Foam Play Mats That Fit With Your Decor

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Padded play mats offer a soft landing for falls, a clean place for play, and the perfect spot for tummy time. But do they have to look like a kid designed them? Nope! These stylish foam play mats add to your room’s charm and provide a pretty backdrop for your Instagram photos.

designer foam play mats totter tumble scout playmat

Totter + Tumble

$199 BUY NOW

You have several gorgeous, sophisticated patterns to choose from with Totter + Tumble play mats, and each reversible mat has two subtle, stylish prints to choose between. Certified for newborns on up, your child will love the soft 1/2-inch-thick memory foam that provides gentle support. These antibacterial mats are easy to care for; just wipe them down with a cloth and cleaning solution to keep them at their best. Your child will be playing on this mat for years to come, and during naptime, you can steal it for yoga and pilates sessions. Standard mats are 83 x 55 inches. Some patterns also come in a compact size (72 x 49) or 55-inch round.

designer foam play mats wander and roam play mat

Wander & Roam

$179 BUY NOW

This reversible play mat designed in collaboration with Erin Gates Design features a chic antelope print on one side and a neutral striped print on the other. It's made from eco-friendly, biodegradable foam and thick enough, at one-half inch, to soften kids' falls and provide a comfortable spot for grown-ups to sit. In addition to the tasteful prints, you'll love that these are non-toxic and free of latex, BPA, formamide and PVC, while being hypoallergenic, waterproof and nonflammable. Roll it up when not in use.

designer foam playmats cushmats


$179+ BUY NOW

Double-sided with two tasteful prints, these generously sized mats (78x55 inches) are designed for the whole family to enjoy. Babies can use them for tummy time, crawling and rolling, while older kids can practice gymnastics and martial arts. The waterproof surface also makes it a great spot to get messy. Adults, and all ages, can use the mat for yoga, meditation and other workouts, so this is a room addition you'll treasure for years to come.


$139 BUY NOW

These hand-illustrated and painted foam floor mats come in a soothing pattern and stylish colors. Made of non-toxic EVA foam and just under a half-inch thick, they wipe clean with a dry cloth and come in a 4 ft x 6 ft set consisting of 6 tiles and 12 edges, so you can customize the right size for your space.

designer foam playmat hugomat


$180+ BUY NOW

This handcrafted cushioned mat looks great in your home and folds in half with handles for easy transporting to different rooms, the park or grandpa's house. It's made from natural latex foam, which is breathable and resists mold, mildew and dust, and is covered in a removable, machine-washable cotton fabric. There's also a pocket for baby essentials. The mat measures 33 inches across and one inch thick and comes in soft neutral colors to complement any decor.

designer foam playmats comfort design playmat

Comfort Design Mats

$189 BUY NOW

With ultra soft padding (no bruised knees here!), Comfort Design Mats are a must buy. Each modern mat is ½ inch thick and made up of waterproof foam that’s hypoallergenic, BPA-free and non-toxic. Each mat is easy to wipe down and measures about 78” x 55”, so think of it more like a rug than the typical petite play mat you may be used to. It’s so comfortable and versatile you can even use it for yoga or exercise. Good to know: Because of the mat’s size, they do not fold up easily, so you won’t be putting this away once playtime is over.

designer foam playmat nook lilypad playmat

Nook’s LilyPad Playma

$149 BUY NOW

For a portable play mat that doesn’t compromise style or function, turn to Nook’s LilyPad Playmat. The 1-inch mat comes with a convenient carrying case, and the mat itself folds up easily and snaps shut so you can take it to the park, on vacation or your next playdate. Available in a variety of colors all with a fun pebble design, the mat is non-toxic, stain-resistant, water-resistant, machine-washable and antimicrobial.

designer foam playmat gathre playmat

Gathre Playmat

$93+ BUY NOW

Made of bonded leather material, Gathre play mats are winning over design-savvy parents everywhere. Both beautiful and functional, the mats can be used at home, outside (think of the mat like a beach towel or picnic blanket) or even hung up on the wall as a piece of art. Gathre mats are waterproof, compact and free of toxins, PVC and phthalates. Pro tip: If you love the look of a Gathre Playmat but want something a bit thicker to soften falls, place it over a rug.

House of Noa

$119 BUY NOW

These play mats are so gorgeous you could use them in both baby's nursery and your kitchen for padding while you cook and clean. They're available in three sizes: 4x6, 6x8 or 8x12. The mats were illustrated and designed by professional artist Sophia Vincent-Guy and are premium quality, non-toxic EVA foam that's just under a half-inch thick.

Toki Mats

$185+ BUY NOW

With play mat covers that are interchangeable and machine-washable, you’ll never grow tired of looking at your Toki Mat. Made of foam from the sap tree, each Toki Mat is soft enough to serve as your family’s meet-up spot for tummy time, cuddles, first steps and first falls. Toki Mats are foldable, so when not in use, you can stash it away.

Creamhaus Folding Playmat

$259 BUY NOW

For a play mat that’s akin to what you might find at an indoor playspace or gym class, turn to Creamhaus. These folding mats come in at 1.6 inches thick, which is enough padding to cushion even the wildest tumbles. All mats are hypoallergenic, water-resistant and free of formamide, PVC, EVA, fire retardants, and other VOCs. While the heavy-duty mat weighs 12 pounds, you can still easily fold it and store in a closet or under the couch.

designer foam playmats ruggish playmat

Ruggish Playmat

$239 BUY NOW

Ruggish Playmats feature the look of a rug with the feel and functionality of a play mat. On one side you’ll find a cool geometric design; turn it over and you’re greeted with an interactive play mat that encourages imaginary play. Ruggish mats are ½-inch thick and are waterproof, non-toxic, easy to wipe down and provide more cushion than your typical foam tiles.

—Rachel Sokol and Erin Lem

Photos courtesy of retailers


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There’s no doubt that Manhattan’s playground game is strong, but some on the island go above and beyond, with design features that make them more of a destination than the basic park around the corner. From playgrounds featuring awesome jungle gyms for adventurous climbers to imaginative play spaces, hidden slides and a playground kids make themselves, there’s an outstanding playground for kids of every age. Keep reading to check out the best playgrounds in Manhattan where you can slide, climb, splash and imagine the day away. You should go at least one time; you’ll probably go many.

For a New Spot Downtown: Playscape at The Battery

This cutting-edge, eco-inspired play area opened in December of 2021, but expect spring 2022 to be huge here. Its extended hours for the warmer months (7 a.m. - 9 p.m.) began March 2. Triple the size of the previous playground space in The Battery, Playscape was constructed post-Hurricane Ida and is built to flood and recover. Children experience five ecology zones: Bluff with five granite slides; Riverbed and Marsh with vast salt-tolerant gardens, elevated tree houses, and sand/water play; and Dune and Meadow presenting ShowBox, the first improv/puppet theater in an NYC playground. Other features include a climbing wall, rope ladders and a sandbox with "animals" (like a concrete octopus) waiting to be discovered. (Reminder: you can't visit The Battery with kids without taking a spin on the magical Seaglass Carousel, and if it's hot out, don't miss the Spiral Bosque Fountain

The Battery
State Street and Battery Place
The Battery 


To Beat the Heat On the West Side: Chelsea Waterside Playground

One of the newest playgrounds in the city (Domino Park and Pier 3 in Brooklyn also recently debuted) the Chelsea Waterside Play Area in Hudson River Park has always been a popular spot for locals and otherwise. A $34 million overhaul from architect Michael Van-Valkenburgh (his firm is behind the design of Brooklyn Bridge Park as well) brought playground equipment from Danish firm MONSTRUM to the northeast for the first time. Play structures include a giant, one-of-a-kind, multicolor Robina wood pipefish (found in the Hudson), and a 64-foot wooden slide. You'll also find sprinklers, a large sandpit, and limestone cattle head sculptures salvaged from an old building in the meatpacking district. After you’re done playing, hold hands and cross the West Side Highway to access a sprawling grassy field along the Hudson River. After you relax, go for a ride on the Pier 62 Carousel, featuring 33 hand-carved wooden animal figures, open daily for rides ($2 each).

Where: Chelsea, West 23rd St. and 11th Ave.

What’s in it for you: Lots of tree plantings for shade and shutting out city noise, and tiered granite seats made with material from Pier 54, where the Titanic was to have docked. 

Water feature: Gentle sprinklers. 

Restroom: There’s a Port-o-let in the playground for emergencies and a public restroom across the street on the north side of Chelsea Piers building.

To Splash and Slide: Heckscher Playground

Constructed in 1927, Heckscher Playground is the oldest playground in Central Park and the largest at 1.8 acres. It’s best known for its rock hills with ladders that lead down into tunnels, providing city kids with hours of exploration. Kids can also swing and slide in a shaded area, run and roll on a synthetic turf, and climb and splash in a large, maze-like climber and water feature with tunnels, ramps, and slides. There really is no shortage of things to do here. Plus, the playground is housed in a confined area — helpful for keeping your critters from darting into the Central Park Zoo.

Where: Columbus Circle, 7th Ave. and Central Park South from 61st to 63rd St.

What’s in it for you: Plenty of benches and green grass, lots of room to play. 

Water feature: Water spews from the highest point of the climber and down to elevated water channels, plus there’s a separate semi-enclosed area for tots to splash.

Restroom: Located at the playground entrance inside the Heckscher Building

Hippo Playground Project

For an Upper West Side Institution: Safari, or "Hippo" Playground

Much-beloved by the community (and taken extra special care of, thanks to The Playground Project), Hippo Playground takes its name from the impossible-to-miss Bob Cassily hippopotamus statues found "frolicking" in the park. There's something for all ages here, including swings, a wood play structure, jungle gym, a slide, a soft play surface, sand pit, and spray fountain. There's also picnic tables, and shade, to keep everybody cool. In the summer, there's free art in the park, as well as a free July concert series. (Check The Project's Facebook page for the day's happenings.) Come fall, head to the park for pumpkin carving and a Halloween parade. 

Note: Thanks to a renovation, the playground's Park House can now be booked as an affordable party space. Click here for booking inquiries.

The Playground Project also holds a boffo fundraiser every year (typically in the spring) with pony rides, a bounce house, petting zoo, face-painting, glitter tattoos, and much, much more. 

Where: Riverside Park at 91st Street

What's in it for you: Shady spots, and picnic tables. Plus free programming in the summer. (Plus: a cool Joan of Arc statue at 93rd Street!)

Water feature: Yes—in the shape of a hippo, naturally

Restrooms: Yes, on site.


For Play for Big & Small Kids: Margaret L. Kempner Playground

A major renovation of the popular Margaret L. Kempner Playground was completed in late 2019. Improvements include new custom-built wooden play structures, a central water spray feature, an accessible sandbox feature and the addition of a picnic area. This playground is a great spot for families with a big and a little kid; it's designed to accommodate kids ages 2-5, and 5-12, with separate but connected play areas for the two groups. For example, older kids can be challenged with net-climbing, while younger ones can tackle spinners and balance features. 

Where: Northeast side of the park at 94th. Enter at 96th Street.

What’s in it for you: Play for a wide range of ages, new plantings and a picnic area. 

Water feature: Yes

Restroom: No.

For a Playground You Can Hit Coming Or Going: Evelyn's Playground

You'd be forgiven for thinking this is called "Union Square Playground", because it anchors Union Square Park on the north side. A good spot for kids of all ages, the park has climbing structures, slides, swings, a gentle water feature in warmer weather, a generous sandbox, and a big giant silver dome to scale. A great spot to play in the heart of the city, and steps from the Union Square subway lines, making it easy to get to, and leave. Bonus features of the park include statues of Gandhi and Abraham Lincoln, and a dog run. 

Where: Union Square, Union Square West and E. 17th St. 

What’s in it for you: The famed Union Square Greenmarket is a stone's throw away. 

Water feature: Gentle sprinkler.

Restroom: Accessible restrooms are located on site. (There's also a Barnes and Noble across the street on 17th.) 


