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It might seem early to be thinking about getting tickets to 2021 holiday shows, but we’re here to tell you it’s not. Fun holiday shows and light festivals in NYC kick off as early as the first week of November, and dates are already selling out. From classics like the Rockettes’ Radio City Christmas Spectular to the return of the Big Apple Circus, and dazzling light shows there’s a lot to see! Get those tickets now so you aren’t left out in the cold this winter! (Looking for Nutcracker shows? They’re here!)

Theatrical Productions

photo: MSG Productions

Radio City Christmas Spectacular with The Rockettes

The Rockettes are back, baby! And they’re even bringing back a beloved number to celebrate. The addition of “Snow”, which turns the stage into a winter wonderland, brings the total of numbers in the classic, 90-minute holiday show to nine. The Radio City Christmas Spectacular starring The Rockettes runs from November 5 to January 2, 2022, and tickets are on sale now.

$49 and up
Nov. 5, 2021- Jan. 2, 2022
Radio City Music Hall
1260 Sixth Ave.
Midtown
Online: rockettes.com

photo: Emilio Madrid

Empire Circus

Get ready for a circus unlike any you've ever seen before, courtesy circus enthusiast and Creative Director David Arquette. (Yes, that David Arquette!) Empire Circus transforms DUMBO's Empire Stores—and the picturesque courtyard between the Brooklyn and Manhattan Bridges—into an awe-inspiring, choose-your-own-adventure circus experience. Audience members guide their own path—under, above, and right in the middle of the action — with free popcorn, free cotton candy, surprises, guest stars and fun around every nook and cranny. Expect high-flying fun, juggling, a balancing act and more! 

Nov. 21. - Jan. 30, 2022
Tickets: $45
53 Water St. 
DUMBO
Online: empirecircus.com

photo: Errisson Lawrence

'Twas the Night Before…By Cirque du Soleil

Cirque du Soleil’s exhilarating spin on the beloved Christmas tale returns to the Hulu Theater for the holidays—its previous run at the venue sold out all 25 performances. The production marks Cirque du Soleil’s first-ever Christmas show and is a flurry of Christmas cheer, rip-roaring fun with hugely lovable characters and of course, incredible and entertaining physical feats.  

Dec. 9 - 27
Tickets: $40 and up
Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden
4 Penn Plaza
Midtown
212-465-6000
Online: msg.com

photo: Robert West

Big Apple Circus

Heads up: Big Apple Circus is returning to Lincoln Center with a new show, “Making The Impossible, Possible!”, helmed by world-renowned aerialist, high wire artist and Guinness World Record holder, Nik Wallenda. Acts joining Wallenda include Johnny Rockett, a combination of Evel Knievel & Charlie Chaplin (shown here), and Alan Silva from America’s Got Talent who will act as the circus' Ringmaster. Plus: an incredible cast of circus acts from around the world. Snag your tickets now—the show debuts on November 11!

Nov. 11 - Jan. 30, 2022
Tickets: $25 and up
Lincoln Center 
Midtown 
Online: bigapplecircus.com

photo: Image courtesy of Moonbug Entertainment and EMC Entertainment

CocoMelon LIVE! JJ's Journey

This live production is a journey through the world of CoComelon, featuring all the favorite characters and over 20 songs, including new original music. When JJ and his family are putting on a show, JJ needs some help writing his own song. Along the way he learns that by using his imagination, he can create, solve problems and have wonderful adventures. 

Dec. 4 & 5, 11 a.m. & 2 p.m
Tickets: $51 and up
Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden
4 Penn Plaza
Midtown
212-465-6741
Online: cocomelonlive.com

photo: Ken Ek

The Elf On The Shelf: A Christmas Musical

Yes, the holiday tradition is now a musical. The Elf on the Shelf: The Musical is a spectacle of music and dance that transports audiences to the North Pole to glimpse the magical lives of Santa’s Scout Elves. Featuring an original story and score, dazzling sets and costumes, and heartfelt moments, this joyous show celebrates the splendor of the season.

Sun., Dec. 26, 2 & 7 pm.
Tickets: $45
Kings Theater
1027 Flatbush Ave. 
Flatbush
Online: kingstheatre.com

photo: Courtesy of the Apollo Theater

30th Annual Double Dutch Holiday Classic

The 30th Annual Double Dutch Holiday Classic presented by the National Double Dutch League, returns to the Apollo stage—bringing together national and international communities of jumpers. Act fast! This sells out and tickets are getting snapped up! 

Sun., Dec. 5, 1 p.m.
Tickets: $25/individual, groups of 10 or more $25/person 
253 West 125th St.
The Apollo Theater
Harlem
1-800-745-3000
Online: apollotheater.org

Light Shows & Displays

 

photo: Winter Lantern Festival

Winter Lantern Festival

This lantern display returns to the New York City area with three locations for 2021. At Snug Harbor on Staten Island, check out ESCAPE: over eight acres of luminescence you can walk amongst and through. (It's back for the third year at this spot.) In addition to the lantern display, there will be a live DJ, projection mapping, food vendors, and more. 

Starting Nov. 25, the Queens County Farm Museum will host  Illuminate The Farm, an immersive and radiant world of color. It's a dazzling display of festive holiday lights and handmade lanterns in the shape of flowers, tractors, favorite farm animals and more. 

Finally, Long Island's Nassau County Museum of Art hosts "A Bug’s Night", a drive-through immersive experience. Roll through over 20 acres of vivid lanterns and holiday lights in the shape of flowers, bugs, animals. 

ESCAPE
Oct. 22-Jan. 9, 2022
Tickets: $25/adults; $17/ages 3-12; Holiday week, $30/adults, $17/ages 3-12
Snug Harbor Cultural Center
1000 Richmond Terrace
Staten Island, NY
Online: nycwinterlanternfestival.com

A Bug's Night Drive Through Adventure
Oct. 22-Jan. 9, 2022
Tickets: Wed.-Thurs., $35/car, Fri-Sun, $50/car; Holiday week (Dec. 24-Jan. 2)/$60/car
Nassau County Museum of Art
One Museum Dr.
Roslyn, NY
Online: nycwinterlanternfestival.com

Illuminate the Farm
Nov. 25-Jan. 9, 2022
Tickets: $25/adults; $17/ages 3-12; Holiday week, $30/adults, $17/ages 3-12
Queens County Farm Museum
73-50 Little Neck Parkwy
Queens
Online:nycwinterlanternfestival.com

photo: Julie Larsen Maher

Bronx Zoo Holiday Lights 

This popular animal-themed light and lantern display returns to the zoo starting November 19. See 260 lanterns representing almost 70 animal and plant species from around the globe. This year, 79 new lanterns representing 30 new animal species will make their debut at the zoo. But the Bronx Zoo Holiday Lights is more than a display: activities and entertainment include ice-carving demonstrations, stilt-walkers, puppet shows, a holiday train and even treats like s’mores. Tickets must be purchased in advance. 

Select dates Nov. 19-Jan. 9, 2022
Tickets: $40/adults; $25/kids 3-12, $34.95/65 and up
Bronx Zoo
2300 Southern Blvd.
Bronx
718-220-5100
Online: bronxzoo.com

photo: LuminoCity Festival

LuminoCity Festival

The LuminoCity Festival, a spectacular display of larger-than-life figures lit from within returns to Randall’s Island this winter. ‘Shine Again’ is the theme of the event, which features exhibitions of spectacular light art displays inspired by the traditional art of Chinese lantern festivals. “Lumio”, the LuminoCity Festival mascot serves as your guide through the fantastical landscape, which features new displays for 2021. The all-new ‘Lumi’s Utopia” will include 3D sculptures made from drawings by six young artists, while “Lumi’s Friends” will feature light sculptures of social media pets @smoothiethecat & @turboroo. 

Nov. 12 - Jan., 2022
Tickets: $22-$76, timed entry 
Whitney Pond Park
133 Valley Rd.
Manhasset, NY
Online:  luminocityfestival.com

photo: Brooklyn Botanic Garden

Lightscape at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden

Lightscape is coming to the Brooklyn Botanic Garden this winter. A new after-dark, illuminated spectacular lightscape celebrates the beauty of nature in winter with a festive one-mile trail winding through the garden’s 52-acre landscape, animated by dazzling light, color, and sound. More than 18 distinct works of light art will be on view, among them the Cathedral of Light tunnel, a Fire Garden on Lily Pool Terrace, and the Field of Light, an animated light installation covering Cherry Esplanade.  A series of new light-based artworks by local artists will be featured as well.  Lightscape was launched at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew in London in 2014, and the Brooklyn Botanic Garden is the show’s only U.S. East Coast venue.

