New Yorkers with families are gravitating toward the Upper West Side, drawn by the abundance of top-notch schools, ongoing activities for children, and family-friendly luxury condos from developers who have dedicated portions of their buildings’ amenities to kids. Future residents of The Astor on West 75th Street can confirm that the array of local kid-friendly activities for children under ten (give or take a few years) adds up to a neighborhood full of options for indoor and outdoor fun.
The Berenstain Bears LIVE! Family Matters Musical
Kids love this ongoing production at the Manhattan Movement & Arts Center at 248 West 60th Street. Adapted from the classic children’s book series, The Berenstain Bears LIVE! Family Matters musical brings the ursine family to life in an interactive theatrical experience that’s entertaining for grownups as well as their cubs. Introduce your kids to the Berenstain Bears’ fun approach to teaching life lessons at MMAC, home to the Manhattan Youth Ballet and host to a wide variety of artful workshops and master classes.
Swedish Cottage Marionette Theatre in Central Park
Central Park is home to The Swedish Cottage Marionette Theatre, where puppeteers have been entertaining crowds for 70 years with their contemporary and innovative productions. Shows based on classic children’s tales such as “Jack and the Beanstalk,” “Peter Pan,” and “Cinderella” entertain while preserving a beloved form of performance art. Productions run once a day on weekends and multiple times each weekday, and a party room is available for group celebrations.
Riverside Park, an officially designated scenic landmark, offers more than a dozen playgrounds located throughout its miles of green space. For an escape of a prehistoric kind located close to home, check out the Dinosaur Playground at 97th Street and Riverside Drive. Host to two fiberglass dinosaurs molded after plant eaters from 65 million years ago, this park within a park also features swings, two sandboxes, fun climbing equipment, and a public restroom.
Elliott’s Classes at 131 West 86th Street gets kids moving with a range of high-energy gymnastics and dance offerings. Founded by a child psychologist and former gymnast who understands how beneficial physical fitness is to young children, Elliott’s Classes not only offers everything from tot and tumbling classes to pre-ballet and hip hop, but also hosts free infant classes that introduce babies to sounds and movements through the use of music, bells, and colors.
The 79th Street Greenmarket
The 79th Street Greenmarket on Columbus Avenue between 78th & 81st Streets is a great place to bring the whole family, including junior sous chefs, every Sunday. This popular outdoor market offers cooking demos and seasonal celebrations as well as family-friendly activities. A great place to reconnect your family with the wonders of fresh foods grown by local farmers, it also features unique finds like vegan baked goods and seasonal treats such as apple cider.
Grassroots Fitness Project
The Grassroots Fitness Project located at 159 West 80th Street challenges children and adults to develop their balance, coordination, strength, and flexibility as they nurture lifetime skills and build confidence. In a fun and lighthearted atmosphere, the personal trainers at Grassroots offer classes on how to eat well and exercise properly that provide the tools every member of your family needs to lead a healthy lifestyle.
The Paint Place
The Paint Place at 243 West 72nd Street inspires imagination through kids’ art and drawing classes, including weekend morning versions of their popular canvas painting classes that let the whole family enjoy the experience. Whether you’re looking for a creative outlet for your kids or just a fun way for them to spend an afternoon, the professional artists at The Paint Place offer step-by-step lessons that teach children how to create their very own masterpieces.
Treat House at 452 Amsterdam Avenue offers the ideal atmosphere to share a well-deserved treat with your little ones. A business inspired by a family bake sale, Treat House offers glutenfree, dairy-free, and nut-free goodies made with the health of their customers in mind. More concerned about indulging in a sweet that avoiding allergens? Dozens of delicious flavors and varieties of healthy baked goods have been developed by the resident Treat House gourmet pastry chef, who caters to both children’s and adults’ cravings.
West Side YMCA
The West Side YMCA at 5 West 63rd Street offers a plethora of classes for every member of your family as well as special programming designed to help family members enjoy some fun together. Check out the numerous family classes that cover everything from art to fitness, the free family nights featuring a variety of activities ranging from crafts to games, family open gym and open swim times, and even family summer camp outings. The West Side YMCA knows what it takes to serve up fun for everyone.
The West Side Community Garden
The West Side Community Garden offers the perfect place for families to enjoy an ongoing activity of their own making. Owned by an all-volunteer not-for-profit organization, the community space gives local families the opportunity to plant their own little plots of fresh veggies, fruits, and flowers for their tables. Even if you don’t live in one of the nearby luxury Upper West Side condos, the garden is open for the general public to walk through and enjoy.