For an Arty Afternoon: Tom Otterness Playground

Way on the west side in the 40s, sits a gentle giant waiting to be scaled and slid down. The Tom Otterness Playground sits between two apartment buildings and it features a massive play-sculpture by the artist who gives the spot its name. (If the towering metal man looks familiar, it's probably because Otterness' whimsical work, "Life Underground", featuring similar tiny beings and alligators emerging from manholes, inhabits the subway station at 14th Street and 8th Avenue.) Canine lovers will also enjoy the dog run nearby — although watch your step: not everyone cleans up after their four-legged friend.

Where: Midtown West, 630 W. 42nd St. between 11th and 12th Aves.

What’s in it for you: You'll find some shady spots to get a respite from the sun, and will probably think the play-sculpture is pretty cool, too.

Water feature: No.

Restroom: Again, no. It's really about the art here.

NYC Parks

For a Triple Play: Washington Square Park

It’s been called “a battleground for chess enthusiasts,” but Washington Square Park (home to the famous arch) is so much more than that. For starters, it’s gone through some major renovations, so if your kids love to climb, this is a must-visit. Washington Square Park actually contains three playgrounds. The first is a small kids' playground for newly-minted walkers (that also has an infant swingset). There's also a play space for older kids where they can dig in the sand, run amok, and go down slides. Surrounded by artificial turf mounds, Washington Square Park is perfect for good old-fashioned play like rolling down a hill. In addition, a new rope, spider-web-like obstacle course in the southwest corner of the park offers extra fun for city kiddies of all ages. Note: The playground features JennSwings, which are full-body positioning support swing, adding an extra touch of safety.

Where: Greenwich Village, 4th St. to Waverly Pl. and Macdougal St. to University Pl.

What’s in it for you: Musicians such as jazz bands and a piano man entertain at all corners of the park. And yes, there are chess players for your little Bobby or Barbara Fisher to watch or challenge.

Water feature: The “big kids” playground has a mini-arch that sprays a tunnel of water; kids also like to jump in and out of the big water fountain in the middle of the park.

Bathrooms: Comfort stations on site.

For an Updated Park With Two Granite Slides: Billy Johnson Park

Pioneering landscape architect M. Paul Friedberg designed the Billy Johnson Playground (in 1981!) to be a rustic, mini reflection of the surrounding area in Central Park, featuring stone walls, bridges, a small shelter and naturalistic plantings. The big draw here is the 45-foot granite slide built into the landscape; not only is it fun to slide down, it's also a bit of an adventure to scale the slight grade to the top.

The playground recently underwent a major renovation and upgrade, which not only made it safer and accessible for kids of all abilities, but added many new features. Additions include new swings, a sand table, and refreshed rustic structures and seating. The renovation also added a dozen user-activated water jets to the playground's amphitheater area. 

A major new feature is a custom-designed net climber, made with climbable cables and nets on sloped embankments, with stairs, platforms, slides, and a rope bridge; designed for kids ages two to five, it will probably draw the attention of older kids, too. Keeping with the aesthetic theme of the playground, the structure's rustic timber posts are made from Douglas fir trees. 

Where: Upper East Side, E. 67th and Fifth Ave.

What’s in it for you: A brand new playground, spots to sit, some shade, and lovely plantings. The slide is adult-friendly, too.

Water feature: Yes

Restroom: No.

To Make Like King Tut: Ancient Playground

Just north of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Ancient Playground has a climbing pyramid, obelisk and sundial inspired by the museum’s collection of Egyptian Art. You’ll also find pyramid-shaped climbers with slides, and tunnels linked by concrete bridges to make older kids happy. Little ones like to explore an obelisk-shaped structure in the sandbox. Bucket, tire and strap swings will also get a squeal out of all ages.

Where: Upper East Side, East Side of Central Park at 85th St.

What’s in it for you: You’re right near the Met!

Water feature: Water runs from a central obelisk across two bridges and cascades like a mini-waterfall into an open area with water jets. A separate space for younger kids has spray nozzles set into a wall.

Restroom: Comfort station in the playground.


For Downtown Playtime: Nelson A. Rockefeller Park

Nelson A. Rockefeller Park is best known as the large lawn at the north end of Battery Park where kids can run, tumble and play yard games with oodles of green space to spare. The park has a large playground that reopened in October of 2020 following a significant renovation, the last of upgrades to all four play spaces in Battery Park City. You'll find colorful climbing structures for older kids and plenty of sand, swings, and small slides for the toddlers and infants. There’s also a small kid-powered merry-go-round. All sports equipment, toys, books and games are available to rent for free, at the on site Park House — just bring a photo ID. 

Where: North end of Battery Park City, west of River Terrace

What’s in it for you: Soft rubber turf protects the knees and legs. Plus, there are picnic tables and benches to unwind and have some snacks.

Water feature: There are small water fountains inside the playground to keep little ones cool, or you can drop by nearby Teardrop Park featuring a natural rock climbing wall, which takes you up to a long slide back down.

Restroom: Located at the northwest corner of the Solaire Building, across the street from the Park House. 

Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates, Inc.

For Fans of Secret Spots & a Fantastic Slide: Teardrop Park

The two-acre, sustainable Teardrop Park was designed by child development experts and it shows. The park's play elements are integrated into the awesome landscape, which allows children to interact with water, plants, rock, and sand. The shadier southern half of the park features a rock step-path that leads up to a long slide, two sand pits, “theatre steps”, and a water playground. The northern half of the park features a broad lawn (which receives lots of sunlight), park benches, a wetland, and a perched gathering area made from rocks, the last of which is an installation created by artist Ann Hamilton. Dividing these two areas is a large wall, composed of rocks brought to lower Manhattan from elsewhere in New York State. A short tunnel connects the two areas, and paths criss-cross the site, providing elevated views within the park and beyond as well as connections across the park. It’s a hidden gem of a spot for those really looking to connect with nature and take a literal few steps out of the hustle and bustle of New York City.

Where: Warren Street; Battery Park

What’s in it for you: Its relaxing vibe. Plus it’s not your run-of-the-mill playground.

Water feature: Water sprouts from the ground in a special section of stacked rocks, creating kid-friendly sprinklers.

Restroom: Located at the northwest corner of the Solaire Building, across the street from the Park House

Central Park Conservancy

For the Toddler Set: Toll Family Playground

The Toll Family Playground is a prime spot for toddlers and preschool kids, offering a full selection of features for a wide variety of play. The hallmark of the playground is two small house structures, a nod to similar shelters from the playground's original 1936 design. (The playground was renovated in 2018.)You'll also find a smaller slide and play structure, swings, spinner and spring toys and an area for sand plays that's sized for smaller children. 

Where: West side of Central Park at 84th Street, near Mariner's Gate 85th Street entrance

What’s in it for you: The playground is located at the base of Summit Rock, the highest point the the park and a popular point of interest. 

Water feature: A low-key water feature provides gentle sprays. 

Restroom: No

Daniel Avila, NYC Parks

To Spark Creativity: Imagination Playground

More than your standard swings and slides, Imagination Playground, designed by famed architect (and dad) David Rockwell, is a an interactive play space that prompts kids to engage in unstructured creative free play and make a play space of their own. Kids use sand, water and loose parts like giant foam blocks, mats, and fabric to engage in fantasy and cooperative play, as well as good old fashioned running around like nuts.
Where: The flagship Imagination Playground is located near South Street Seaport at Burling Slip (South St., Front St. and and John St.). Portable Imagination Playgrounds pop up in playgrounds around the city as well. (Check the Parks Department website for news on where they will be.)

What's in it for you: It's a pretty cool idea — and you'll probably want to play along!

Water feature: A separate water play area for hot weather fun is open during the summer at the Burling Slip locale.

Restroom: Public restrooms on site.

NYC Parks Department

For a Waterwheel Near a LEGO Store: Madison Square Park

Madison Square Park Playground is known as a smaller space with big fun. The playground features a jungle gym and appropriate play equipment for both tots and older kids. The highlight during the summer is when the 15-foot tall waterwheel and sprinklers are activated. Bonus: a LEGO store/experience is located a stone's throw away on 5th Avenue at 23rd Street.

Neighborhood: Flatiron

Where: Madison Avenue between 25th and 26th Streets

What's in It For You: Wifi hotspots, and Eataly is right across the street on Fifth Ave.

Water Feature: The aforementioned water wheel.

Restroom: No

Friends of River Park Trust

For a Water Park with a Pirate Edge: Pier 51 Hudson River Park

Ahoy, mateys! A neighborhood favorite with river views, Hudson River Park’s Pier 51 Playground is great for water lovers. At the heart of the playground is a wooden pirate ship. A spiral ramp leads to the lookout, then kids slide down into a water play area outfitted with huge water gushers and buckets. Kids can also "search for lost treasure" in the sand pit. A yellow, tree-like structure spritzes water for those who kiddies who can’t get enough of H20. Brass animals, such as turtles and crabs, adorn the playground and the sand play area and fences explain Manhattan’s ecological history. Little tots like wading in the moving stream and playing in the small spray sprinklers. Don’t forget your towels and sunscreen!

Where: West Village, Horatio St. at the Hudson River

What’s in it for you: It’s a public water park! Who needs a Montauk getaway?

Water feature: The whole park is a splash-splash paradise.

Restroom: Comfort station on site along the walking path.

Hudson River Park Trust

For Fun for Everyone: Pier 25 Hudson River Park

River Park’s Pier 25 Playground is the golden ticket of playgrounds with a rock climbing wall, two space-age climbing structures for big kids, small slides for toddlers, a modern merry-go-round, roomy sandbox, multiple swing sets and huge water play area. Not to mention, it’s next door to a skate park, snack shack, mini-golf course, beach volleyball court and soccer field. Need more?: how about a historic steamship and tugboat? There really is something for everyone here. The park also features an on-site (free) Art Shack, where kids can get crafty and creative at no cost.

Where: Tribeca, North Moore St. at Hudson River

What’s in it for you: Giving back! There’s an on-site snack bar with yummy treats, and proceeds support the park and Manhattan-based youth programs.

Water feature: Large buckets and spray cannons create a splashy, wet-and-wild time.

Restroom: Courtesy station located on site along the walking path.

—Rachel Sokol & Mimi O’Connor


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Slide On! Indoor Water Parks Near NYC

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Indoor water parks near NYC are open and ready for you and the kids to splash down. Whether the family is in need of a one-day fun day or a longer escape, there are plenty of indoor water parks nearby in spots like New Jersey, the Poconos and upstate. Read on for the latest on who’s open and new safety precautions. (Looking for outdoor water parks near NYC? Click here for our favorites!)

New York Water Parks 

Kartrite Resort

The Kartrite Resort and Indoor Waterpark

At long last, The Kartrite Resort and Indoor Waterpark is open! (The pandemic put things on pause for a bit.) Located about two hours away in The Catskills' Monticello, Kartrite Resort and Indoor Waterpark is now the state's largest. The 80,000-square-foot space features 11 water attractions, from mild (lazy river) to thrill-inducing. Constructed with a transparent, energy-efficient Texlon roof, the space is column-free, includes a living plant wall, and kept a pleasant 84 degrees year-round. If you're too pooped to leave after riding the waves and slides, you can crash in one of the resort's many lodging options. Also, FYI, Resorts World Casino is next door, and there's a spa on site (which also offers kid's treatments).

Good to know: If you do stay a while, there's plenty else to do besides splish and splash. The resort is home to eight dining options, from grab-and-go to sit down, with many serving food made with ingredients from local suppliers. Diversions for kids include an arcade, mini bowling alley, LED-lit climbing wall, laser tag, and a VR experience. Also nearby is Holiday Mountain (10 minutes away) which has skiing and tubing in the winter and go-karts and mini-golf in the summer, and Bethel Woods, home to Woodstock Music Fest in 1969 and concert series and events today. Also: the brand new LEGOLAND Resort in Goshen, New York is a quick drive away. 

The Kartrite Resort and Indoor Waterpark
555 Resort World Dr.
Monticello, NY

Six Flags Great Escape

Great Escape Lodge

Located right by Lake George, Great Escape Lodge in the Adirondacks attracts tourists and locals alike; especially because it's part of the well-known and established Six Flags family of theme parks. Not only do fun characters like Scooby-Doo, a moose, and a fox come visit kids in the Lodge's lobby, the indoor water park is literally just off the lodging area — so you can walk from your hotel room right into the water park in your flip-flops without ever going outside.