Select dates, Nov. 19- Jan. 9, 2022
Tickets: $34/adults; $18/ages 3-12, free/age two and under 
Brooklyn Botanic Garden
150 Eastern Pkwy.
Prospect Heights
​​718-632-7200

Online: bbg.org

photo: NYBG

NYBG Glow

This walk-through light experience debuted in 2020, and it’s back and bigger for the 2021 holiday season. Glow is billed as “an outdoor color and light experience”, along a 1.5-mile winding path. Expect washes of brilliant color, thousands of dazzling LEDs, illuminated plant stories, and whimsical, picture-perfect installations that reflect the surrounding gardens and collections. Make it a double feature and check out the popular New York Botanic Garden Holiday Train Show while you’re there. (The garden offers a combo ticket.) 

Select dates, Nov. 24, - Jan. 22, 2021
Tickets: $35/adults; $20/kids
2900 Southern Blvd.
Bronx
718-817-8700
Online: nybg.org

 

— Mimi O’Connor

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The snow isn’t flying (yet), but, as they say, “winter is coming,” which means it’s time to make a plan. Whether you want to hit the slopes of a nearby ski area, do the holidays in a deluxe chalet, or spend winter break outside the city, we found cozy cabin rentals where you and the family can escape, recharge and have fun. Below, our top-picks for kid-friendly cabin rentals near NYC this winter.

POCONOS

photo: Airbnb

A Pet-friendly Poconos Chalet

Stylishly appointed with a retro vibe, the "Sedgwick Chalet" has five bedrooms. For $50 you can bring a pet. Note: there's an open staircase so may not be a fit for families with tiny kids. 

Sleeps: 10

Cost: $424/night

Online: airbnb.com

ULSTER COUNTY

photo: Airbnb

An Ulster County Cottage with a Bonus Community Center

Part of Full Moon Resort in Big Indian, NY, "Birdsong Cottage" comes with use of the community center, where there's free coffee and tea, controlled campfires with s'mores and more. You can bring your dog here, too. 

Sleeps: Five

Cost: $197/night

Online: airbnb.com

photo: Airbnb

A Tiny House Near Beacon

Talk about cozy! If you've ever wanted to experience tiny house living, here's a chance! This cute trailer is in Marlboro, New York (about 20 minutes from Beacon, home to museum Dia: Beacon). Somehow, it's got a king bed in there and wifi, too! (Not recommended for kids two and under.)

Sleeps: Three

Cost: $237/night

Online: airbnb.com

DUTCHESS COUNTY

An Upscale A Frame

Built in 1968 but fully renovated in 2020/21, this deluxe Hudson Vally cabin has four bedrooms and 2 and a half baths. A glass facade lets you take in the winter landscape while keeping cozy watching the many streaming services or playing a game from the resident library. When you're up for an activity, hit one of the ski resorts in the area like Catamount or Butternut, both less than an hour away. 

Sleeps: 7

Cost: $490/night

Online: airbnb.com

COLUMBIA COUNTY

photo: Airbnb

A Chic House in Hudson

Make yourself at home in this two-floor house with a double-sided fireplace, clawfoot tub and rain shower, lots of puzzles and games and even a deck and fire pit. 

Sleeps: Four

Cost: $264/night

Online: airbnb.com

THE CATSKILLS

photo: Airbnb

A Loaded Ski Lodge Near Hunter Mountain & Phoenicia

In addition to four bedrooms, two bathrooms and two fireplaces (!), this modern ski retreat offers speedy wifi, a record player, toys and games for the kids and amazing views. 

Sleeps: Eight

Cost: $450/night

Online: airbnb.com

photo: Airbnb

A Small Cottage For Bargain Hunters

It's petite, but so is the price. (One of the beds is a sofa bed.) Located in the Catskills, near Woodstock, New Paltz and a short drive to Hunter Mountain. 

Sleeps: Three

Cost: $166/night

Online: airbnb.com

photo: Airbnb

A Funky Carriage House Near Belleayre

Just a few minutes from the slopes this carriage house is on the site of a Methodist church from 1860. It sleeps six, has quirky decor touches and a cozy wood stove. 

Sleeps: Six

Cost: $136/night

Online: airbnb.com

THE ADIRONDACKS

photo: Airbnb

A Stylish Cabin Near Lake Placid

Head north for serious skiing and recharge in this modern cabin. Sleeps four comfortably (thanks to double bed bunks) and has a fire pit for apres ski hot chocolate. 

Sleeps: Four

Cost: $230/night

Online: airbnb.com

THE BERKSHIRES 

photo: Airbnb

A Huge Berkshires Log Cabin with Hot a Tub

This sprawling "cabin" with tons of wood, a fireplace and hot tub can sleep nine. It's near ski areas like Catamount and Butternut, as well as Great Barrington, Lenox and the Appalachian Trail.  

Sleeps: Nine

Cost: $355/night

Online: airbnb.com

FINGER LAKES

photo: Airbnb

For a 19th Century Schoolhouse with Your Own Private Igloo

Situated in Finger Lakes wine country near Seneca Lake, this schoolhouse has a renovated, modern interior and a heated igloo for morning coffee or nighttime star-gazing. 

Sleeps: Four

Cost: $203/night

Online: airbnb.com

LONG ISLAND

photo: Airbnb

A Chic Off-Season Escape

Yes, there is a lot of white in this former fisherman's cottage in Port Jefferson, but kids are welcome (and will likely enjoy the cozy bunk beds.) Chill out and enjoy the fireplace, deck and motorized projector screen for movie nights. It sleeps six.

Sleeps: Six

Cost: $353/night

Online: airbnb.com

—Mimi O’Connor

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So your family size just increased by one? (Or two or three …) Congratulations! We know you’ve probably heard this — or already experienced it yourself — but “it” goes fast. Make the most of those first 12 months with this list of 30 things to do with a baby in NYC!

RT-carousel-jane

photo: Mimi O’Connor

1. Ride a carousel
Reactions can range from delight to wonder to fear (it’s hard to know which one) but hopping on a merry-go-round is more often than not a great time, and makes for awesome photo ops. Plus, this is your first, but certainly not your last trip on a carousel, so you’ll have a snap of your itty bitty on a horse for reference as he or she grows into the ride. Our recommendations? The carousel at Central Park is a classic, while the glass-enclosed Jane’s Carousel on a pier in Dumbo is a new favorite. (Here’s our list of the best carousels NYC has to offer.)

RT-Alice-in-wonderland-central-park

photo: Mimi O’Connor

2. Explore Central Park
It’s one of the most famous public greens in the world, and for good reason. Use it! (You can read our complete guide to Central Park with Kids here!) There’s plenty in the park to keep those under 12 months occupied, including navigating the enormous Alice in Wonderland statue, watching ducks and model boats float in the Conservatory Water  and crawling around the open expanses of the Sheep Meadow and Great Lawn. Of course, there are plenty of playgrounds in the park as well, with sandboxes, swings, and water features for when it gets steamy.

3. Visit the Brooklyn Children’s Museum
It can be a little frustrating to take a child under one to a museum; they’re often still a little too, well, little to really get the most out of the offerings. Not so with the Brooklyn Children’s Museum, which while packed with stuff for older kids, features a robust area just for the smallest of visitors. Its “Totally Tots” area (designed for kids five and under) includes a “Baby Hub” filled with bright colors and playful shapes, padded surfaces, and lots of room to practice crawling and walking.

4. Join a mom’s group
You may not think of yourself as “the type” to join a mom’s group. No one really does. But mom’s groups are great for any number of reasons: they help you get info (on doctors, kids’ classes, baby-friendly restaurants and bars); they can help you find childcare, they can keep you from being bored out of your skull. They can also provide support and a sense of community. If that sounds a little hippie dippy to you, perhaps “Ohmygod Chloe is going through an insane sleep regression and I’m losing my mind has anyone experienced this and how long does it last?” can help illustrate how this is anything but touchy-feely. Try these on for size.

