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August 2016

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What do kids want? An adventure, of course! If you’re struggling with choosing the right place to go on a family holiday – look no more. Costa Rica offers many activities that will make you and your kids happy and content. Ranked as the happiest country in the world, it will help you get back in touch with nature, enjoy tasty local cuisines, and get to know the mindset of “pura vida”. This is, by far, the healthiest environment you can opt for, for a family trip. The hospitality of the locals will sweep you off your feet, and the mesmerizing nature will make you forget the concrete jungle of your city. Here is why Costa Rica is a perfect destination for families.

Exploring the wildlife

Exploring the Costa Rica wildlife

Exploring the Costa Rica wildlife

Costa Rica holds a number one rank when it comes to biodiversity density. It is home to around half a million species! Consider going on a boat trip. Most of them have an English guide and lunch included in the price. Tortuguero National Park is maybe the most famous destination for wildlife watching, as it can be reached only by boat. The packages usually include a transfer from San Jose (being the most popular tourist city), two or more nights lodging, and watching tours. Kids will certainly enjoy watching turtles and spotting other animals from the boat. Turtles nesting seasons are between March and October, but they may vary. Another great option includes hiking through the national parks. It is advisable to go on a guided hiking tour, since you will hear many interesting stories and the guide will show you where to look for animals. This applies especially for the species that tend to camouflage or blend in with their surroundings because of their colors (e.g. sloths and iguanas). Considering the nature’s natural rhythm, it is best to go on a hiking tour early in the morning or in the late afternoon. Great experiences are offered by parks such as Manuel Antonio, Cahuita National Parks, and Palo Verde, where you can see sloths, monkeys, iguanas, crocodiles, egrets, bats, etc. Opt for hiking or a boat trip and enjoy one of the 26 Costa Rica’s national parks.

Water sports and amazing beaches

Costa Rica water sports and amazing beaches

Costa Rica water sports and amazing beaches

You can experience anything from river rafting, surfing, and kayaking, to paddle boarding, snorkeling and scuba diving. Even children (six year-olds and up) can enjoy river rafting: there are river rapids that are mild and completely safe. Kayaking is especially exciting since you can discover the unapproachable nature. Scuba diving is another great way to discover the marine wildlife. Scuba diving teachers are very skillful and detail-orientated when it comes to instructions. It is a unique experience usually older children enjoy. Surfing lessons are available for children who are five years old and up. As for the beaches, beautiful white sand and amazingly clear, turquoise water are waiting for you no matter what location in Costa Rica you opt for.

Other activities

Costa Rica Activities

Costa Rica Activities

Zip-lining is maybe the best-known adrenaline activity in Costa Rica. Not all can provide rides for children under seven years, but there are many that do (e.g. Monteverde Theme Park or Selvatura). You don’t need to worry about your kids’ safety, since they can zip-line with an instructor. There are horseback rides you can enjoy all over the country. You can also experience coffee tours and learn more about permaculture farming while tasting the amazing coffee, or visit some of the amazing museums (e.g. the award-winning Precolumbian Gold Museum).

Breathtaking nature

Costa Rica breathtaking nature

Costa Rica breathtaking nature

In addition to exploring the wildlife, you can also enjoy the beautiful waterfalls and volcanoes of Costa Rica. There are many waterfall trails tours you can try out that aren’t expensive (usually around $10 per person) and aren’t exhausting for inpatient children. There are different lengths of trails, depending on the waterfall you want to visit. Some are only about 2km long. Bathing under a waterfall is an amazing experience you’ll remember for the rest of your life. It is relaxing and purifying. These hiking routes are perfect for preschoolers and children that have a lot of energy. When you finally reach the waterfall, they will be tired in just the right amount, so they’ll enjoy swimming and soak in all the surrounding nature. As for volcanoes, Costa Rica is home to six active volcanoes and 61 dormant ones. Arenal was the country’s most active volcano in the past years. Along with volcanoes, you and your kids can enjoy hot springs: the most beautiful ones are around La Fortuna.