The water park is 38,000 square feet, maintained at  a warm 82 degrees, and splashy attractions include the Tall Timbers Treehouse (great for pre-school aged kids) which features water jets, steering wheels and a gigantic water bucket above that can soak you down below at any time. Older kids can float down the "lazy river" on inflatable tubes;  splash in the lagoon, where cascading jets of water douse guests below, enjoy "Avalanche" tubing on a large raft that seats four, and twist their way down slippery slides. If you're traveling with a toddler, bring them to the mini pool area, which features very shallow water, baby swings, a baby slide, and wildlife-themed fountains. Johnny Rocket's is on site serving up burgers, and kids can blow off even more steam at the hotel's arcade.

Good to know: When booking your reservation, you can request that costumed character bring your kids some cookies before bedtime. For the parents, there's an adults-only heated spa dubbed "Soakum Spring" and if you love massages and facials, there's a day spa on-premises.

Six Flags Great Escape Lodge
9 Six Flags Dr.
Queensbury, NY

Rocking Horse Ranch

Rocking Horse Ranch

Generations of families have visited Rocking Horse Ranch, an all-inclusive resort known for its year-round outdoor horseback riding (yes, even in the middle of winter). Guests like the personalized attention they receive here, and although the Ranch's indoor water park isn't as grandiose as others, it's the perfect place to visit and enjoy in one afternoon, without the large crowds. Big Splash Indoor Water Park is kept at a comfortable 85 degrees, features a 250-foot flume for kids who can't get enough of water slides, water geysers, aqua stations with mini-slides, fountains, large dumping buckets, and more.

Good to know: They also have other winter fun like skiing and snowtubing, and the ranch is home to outdoor water slides, bungee jumping and rock climbing, should you want to make a trip in warmer months. The 2020 summer season brought a new "Outdoor Aquatic Adventure" area, with water slides, Eldorado hot springs and a zero-depth entry pool.

Rocking Horse Ranch
600 State Route 44/55
Highland, NY

Pennsylvania Water Parks 

Great Wolf Lodge

Great Wolf Lodge

Located in the Pocono Mountains, Great Wolf Lodge offers 80,000-square-feet of space to splish and splash, and it recently wrapped up a $12 million upgrade to its facilities and hotel rooms. (We stayed in a new-and-improved room—it had a modern, woodsy-chic vibe, and ours, a suite on the top floor, had a sky-high ceiling making it feel extra roomy. Comfy beds, a small balcony, and a separate area for a couch and TV upped the cozy factor.)

Younger kids will enjoy the indoor mini-pool with spray-and-play features as well as well as a tree house to play in. Older kids gravitate towards The Big Foot Pass, where they "walk" from one end of the pool to another by hanging on to a rope and a signature water slide using a large raft called "River Canyon Run." Great Wolf is also home to twin, three-story slides that provide an escape route out of the wet Fort Mackenzie tree house, tons of slide drops, and a one-of-kind water slide/roller coaster dubbed the "Hydro Plunge." There's also two hot whirlpools (one just for adults) and "Slideboarding", in which you use thumb controls to hit LED targets and get a score after your final plunge.

Good to know: Great Wolf is super family-friendly, especially if you stay a night. (The main lobby, with its huge antler chandeliers and large fireplace, is very welcoming, and many guests—kids and adults alike—make it home, hanging out enjoying juice and jammies and vino and loungewear, respectively.) Aside from the waterpark, this space acts as "fun HQ", with everything from face-painting and balloon twisting, to story time, shows, movie screenings, and a killer pajama dance party right before bed. (Seriously, it's great.)

Great Wolf is home to lots of other ways to keep the kids entertained and busy, including a "MagiQuest" adventure that takes them on hunts using a magic wand; a buzzing arcade, kid-friendly bowling, a "Creation Station" where they can pick a stuffie to be filled; Glow Golf, and more. Great Wolf also has outdoor water play spots and a rope course, so it's also a good choice for escapes in any season.

Great Wolf Lodge
1 Great Wolf Dr.
Scotrun, PA

Camelback Resort

Camelback Lodge and Aquatopia Indoor Waterpark

Camelback Lodge and Aquatopia Indoor Waterpark is unique in that it offers visitors places to slip and slide both inside and out. For wet and wild fun, there's Aquatopia, a 125,000-square-foot, multi-level indoor waterpark where it's always a pleasant 84-degrees. The balmy bubble features seven pools and 13 slides — including the Venus SlydeTrap, the first Aqua-Sphere-Manta slide of its kind in the world, and a wave pool. It's also home to the Storm Chaser, the longest indoor watercoaster in the U.S.

Good to know: Camelback is also where you will find the giant outdoor waterpark, Camelbeach.  The resort offers plenty of opportunity to have fun in the snow, with a full ski resort and the largest snowtubing park in the country.

Camelback Resort Lodge and Aquatopia Indoor Water Park
301 Resort Dr.
Tannersville, PA

Kalahari Resorts

The Kalahari Resort

Also located in the Poconos, The Kalahari Resort is a 220,000-square-foot indoor waterpark inspired by the spirit of Africa. You'll find twisting waterslides, a lazy river, indoor/outdoor family whirlpool, spots for little ones to play and body-board and stand-up surfing opportunities for bigger kids (and adults). Poolside cabanas are available for rent here and it's got a retractable roof for when the temps rise.

Good to know: You'll also find multiple dining options on site, a spa (with kid options), additional entertainment ranging from an arcade and Virtual Reality experiences, as well as ziplines, ropes courses, mini golf, mini bowling, an escape room and more.

Kalahari Resorts
250 Kalahari Blvd.
Pocono Manor, PA

New Jersey Water Parks 

Dreamworks Water Park at American Dream

After a delayed opening, this DreamWorks-branded indoor water park is up and running!  It's part of the American Dream shopping and amusement complex, which is also home to Nickelodeon Universe amusement park; Big SNOW, an indoor ski slope; an indoor ice rink, Angry Birds mini golf, and retail shops.

The water park has something for everyone in the family. For thrill-seekers there's the world’s tallest indoor drop slide with a 50-foot free-fall. You can also ride with dragons around the entire water park on "Toothless Trickling Torpedo," the world’s tallest and longest hydromagnetic water coaster. For calmer fun, float down the lazy river, or hang out in the world's largest indoor wave pool.  The Kung Fu Panda Temple of Awesomeness is an interactive water play structure including slides, dump cups, and even a giant tipping bucket, and little kids will love the Penguins Frozen Fun Zone. You can also expect appearances from characters in DreamWorks films throughout the day (ask for a schedule when you arrive to see who is on tap for the day).  

Good to know: Hours fluctuate. Check before you go! 

American Dream
1 American Dream Way
East Rutherford, NJ

Sahara Sam's

This large 60,000-square-foot park provides plenty of fun for people of all ages. For families with small children, the park's Lizard Lagoon is a feature dedicated entirely to young children and infants (it’s a play area with small slides) little kids will also enjoy TimBukTu, a play area outfitted with numerous interactive water features. The indoor water park has a retractable roof (it opens in the summer), and private cabanas for rent, adding to the tropical feel of the park regardless of the season. Cool water rides for those who love to surf, slide, soak, or be sprayed include The Flow Ride indoor surf simulator, The Congo Bongo (a leisurely float around the park in a tube), tube slides, the Crocodile Flats obstacle course, and more.

Recent additions to the park include Tut's Twisters, head-first, side-by-side racing slides with a five-story-high drop, and indoor leisure pool Cleopatra's Cove. If the whole family's ready for an adventure, check out Mount Kilimanjaro, a towering, massive water slide on which up to four people ride a raft into a large pool.

Good to know: Kids under two get in free, and the park holds special events for kids on weekends, such as cookie decorating, games and giveaways with a DJ, or even visit from a large dump truck.   Also, be sure to check the park's events calendar for events for kids with special needs.

Sahara Sam's
535 North Route 73
West Berlin, NJ

 —Rachel Sokol


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These Prenatal Massage Spots Will Make You Melt

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Carrying a kid around for nine months or so is no joke. Doing it in New York City, in these strange times? Oof. Luckily, there are tons of great prenatal massage places in NYC where an expectant mom can find stress relief and help for those gestational aches and pains. And yes, Covid safety procedures are in effect to keep everyone healthy—and relaxed! Below, our picks for the city’s best places to get a prenatal massage. 

The ‘In-the-know’ Massage Therapist: Prenatal Massage Center of Manhattan

 For over 16 years Anne Heckheimer has been offering support in the form of massage to NYC’s pregnant women. She incorporates unique add-ons such as gua-sha relaxation (repeated strokes using a smooth stone) and facial rejuvenation into prenatal massages upon request. (Heckheimer is also a certified personal trainer!) All safety rules are being followed: there’s a new medical-grade air purifier on-site, there’s a new intake form for clients with specific COVID-related questions, and clients will be required to bring their own water bottles to reduce the number of surfaces to be touched by everyone. Don’t forget your mask! New modalities: Spinning Babies® Body Balancing, Arvigo Techniques of Maya Abdominal Therapy® and Labor Enhancement Massage Sessions.

231 West 96th St. Suite 2B, Office 7
Upper West Side

Motherly Love

Makes Housecalls: Motherly Love Massage and Acupuncture

This housecall pre-natal massage small business services Manhattan and Brooklyn. Says owner, Leigh: “We exclusively offer housecalls, specializing in massage and acupuncture for pregnancy, postpartum and parents!” Perfect for de-stressing during challenging times, Motherly Love’s practitioners thoroughly employ the new covid-safety protocols and professional guidelines, “with sessions designed to nourish your well-being from the comfort of home.” Housecall services have recently expanded to Westchester county, Princeton and Rumson, NJ, too.

119 West 23rd St., Suite 802

Yinova Center

Fertility-focused: The Yinova  Center

Due to COVID19, The Yinova Center launched a new Remote Bodywork Program designed to empower patients through guided self-massage techniques known to support and optimize the reproductive system. The virtual bodywork program will guide you through the self-massage techniques that are appropriate for whichever stage of the cycle you are in. For those coming in, all COVID safety guidelines are being followed and there’s heightened staff & patient screening. Everyone coming into the center is required to sign a health declaration and have their temperature taken. There’s also enhanced cleaning and PPE required for staffers. For pregnant women, initial consultations are currently divided into two parts: The intake portion of the treatment is done virtually, after which you will be able to come into one of their centers for a treatment.

37 W. 17th St., Suite 300

Best for An Afternoon of Pampering: Melt massage

Says owner, Alexis: “While getting an indoor massage at this time cannot be risk-free, we're doing everything we can to make it as safe as possible.” This includes limiting the number of people in their space - the desk is almost entirely working remotely - and all sessions are staggered by at least 15 minutes. “Both clients and LMTs are wearing masks the entire time in our space.” The small team is constantly cleaning the air with HEPA filters and dual direction fans and surfaces are disinfected thoroughly between each client. Adds Alexis: “Finally, we are making an effort to communicate with clients both before and after their sessions over email or on the phone since talking (even while wearing a mask) makes the situation risky.”

84 Lafayette Ave.
Fort Greene

The Holistic Haven: Earth & Sky Healing Arts 

Earth & Sky Healing Arts offers prenatal and postpartum massage, cranial-sacral therapy and newly expanded acupuncture services. Specializing in fertility and supporting clients through the childbearing cycle, Earth + Sky's therapists offer years of experience and evidence-based care. This holistic wellness spot is both comforting and dedicated to providing excellent care. They adhere to all COVID safety guidelines and have a new acupuncture program.

5-31 50th Ave.
Long Island City

City Wellness Collective

Best for Shared Spaces: HND + TMPL Massage Therapy

“Since the start of the pandemic, there's been an increase in stress levels and a reduction of social interaction and external physical contact,” says owner Ben Brown, LMT.  “An expecting mother needs all the support available as she manages the growth of another life. Conscious touch in the form of prenatal massage can help assist in these challenging times.”