Parenting Facebook groups are also a great way to connect. We like these in NYC.

And hey, once you’ve found your tribe, you’re gonna need a place to meet up. We love these indoor spots where you can gather with your parents friends and their kids.

P.S. Need some online support from professionals? These online childbirth, newborn care and breastfeeding classes and support groups are here for you during COVID-19 closures.

 

photo: Michelle Rose photo

5. Have a photo shoot
Do your own, or hire a pro to capture some of those early precious weeks and months. We love these NYC photographers for kids and families, and some photographers are even doing Zoom photo sessions for maternity shoots, newborn pictures and special birthdays during social distancing. Find those here!

 

photo: Good Day Play Cafe 

6. Crawl around a playspace
NYC is bursting with ’em, and most have areas reserved for the tiniest of visitors. Here’s our list of the top ones in the city. In Brooklyn? Check out these! Need a place in Queens? Check these out! 

7. Eat Out
You might think you’re at the point in your child’s life when you can’t really go out to a restaurant with them. Parents of three year-olds would strongly disavow that notion, pointing out that now is the perfect time to roll into a restaurant and enjoy a meal while your little one naps, grabs some quality binkie time, or enjoys a bottle. (Three year-olds are much less easily amused.) It doesn’t have to be Per Se, and it doesn’t have to be at eight o’clock at night, but you and your partner deserve to leave the house and have someone else do the cooking. May we suggest brunch at one of these kid-friendly spots? And hey, if it’s nice out, check out these places to eat outside with kids!

Jason P. via Yelp 

8.  Visit Governors Island
There’s always something happening on the island, and it’s a great place to spend the day with kids of any age. (Also: very stroller-friendly.) Plus, it’s open year-round now! See our guide to visiting Governors Island with kids here!

 

9. Catch a flick
When a new baby hits the scene, it can feel like you may never see a movie in the theater ever again — especially if it’s your first time at the kiddie rodeo. (While your movie-going habits may never return to their pre-baby levels, rest assured you will, in fact, watch a film on the big screen with your significant other sooner than you think.) But why wait? New York is home to movie theaters that welcome you and your little one for a screening featuring lowered volume and light levels, changing table-equipped restrooms and free admission for the tiny culture vultures. Check out Nitehawk Cinema’s “Hawks With Babies”  series every Tuesday afternoon, at both its Williamsburg and its  Prospect Park locations, which features first-run movies. At the Alamo Drafthouse in downtown Brooklyn, babes are welcome at the “Alamo for All” sensory-friendly screenings. Alamo also recently opened a theater downtown in the Financial District! See our full list of kid-friendly movie theaters here! 

10. Take a museum stroller tour or go on a stroller-friendly hike. 
We won’t pretend your baby is getting any real cultural edification out of one of these kid-friendly tours, but it certainly can’t hurt to take an infant to the Guggenheim or the Whitney. Both museums offer tours specifically for parents and their babies. Note: this is also a great option for a mom’s group outing. (Many museums allow strollers, but contact one before you visit to be sure.)

We also love these outdoor stroller hikes in and around NYC. Are you a Park Slope Parents member? They offer stroller tours of Green-wood Cemetery (particularly stunning in spring) several times a year. RT-brooklyn-bridge-park-2

photo: Mimi O’Connor

11. Explore Brooklyn Bridge Park
A sprawling, riverside outdoor activity Shangri-La with views of Manhattan, Brooklyn Bridge Park is worth a trip with the little one. While many of the park’s features are created for kids skew older (they’ll love Slide Mountain and the Water Lab at Pier 6 in a couple of years) there is still plenty to enjoy here from “Swing Valley” to pint-sized playgrounds for crawlers on Pier 5, to lots of open, green space for lounging in the grass. Plus, a giant sand play area! PS: Williamsburg’s Domino Park is a similar, destination playground with water fun, too!

12. Take a swim class
They say that babies naturally know how to swim (or you know, something like that). It’s never too early to get kids in the water, and a swim class is another chance to bond with your child that actually serves a practical purpose beyond forming attachment. Here’s where you and your guppie can get kick-kick-kicking!

13. Hit up a drop-in class or open play
You don’t need to commit to eight or more weeks of a class to expose your baby to music, art, or just other babies. A great way to determine the best activity for both you and the little one, these one-offs are also an opportunity to chat with other parents who are navigating the whole process of raising a small human being. Plus: your living room isn’t a mess when it’s over. In Manhattan? These places are great!  Check out these drop-in spots in Brooklyn. In Queens? These drop-ins are for you! 

Start Developing Your Little One's Love of Music!

photo: Music Together

14. Take a Music Class
There’s no shortage of classes where you and the little one can get your tune on in New York; it’s just a matter of what kind of music you want to play (or hear). For classic, multi-culti fare, try Music Together. Music for Aardvarks celebrates the experiences of being as city kid (most famously, in an ode to taxi rides). And there are so many more to consider as well. All of them are guaranteed to make use of instruments and at least once make you feel like an idiot as you prance around in a circle. But the kids, they love it.

15. Try some Mommy & Me fitness, too
The yoga, swimming and kickboxing that you did while pregnant? You can do it with baby in tow! (Well, okay, maybe not the kickboxing). Harlem Yoga Studio is dedicated to being affordable and accessible to all moms and their babies, while The Yoga Room in Astoria and Long Island City brings a similar service to Queens, Bread & Yoga serves Inwood, and Brooklyn has Shanti Baby Yoga. Feel like swimming instead of omm-ing? Imagine Swimming and Take Me to the Water have locations around the city, while 92nd St. Y and 14th St. Y fulfill the needs of those looking for more than just swimming lessons, with other family programming.

16. Get a library card
If you’re already a fan and patron of the library, good for you. If not, you soon will be! Not only will your local branch keep your bedtime reading fresh, it also probably hosts lots of events like storytime, performances and more — for free! (Also: libraries can be a great rainy day hangout solution. Other families will be there, we promise.)

17. Score some gently-used and adorable duds
Sure, you should splurge on a super adorable ensemble from a spot like Jacadi or Livly or Two Kids and a Dog. But be prepared for your child to wear it for about half a minute. Then head to a spot for secondhand scores also barely worn at spots like Parachute Brooklyn,  Owl Tree and Jane’s Exchange. Or check out local online consignment boutique Consignment4kids.com, where you can score high-end clothes for cheap, perhaps make a few bucks and clear out the closets. (If your items don’t sell, the shop will take care of donations for you if you wish.)

 

photo: Carter’s 

18. Do whatever you want for Halloween
Future Halloweens will be filled with debate and much mind-changing, but this year it’s all you. Make your own, pay top dollar or score a mint-condition costume at a thrift store or consignment shop, but whatever you do, don’t stress and have fun. Need some inspiration? These are some of our favorite NYC-inspired costumes for Halloween 2021.

19. Go to the Zoo 
The zoo is one of those places you can’t wait for the baby to experience. Warning: it takes a while for them to really appreciate it. While that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t go, it does mean you should go the right one. The Bronx Zoo is great, but massive, and actually the better choice when kids are older and super psyched to see animals. Our choice for a lovely, manageable afternoon with some up-close-and-personal farm animal action as well as well-designed habitats is the Queens Zoo in Flushing Meadows Corona Park. The Prospect Park Zoo is also great and more compact, and has farm animals to interface with as well. (Hot tip: a family membership to the Wildlife Conservation Society gets you in to all of the zoos—and the New York Aquarium—and offers other perks. It’s one of our favorite family memberships!)

photo: Allison S. via Yelp

20. Get a haircut
Some kids remain close to bald as a cue ball for what seems like ages, but even they typically need a haircut before the first year is up. Shops specializing in kids’ cuts can be found all over the city, and many do double duty as a toy or shoe store as well. Try one of these for the inaugural snip. 

21. Learn how to wear the baby
Wearing the baby is not for everyone, but lately, it seems like it’s for a lot of people. (You kind of can’t beat the convenience of a strap-and-go baby transporting device; sometimes a stroller is just too much.) It can be tough to get the hang of it, though. Master the wrap with a baby-wearing class. We suggest The Wild (formerly Wild Was Mama) and Metro Minis/babywearing nyc for help getting in the sling of things.