It is affordable

Costa Rica is affordable

Costa Rica is affordable

Sure, Costa Rica is a country that is well aware of its touristic potentials. It can be expensive if you’re not smart with your money. Local food is pretty affordable if you don’t eat at fancy restaurants. Tap water is safe for drinking, so that’s a plus. Public transport is affordable, but renting a car is a good option if your family is eager to explore the country independently. Try staying at places that aren’t touristy, like San Jose. Keep in mind that even San Jose can offer you affordable accommodation, but smaller locations can give you a much more authentic experience of Costa Rica. Choose Puntarenas, Montezuma (on the Nicoya Peninsula), Limón or Punta Uva. Discuss with your family if they are ready for a true adventure. Instead of choosing an all-inclusive hotel, why don’t you stay at bungalows? This will truly make your trip worthwhile. Many people fall in love with Costa Rica by spontaneously adapting their “pura vida” way of life, and they even consider moving there. They usually give up on this thought and go back to their grayish fast-paced cities, because they think it is too difficult to buy property in Costa Rica, even though it truly isn’t a complicated process. You don’t have to be an official resident of Costa Rica in order to purchase a home, although there are other formalities you need to take care of (e.g. you need a visa that proves you’re in the country legally). The process of buying a home isn’t more complex than the one you’re familiar with, in your own country. There are some regulations you should ask around for, but it is very much doable.

Costa Rica truly rocks for families! You will most certainly enjoy your stay and if you’re not careful – it just might steal your heart.

Merken

In 2012, we moved our family to China for a year. The adventure proved crazy enough to fill the pages of the book I later wrote about the experience. Many of our friends and family thought the idea of picking up and leaving our regular life to move to a communist country was an act of madness. While I wouldn’t disagree entirely, I do think there are plenty of families who’d love a similar journey.

Ten Tips for Making the Most of Your Overseas Move

Ten Tips for Making the Most of Your Overseas Move

One thing I craved before we left was…advice. I spoke to many families who’d been relocated overseas because of work. Some who’d decided to quiet their jobs and travel the world without a real home base. A few who’d left and still hadn’t returned to the United States. Others who’d left and come home earlier than they planned.

I’m forever grateful for the advice I received from these families, some of which proved invaluable. As with all things of this nature, I’m happy to pass on these nuggets to the next band of globetrotting families!

Ten Tips for Making the Most of Your Overseas Move

  1. Engage your children in the pre-trip planning. From helping decide what to pack, to getting out the globe and marking your new home with a sticker. Children who have a little ownership in the process are usually better able to adjust to the shock that comes with uprooting in such a major way.
  2. Consider your existing food and exercise routines. Moving overseas is different than a vacation. Way different. You’ll want to continue your pattern of family meals as well as any methods you use to keep in shape. Think and talk through what expectations you have for how that might look in your new home.
  3. Pack comforts from home. Special snacks, a pile of beloved art supplies, a particular pillowcase you adore. Things that will make home seem a bit….closer.
  4. Bring books in your native language. Both for the adults and the children. Yes books are widely available in e-book format now, but for those times when your screen loses its charge or when you just want to hold a story in your hands on a long train ride. There’s nothing like a few books made of paper and a real spine.
  5. Document your daily life in a personal journal. A place for you to write the mundane, the hilarious and the difficult. Especially the difficult. Journaling can be an outlet for you as well as the children. Children too young to write can enjoy dictating to parents what they’re going through, what they’re feeling and things that stay planted in their little memories.
  6. Write a blog. Friends and family will want to know details of your adventures, and capturing your stories on a blog is a perfect way to spread the news one time without repeating yourself in separate email messages. Attach photos for an extra punch.
  7. Branch out from the expatriate community and spend time with locals. Your relationships with other expats will very likely be long lasting, but spending time with locals will give you a flavor of your new country like no other.
  8. Keep a family gratitude jar. Every day, plop a small coin into a jar and share something you’re grateful for. Some days will be challenging. My most memorable gratitude was the day I found out where to buy salt. A simple and unimaginably easy task in America, but a near impossibility in our early days in China. Watch your jar fill with coins over the course of your days and weeks, planning something special when the jar is full.
  9. Before coming home, indulge in a little consumerism. Those local crafts you’ve grown accustomed to seeing….instead of buying just one…buy five. That favorite bag of special treats you can’t get in the United States….buy ten. It will seem excessive in the moment, but chances are you’ll be thrilled a year down the road to still be enjoying a slice of your overseas life.
  10. Find humor. There will be days so tough you just want to crawl in bed and close out the world. One of the best ways around the tough is to combat it with the just plain silly.

May a few drops of wisdom carry you through your own family adventure!

About Johanna Garton
Johanna Garton fills her days as owner of Missionworks Consulting, a nonprofit management consulting firm in Denver. She leads workshops for parents on traveling back to China through the Chinese Heritage Camp in Denver through Regis University. For those looking for something a little more close to home, Johanna also developed Kids Yoga Speak while preparing for her year in China. The program is based on Total Physical Response and teaches children Chinese by incorporating the language into a yoga routine. The program can be accessed through the website or through a downloadable app through iTunes.