Brown is  certified in pre and postnatal massage and has worked in a medical setting, a day spa, and private practice over his 14-year career. “I currently work out of City Wellness Collective in Chelsea, which is a group of individual wellness practices operating in a shared space.” Aside from his practice, there’s an on-site fertility acupuncturist, and a chiropractic practice specializing in pregnancy healthcare. Each treatment room has ventilation, a Hepa air-filter, and its disinfected between appointments. While in session, Brown wears PPE, including goggles, face mask, and an apron. Clients have the option of wearing their mask when face down but are required to wear one when face up. Temp checks upon arrival.

141 West 28th St., Third Fl.

Red Moon Wellness

The Park Slope Full Service Spot 

The popular Sage Spa once occupied this Park Slope storefront. Now it’s occupied by Red Moon Wellness, a center for massage, childbirth education and assistance, and herbal medicine. Massage services include both prenatal and postpartum work. Run by certified massage therapist, birth doula, lactation consultant and clinical herbalist Lena DeGloma, this is also a good resource for expecting and new parents looking for education and support. As far as COVID-19 safety rules go, this Brooklyn gem upgraded ventilation, installed touchless faucets, implemented masks for both clients and therapists and more. 

405 5th Ave.
Park Slope

For Moms of Multiples: Liza Adara Healing

 Liza Adara’s bodywork and massage utilizes Craniosacral Biodynamics and restorative acupressure to assist the body in finding optimum wellness. She supports many twin pregnancies – she’s even a twin herself – and advocates that regular massages for moms carrying twins makes a tremendous difference in the pregnancy and birth. Manhattan home visits and various studio locations in Manhattan and East Hampton


For the Mama On the Go: BodyMechanics

BodyMechanics always operated as a medical practice and had 30 min between appointments so when the pandemic hit they were actually fully stocked with gloves, sanitizer and masks. Says the team: “All of our in room furniture is fully wipeable (always was); now you will find hand sanitizer in each room for patient use and our cleaning practices include things, like light switches and sterilizing your chair!” Expectant moms can completely relax because everything is cleaned for their visit. They  also added table top hepa air filters to each room to help with air circulation.  Additional upgrades include the fact that we ported all of our old paper files into an online HIPPA-compliant system so you can now fill out all of your medical records via your smart phone, as well as check out without passing staffers your card. (Note the new address!)

1 W 34th St., Suite #204
Midtown West

Most Accommodating: Remedy Massage 

Remedy Massage is great for making you feel comfortable at any stage in your pregnancy. It has a number of different pillows meant to support your body and belly in any position. It also lets you schedule online and often has last minute appointments available.

107 West 82nd St., Suite 103
Upper West Side

Best for Pain Relief: Massage Williamsburg

The practitioners at Press Massage Williamsburg, a woman-owned business, are experts in pain relief, which is great for women who may be experiencing lower-back pain or swelling during their pregnancy. Owner, Rachel Beider, is the prenatal massage expert so you know you are in good hands. You can choose to lie face down on the Preggo Pillow, or lie on your side if you are a little farther along.

169 Wythe Ave., Suite 202

Best for a Reflexology Combo: Lori Singer Massage

Lori is a board-certified reflexologist as well as a certified prenatal and postpartum massage therapist. The internet talks a lot about reflex points that should not be used during pregnancy, but since Reflexology balances all our bodies functions thru deep relaxation there is a lot of good too, explains Lori. “And, of course, I know what reflex points to stay away from. When I combine reflexology with a massage I am  facilitating your body to balance and heal it’s self both internally and externally.”  She also offers postpartum massages, which are beneficial in facilitating stress reduction, fatigue, restoration of your pre-pregnancy shape and less postpartum depression. Regarding COVID safety, there are HEPA air purifiers are in treatment rooms, lots of hand-washing, mandates masks required, and more.


feature photo: Press Massage Williamsburg

— Rachel Sokol


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Whether your family is heading back to school in person, or remotely, we have a feeling at least one person in the house is in need of a haircut, stat. With NYC in Phase 4 of reopening, hair salons are open, albeit with new safety precautions, online booking, masks and reduced capacity. (Need a kid’s mask? We like these from local makers.) The good news is that NYC is home to lots of hair salons for kids, with fun features like chairs the shape of cars and often, toys for sale. Baby’s first haircut? Most places know you want a certificate and souvenir lock of hair. Read on for our picks of the best NYC salons for kids’ haircuts! Take note: many salons have introduced new cancellation policies, so be sure to read before booking.

lulus cuts and toys

photo: via LuLu’s Cuts and Toys Facebook page


LuLu’s Cuts and Toys
This popular Park Slope salon and toy store combo can spiff up your tot with a classic John John Kennedy haircut, fauxhawk, stylish bob or rock n’ roll shag. (It’s also one of the spots that helped parents out with curbside pickup and delivery of toys a few months back.) To keep things safe, haircuts are by appointment only (make the reservation on LuLu’s website), and lots of other precautions are taken here, including masks on everyone over two years old, a maximum of one parent and child per appointment, and waiting to enter the salon until your booked time. (Read all of the safety measures here.) The salon is home to a variety of stylists who have been at LuLu’s for many years. The salon asks that your child’s hair is washed and tangle-free prior to your appointment. (Need some help with that? Try this affordable and great-smelling detangler!)

48 5th Ave.
Park Slope

edamama cute cuts

photo: Edamama Cute Cuts and More via Yelp

Edamama Cute Cuts and More
The brainchild of a former ad exec (the eponymous “Eda”, one of our Power Moms in 2016), this salon for kids with an under-the-sea-theme also serves as a happening neighborhood hotspot. Cuts are by appointment only, which you can make online here.  Safety measures are in place, such as face masks and shields on stylists, masks required for all clients over two years old, and one adults per child appointment. For their haircut, kids can choose the maritime-inspired station they like best (The Octopus, The Mermaid, The Submarine or the Shark) and enjoy a video while they get trimmed and styled. Also on site, a selection of best-selling and award-winning kids’ books that are a cut above and fun toys—but only touch if you’re ready to buy. Bonus: Edamama does sibling cuts and even haircuts for adults, too.

568 Union Ave.

runnin wild toys haircuts

photo: Mimi O’Connor 

Runnin Wild Toys
Don’t let the name fool you, this Carroll Gardens toy store (not to be confused with Runnin Wild Shoes down the street) is also a popular spot for trimming tresses. Resident stylist GG cuts Monday to Wednesday and weekends. While there’s no tricked-out chair here, a selection of videos (Frozen screens often), cute barrettes and lollipop rewards — as well as quality cuts— are. You can also pick up some new masks for the kids while you’re here. Call 718-222-2444 to make an appointment.

369 Court St.
Carroll Gardens

photo: Cozy’s Cuts for Kids


Cozy’s Cuts For Kids
Founded by New Yorker Cozy Friedman, Cozy’s Cuts has sheared more than one million kids over 20-plus years. Kids haircuts are by appointment only, and numerous safety protocols are in place at the salon, including temperature checks for stylists and clients, increased sanitization, reduced capacity and more. At Cozy’s, experienced and patient stylists have all the distractions your child needs to get a fantastic haircut: car styling chairs, the latest videos at each station, along with an awesome collection of DVDs, bubbles galore, video games and toys. You can even schedule a special “first haircut”, or a styling session for a special occasion at the “braid and blow bar.” Chock full of personality, Cozy’s is super cute inside and employs yummy-scented shampoos, conditioners and detanglers that you can also buy to use at home.

1416 Second Ave.
Upper East Side
212- 585-2699

rt-my-little sunshine

photo: Rob P. via Yelp

My Little Sunshine
Attention multi-taskers: You can get a lot done at this clothing store/toy store/salon. Haircuts happen in a zippy, cool, red airplane chair in the back of the shop. Haircuts with the longtime resident stylist Denni, who has a loyal fanbase of local clients, happen Tuesday through Saturday. This shop doesn’t use electronics to entertain kids (unless mom brings a gadget herself for child to use, of course).

145 Hudson St.

photo: Milk & Cookies Kids Salon and Spa

Milk & Cookies Kids Salon and Spa
Kids get pampered here with cuts, styling, and kid-friendly manicures, and safety protocols keep them safe while they primp. Trained and skilled employees at this literally sweet salon understand that some kids are scissor-scared and have great tactics to distract them and ease their little nerves. The kiddie salon and spa carries fun-smelling beauty products and offers an entertainment experience while the kids are waiting for their service; clients can watch their favorite TV show or movie on a tablet or play video games. Hairstylists make the smallest of guests feel comfortable by placing them in modern, comfortable Bloom high chairs, and after each service every customer visits the Cookie Cafe to enjoy a freshly-baked cookie and a cup of flavored milk.

1196 First Ave.
Upper East Side

photo: Cherie V. via Yelp 

Doodle Doo’s
Another combo kid’s salon and toy store, Doodle Doo’s is a longtime NYC favorite for kids cuts, with clients coming from all over the city for service. The spacious storefront houses fun chairs (NYC taxi, boat, etc.) as well as toys from more than 100 vendors (with a bent towards educational ones) as well as a tween area. Doodle Doo’s is closed on Mondays.

11 Christopher St.
West Village


sharkey's cuts for kids

photo: Sharkeys K. via Yelp

Sharkey’s Cuts for Kids
At Sharkey’s Cuts for Kids — a franchise children’s salon with a Manhattan location — stylists know that kids and parents want something fun when it comes to haircut time. Kids can choose from a large selection of novelty salon chairs (Dodge Police Cruiser, Barbie Jeep, Lightning McQueen Race Car, Buzz Light Year Vehicle, Hummer and a Mini Cooper are just some of the options) and then settle in to watch their favorite cartoons or Netflix. Sharkey’s also sells its own line of shampoos and other hair care products, and hosts “Glamour Girl” birthday parties as well.

1359 2nd Ave.
Upper East Side


photo: Steve 3000


Steve 3000 Barbershop
While the Whitestone location of this shop caters to adults, the Bayside outpost of Steve 3000 is haircut heaven for little dudes and dames. Superheroes and cartoon characters decorate the walls, along with family-friendly movies on large screens that kids can watch as they sit in one of six fun stations that include a plane, train, car and others. Kids can play video games in a special section of the salon before or after their haircut and the shop also sells little toys and cool T-shirts. On the other side of the salon, adults can get a haircut or shaping, so it’s a one-stop-shop for mom, dad and kid.

196 Northern Blvd.
Bayside, Queens

photo: Nat K. via Yelp 

LIC Royal Barber Shop
Head to this Long Island City salon for an old school barber shop vibe for parents and a colorful fun space for the kids. Gentlemen can cut a cut, head shave, hot towel shave and more, and kids get car-shaped seats and TV to distract them. Mom, you can get a cut here, too! Lots of safety measures are in place, including temperature checks, masks, contactless payment and more. Book appointments online here.  

10-54 47th Ave.
Long Island City

photo: Kariely C. via Yelp

Kiddy Kutz
This popular spot for kids’ haircuts in Astoria is back in action and ready to trim some locks. The kids-only salon is outfitted with fun cars for sitting in, as well as toys to distract. Like many places, with a baby’s first haircut, you get a certificate and a lock of hair with your snip. New COVID-19 safety measures are in place, including mask use, sanitizing, reduced capacity and temperature checks. Staff is also tested for COVID-19 every two weeks. The salon is closed Tuesday and Wednesday, and haircuts are by appointment only. Make your appointment online here. 

22-77 Steinway St.

— Rachel Solkol 


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Your Guide to Family Fun in Jersey City

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Apologies to our friends in Jersey City: your secret is out. Lots of young families are moving across the river to this fun (and more affordable) town just a PATH ride away from Manhattan. Whether you’re looking to make a move, or just want a fun day out of your borough, Jersey City has plenty to offer, in every season. Check out our Jersey City events calendar and read on to see what the buzz is about!