22. Bookmark this post
All you need to know about baby — in chart form! 

23. Try a subscription service to make your life easier, or just more fun. (You deserve it.)
Clothes, developmental toys, food. Take your pick.

24. Get out of town! (Or at least the neighborhood.)
Take the train to the beach.  Or the LIRR to a nearby town. Maybe go for a hike with the baby on your back. 

25. Consider a meal kit
You’ve got a lot going on. Try getting a meal or two a week handled with one of these meal kits. (We tried them all!)

Or try a meal delivery service to make things even easier!

26. See some bright lights!
Get those neurons firing with some holiday display stimulation! Check out where to see holiday lights in NYC here!

27. Don’t forget to ask for help!
From support groups to services that will clean your stroller, babysit, send you cloth diapers and more, we’ve rounded up where to visit or call when assistance is needed!

28. Get some good books! These are our favorite books featuring NYC for kids, and these are the indie booksellers who can get them to you!

29. Know when—and how—to just get it delivered. Click here for all kinds of delivery services, from diapers to wine to toys!

30. Take a snap with Santa
Depending on your baby’s birth date, a Santa photo might ultimately be the equivalent of a dude in a red suit holding a blob in a holiday onesie. Still, it’s a great way to mark the years if you do the Christmas thing, and the grandparents can’t get enough of it. These are our picks for where to find the man in the red suit!

—Mimi O’Connor

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NYC is the place for fun, pop-up experiences, but how do you decide which one’s for you and the kids? (And worth the cash?) From immersive, sensory experiences, to fun museums and the latest interactive Instagram spot, these are the best places to get seriously selfie in NYC with the family. Read on to find your match!

photo: Mimi O'Connor

Stranger Things Store

The Upside Down has come to New York City. The Stranger Things Store opened in Times Square, appropriately, on Stranger Things Day (Nov. 6), which is the date the series' character Will Byers went missing. (Of course.) Part store, part immersive and interactive fan-geek experience, it's retailtainment at its best, meaning you're thrilled to give them all of your money before you leave. The free-to-visit expansive pop-up allows fans to stroll through various iconic settings from the show: Joyce's Christmas-light-strewn living room, the Starcourt Mall, the Palace Arcade (with working 80s video games) and the Snowball Dance at Hawkins Middle School—all to an early 80s soundtrack. Plus: visitors can avoid the Rift in the Russian Lab and take a selfie up close in the Upside Down with a Demogorgon. Plus lots of Easter eggs for super fans. The amount of merch is overwhelming, and overwhelmingly cool: everything from era-appropriate ringer T-shirts and Hawkins Middle School jerseys and tube socks to special edition boxes of General Mills' cereal and Scoops Ahoy sailor caps. Some of it is exclusive to the store, and you can also customize merch with embroidery and graphics on site. It's free to go, but it's highly recommended you make a reservation to guarantee entry

Through December 2021
5 Times Square
Times Square
Online: strangerthings-store.com

photo: Michael Brosilow

Immersive Van Gogh

This high tech, immersive exploration of the Dutch painter's work doesn't debut until June 10,  but the exhibit has been selling out in cities nationwide. Created with world-renowned master of digital art, Italy’s Massimiliano Siccardi, the hour-long, walk-through experience is made up of 60,600 frames of video, 90,000,000 pixels, and 500,000+ cubic feet of projections. Producers describe it as "merging state-of-the-art technology, theatrical storytelling and world-class animation." Covid-19 safety precautions are in place; you can read about them here

Through Jan. 2, 2022
Tickets: starting at $40
Pier 36
299 South St. 
Lower East Side 
Online: vangoghnyc.com

 

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Van Gogh: The Immersive Experience

No, you aren't crazy: there are two "immersive Van Gogh" experiences in NYC this summer. This one, produced by Exhibition Hub, is entitled "Van Gogh, The Immersive Experience." Staged downtown near the Financial District, this 20,000-square-foot light and sound spectacular features two-story, 360-degree projections of the artist's most compelling works and an original score. This exhibit also includes a Virtual Reality component, that guides you on a 10-minute journey through “A day in the Life of the Artist." During the VR experience, visitors "walk alongside Van Gogh" and learn the inspiration behind eight of his iconic works, including "Vincent’s Bedroom at Arles" and "Starry Night Over The Rhone River." 

Through Jan. 2022
Tickets: Adults/$36 and up; kids/$20 and up, seniors, students & military/$22 and up. Packages are available as well.
Skylight on Vesey
300 Vesey St. 
Financial District
Online: vangoghexpo.com

The Friends Experience

We'd be very surprised if your young kids were into this one (presumably, your toddler is not binge-watchinng Friends yet.) But, The Friends Experience would make a great moms group outing or date night destination. Superfans of the long-running sitcom can enter into its world, visiting replicas of Central Perk, Monica and Rachel's living room, Chandler and Joey's place (yes, you can sit in the armchairs) and even the staircase of the famous "Pivot!" scene, complete with couch askew just so. In addition to the recreated sets with interactive elements, The Friends Experience features iconic props, trivia and unknown facts, and photo ops galore spread out over its two floors, including one on the orange couch by the fountain from the show's opening sequence. 

And yes, you can grab a coffee or pastry from Central Perk, which is open to the public for grab-and-go drinks and bites. (A visit to the coffee shop is included with admission.) The shop features treats from Breads Bakery and BCakeNY. Got Covid-19 concerns? Don't worry: it's "Monica clean."

Through Jan. 2, 2022
Tickets: $45 and up (Private group reservations are available for $375.) 
130 E. 23rd St. 
Flatiron District
Online: friendstheexperience.com

Little Island @Pier 55

Little Island @Pier 55 opened in late-May, and it's been populating Instagram feeds ever since. This free "floating" park in the Hudson River looks great whether you're on the shore or enjoying its undulating 2.4 acres. Little Island offers visitors green space for lounging, an amphitheater, varied food and drink at The Play Ground (finger food, sandwiches, salads, beer and cocktails), as well as performances of all kinds thanks to acts curated by Artists in Residence. (Those officially start June 14.) Ongoing programming for kids happens here, too, from local artists and museums such as The Children's Museum of Art and the New Victory Theater. See programming for kids here, and performances scheduled for the Amphitheater here. Important things to know: Make a reservation for timed entry to avoid long lines. No bikes are allowed. It's open 6 a.m. to 1 a.m. Read health and safety information here.

Hudson River Park
10th Avenue and W. 13th St. 
Meatpacking District
Online: littleisland.org

photo: Sloomoo Institute

Sloomoo Institute

If you missed your chance to visit this shrine to slime when it opened pre-pandemic, you can still get some slime time in. It's slightly altered (people play with their own slimes, not a collective vat, as was done previously), and you get to take slime home. Expect artisanal, scented slime, interactive activities, a massive DIY slime bar, slime experiments, an immersive ASMR tunnel, a lake of slime to walk on, and more. Advanced tickets are timed, masks are required, staff is in masks and gloves, and capacity is reduced. Dress in your get messy clothes and prepare to open your wallet: it's $39 a ticket. A percentage of sales goes to mental health charities.  

Sloomoo Institute 
475 Broadway
Soho
1-888-718-4253
Online: sloomooinstitute.com

Color Factory

Color Factory is a vibrant and interactive experience that celebrates hues of all kinds in myriad ways. One of the first immersive experiences to bring a massive ball pit to NYC, it paused for Covid-19, but is back. (And yes, you can still go in the ball pit. Read all about safety and sanitizing here.) It's sprucing up the show from May 17-27 and then will reopen for the summer season. Masks are required at all times. 

Color Factory NYC features 20,000 square feet and 16 installations of Technicolor, Instagram-friendly fun, such as ombré floating balloons with wishes for the world written by students at 826NYC, a walkable infographic leading you to your “secret color”, a palette of colorful treats featuring a custom macaron, a unique activity on color and human connection, and a luminous dance floor. Rooms are collaborations with artists and partners including OH HAPPY DAY, Leah Rosenberg, Erin Jang, and Roz Chast. Everyone gets to choose a quirky souvenir (made by to artist partners) on their way out. 