A diverse sampling of National Parks and sound infrastructure in the form of medical care and potable water make Costa Rica an excellent choice for adventurous families.

Here are eleven excursions ranging from easy to extreme, beginning near San José then branching out to the country’s remote enclaves. Even in well-populated areas, the government has neglected the roadways because they have had no need to transport arms or soldiers since the military was abolished in 1948. Therefore, your adventure travel experience will include enduring arduous routes, but getting there is half the fun, right?

EASY

San José is not for the adventurous. It acts as a transit hub for backpackers flying in from all over the world who fan out to explore Central America. However, there are activities that families can do near the capital that do not require nerves of steel.

Parque Nacional Volcan Poás

Within easy distance of San José, Volcan Poás National Park is the closest and easiest volcano to begin adventuring. Kids will find the walk to the crater a cinch. A short leisurely hike along the trails in the forest is not difficult for kids who are fit and have done some easy hiking. Sunburn is the bigger concern at that altitude. Ages 4+

Fossil Land

Outside of a suburb called Desamperados, southeast of San José, lies Fossil Land, an easy day trip by local transit. Prepare for a day of hilarity on the small mountain with Capitan Tula! Learning about the ancient seabed upon which Fossil Land rests forms the foundation of Capitan Tula’s objective: to impart an appreciation for the natural world. He accomplishes this by donning a “superhero” cape and performing an almost improv-comedy routine as a team-building exercise in the first few minutes of the program. After that, however, be prepared to move the limbs. Traipsing uphill through streams, zip lining across a gorge and spelunking into caves are just a smattering of what your day will be like before you are handed tools to chip away at the thousands upon thousands of fossils buried on the property. Ages 7+

MEDIUM

Costa Rica’s main attractions extend from San José like the spokes of a wheel; one must backtrack to the city and venture off again. Heading southwest, arrange private transport for this leg and ask the driver to stop at the Tárcoles Bridge to peer at the crocs in the river below. There’s a rest stop across the street for drinks and snacks.

Kayak Jaco (pronounced kayak hocCOE)

Families won’t find much to do in Jacó besides eat and sleep, but just a bit north of town, Playa Agujas offers a relatively unknown destination for kayaking. A family run outfit called Kayak Jaco will arrange an exhilarating adventure that you will not soon forget.

From the hamlet of Playa Agujas, Neil Kahn, and his wife Yasmin have operated Kayak Jaco for nearly twenty years. Neil outfitted us with life jackets and took us out on the Pacific in his unique outrigger canoes to nearby Playa Blanca. At the beach, our kids enjoyed playing with hermit crabs and running around in the surf. Neil paid careful attention to the well-being of the children’s safety, a rarity in the region, but not a surprise when you learn that Neil and Yasmin have raised their own on the water learning the family business. Ages 5+

Parque Nacional Manuel Antonio

With easy hiking under their belts, kids will be ready for a trek in Manuel Antonio National Park. About ninety minutes from Jacó, go with the locals by bus to nearby Quepos, (if you are on a budget), bunk there, and take a day trip to Manuel Antonio. The jungle is dense with foliage, but now and then, the azure waters of the Pacific poke through gaps in the flora at strategically placed lookout points. Kids will be mesmerized as much by the crabs skulking in the loam as the numerous pizotes (raccoonesque creatures, unafraid of humans) who saunter along looking for scraps of food dropped by tourists. The reward at the end of the hike is a swim at the beach and a pavilion to unpack a picnic lunch (hence the proliferation of pizotes). Ages 5+

Tirimbina Biological Reserve

When the cute and fuzzy no longer act as a motivator to hike the rainforests, chocolate surely will. Puerto Viejo de Sarapiquí, a mere eighty kilometers from San José, offers thrill seekers a variety of activities to choose from, but few are safe for children. The Tirimbina Rainforest Center organizes tours of the jungle led by a trained guide with the specific aim to educate visitors about the history of chocolate production in Central America. The tour is lengthy (close to three hours), but not too challenging and ends with the bonus attraction of a chocolate making tutorial. Taste testers encouraged. Ages 5+

HARD

Hiking in the rainforest isn’t overly difficult, but if getting there takes the better part of a day and you are expected to walk for at least three hours, it can be tough for kids. Children who have been active outdoors will have the advantage, but a good guide will adjust their pace and engage children by asking questions and pointing out interesting sights.