Liberty Science Center
Liberty State Park is home to an impressive playground with play structures, bridges, slides, and a wonderful view of Lady Liberty herself. Another must-do for kids (and their adults!) is the Liberty Science Center, filled with literally more exhibits than you can do in a day. Currently running: Arthur’s World, a place for little ones to explore and play in the land of the popular TV and book series character, and Grossology: The (Impolite) Science of the Human Body, which older kids will love for the larger than life body parts, and the disgusting sounds (burps, farts, etc.) they make. That is the tip of the iceberg. Kids can also scale the suspended Infinity Climber; feel their way through the pitch black “Touch Tunnel”; check out bees, monkeys, bugs, fish and more in “Eat and Be Eaten”; play with blocks of all shapes and sizes, and go dig for Dinos outside. Plus: the Center is home to three theaters with shows for all ages, including the recently-opened Jennifer Chalsty Planetarium, the largest one in the Western hemisphere!

222 Jersey City Blvd.


photo: Sam T. via Yelp

Newport Green’s Playground
The Newport area of Jersey City is loaded with family-friendly amenities. The Playport, a 17,000-square-foot playground housed on a rubberized safety surface is just one of them. The collection of state-of-the-art Kompan playground equipment includes separate swing and play sets for toddlers and young children, as well as a rope climbing dome for older children. Water features by Water Odyssey sit within the playground’s perimeter and include a large splash pad with misters and jets, multiple spray hoops, and a “dump-bucket” tower. Additionally, Fountain Plaza is a centrally located, open-section of the park that was finished in stone with seating walls, which are arranged around five illuminated flush jets. Awesome.

14th St; Newport PATH Station stop


photo: Newport Skates

Newport Skates
Jersey City’s only outdoor ice skating rink, Newport Skates is located at Newport’s River Market and is open from November to March. It’s $7 admission, $6 skate rental per person; group and private ice skating lessons are available. Parking for the rink is at the nearby River Market Garage.

95 River Drive S.
(201) 626-7465



photo: Michelle L. via Yelp

Newport Green Carousel
Giddy-up! At Newport, youngsters will love the ocean-themed, seasonal carousel featuring ride-on horse seats and chariot benches. An outdoor ping-pong table that is located by the carousel is sheltered by a grove of trees for some shade. Park-goers are welcome to use the table year-round, and can bring their own paddles and balls. It’s right near the waterfront walkway, a path that literally connects Jersey City to Hoboken; it’s a beloved, well-lit trail that’s great for walking, running, and biking along the river.

14th St.
Newport PATH Station stop



photo: Niki C. via Yelp

Newport Green’s Beach
Length-wise, Jersey City’s Newport Green Park stretches 862-feet east to west from Washington Boulevard to the Hudson River Waterfront Walkway.  It’s all just steps from the Newport PATH station. Newport Green Park offers amazing views of the Hudson River and the Manhattan skyline, while also serving as great place for your little transportation-lover to spot water taxis. File this one for summer: on site is an urban (i.e., man-made) beach with a 7,650-square-foot sand-filled area. (There are chairs and benches around the beach to veg out and enjoy the view.)


photo: courtesy Loradella

Loradella’s is the Newport-area’s Italian restaurant/pizza place, so after a twirl around the carousel and a visit to the Newport beach, you can grab the kids for some grub. The eclectic menu includes calzones, chicken parm, ziti and meatballs, ravioli and other zesty faves, salads, as well as pizza by the slice and pie. It’s not just the food that draws families: Loradella’s also houses an arcade, with air hockey, crane games, skee-ball, full-sized classic gaming machines, and more. (Tokens are needed for the games and can be purchased on-site.)

126 River Dr.
(551) 247-0754


photo: Jersey City

Hamilton Park
In downtown Jersey City you’ll find Hamilton Park, which has a lighted basketball court, two lighted tennis courts, a children’s playground with climbing structure, and a gazebo. Surrounded by beautiful brownstones, this charming park is home to many outdoor festivals and plays. A professional theatre company produces one Shakespeare or classical show every summer, and other family-friendly events include street festivals, children’s yoga, Easter Egg hunts, ice cream socials, and more. Pretty flowers adorn the paths in this park and in the summer, giant yellow buckets that are suspended from up “high” spray water down on excited kids cheering below.

25 W Hamilton Pl.


photo: Bloss C. via Yelp

Berry Lane Park
Jersey City’s first new municipal park in decades, the 17-acre Berry Lane Park opened to much fanfare in June of this year. The $38 million development utilized previous industrial land (which had to be remediated to eliminate harmful chemicals) and is now home to 600 new trees, playgrounds, a spray park, basketball courts, a baseball field and a rollerskating rink. A state-of-the-art skate park will also be built at the park, with funds in part from the Tony Hawk Foundation.

1000 Garfield Ave.
Garfield Light Rail Stop


photo: Mickey Mathis

Hazel Baby & Kids | Hazel Baby
There are two children’s stores in Jersey City that are the same, but different. Confused? Let’s elaborate. Hazel Baby & Kids at 199 Montgomery is larger than Hazel Baby, just recently opened, and sells toys for older kids such as puzzles and art kits, as opposed to just baby toys, which the Hazel Baby shop sticks to. Additionally, at Hazel Baby & Kids, they sell toys, furniture, mattresses, changing pads, cribbing, decor, strollers and stroller accessories and in general it’s much larger store than the original Hazel Baby (17 McWilliams). For clothing sizing, they mostly sell items up to age two; including some exclusive Jersey City-themed tee’s that go up to size eight.

Hazel Baby & Kids
199 Montgomery St.
(201) 369-1999
Online: hazelbaby

Hazel Baby
17 McWilliams Pl.
(201) 918-5557


photo: via Milk sugar Love Facebook page

Milk Sugar Love
This ice cream and sweet shop might be worth a trip to JC on its own. The store features 12 chef-driven flavors made with organic milk and cream and fresh New Jersey produce, daily. You can also stock up on cookies like chocolate chip, oatmeal cherry and snickerdoodle; bars like sea salt brownie and seasonal crumb treats, and French macarons by the dozen. Also noteworthy: ice cream sandwiches from your dreams (red velvet, fruity pebble) and updated, gorgeous takes on ice cream cakes.

19 McWilliams Pl.
(201) 984-0530


photo: Sugartown

Sugartown Bakery Café
Under brand new ownership, a must-visit desserts shop is the Sugartown Bakery Café. From catering to baked goods such as quiches, croissants and scones, at Sugartown patrons old and young will find something to satisfy their sweet teeth. Kids gravitate towards the colorful cupcakes, of course, (they have daily special flavors—yum!) but they also carry fresh strawberry shortcake, lemon cake, eclairs, you name it. It’s located near the Brownstone Diner and Pancake Factory; so after you have your comfort food brunch fixe; top it all off with a decadent, sweet treat.

437 Jersey Ave.
(201) 333-6600


photo: via Hudson Play Facebook page

Hudson Play
A relative newcomer to the JC scene, Hudson Play is a family play space with a focus on interactive entertainment and fitness. The huge space features a killer ninja warrior course, a climbing wall, swings, an Imagination playground and more. Offering classes for toddlers, preschoolers, older kids and adults, Hudson Play also hosts birthday parties and special events. (Like its upcoming Halloween bash.) Also on site, the HealthBAR Cafe, serving healthy treats and delicious and nutritious smoothies for kids and adults.

189 Brunswick St.
(201) 963-4671


photo: via three Little Birds Facebook page

Three Little Birds
No matter what the enrichment needs of you or your child, chances are family fun space Three Little Birds has something for you. Classes for kids, from babes to toddler and up, include Preschool of Rock, music and movement classes, breakdancing, yoga, meditation and sewing. Mothers can join support groups for expecting moms, new moms or working moms, or take one of an assortment of yoga classes, including pre- and post-natal. More offerings for kids include birthday parties in a multitude of themes (Zumba, Star Wars, construction art, superhero, tea party, etc.) and drop-off PJ parties as well.

16 Erie St.
(201) 528-3212


photo: via Tiny Greenhouse Facebook page

Tiny Greenhouse
This spot for creativity is a nature-friendly art studio offering classes, camps, after-school and open play for kids 15 months to eight years old. The projects here are seriously fun and inspired, and they also host birthday parties in any theme your child can dream up. Adults can get crafty too, with paint and wine nights.

498a Jersey Ave.
(201) 333-8450


photo: via Michelle Timek Yoga Facebook page

Michelle Timek Yoga
Toddler yoga, kids yoga, Mommy & Me yoga, it’s all happening at Michelle Timek Yoga in downtown JC. Other assorted wellness classes such as babycare & breastfeeding workshops and plenty of adult yoga happen here as well.

150 Bay St., Suite 909
(201) 357-7292


photo: via Bambino Chef Facebook page

Bambino Chef
Kids are cooking at Bambino Chef! Little ones as young as 2-and-a-half years old are getting busy in the kitchen at this Jersey City spot for culinary fun. (Adults can take classes, too.) There are lots of ways to learn and have fun with food here, including after-school programs, classes, play dates, and pajama and tea parties. Birthday parties are a favorite here, too.

213 Newark Ave.
(201) 333-9090


photo: MyGym

This 10,000 square foot facility for kids is located on the lower level of San Michael’s Church of Jude, My Gym . Each child that takes classes at MyGym is required to be a member; and classes available include Mommy&Me, Gymnastics, Martial Arts, Jazz, Ballet, you name it. It’s everything but the kitchen sink, here! Gym-related classes for younger kids include: Little Bundles (6 weeks to 6 months), Tiny Tykes (7 to 13 months), Waddlers (14-22 months), Gymsters (23 months-2 1/2), and more. Kids 5 to 13 can enroll in All-Star Sports, Whiz Kids, and Tumble Champs. Open Play is available during the week and on weekends; MyGym is membership-run and Open Play is for members only. Also offered: summer camp and party packages.

252 9th St.
(201) 205-1218

WORD Bookstore

photo: Word Bookstore

Word Bookstore
Today, indie bookstores are a diamond in the rough. Truly. That’s why it’s fantastic there’s a Word Bookstore in Jersey City that really caters to kids. At Word, there’s baby storytime on Wednesdays at 1:30 p.m. and all-ages storytime at 11:00 a.m. on Saturdays. There’s an on-site café with pastries and special events, such as visits from children’s authors such as Roni Schotter. During the month of your child’s birthday, they’ll get a Happy Birthday postcard and coupon, good for 25% off books and toys. And speaking of parties, children 3 and up can spend their special day celebrating in Word’s Jersey City store with parties themed around some of the best children’s books of all time. Parties include storytime, games, arts and crafts, and wrapped book favors, all hosted by kid-loving, literature-worthy book experts.

123 Newark Ave.
(201) 763-6611

The Best Upcoming Events for Kids in Jersey City
If you’re looking for events and activities, don’t miss our local Jersey City events calendar, which has everything from story times to seasonal activities like apple picking, pumpkin patches and Christmas tree farms.

—Rachel Sokol


Royal Whee! Queens’ Best Birthday Spots for Kids

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Planning a special kid’s birthday party in Queens? As you may already know, The Q borough is known for much more than the U.S. Open and the famous World’s Fair. It’s also home to oodles of fun and unique birthday party venues for the kids of all ages. Check out our round-up below, with options in neighborhoods all over Queens, from Astoria, to Sunnyside, to Forest Hills, Long Island City, and beyond!

A Bounce N Play party. photo: Lena D. via Yelp


Bounce N Play
There’s inflatables (huge ones) you can slide down, a ball pit, mini rides, arcade games, giant inflatable balls, climbing structures, mazes, a mini carousel, air hockey, you name it at Bounce N Play in Astoria. It really has everything but the kitchen sink, as the expression goes. Parties here are totally private, for kids ages 1-13 and include Basic, Deluxe, Premium Private, Rock Climbing and Virtual Reality. Of course, they use the private play area and have add-on options such as character appearances, dancing, and balloons. The venue has a new amusement ride that’s called Tagada and a new Virtual Reality system. These can be added onto a packages or some packages have them included. As always, the giant 22-food slide is still super popular.

