, the NY Transit Museum offers 1 1/2 or 2 hour parties that include guided tours of the museum, plus transit-themed party games and activities. While the museum provides two dedicated staff members to assist with set-up and clean up, you're responsible for bringing the pizza and cake, which helps keep the price down.

Boerum Pl. & Schermerhorn St.
Downtown Brooklyn
Phone: 718-694-1600
Online: nytransitmuseum.org

— Meredith Levine & Ilyssa Smith

 

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Your Guide to Smorgasburg SoHo With Kids

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Good news Manhattanites (and food lovers everywhere): Smorgasburg has made its way to Manhattan! For those of you who haven’t yet ventured into Smorgasburg, it hosts the city’s best food stands on select days each weekend for all to enjoy. While you may have already visited Smorgasburg in BK with your kids, Smorgasburg in Manhattan (dubbed “Smorg Square”) is a different animal. Read on to learn how to tackle the new Smorgasburg SoHo outpost with the whole family like a pro.

photo: Diane K. via Yelp

Getting There
Smorg Square is located at 76 Varick Street, bordered by Varick, Canal and Grand Streets and 6th Avenue — hence the “square.” It’s located right next to the Canal Street stop on the 1 train, and within walking distance from the A/C/E and N/R/Q/W trains. Before you dive in, make sure to stop and hit an ATM, as most food stands are cash only.

photo: Mike C. via Yelp 

When to Go
Unlike the other Smorgasburg locations, which take place on weekends only, Smorg Square is open on Fridays. Hours are Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. -10 p.m., and Sunday 11 a.m. – 8 p.m.

This location is smaller than the other outposts and features less food vendors, which is why we think it makes it the most manageable location to do with kids. The most popular times to go are around lunch, but head there any other time and you shouldn’t have an issue grabbing your favorite food and sitting at one of the square’s large, umbrella-topped picnic tables.

Wood Fired Edibles photo: Corinne B. via Yelp

What to Eat, Part 1
Smorg Square features some gems found at other Smorgasburg locations (looking at you Red Hook Lobster Pound, Ramen Burger, and Goa Taco) as well as reliable kid friendly-favorites. In total, you’ll find about 20 vendors of bites of all kinds.

Our picks for kids include Big Mozz Sticks (if you’ve never had these, they’re exactly what they sound like, but superior quality) and new Smorgasburg vendor Wood Fired Edibles, where the pizza is divine. (They have a portable wood fire oven they tote around!)

Bona Bona Ice Cream photo: Mike C. via Yelp

What to Eat, Part 2 (Sweets)
Kids (and adults) go crazy for Bona Bona Ice Cream’s “Bona style” cones, which are served with marshmallow — toasted on site —  on top. (These are kind of a “must”!) Also popular are the churro ice cream sandwiches from Dulcinea.

photo: Smorg Square Facebook page

Drinks, too!
If you’re looking for libations other than lemonade, etc. (although there are impressive juice options available from John’s Juice) Smorg Square also features a beer/wine/cocktail bar to help quench your thirst with a cold one.

photo: via Brooklyn Flea SoHo Facebook page 

Make it a Day
After you’ve filled up on some yummy food, head over to Brooklyn Flea, which, despite the name, is located right across the street at 100 Avenue of the Americas. (Its roots, like Smorgasburg’s, are in Brooklyn.) Here, you can shop over 60 vendors offering an eclectic mix of vintage and design finds — it’s a great place to shop for unique holiday gifts, btw. While not open on Fridays, Brooklyn Flea is open 10am-6pm Saturday and Sunday.

photo: courtesy of Ilyssa Smith

Smorgasburg SoHo (Smorg Square)
Friday and Saturday  11am-10pm; Sunday 11am-8pm, through December
76 Varick St. (at Canal Street)
Online: smorgasburg.com

Brooklyn Flea SoHo
Sat. & Sun., 10 a.m. -6 p.m.
100 Avenue of the Americas
Online: brooklynflea.com/

cover photo: Churro ice cream sandwich, Mike C. via Yelp