Tickets: $38; kids 3-12, $28, 2 and under are free (Tickets must be purchased in advance)
Closed Tues. & Wed. 
251 Spring St.
Soho
Online: colorfactory.co

photo: ARTECHOUSE NYC Ling_A

ARTECHOUSE NYC: Geometric Properties

 ARTECHOUSE NYC, New York’s first permanent art space dedicated solely to immersive digital art, opened its 2021 exhibition season with Geometric Properties. Created by Julius Horsthuis, an award-winning visual and fractal artist based out of Amsterdam, the immersive audio-visual installation is described as "a mind-bending journey through the infinite geometric patterns of fractal worlds, [taking] us on an exploration from our recent past to an ideal future — one that returns to nature and math as a source for inspiration." (It looks pretty cool, too!)

Tickets: $24/adults; $17/ages 4-17; free/children under the age of 4; $20/Students, Seniors, Military & First Responders:​$20
March 1 - Oct. 31
439 W. 15th St. 
Chelsea
Online: artechouse.com

photo: Museum of Ice Cream NYC

The Museum of Ice Cream

Yes, the Museum of Ice Cream is open! An immersive walk-through experience dedicated to the sweet treat, the MOIC opened a permanent NYC flagship in December of 2019, but shut down in March of 2020. It's back, and COVID-19 precautions are in place, including a new ventilation system, mask and glove requirements, deep cleanings at the beginning and end of every day, cleaning surfaces following any touching by visitors, capacity reduction, etc. You can read all safety measures here.

You must reserve tickets in advance, and the museum is open Thursday through Sunday now. 

The Museum of Ice Cream
558 Broadway
SoHo
Online: museumoficecream.com

photo: Museum of Illusions

Museum of Illusions

Unlike the other installations featured here, The Museum of Illusions is not passing through. Created in Zagreb, Croatia (with additional outposts in Vienna, Kuala Lumpur, and beyond) the museum is less technicolor extravaganza, and more exercise for your brain (in a good way). But don’t worry: fun photo ops still abound.

Visitors can explore more than 70 elements and experiences that include "illusionistic rooms", optical illusions, and puzzles. Every "piece" in the museum is accompanied by a clear and concise explanation of what is causing or creating the illusion; mathematical, biological, and psychological concepts are all touched upon, as are perception, vision, and how the human brain works.

This museum is an outstanding (and very fun) way to engage kids with complex scientific principles, and help them understand through experience. The well-curated gift shop allows you to take home some of the brain-bending fun. PS: Looking for a fun indoor birthday party idea? You can host one here.

Ongoing
Tickets: $19/adults; $15/kids six - 15; $17/students, seniors, military; $53/family of four
Daily, 9 a.m. - 10 p.m.
77 Eighth Ave.
Chelsea
212-645-3230
Online: newyork.museumofillusions.us

—Mimi O’Connor

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The days are getting shorter and colder, but NYC is just getting into gear for those final (busy!) months of 2021. There are lots of fun and free events for families this November, from big ones that attract spectators from around the world, to art exhibits, ice skating shows and ways to enjoy NYC outdoors. Read on for a month of must-dos with the kids!

photo: Mimi O'Connor

TCS New York City Marathon

Still one of our favorite NYC events of all time, the New York City Marathon marks 50 years this November! It kicks off at 8:30 a.m. in Staten Island and the top athletes cross the finish line in Central Park about two-and-a-half hours later. Grab some bagels and head out to cheer on the thousands of runners who come from literally around the world to do this race. (Lots of New Yorkers, too.) Top spots to root for the runners include Fourth Avenue in Brooklyn, Fifth Avenue in Manhattan and Central Park. 

Sun., Nov. 7, 8:30 a.m.
Online: nyrr.org

photo: Hudson River Park

Pumpkin Smash at Hudson River Park

Halloween's over. Now what will you do with all those pumpkins? Easy: Smash them! Bring your carved or uncarved pumpkin to Pier 84 for the annual pumpkin smash. The smashed pumpkins will be added into compost to help keep the park growing and happy. This means your pumpkins won't go to waste! Though this event is free, advance registration is required.

Sun., Nov. 7
11 a.m.-2 p.m.
Hudson River Park's Pier 84 at W 44 St.
Hell's Kitchen
Online: nycgovparks.org

photo: Hello Bello

Turkey Time at Greenbelt Story Time

It's turkey time at the Greenbelt Nature Center! Learn all about the turkey with fun facts and a take-home themed craft. Although this event is held outdoors, masks and distancing are required.

Thu, Nov 4
10-11 a.m.
Outdoors at the Greenbelt Nature Center in Blood Root Valley
700 Rockland Avenue at Brielle Ave
Staten Island
Online: eventbrite.org

photo: Colin Miller

Winter Village at Bryant Park

The Winter Village returns for another winter season, featuring the rink and market! 

This year, you'll be able to reserve tickets for the ice skating rink online in advance. Tickets will be released on a rolling basis throughout the season, so don't fret if you can't get a hold of one right away — be on the lookout for more. Entry to the rink is free if you have your own skates, but for those who want to rent skates or a locker, there's an additional fee. 

The outdoor holiday market will be open through January 2, and will feature 170 vendors (including plenty of new faces). Bank of America will also be spotlighting minority-owned small businesses with a rent-free booth. 

When you're ready to wind down, stop by at the Lodge to enjoy a cocktail and watch the skaters.

Fri, Oct 29, 2021-Sun, Mar 6, 2022
Bryant Park
Midtown
Online: bryantpark.org

photo: Ice Theatre of New York

2021 City Skate Pop Up Concerts

The free rink at Bryant Park is open, and things are already happening! Ice Theatre of New York (ITNY) presents 2021 City Skate Pop Up Concerts throughout the month at The Rink at Bank of America Winter Village. ITNY performers include Olympian Kaitlyn Weaver, ITNY Ensemble members Armen Agaian, Valerie Levine, Liz Schmidt, and young ice dance apprentices Oona and Gage Brown. Read more about the individual performances here!

Nov. 9, 11, 16 & 18, 12:40 p.m.
The Rink at Bank of America Winter Village
42nd and Sixth Ave.
Midtown
Online: icetheatre.org


photo: Canstruction

Canstruction

The amazing free design competition that also does good by donating canned goods to City Harvest, Canstruction is back at Brookfield Place. See these large-scale sculptures created by design firms from November 4-15. On November 8, judges of the contest will award titles including "Best Original Design," "Most Cans" and "Best Use of Labels." Want to donate some cans to City Harvest yourself? Drop them off on Level 2 of Brookfield Place at 230 Vesey Street. 

Nov. 4-15 
230 Vesey St. 
212-978-1673
Financial District 
Online: bfplny.com/canstruction

photo: Jonas mohamadi via pexels

Ellen Reid Soundwalk at Central Park 

What does the soundtrack of your world sound like? Now it can sound like the NY Philharmonic orchestra! Download the free Soundwalk app and turn on your location, then wander around Central Park. As you walk past landmarks and different areas of the park, the app will play corresponding music by composer Ellen Reid specially paired with your environment. The path you take will influence your personal soundtrack!

Through 2023
Central Park
Online: ellenreidsoundwalk.com

Governors Island Staying Open All Year

Since its opening in 2001, Governors Island has only been open during certain months of the year. This year, for the first time, the island will be open all year round. This means you can visit the island any time of year! In addition to this, a new Coney Island route ferry is launching, to make getting to the island easier than ever. Visit the island for the huge slides, unique playgrounds, art installations, historic buildings, delicious food vendors, and much more!

Governor's Island
Online: govisland.com

photo: Brooklyn Public Library

Adams Street Library in DUMBO

For the first time since 1983, a new library branch has opened in Brooklyn. The slick new Adams Street library branch is now open for visitors from all over the borough, but especially from the surrounding Vinegar Hill, DUMBO, and Farragut neighborhoods. Housed inside a former factory, the library was designed with input from the community and offers 6,000 square feet filled with books, meeting spaces, and areas for special programs for all ages.

Opened Wed, Oct 13
9 Adams Street (between John and Plymouth)
DUMBO
Online: bklynlibrary.org

NYC Libraries Go Fine-free

Late to return your book? No problem — the entire NYC public library system has gone fee-free. Now, returning your books late won't cost you anything. Existing fines have also been wiped from all accounts, for a clean slate. So if you've been avoiding the library because of accumulated fees, now's the time to visit again! (Why not start with the newly opened Adams Street library branch?)