20-21 Steinway St.


photo: Raising Astoria

Raising Astoria
At this Astoria play space and educational center known for their wonderful and whimsical classes for babies and children, various party options are available for your cuties. Customers must first contact the facility and staffers provide a tour and then they choose one of three packages: Basic–in which you bring your own food and decorations, Premium, in which they’ll take care of the food and decorations and Super Premium in which you get all the bells and whistles as well as age-appropriate entertainment, such as characters appearances or a jewelry or soap-making class. You get private use of the space for 3 hours; they charge only for the space rental, and not per child, there are no extra hidden fees for bringing your own food or balloons. Kids love the inflatable bounce house for 1 hour (or more), the foam blocks, the on-site play house, and of course, the variety of toys in the back room. Customers often tell the owners that hosting a party here is much like having a party in the privacy of their own homes but with more space, more toys for the kids and minus the clean up.

26-11 23rd Ave.

photo: via Shastye Facebook page

Sky Village by SHASTYE
SHASTYE, a cute art gallery and play space for kids owned by a local artist and mom, Shasta Molnar, is temporarily closed for renovations.  Currently,  their new location, Sky Village by SHASTYE, is the only one operating–and welcoming young partygoers. SHASTYE parties are unique because the staff throws amazing arts and crafts-related parties and Molnar can create any kind of experience that the client wishes. They recently hosted a high tea + hat making party with lots of pink hats, ribbons flowers and toile. If more traditional is more of your child’s cup of tea, other party experiences may include a FROZEN themed paint party , “Little Foodies” cooking party with Allergic to Salad or a simple but very fun DIY Playdough party with all kinds of colored rainbow past and pipe cleaners.

23-05a 29th St.

Let’s Play Playhouse 
This Astoria hotspot for tykes has a two-tiered climbing structure, large and small slides, bounce house, colorful blocks, rocking boat, soft mats, a mini play house (naturally), awesome classes and much more—what else do kids needs for fun? Oh, yes, Open Play—check. Classes–check. Parties–you betcha. The parties are totally private and packages are titled: Fun, Funner, Funnest and include bounce house, face painting, balloons, music and games, you name it. Activities are split between older and younger kids; there’s a toddler area and main “playroom” area. Play equipment throughout the facility is routinely rotated so kids aren’t bored easily. Best for kids 5 and under.

34 17 Steinway Street

photo: via ACD Playspace Facebook page 

ACD Playspace
Called a children’s “Daycation” playhouse, ACD Playhouse, which is still fairly new, caters to children 0-5. What makes their parties so special is the intimate space and customized packages they offer.  This venue rent its space for events, company conferences, baby showers, community events and more, everything including the furniture available and toys available in the space is all to the customers liking and wishes.  There are 3 packages available, which include 2 hour time, use of all toys, BEAM interactive games, bounce house, face painting and more.

3124 38th St.

Museum of the Moving Image

Best for kids ages 8+, at this awesome museum, your child is literally the star! The party team creates a memorable and fun-filled extravaganza as they go behind the scenes to see how films, television shows, and video games are made. Each party is led by Museum Educators and includes an interactive experience where kids can make their own animation, flipbook,dub their voices into famous movies, create sound effects, and more, and of course, they can play classic arcade games. There’s even a personalized guided tour where kids can check out movie costumes, optical illusion toys, view some movie memorabilia (including Chewbacca’s mask from Star Wars) and learn about the very first home video game. Private screens movies such as The Red Balloon or shorts featuring Charlie Chaplin or Laurel and Hardy are also available at the on-site theatre. Child also receive a special party bag with special museum memento. Museum can also provide a special class, the food, and more. Each party is approximately 2.5 hours.

36-01 35th Ave.

photo: The Paint Place

The Paint Place
Painting parties in which everyone paints the same general painting but it’s still personalized and “your own” are not just for adults. Kids are also gravitating to canvas paint parties and you don’t need any experience. Parties for kids here are 90 minutes long and include about 60 minutes of instructional painting of a prechosen image. Kids will paint anything from basic hearts and ice cream cones, to some works from Monet, Van Gogh, Warhol, you name it.  When kids paint, the teacher–a professional artist–usually incorporates some kind of art history lesson into the session. Parents can then use the remaining time to bring in any food/cake etc. Partygoers also have the option to extend their event by a half hour or hour, for a fee–just ask to speak with the team about it.

21-21 31st St

Known for their kids fitness, music, and dance classes, GymAzing also offers birthday parties for all ages and you get the whole place to yourself for them. There’s a full catering menu available and other party options include the bouncer, bubble machine, face-painting, party games, dance exercises to your child’s favorite pop songs, and more. They’re happy to customize any and all parties for your child. The owner herself helps coordinate the party with you, and your child can pick any theme they want; lately popular themes have been spa, hip-hop, canvas painting, ceramics.

27-14 23rd Ave.

photo: via Good Day Play Cafe Facebook page 


Good Day Play Cafe
This beautiful cafe-slash-playspace for toddlers is a whimsical and sweet place for a kid’s party. Best for kids 4 and under, at Good Day Play Cafe, party packages include (for 2.5 hours for an estimated (15 min prep time, 95 min play time, 40 min party time) a Happy Birthday” Banner, 4ft display table with curtain backdrop and tablecloth, 5ft table with tablecover, 3 large plain pizza pies, Juice boxes for children (one per child)
Tablecovers for children’s table, Colored plates and napkins for children (blue, pink, or yellow). The second package includes pastries, good bags, and more. This place is known for its awesome Hinoki cypress wood cube pit (Think of sand pit… but cleaner…as they say!) You can book parties online.

208-03 35th Ave

The Little Gym of Bayside
You can have parties here up to age 12 and don’t have to be a member of this kids gym to enjoy the fun. The Little Gym of Bayside gives the birthday kid and their friends the full run of the place, and they’ll have instructor-led games, music, and fun LEGO® Juniors or LEGO® DUPLO® building activities. The Little Gym team will even help setup and cleanup. This “Awesome” basic birthday package is the most popular and can be booked online. Other party packages include a Dora The Explorer Birthday Bash and a Go Diego Go option as well.

34-38 Bell Blvd.

College Point

The ultimate bounce experience, BounceU is a fantastic place for parties for kids ages 4+. With its larger-than-life bounce house arenas filled with huge inflatables, slides, and games, it truly is one of a kind. Their party packages fit a range of party sizes, so birthday kids can bring all their friends. You can invite 25 kids if you wanted to. Parties here are 100% private space, as opposed to other party places where you share you space with a crowd–you get your own house arena and private party room. Party employees help you tailor the party to fit your child’s personality and a party package includes your personalized picks for kid-friendly food, drinks, party favors and more. A party pro with stay with you, the parents, the whole time. Reserve online.

photo: Fantasy Forest


Queens Zoo
You can explore everything the quaint Queens Zoo has to offer by hosting a party there that’s out of this…world…er…zoo. All birthday parties at Queens Zoo combine festive activities and arts and crafts with live animal encounters and zoo visits. Choose a fun party theme and celebrate in our spacious party room, located in the Wild Room near the Sea Lion exhibit. Your party will be hosted by a zoo educator who can take care of all your party needs. There are two party size options: 25 kids and adults, total, or 36 kids/adults total. Each party package is two hours and includes invitations for the guests, goody bags for the children, a craft project, an animal encounter, a present for the birthday child, as well as zoo admission. Guests will supply the cake, juice, paper goods, and utensils. Great to know: There is a home-size refrigerator available.

Fantasy Forest
Located directly next to the Queens Zoo is a small but memorable and super fun mini amusement park called Fantasy Forest. You can have a party here! It’s home to the Corona Cobra; Queens only roller-coaster. Other rides include the Queens Himalaya spinning airplane adventure, the Twirling teacups, and more. For birthdays, you start off with the basic package: 2 hour party where you get your own private eating and gathering area of the park; 12 unlimited ride wristbands, 1 per guest, and 12 Goody Bags–one per child–with Game Tickets. From there, add-ons include different food options, as well as Face Painting, Balloon animals, Face Painting/Balloon animals combo, or Private Magic show. You also get a party host who helps oversee all the fun.

5351 111th St

The New York Hall of Science (NYSCI)

STEM parties are all the rage, and of course, educational. There are many party packages at the NYSCI, called affectionately, a “science playground” that are engaging and fun. You can choose from one of three party packages: Super, Deluxe, or Premium, at the NYSCI that are engaging and fun. Parties are available on weekends from 11 am – 1 pm, noon – 2 pm, 2 – 4 pm; and all packages include museum admission, facilitated activities, gift bags, party food and use of a private party room. Parties include the followings, depending on the package you select: Museum admission for up to 12 kids (includes birthday child), plus up to 12 free passes for adult chaperones; and employee who facilitates exhibit tours, interactive activities, and demonstrations. Gift bags for each child that include age appropriate science toys as well as a free admission pass for a future visit.

47-01 111 St.

photo: Queens County Farm Museum Facebook page 

Floral Park

Queens County Farm Museum
Oftentimes we forget that NYC was once home to lots of farmland; the Queens County Farm Museum sits on what’s left of NYC’s largest portion of undisturbed farmland. On location is a greenhouse, historic farm buildings, livestock, farm vehicles and implements, planting fields, and orchard and an herb gardens. Parties here are so popular and niche that you must book one for your child as far in advance as possible–and weather can affect the activities your guests will participate in. At parties, kids take a hayride, go on a barnyard tour, see animals (the goats and sheep are very people-friendly!), and more. Parties are only held on weekends in the spring and summer and are 15 kids max. Parties are a great escape from the hustle and bustle of NYC and you’ll also see piglets, hens, lambs, and more. Food served in barnyard; must coordinate with farm employees.

73-50 Little Neck Pkwy.
Floral Park

photo: via Peekaboooo Facebook page 


Peeka Boooo
This newish playspace has two huge ball pits, mazes, slides, a sand box, dress up clothes, mini trampoline, a whole padded toddler area, a large climbing structure and many other really cool, kid-friendly amenities and toys such as a kids play cafe. The venue does not shut down for parties, but kids who are there for a party are ID’d by special name tags, and in the center of the play space is a little enclosed cafe section for food. Just call and ask for more info about parties since at the moment, they don’t have an online Web site.

135-17 Northern Blvd.

photo: Tara D. via Yelp

Forest Hills

Young Chefs Academy
Super fun cooking classes are offered at Forest Hills’ Young Chefs Academy; there is one big kitchen on-site where all the magic happens. Their “ALL-INCLUSIVE” party packages are for children of all ages where you supply the young, eager chefs and they supply the rest!  Parents can kick back and relax and let the culinary team handle everything from your party invitations and decorations to clean up. Parties are held on weekends only at set times: 12noon, 3:00 p.m. or 6:00 p.m. Package A is a Classic Pizza Party, Package B is a Deluxe Pizza Party and Package C is Premium Birthday Party. Or, you can book an a la carte party; all info is outlined online. And, of course, each child gets to eat their culinary masterpiece when they’re finished making the pizza. For kids 4+.

108-10 72nd Ave.
2nd Fl.

photo: Amanda V. via Yelp

At this wonderful art studio, kids create some beautiful pottery. A children’s party includes exclusive use of Oliloli Studio for two hours for 10 young painters, ages 4+. Painters will choose an item they wish to decorate from a selection of popular party pieces. You supply the food; either a breakfast buffet or pizza. Parties are held Friday evenings and Saturday mornings. It’s important to note that pottery projects will be available for the host to pick-up approximately 10 days after the party. Because they are pottery and not plaster, they cannot come home with your child day-of, as they need time to try. You can book your party online.

103-23 Metropolitan Ave
Forest Hills

Plaster Party Place
There’s just nothing like an ol’ school plaster party place, and Plaster Party does not disappoint. A neighborhood gem, with its cool rainbow floor and kid-friendly vibe all around, Plaster Party offers three different packages which allow young guests to paint, of course, enjoy music, dancing, face painting, and more. Additional add-ons include karaoke, character appearances, and extra party time. They have recently added canvas parties for children, we are now doing parent/child canvas parties as well and paint nights for adults, kids or entire family.

Eddie’s Sweet Shop
You can have a birthday party at this vintage ice cream parlor that is a real throwback to the 1960s. When it comes to authenticity, this place is the real deal. With funky, seasonal ice cream flavors such as Blueberry and Peach, just give them a call to arrange a party–they can reserve the back area for you; you supply the food. Just let the employees know what you’re looking for and they’ll do what they can to help you out and make the day fantastic and tasty for your birthday child.