Various locations
Online: nypl.org

Alamo Drafthouse Opens in Manhattan

The Alamo Drafthouse has officially come to Manhattan for the first time! Visit for a grand movie experience, with incredibly comfortable seats, delicious (sometimes themed!) meals, and hand-picked movies new and old presented with the best possible audio and visuals. 

The new Alamo will be showing holiday classics throughout the season, including the family favorite "The Polar Express" and an "Elf" movie party complete with props, a contest, and even an indoor "snowball" fight. This branch of the theater will also be home to The Press Room, a museum, print shop, bar and private event space in one. 

Price: Starting at $16 per ticket
28 Liberty St., Suite SC301
Financial District
Online: drafthouse.com

Half Price Entry at the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum

If you're a NYC resident, the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum is now offering discounted tickets. New Yorkers can enter the space for 50% off the general admission tickets. Tickets will grant you access to the aircraft carrier the Intrepid, the submarine Growler, the Space Shuttle Pavilion, and all the exhibits currently on show at the museum. You can buy tickets online, but will need to show your ID at Will Call to receive the discount.

Price: $16/adult, $15/senior, $12/children ages 5-12
Intrepid Sea, Air, & Space Museum
West 46th Street
Hell's Kitchen
Online: intrepidmuseum.org

photo: Public Art Fund

Bronze Sculpture of Diane Arbus in Central Park 

As you walk through Doris C. Freedman Plaza in Central Park, you might notice a woman standing amid the pedestrians, camera at the ready. This new bronze monument by artist Gillian Wearing celebrates Diane Arbus, an influential 1900s New York photographer known for her Central Park photos. The statue stands among the passersby, holding her beloved Rolleiflex camera like she's getting ready to take her next photo. 

Oct 20, 2021-Aug 14, 2022
Doris C. Freedman Plaza, Central Park
60th St. and 5th Ave.
October 20, 2021–August 14, 2022
Online: publicartfund.org

Ghost Forest at Fotografiska

This exhibition looks at the work of Maya Lin, the artist behind the art installation by the same name in Madison Square Park. Named after the devastating losses of forests and trees due to climate change, the installation places 49 dead Atlantic cedars in the middle of Manhattan. See the process that went into the conceptualization and creation of the installation at Fotografiska. Check out photographs, sketches, models, and even a VR experience detailing the artistic process of Maya Lin. 

This is the last chance to see this installation, which is leaving on November 14.

Price: Free with admission. Admission: $26/person, $16/senior and student, free/children under 6
Wed, Sep 1-Sun, Nov 14
The Museum of Photography
281 Park Ave South
Flatiron
Online: fotografiska.com

Family Sundays at the Rubin Museum

Family Sundays are back in person! Visit the museum on Sundays at 1 or 2 to learn and create at the new space, The Mandala Lab. In the month of November, the family activity will be focused on the feeling of pride at completing something difficult, and how we can (literally!) weave an expression of that feeling into our clothes. This event is meant for ages 3 and up with accompanying adults, and pre-registration is required.

Price: Free with admission. Admission: $19/adult, $14/seniors and students, Free/children 12 and under
Sundays in November, 1-3 p.m.
The Rubin Museum of Art
150 West 17th St.
Chelsea
Online: rubinmuseum.org

Diablo Yoyo at Washington Square Park

Watch some expert yo-yo masters show off their skills at this presentation and workshop in the park. See the awesome yo-yo juggling antics of the diabolo style, presented by Violet Diabolo, NYU's diabolo club. You can even try it out yourself with one of the yo-yos available to use at the event!

Wed, Nov 3
5-6:30 p.m.
Holley Plaza in Washington Square Park
5th Avenue at, Washington Square N
Online: nycgovparks.org

Generation Rise at the New Victory Theater

Everyone who's come out of 2020 is a changed person. At this powerful event, teenagers share their experiences growing up amid a global pandemic, racial justice movements, and a constantly changing world. Young voices speak up about uniquely human, young adult, and New York experiences, focusing on the power of resilience and optimism — in spite of what the world throws at you. This event is for ages 11 and up.

Price: $25
Fri, Nov 5-Sun, Nov 14
The New Victory Theater
209 W 42nd St
Midtown
Online: newvictory.org

Pollinator Painted Stones at Fort Tryon Park

Pollinators are so important to our food system. Learn all about them and celebrate them with art at this event! Join artist Jessica Maffia in painting on stones and turning them into bees, ladybugs, butterflies and other members of nature's pollination squad. It's recommended that you bring a blanket to sit on for this outdoor event!

Sat., Nov. 6, 1-2:30 p.m.
Fort Tryon Park's Dongan Lawn on Broadway
Fort George
Online: eventbrite.com

photo: Rob W. via Yelp

Fall Foliage Tour at Snug Harbor

It's the perfect time to visit Snug Harbor, in all its autumn splendor. The gardens will be offering a Fall Foliage tour for visitors, which will take you through the gorgeous fall colors. The tour will start at the Visitors Info Booth, moving through the Pond Garden and ending at the New York Chinese Scholar's Garden. 

Price: $10, $9 for members
Thu, Nov 4 and Sat, Nov 6
1-2:30 p.m.
Snug Harbor
Meet at Visitor Info Booth at Gazebo Road and Chapel Road
Staten Island
Online: snugharbor.secure.force.com

FAD's Early Bird Holiday Market at City Point

FAD, the Fashion, Art and Design pop-up marketplace, is bringing its local goods to City Point. Browse through handmade goods, food and art from over 40 local vendors and artists in this cozy, indie market. 

Sat, Nov 6-Sun, Nov 7
11 a.m.-7 p.m.
City Point
Prince Street Corridor
445 Albee Square West
Downtown Brooklyn
Online: fadmarket.co

Mushride Bike Tour at Randall's Island

Become more familiar with the edible nature around you in this bike ride and mushroom foraging excursion. Learn how to find and identify edible mushrooms while you explore Randall's Island's gardens, farm, and wetlands. Although this event will be held on bike, the pace will be leisurely and all ages are welcome.

Sat, Nov 13
2-3:30 p.m.
Sunken Meadow Citi Bike Station
35 Central Rd
Randall's Island
Online: randallsisland.org

Commemoration of the Battle of Fort Washington at Fort Tryon Park

Commemorate the 245th anniversary of the Battle of Fort Washington at this festival-like event. The event features live 18th-century music, themed arts and crafts, blacksmith demonstrations, and even games from the era. Make it a picnic or dress up for the occasion — the most authentic costumes will receive a prize!

Sun, Nov 14
12-3 p.m.
Cafe Lawn in Fort Tryon Park
Fort George
Online: nycgovparks.org

photo: Joshua Bright

Family Birding at Wave Hill

Explore the wonderful world of birds, guided along by naturalist and birder Gabriel Willow. Learn about bird habitats and search Wave Hill for signs of birds, their homes, and their homes. Space is limited so it's recommended that you register on site the day of the event. 

Price: Free with admission. Admission: $10/adult, $6/seniors and students, $4/children 6+
Sun, Nov 14
1-2 p.m.
Wave Hill
West 249th St. & Independence Ave.
Riverdale
Online: nycgovparks.org

photo: Urban Space

Holiday Markets at Union Square and Colombus Circle

The Union Square and Columbus Circle holiday markets have returned to their rightful winter homes! Over 200 local vendors in total will be on display at the two holiday markets, featuring great chances for some unique presents for the family (or for yourself!), like jewelry, clothing, art, delicious food, puzzles, clocks, quirky conversation pieces, and so much more. Union Square will once again feature an art station from the Children's Museum of Art for free, holiday-themed crafts for the little ones.

Union Square:

Thu, Nov 18-Fri, Dec 24
Mon-Sat 11 a.m.-8 p.m., Sun 11 a.m.-7 p.m.
Closed Thanksgiving, closes 4 p.m. on Christmas Eve
Union Square
Online: urbanspacenyc.com

Columbus Circle:

Mon, Nov 29-Fri, Dec 24
Mon-Sat 11 a.m.-8 p.m., Sun 11 a.m.-7 p.m.
Closes 4 p.m. on Christmas Eve
Columbus Circle
Online: urbanspacenyc.com

Holiday Lighting Party at Albee Square

Celebrate the holiday season in style at Albee Square's annual winter holiday lighting party. View special guest performances and join in on the countdown to the holidays. (More details will be released soon!)