105-29 Metropolitan Ave
No official Web site

Cinemart Cinemas
At this independent theatre–which we know are rare, very special finds nowadays–you can rent out the whole theatre for your child’s party. And, they have luxury leather recliners! Private screenings are available during the week, and include movie, popcorn, drink, and your child’s name on the Marquee, which is always super awesome. Here’s the party form to fill out.

106-03 Metropolitan Ave.

Fresh Meadows

My Gym, Fresh Meadows
Catering to your child’s interests and making them feel super special is at the forefront at this indoor playspace known for its super soft climbing structures and mats. They offer special song and game requests prior to the party so your kids and their friends can bop around to their fave tunes. The  birthday party specialists will make your children’s birthday party unique and special with nonstop action-packed activities, games, puppets, songs, glittery tattoos, and more. Kids tend to gravitate towards this gym’s Space Flight ride and they all participate in a special Birthday March. Don’t know what that is? Book a party here and find out. The staffers take care of clean-up and paper goods and packages include pizza and drinks. Party themes are available and you don’t have to be a member to celebrate, but non-members do have to pay a little extra to party.

176-60 Union Tpke. #310
Fresh Meadows


A Sprinkle of Fun
In this wide open, airy, super clean loft-like space, the magic happens–and when it comes to fun parties, A Sprinkle of Fun means business. They are mostly known for hosting plaster parties, but since the spacious 1,000 sq ft venue can be reserved for any both kids and adult events, they can and will do anything. There are currently 5 party packages available: #1 is Plaster, up to 14 kids, which includes music, dancing, and make your own ice cream sundae, #2 is Play Doh party, which also includes the extras previously mentioned, Sand Art Party, Canvas Paint Party, and Slime party. You can also add a theme to your party, such as Rock N Roll, Sports, Princess…Party extras include cotton candy, face painting, and more. Enjoyable for all ages.

Located at the Shops at Atlas Park, this gaming extravaganza is the pinnacle of enjoyment, and quite frankly, it’s hard for parents to not have a blast as well. Basically, it’s video games and pinball galore. There’s something for everyone at LaserBounce and your kids will never be bored. Younger kids will love Ballocity, a multi-level play arena with vacuum cannons, a jungle gym, and oodles of foam balls. Older kids and tweens will gravitate towards the interactive virtual reality area, with advanced graphic technology. This is where video games come to life! There’s also an on-site café, skee-ball, driving games, and so much more. New attractions include games such as Halo Fireteam Raven and there’s a new Hologate Virtual Reality Game called Holobeat, which is basically a completely new style of the dance type games that is supposed to revolutionize the Virtual Reality game world. Party packages include private laser tag, 3D bowling simulation, use of bounce arena and more.

80-28 Cooper Ave.

photo: Little Pulp 

Little Pulp
Also located in the Atlas Mall, Little Pulp is a printmaking studio where kids not only make personalize print projects, but also come together to make the birthday child a special project. Here’s a party rundown: First is a warm-up project or activity; then each child make a print or two (parents can assist), eats, engages in additional projects around the large studio such as palm-prints on a large canvas, and then the collaborative group project. The whole Little Pulp team comes together to make the party really special and nobody is rushed out the door–taking your time to finish your masterpiece is important here. Each child will make a series of their own personalized prints using various paint colors, and after doing everyone will work together on a large print for the birthday child.

8000 Cooper Ave.

photo: Mini Galaxy Play Cafe


Mini Galaxy Play Cafe
This indoor play space in the heart of Jamaica also operates as a café. At 2,200 sq ft, mini GALAXY Play Cafe is a bit smaller than other venues on this list, but we really like that it’s quiet, cozy, and feels more intimate. In this super clean space, the play area—best for kids 7 and under—is to the right; and the café is to the left. The play section has a separate toddler space with soft block and riding toys, and the rest of the play area is a long two-tiered jungle-gym which includes padded rolling mats, rope floors to climb over, and parts where kids can climb or crawl through various mazes. There’s also swings, riding and bouncing toys, a dart board, basketball hoop, a book nook, double slides, and the always-popular ball pit. In the café, a kids movie always plays on TV. WiFi is free with entrance purchase, and if you set up your laptop at the counter area, you can work, eat, and watch your kids at the same time, which is great. Various party packages available; click here to view them. (BTW—this venue is located on the second floor of a large building, but there is an elevator!)

Little Neck

Little Dreamers Kingdom
Little Dreamers Kingdom is an indoor playground and STEM facility that offers classes such as ballet,  Little Scientists and Zumbini, with a ball pit, slide, nets, train table, foot piano, mini trampoline, and more. When it comes to parties, they are best for kids under age 5. They have many party packages available for young children at this super clean and really adorable space, which are titled: Basic, Basic Light, and Themed. Parties include a 2 hour private event, which includes exclusive use of party area, banners, balloons, decorations, slideshow, and more. There’s a super special party package option, which is called the Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, which includes balloons, personalized Goody Bags, tablecloths and juice box wrappers.

254-18 Northern Blvd. Suite 5 (2F)
Little Neck

photo: Court 16

Long Island City

Court 16
Does your kid go wild for the US Open? Check out Court 16, where its state-of-the-art courts feature LEDs in the floor. Parties include 45 minutes of tennis fun on the court, and 45 minutes in the party room for cake and food. Activities can be tailored to skill and age group, and Court 16 can help coordinate food from local vendors. Rates are $700 for 10 kids, and $20 for each additional child, with a max of 24 per party. Face painting can be added for additional charge starting at $150 for 10-15 kids. Court 16 will design you electronic invitation, and help you customize the space for your bash. Parties take place on Saturdays from 3-4:30.

1306 Queens Plaza South
718-875- 5550

Mini Land
The newish play space located next to an outdoor playground, is actually an airy indoor playground best for kids 5 and under. Inside this whimsical space, you’ll find rotating, carousel-style rides (one looks like a cloud, another has cushiony dolphins that spin) that look like they’re made of foam. Every ride is really plush, from a see-saw boat that holds 4 (adults are allowed on this.) In the very back of this playspace is an awesome two-tiered climbing structure with a balloon room, awesome soft clear slide, maze, and, of course, a beloved ballpit. Parties are held on-site and there’s a private party room downstairs. Super cute place, but really best for toddlers, so think a 3rd or 4th birthday celebration. Parties must be booked in advance; call the venue for more info.

5-28 49 Avenue,
Long Island City
Online: Click here

This loft-like mini gallery–which has an outdoor space as well–is THE hotspot for creative birthday parties; and the artistic celebrations are just as unique and personalized as the cool classes this inviting space offers where one’s imagination runs wild. When it comes to the “What to do” portion of the party, the young guest of honor can choose from Mask Making, Monster Drawings, Printmaking, Mural painting, Clay experience, Collage, Rock and Roll Poster Design, and more. Speak up about your intertests; don’t be shy. All teachers are not only bubbly and encouraging, but they’re professional artists who have been in the business for many years, so you know you’re in the best hands. All party participants receive a free Playday class ticket distributed in your departing goodie bags. Playday is awesome for kids as well as teenagers, and it’s prob best for kids 5+. There are also two Manhattan Playday locations!

537 51st Ave
Long Island City

photo: Marissa M. via Yelp

The Cliffs at LIC
For the active and agile crowd, check out the Cliffs at LIC, where the kids can literally climb the walls. Staff instruct, and advise as partiers scale the colorful “cliffs”. Parties are two hours long and get you a private climbing area and staff, and the “Fox Room” for partying. Climbers must be at least six years old and there’s a max of 25 per party. Rates are $40 per person with a minimum deposit of $400, and goodie bags can be added on for $8 a person.

11-11 44th Dr.

City Owlets
This playspace-slash-cafe is awesome for kids 5 and under and hosts one heck of a party. It’s best described as a mini house with a bunch of little nooks, some two-tiered, and each little nook has a theme. For example, there’s a baby/toddler sensory space with awesome (safe) lights, a ‘supermarket’ area, a pretend cafe, and so much more, including dress up clothes, you name it. You know know what fun you’ll find around the corner at City Owlets, and in warmer months there’s also a backyard with kid safe climbing and sliding toys. It’s Open Play during the week, along with kids classes and special events, and parties are private and personalized. Call to speak with an employee about the venue’s Go OWL Out parties (these are set themes, i.e. unicorns, mermaids, dinosaurs, superheros, etc…). It’s a hands-free, book your party, and let City Owlets handle the rest package. (Most parents choose this option.) They have a new package called “Totally OWLsome”, which is a full-fledged custom package. Parties at this space are best for kids 5 and younger.

10-42 Jackson Ave
Long Island City

photo: Okabaloo

Described as a “thoughtfully designed place of wonders” Okalbaloo is an arts center that hosts enrichment classes and camps, but also parties. No membership is required to have your party here, and various party packages are available to kids, such as FUNTastic Birthday, FunFab Bday, and customized party options, There’s art, music, dance  you name it. Add-on options include glitter tattoos, bubbles bucket, yoga instructor, ballon bouquet, magician, bounce house, and more.  If you don’t an add-on you’d like listed, just ask! The venue’s open space can be reserved for any special event, making it a nice party option for kids of any age.

35-52 32nd St
Long Island City

photo: via Lollipop Spa Facebook page 


Lollipop Spa
If your child loves the color pink, you’ve come to the right place.  Cozy Lollipop Spa is as just as cute as it sounds. Whimsy with touches of Hello Kitty décor, the inside is inviting, and, of course, pink and pretty. There are 3 party packages available, ranging in price from $409 to $529 with fun add-on options such as glitter tattoos. 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, right? Best for girls 5+; it’s best to stick to 8 kids max for a party.

65-23 Grand Ave

Party Perfection
This place has the same owners are Lollipop Spa and is basically an open space that will morph into whatever you want it to for a party of your child’s choice. There are tons of themes available for girls and boys, such as Bubble Guppies, My Little Pony, Doc McStuffins, Paw Patrol–or you can create your own theme. Party options for a basic party package include indoor play unit, face painting, crafts, dress-up, music, games, dancing, decorate a cupcake. Adds-ons include Piñata, extra hour or 1/2 hour, snack table. They go out of their way to make every birthday kid feel really special.,

5936 Grand Ave.

photo: Sunnyside Plays


Sunnyside Plays 
A colorful loft-style space with high ceilings, this creative community hub offers arts and crafts classes, Mommy (and Daddy) and Me Music, puppet shows, and even classes for adults such as Tai Chi. Recommended for kids 7 and younger, it’s also a fab place for birthday parties. Kids parties are generally booked for 2 1/2 hours but can be extended upon request for an additional fee. The maximum number of guests is set at 15 children/30 adults. Packages include DIY Celebration: parents bring the decorations, refreshments and revelry (what you decide will be the entertainment and/or project) and the venue provides use of the space, set-up/clean-up and staff assistance during the party. Other party packages also available, and add-ons include piñata, face painting, arts and crafts project, cupcakes, entertainer, party favors, custom invitations.

4309 48th Ave

photo: Joann J. via Yelp


Sabrina’s Play Studio
This cute and cozy party venue, located in the heart of Woodside, is best for kids 5 and under. One side of the space is for toddler with soft toys, blocks, books, and swings, and the other side–which has a climbing maze, bounce house, dress up clothes, scooter to ride and more, will attract older kids. It’s like a big rec room, the toys are always rotating, so there is always something new and exciting to play with, and when it comes to parties, they’ll personalize it with any theme you want and you can even order a cake right from them. Just ask. Parties are usually held on weekends, you get the whole place to yourself, and they’ll provide a party host/hostess. Twenty children max for a party at this venue; add-ons include crafts, balloon arch, fruit platter, face painting. Sabrina’s offers four different packages and each party is 2.5 hours and private.