Thurs., Nov. 18, 5-6 p.m.
Albee Square
Corner of Fulton and Bond
Downtown Brooklyn
Online: downtownbrooklyn.com

photo: Wyckoff Farmhouse Museum

Farmhouse Family Day at the Wyckoff Farmhouse Museum

Before we had artificial coloring, people made dyes from nature. This month's family day at the Wyckoff Farmhouse Museum will teach you how natural dyes are made from flowers, fruits, vegetables, and other materials harvested from nature. Visitors will be able to make their own designs using natural dyes, to take home. While you're there, stick around to play with some outdoor colonial games and toys, or bring some food scraps to add to the compost heap. 

Sat., Nov. 20, 11 a.m.-3 p.m.
The Wyckoff House Museum
5816 Clarendon Rd.
Canarsie
Online: nycgovparks.org

photo: Mimi O'Connor

Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade

Celebrating 95 years, the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade is on Thursday, November 25 from 9 a.m. - Noon. New floats and balloons for 2021 include Ada Twist, Scientist, Grogu (AKA "Baby Yoda"), a special Pokeman 25th anniversary balloon, and creations from Heinz (a gravy boat!), Disney Cruises and Peacock. 

Nov. 25, 9 a.m. - Noon
Online: macys.com

—Yuliya Geikhman

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As most of us learned last year, you can’t stop Halloween in NYC—even if it means elaborate candy-delivery systems to keep things safe! (If you do decide to venture out this year, take precautions—like wearing a mask—to stay healthy.) Looking for some Halloween costume inspiration? We of course love a good New York City-themed costume, and have rounded up our favorite ideas for 2021. From family costumes to baby costumes and lots of easy costumes, this is how to show your NYC pride!

photo: Katy Walter

Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Channeling your inner RBG is never a bad idea. The Supreme Court Justice hailed from Flatbush, Brooklyn, and it's easy enough to pull together a costume on your own, but you can also get the basics here. Of course, another option is to go the Notorious RBG route and add a slightly askew gold crown. And for the first-timer? Can't go wrong with this

P.S. Let's not forget that Supreme Court Justice Sonya Sotomayor is also an NYC native, who was born and raised in the South Bronx—so you have your choice of impressive jurists!

 

photo: photo: Ashley Bailey

King Kong Tableau

Have a few trick or treaters you need to outfit? A trio of the Empire State Building, King Kong and damsel in distress (or not) is a formidable ensemble. This particular iteration is the work of Ashley Bailey, the inspired Atlanta area photographer and mom behind the site "Stellaween." The month-long celebration of October's biggest day started with Bailey dressing and documenting daughter Stella in a new homemade costume each day, with a pair of twins joining in a few years ago. (You can see Bailey's shots of other people's kids at her site, September Morn Photography.)

photo: Vy H. Via Yelp

Little Island

A little high concept and definitely not for the crafting-challenged?  Sure, but we think a whole bunch of plastic funnels with some little trees and people on them would be instantly recognizable. 

photo: Wikimedia Creative Commons

Ghostbuster

Genius sibling idea! Get a brown jumpsuit, a backpack, some hose and a DIY Ghostbusters patch and you're good to go.  For a family costume, incorporate Slimer, the Stay-Puft Marshmallow man, Zuul, etc. 

Fearless Girl

Even though it involves some potentially messy bronze face makeup and maybe spraypainting some clothes, we think it could be worth the trouble. We bet you know a fearless girl or two who could rock this costume hard. Bonus points if you do a family theme with other members taking on the roles of the Charging Bull, a tourist, stock trader, etc. 

photo: photo: Ashley Bailey

New York's Finest

We don't mean any disrespect. Of course cops don't just sit around eating donuts. But how cute is this costume? NYPD for the win!

photo: photo: Ashley Bailey

Hipster

Another costume idea that's open to a lot of interpretation, the Hispter is a little more subtle. This is Bailey's take on it, and we think the mustache solution she came up with is genius.

 

 

 

 

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Subway Car

An MTA train car is a quintessential NYC choice for Halloween, and it's a project, but an easy one. Nice touches include personalizing with your neighborhood's main line,  or with your child's initial. (Yes, there can be an "H" or "T" train.) Pizza Rat really takes this version over the top. 

photo: East Midtown Partnership

Statue of Liberty

Another costume that's simple, easy, instantly recognizable, and can be worn with absolutely anything underneath. An aqua-colored sheet, foam crown and torch and you're done.

photo: Ashley Bailey

Sesame Street

Why pick one character from the Street when you can be all of them and the Street itself?

 

Times Square Elmo

Another, more subversive take on the Sesame Street crowd, the Times Square Elmo is easy to achieve. You just need an Elmo costume that looks a little...wrong. Thrift stores are filled with Elmo costumes that have seen better days. Give your child a five-dollar bill and a bad attitude and you're all set.

 

 

 

iPhone

OK, obviously this is not a costume applicable to NYC alone, but we're going to claim it because A.) New Yorkers have to be some of the most phone-dependent beings and B.) this costume is so cute, easy, and a dream to get around.

 

Bagel et. al

This family went all-in with the NYC-themed costumes: Bagel with cream cheese, Metrocard, Statue of Liberty. (Click through to see the full ensemble.)

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

We're  betting at least one kid in the Bronx or Queens steps out in this. (If you see them, please send photos.) A hard sell? Maybe. But maybe not—AOC is pretty inspiring. A nice companion to Fearless Girl, this is super easy to pull together (especially if your kid has long dark hair). Still, some bright red lipstick, a House of Representatives Seal or Green New Deal material, and you're good to go. 

photo: Wikimedia Creative Commons

Naked Cowboy

Easy. Hilarious. Cute. What more could you ask for? Obviously an indoor costume only, this one is perfect for your diaper-wearing tot. Just scrawl "Naked Cowboy" on his (or her) butt, throw on some kiddie cowboy boots, a hat and ukulele and call it a night.

Mimi O’Connor

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There’s nothing like back-to-school shopping to get everyone excited about fall and getting back to class. This is what you’ll find at local NYC boutiques for back-to-school gear, clothes and more, for kids just starting school or those too cool for it. (i.e, your seven-year-old, etc.) Read on to send your kid to school in style!

photo: STATE

Annie’s Blue Ribbon General Store

An “everything but the kitchen sink” independent shop, Annie's Blue Ribbon General Store has many great backpacks at various price points (including State Bags, shown here, that have a compelling “Give Back” model). Plus, lunch boxes such as Yumboxes that make it really easy to pack lunch thanks to little compartments, as well as lots of Stainless Steel options too. To pack along with lunch, Blue Ribbon sells lunch box notes and to write thoughtful and fun messages for your kid. They also have several teaching games and tools, such as multiplication flashcards, sight word cards,  games for learning about money, math, reading, and maps too! 

232 5th Ave. Brooklyn
Park Slope
718-522-9848
Online: blueribbongeneralstore.com

photo: Mimi O'Connor

CAMP

This year, CAMP has so many fun and unique products that would make any kid excited to hit the books again. With four shops between Manhattan and Brooklyn, it’s your one-stop back-to-school shop for play, media and merchandise that’s enriching and, of course, fun. Popular items include Ooly Left-Right Ergonomic Crayons, colorful EPIC everyday backpacks, corkboards, unicorn erasers, and CAMP's own signature duffle bag.

110 5th Ave
Flatiron
Online: camp.com

10 Columbus Circle 
The Shops at Columbus Circle,
Columbus Circle 
Midtown

20 Hudson Yards
Hudson Yards

1 Dekalb Ave.
City Point
Downtown Brooklyn 

Smoochie Baby

Popular items for kids returning to school this year at Smoochie Baby include CarlijnQ Backpacks—an all-organic brand from the Netherlands—Old Soles Champsters high-tops, the Rowdy Sprout Frank Zappa tee, My Little Cozmo Dakota Sherpa Jacket and Fairwell sweats.

110 Berry St. 
Williamsburg
718-384-3340
Online: smoochiebaby.com

Book Culture

Your local independent bookstore is also often a great place for distinctive writing materials. Book Culture, which has four locations sells pencils, pens and groovy notebooks, as well as stylish ways to tote them around, like pencil cases, backpacks and more. 