52-07 Queens Blvd
(929) 522 – 0104


Forest Park Carousel Amusement Village
It’s really hard to resist an old fashioned carousel, and thankfully, the Forest Park one does not disappoint. This official NYC Landmark, which was hand-crafted by acclaimed master artist Daniel Carl Muller, is a real joy to ride. For 2 hours in your private Party Area with an awesome Party Host, you also get 12 Unlimited Ride Wristbands for up to 12 participants, Game tickets, and Goody bags. Other on-site rides include The Woodhaven Express train and Frog Hopper. This carousel is best for kids age 2+. Must be must be 42” tall to ride alone. Children under 42” tall may ride with an adult capable of ensuring the child’s compliance with all safety rules. Add-ons include extra time, extra guests, and face painting/balloon animals. Note: the carousel closes in inclement weather, so be sure to check the Carousel’s Facebook page for updates and closures.

Woodhaven Boulevard and Forest Park Drive
No phone: Must email to connect about parties

photo: via Kids Fun House Facebook page 


Kids Fun House
This indoor play arena and arcade offers Open Play and weekly classes for children. But they also offer 3 different party packages. Package 1 includes: 3 hours for the party (1.5 hrs private decorated room & 1.5 hrs general play area), an enthusiastic host, disco room for music and dancing, and pizza and juice. Package 2 includes what the signature package, #1, offers, as well as Goody bags, Pinata, Face painting, and adult buffet and the 3rd package has all that plus 15 game tokens per child. There are slides, tons of arcade games, mazes, prizes, and more at this all-inclusive venue of joy.

6273 Fresh Pond Road



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What New NYC Moms Need To Know

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Being a new mama is exciting, but it can be overwhelming, too, especially here in NYC. But have no fear, new parents; help is here. From the best spot to see a movie, fix the stroller, or find like-minded parents, to the must-visit playspaces and smart ways to find a sitter, Red Tricycle can help you navigate new motherhood with ease. Take the below advice as you embark on the important task of raising a savvy city baby.


1. Need to get out of your apartment already? With two Manhattan locations, apple seeds is an-all-in-one playspace that offers cute classes for kids of all ages, starting with newborns. Try Developmental Movement or Songs for Seeds. Your baby can have fun and you can talk to another human (adult). This play space also operates an adorable hair salon/children’s book and toy store called DoodleDoo’s if you’re in the market for a trim and a new toy.

10 West 25th St.

200 West End Ave.
Upper West Side


photo: Tot Squad

2. Spilled milk and slush-stains taking over your stroller? NYC Tot Squad is a mobile, eco-friendly cleaning service for strollers, car seats and more, and they recently opened a service center in Chelsea’s Buy Buy Baby!)  It’s amazing how dirty these must-have baby items can get after spills, winter weather and normal wear and tear. CleanBeeBaby can sanitize and deep clean your soiled baby gear at a local store or play space or make a house call if you’re in Manhattan.

photo: via Smart Sitting Facebook page 

3. Need a reliable, experienced sitter? New York is full of childcare services staffed with pros that will keep your babe safe while you work/do errands/administer self-care, and occupy and entertain your child when they are a bit bigger, too!

photo: via Emily H. on Yelp

4. Miss going to the movie theater? No, you don’t have to give up your cinema habit. Lots of movie theaters cater to families and kids, and Williamsburg’s Nighthawk Cinema even hosts movie screenings for parents and their babies. They show current releases, so you can catch up on the “it” flicks even though this is a big year for you.

5. Need advice about car seats? Call the Car Seat Lady! Even if you don’t have a car, you need a car seat to leave the hospital. The Car Seat Lady has a wealth of knowledge on everything from the best seats for traveling with to the best Zip Cars to rent if you’ve got a baby on board. She’ll also show you how to install seats correctly in both your own car and rental cars. A must-contact if you’re worried about safety on the road.

6. Never got around to taking that infant CPR class? It’s not too late! You can take Infant CPR all over the city, at most local YMCA chapters, the 92nd Street YJCC ManhattanTribeca Pediatrics locations, Raising Astoria and Little Hearts CPR, among many others.

7. Wishing you had a bra that actually fits? How many bra sizes have your worn in the last year? Keep up with your changing needs at expert fitters Rigby & Peller.  It is the place to shop for bras. By taking your exact measurements, trained stylists find you comfortable lingerie that actually fits and flatters.

1252 Madison Ave.
Upper East Side

104 Fifth Ave.

1051 Third Ave.
Upper East side


8. Want some adorable/cool duds for the kid? The baby doesn’t care what it wears. In fact, as soon as it can, it is going to start trying to take it all off. But if you care, NYC is a bonanza of adorable baby and kids boutiques selling one of a kind items. So grab your infant and get ready to browse through the likes of Torly Kid  and Babesta downtown, Picnic in Cobble Hill and  Smoochie Baby in Williamsburg.

9. Building Baby’s library? Books of Wonder  , which caters to young bibliophiles, is a NYC institution, and opened an Upper West Side location as a companion to original downtown store. Inside, you’ll find current and rare books for kids of all ages as well as events ranging from writer launch parties and teen author festivals to story times.

18 West 18th St.

10. Need a doula? Your personal network is probably the best way to start, whether that’s your friends or OB/GYN, but The NYC Doula collective is a great resource, and helps make the cost of of doula accessible thanks to different pricing tiers. Birth Day Presence in Park Slope has a similar system.

11. Clueless about breast pumps? Even before your baby needs clothes, furniture or brain-boosting activities (remember, Kindergarten admissions is a scant five years away!), they need to eat. If you choose to formula feed, you’ll need bottles, nipples, a scrub-brush that can go deep, and possibly even a bottle warmer. For those you can go chain, like Babies-R-Us or even your local CVS or Duane Reade. But if you’re nursing, you’ll probably want more personalized attention to help you pick a bra, breast-pump, lotion and pillows. For that, check out The Upper Breast Side,  Yummy Mummy or Wild Was Mama.

12. Want some breastfeeding support? If you do choose to breastfeed, you may learn (many do) that you and baby do not join as one and float off on some endorphin-fueled cloud; it can take some practice to get the hang of it. For the record, the NYC Mother’s Guide to Breastfeeding is chock full of info. Check out your local La Leche League meeting to get help, or ask your pediatrician for a local recommendation. Breastfeeding support groups also meet regularly at community centers and spots like the JCC, your local Y, Raising Astoria in Queens and GUMBO in BrooklynDoctor Mona Gabbay specializes in issues with breastfeeding for families in the New York area (she makes house calls) and Board Certified Lactation Consultant Freda Rosenfeld is known in many circles as a boob whisperer.

12. In search of some Mommy & Me exercise?  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. And don’t forget the gyms that offer childcare (that’s the “Just Me” part).

photo: via The Great Room Facebook page 

13.  Looking for a place to connect with other families in Brooklyn? Check out The Great Room, a new spot in the Columbia Waterfront District founded by two therapists (and moms) who wanted “to provide a cozy, warm and safe space for parents to connect with each other, share resources, support others and be supported.” Drop-in with or without your kid for $10 and enjoy free coffee and tea, a play area for kids, a work area for parents, information and resources for families and a rotating roster of experts on parenting issues to consult with informally. Plus!: classes and activities for kids (sensory play, singalongs, play groups, Spanish) and adults (yoga, childbirth education, financial planning, breastfeeding support group, creative writing, infant/child nutrition, etc.) And there’s more: they’ve got a great outdoor space (with a play area for kids) and will host your party or event, too!

The Great Room
194 Columbia St.
Columbia Waterfront District


14. Need some postnatal recovery help? Check out an Everyday Athlete Postnatal Strength Session. It offers exercises, tips, and strategies to getting back to feeling like your pre-pregnancy self again!

One Brooklyn Bridge
Brooklyn Bridge Park

130 Clinton St.
Brooklyn Heights

photo: Deer Baby

15. Want to capture those precious first weeks with a photo? Hire a professional to make sure you get a good one. (also: holiday card: check!)

16. Have a budding gymnast? Jodi’s Gym offers two sessions offered for youngsters (9-14 months) with adult supervision – Teeny Tumblers, where you and Baby move and groove to music, and Jammin’ at Jodi’s, where you sing along while exploring musical instruments and props. Both classes are 45 minutes.

244 East 84th St.
Upper East Side

Barley + Oats

17. Not exactly a top chef? Let someone else do the work and get some post-partum food delivered! 

18. Wish you had a few new mom friends? The city has no shortage of groups for new moms. Find one based on your neighborhood – HRP Mamas or Park Slope Parents, for example. Or, pick one based on your situation such as New York Newcomers or Executive Moms. Pick the perfect match from Red Tricycle’s list of NYC’s top parenting groups.

19. Looking to boost your baby’s skills? Based in Brooklyn, Bright Start Babies offers a variety of classes for expectant mothers, adoptive families, babies and children ages 6 weeks to 10 years old. Classes are held at TrueNorth Wellness and cover everything from tummy time and hugging to yoga and baby massage.

61 Tompkins Pl.
Cobble Hill


photo: The Peanut Life 

20. Want to show the world that you’re a NYC-proud parent? For hip, Big Apple-inspired baby clothes and accessories, swing by Piccolini for New York-themed chunky books, Tee’s, rattles, toys and more. Proceeds from many store items go to charity; and the store’s collection of girly accessories and rock band tees is gush-worthy.

230B Mulberry St.
Little Italy

21. Thinking about going the cloth diaper route? Check out NYC’s cloth diaper service, Diaperkind.

22. Pining for a pre-natal massage? We have plenty of suggestions on where you can get that tension kneaded away.  If you’re near Park Slope and ready for a pre or post-natal massage from a specially trained masseuse, doula Lena DeGloma of Red Moon Wellness is your go-to woman. Good to know: Besides having magical hands, DeGloma also teaches holistic birth education classes for couples seeking a home or hospital birth and offers birth tub rentals.

641 President St.
Suite 203
Park Slope

23. Looking for an easier way to get from Uptown to Downtown? Kid Car New York transports kids (solo, or with parent) safely throughout Manhattan in a large vehicle (read no stress about fitting your stroller in the trunk) with car seats. Other company options include car seat rental, seat checks, and pick up of a specific car seat (belonging to customer) to be used in a Kid Car. This means you don’t have to fumble to get your car seat into a cab fast or haul that stroller up and down the subway stairs. (Lyft and Uber now also offer a car seat option. Read our review of Lyft’s here!)


photo: Wild Was Mama Facebook page

24. Don’t know what to do with that baby wrap? At Wild Was Mama in Greenpoint, besides finding eco-friendly baby and lifestyle clothing and accessories, you can try on any baby carrier in the store. If you go before baby arrives, you can test the carriers with baby dolls to simulate real-life baby wearing. The laid-back, friendly staffers are always ready to help you get the right fit and teach you new ways to wear wraps. Tons of other stuff happens here, too, from parent meetups to classes to singalongs, this is a must-go for all new parents!

272 Driggs Ave.

photo: Mom in Balance

25. Looking to get back in shape, head outside and find community? Try Mom in Balance, the workout all the moms in Europe are doing! 

26. Need a mommy makeover? Manhattan mom and makeup artist Debra Rubin-Roberts, launched Mommy Makeup, a cosmetics line catered to busy moms; a full face can be applied in just a few minutes (ahhh…some alone time…) and the web site also has informative skincare videos.

27. Broken stroller? If your stroller breaks, have no fear – it can be repaired. Enter Stroller Spa. Based in Manhattan and Brooklyn, Stroller Spa not only rents strollers to visiting moms, but will repair yours if it’s broken, too.

28. Need a baby kimono? Of course you do! Just when you thought you couldn’t coo enough over baby clothes, along comes Lucky Wang. Their insanely adorable baby kimonos can be worn every season, alone or layered with other garments and has easy-to-tie ties and snaps. Various locations, Manhattan

29. Desperately seeking sleep? Aren’t we all? If you’re looking for a night nanny, post-baby, so you can score some extra shut-eye, contact Gentle Hands. The company’s Night Nannies help parents guide their baby to sleep throughout the night and help care for baby while you get some much-needed rest.

30. Ready to let the kid roam? Check out our favorite indoor playspaces in around the city,  as well as our guides to those in Brooklyn and Queens. The options are (almost) infinite!

Did we miss anything? What do you think new NYC moms need to know about?

— Rachel Sokol


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