26-09 Jackson Ave.
Long Island City
718-440-3120
Online: bookculture.com

536 W. 112th St. 
Morningside Heights 
2915 Broadway
Morningside Heights 

Jane's Exchange

Not many second-hand kids' clothes shops remain, but Jane's Exchange, the largest and oldest children's and maternity Store in NYC, recently opened its second storefront in Park Slope, Brooklyn. Fashion-wise, new this season are fall corduroy pants, overalls, and overall pinafores. High-quality basics from Mini Boden, Hanna Andersen, Primary, Milo, Rock Your Kid are all the rage in shades of softer greys, browns, muted colors and animal prints. Plus, sneakers from Jordans to Vans are attracting kids of all ages.

191 East 3rd St.
East Village
212-677-0380
Online: janesexchange.com

443 7th Ave.
Park Slope
347-987-4192

photo: Consignment4Kids

Consignment4kids.com

Another option for scoring some gently-used (or even new!) kids' clothes is the new online kid's consignment shop Consignment4kids.com. The virtual secondhand shop was Started by an NYC mom (and Tinybeans contributor!) who wanted to give hardly-worn pieces another chance to shine, while also providing fellow parents some bargains, and the possibility of earning a few bucks. Consignment4kids.com is stocked with clothes and accessories for boys and girls from infant to age eight. Brands you'll find in the store include Jacadi, Pink Chicken and Polo Ralph Lauren, and items are priced to move! Pickup and dropoff can be arranged for a small fee, or you can mail in items. If your merch doesn't sell after 90 days Consignment4kids will donate the items for you to organizations like Room to Grow and Goodwill. 

Online: consignment4kids.com

Grandma’s Place

Recently featured in Humans of New York, Grandma’s Place is your one-stop-shop for toys, games, and books—it’s a real neighborhood gem in Harlem. Many books and toys they sell have an ethnic focus, such as the books Tea Cakes for Tosh, Sulwe, Curls, and the coloring book Princess Planet. Outdoor, musical, and Melissa & Doug toys are also available.

84 W 120th St.
Harlem
212-360-6776
Online: grandmasplaceinharlem.com

Parachute Brooklyn

Parachute Brooklyn offers gently used modern and vintage clothing for kids ages 0-10. The boutique also carries a selection of new accessories as well as small-batch, one-of-a-kind pieces from local designers with a focus on upcycled materials. Big hits this fall include Parkland backpacks, socks from Happy Socks and Little Stocking Co., hair accessories from Chunks and Wunderkin Co., Umbrellas from Hipster Kid, and quilted jackets from SAJ. The shop’s selection of second-hand jackets and sweaters are among the top sellers this season.

151 Norman Ave.
718-383-0567
Greenpoint
Online: parachutebrooklyn.com

photo: Rowdy Sprout

Babesta

It’s fashion-forward in this downtown NYC shop. Babesta’s newest collection of Rowdy Sprout T-shirts are in, and they're essential for making a style statement this fall. Tagless and made in LA, there's a Rowdy Sprout t-shirt for every music fan, big and little. 

56 Warren St.
Tribeca
646-290-5508
Online: babesta.com

Two Kids and a Dog 

A DUMBO destination for families with kids for, Two Kids and a Dog sells a mix of baby, kid and tween goods. Here’s where you’ll find a ton of toys, kids' clothing, shoes, scooters, birthday gifts and more—i.e., a well-curated inventory of a little bit of everything. Pick up your child’s high-quality essentials here, such as colorful water bottles from Eco vessel and Swell, backpacks from Herschel and Parkland, and lunch boxes from Yumbox and Omielife. 

65 Pearl St. 
DUMBO
646-342-4549
Online: twokidsandadog.com 

photo: Awesome Brooklyn

Awesome Brooklyn

This one-of-a-kind gift shop carries everything from New York-themed mugs and baby gear, to swirly pastel chalk and Grow-Your-Own-Unicorn toy eggs. Staffers say all things organizing are hot for back-to-school, such as the Julie Mollo clutches shown here, whimsical “To-do” pads, feelings trackers, and general self-care goods. 

617 Flatbush Ave.
(between Fenimore Street and Rutland Road)
Prospect Lefferts Gardens 
718-928-7484
Online: awesomebrooklyn.com

main photo: Rowdy Sprout 

—Rachel Sokol

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Why It’s So Important to Expose Kids to the Arts

Read next

We all know the importance of STEM education for kids—that’s Science, Technology, Engineering and Math for anyone scratching their heads. And yes, we need the next generation to harness the power of the sun and wind for energy, solve myriad health crises and save the planet. But exposure to the arts—be it music, theater or the visual and performing arts—is essential for kids’ development as well, and often enhances whatever science-leaning learning children are engaged in. Read on to learn the benefits of arts education for kids and why it matters.

photo: Jamie Salka

It'll boost their school achievements.

For the record, your child does not need to be a prodigy or virtuoso to reap the benefits of arts of all kinds. A recent Kinder Institute for Urban Research study of third to eighth graders showed arts-learning experiences in school reduced disciplinary infractions, increased compassion for others and boosted achievement in writing, while also improving school engagement and college aspirations.

They'll develop creative problem-solving skills.

If there’s a superfood of artistic disciplines, it’s music. Just listening to music activates multiple areas of the brain, but learning how to play an instrument, and practicing it over time, is like a pro-level workout for our grey matter (Neuroscientists know this thanks to brain imaging technology like fMRIs and PET scanners, which enable us to see where in the brain activity is occurring.).

Playing an instrument engages the brain in its entirety, a phenomenon that is most significant because numerous parts of the brain are being stimulated at the same time. Playing an instrument engages the more analytical right hemisphere of your brain, as well as the more creative, left hemisphere. This combination, as well as the flow of information between the two sides of the brain, supports the development of higher-level executive functioning, such as creative problem-solving. 

It helps to prevent memory loss later in life.

You know what they say: you can't stop the music. It’s not a stretch to say that receiving some kind of music education can help your child become a more well-adjusted individual and provide them with some valuable life skills. A Harris Poll of American adults found that 70% felt music education developed their ability to be effective team players in their careers, and two-thirds reported it helped them become disciplined problem solvers. 

But beyond all that, time and again, music education has been cited as aiding in language development and acquisition and spatial-temporal skills, the latter of which are key in the areas of math, engineering, architecture and computer science. Childhood music lessons have long-term benefits as well, helping to mitigate memory loss and cognitive decline in old age. 

photo: Kids on Stage

They'll master social skills.

Working as part of a large group is central to the theater arts, performing arts such as dance and even visual arts such as film. The experience helps develop an appreciation of the value of teamwork and how different people bring different skills to a task. Enjoying or participating in the arts also develops a person’s capacity for empathy and compassion. The New Victory Theater, dedicated to presenting and bringing diverse performing arts productions to young audiences, observed the impact of arts education in schools through its program called “New Victory SPARK.”

According to Lindsey Buller Maliekel, VP, Education and Public Engagement at New 42, early findings of the data reveal that kids’ access to and engagement with the performing arts supports kids’ impulses to try new things; the capacity for self-reflection and an appreciation of someone’s life that is different from their own, and an increased perspective and interpersonal skills that strengthen teamwork. Additional benefits included increased hope, optimism and resilience. “These benefits feel particularly relevant as kids negotiate in a world that has a lot of ambiguity!” she says. 

photo: iStock

They'll experience increased engagement.

Arts education is linked with high academic success, and a 2012 National Endowment for the Arts study found that arts education can be especially helpful in supporting students from socioeconomically disadvantaged backgrounds. At-risk youth with high arts participation had better attendance, standardized test scores and a significantly lower dropout rate than their counterparts with no arts education. Additionally, students of the arts were more likely to attend and graduate from college. 

photo: iStock

They'll have better self-esteem.

Yes, nailing that solo or soaking in applause during a curtain call is an effective way for your kid to get a self-esteem boost. But the even better news is that according to a 2019 study, just engaging in artistic pursuits such as music-making or listening, drawing or painting has a positive impact on a child’s self-esteem. (It’s even better if you play music with your kid; drawing is effective as a solo activity.)

 

—Mimi O’Connor

Feature image: Kids on Stage 

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