Children’s Eternal Rainforest (Bosque Eterno de los Niños)

A pattern of environmental stewardship becomes noticeable the more places you visit in Costa Rica. Never is it more evident than in the twin communities of Monteverde/Santa Elena, located an excruciating four hours from the center of the country. Hire private transport for this leg and have the driver stop when the stomachs get queasy. Start your adventure at the Children’s Eternal Rainforest. The trails are well-maintained, and young children will enjoy the walk if some wildlife can be spotted. However, the popular mammals are not the only creatures to be glimpsed in this rainforest. A twilight walk commencing at 5:30 p.m. showcases some of the exoskeletal if you have the stomach for it. Prepare for at least two hours of hiking no matter what time of day you go. Ages 5+

Santa Elena Cloud Forest

Santa Elena Cloud Forest is less crowded than the more renowned Monteverde Cloud Forest. Worried that others would not appreciate the number of stops required to allow the children to ogle strange looking mosses or insects, we hired a guide solely for our family. Our girls were happy just being outside in the fresh air, but even more impressed by the enormous trees, whose every spare inch seemed to be covered by epiphytes.

Opportunities to view wildlife in their natural surroundings were constant in the cloud forest, especially because our guide had the uncanny ability to identify the trill of various birds and track the route of three species of monkey: howler, white-faced capuchin, and squirrel. The scene before us, mist-covered pathways and dangling vines along with sounds emanating from the jungle elicited visions of Yoda’s home planet of Dagobah. A lifetime worth of science lessons took place here. Ages 7+

La Fortuna/Volcán Arenal

The majestic, formerly sputtering volcano Arenal, located in the town of La Fortuna, is reached by a well-organized taxi-boat-taxi “shortcut” that starts in Santa Elena. After ninety minutes, the van deposited us at Lake Arenal. The conical shape of the volcano was visible from the moment we arrived at the lake and stayed in our sight while we crossed to La Fortuna (about thirty minutes). A waiting van transported passengers directly to hotels in town. The trails at Parque Nacional Volcán Arenal are easy enough for children as young as 5.

EXTREME

For the following, children must be able to endure sometimes hours of mind-numbing and gut-wrenching bus rides or water transport to reach the destination. Sweltering heat, long hikes, very early mornings or middle of the night tours, and often a complete absence of creature comforts such as electricity and running water comprise the characteristics of these excursions.

Parismina (Getting there: extreme–reachable only by boat after a full day of travel on a non-air-conditioned and grossly overcrowded chicken bus)

Remote and isolated, the hamlet of Parismina is grassroots environmental stewardship at its best. Located outside the boundaries of the protected Tortuguero National Park, Parismina’s citizens have devised a way to protect endangered sea turtles from being decimated by offering tourists a chance to see the process of egg-laying up close and personal through scheduled turtle patrols. A nominal fee pays for a guide who accompanies you along the beach in the dark of night to deter poachers who are in search of eggs.

Patrols leave at 8:00, 10:00 and midnight and last two hours. It is a long walk for a child (up to seven kilometers) but if a sea turtle is spotted coming ashore, complaints of discomfort disappear once the giant creature begins her process of digging a hole in the sand to lay her eggs. Tourists wait at a respectful distance and then, when the mother returns to the sea, the eggs are removed and re-located to the hatchery.

The second part of the process begins at 5:30 a.m. when patrols go out to unearth eggs whose incubation period has ended. Seeing the fluttering of the tiny creatures as they wake from their twilight state is enough for anyone to forget the aching legs from the patrols. Accommodations are rustic. We tried camping at Alex Campground and enjoyed it immensely. Cold water showers and an open air kitchen on the grounds make this an ideal spot for an adventurous family. Ages 5+

Tortuguero

Just two hours up the coast by lancha from Parismina lies the village of Tortuguero. If you travel from San José, select a tour bus that provides rest stops and arranges your water transport. Within a National Park, the turtles who come ashore here are protected from poachers by the Coast Guard. There are still nightly turtle-watching tours but if you have experienced the real deal in Parismina, take advantage of the tours that leave from the main docks and venture out for several hours to wind among the many tributaries of the Tortuguero canals in search of wildlife that Costa Rica is so famous for. Select a local guide who uses canoes rather than motorized vessels so as not to scare away the very creatures you are trying to spot. Ages 5+

El Puente

Further south along the coast of the Caribbean lies the community of Puerto Viejo de Talamanca. Here, nor far from the cobalt blue water and the lilting sounds of Bob Marley we found El Puente, an organization that provides educational assistance and microloans to Indigenous families. When we visited El Puente, we helped cut up vegetables for the bi-weekly soup kitchen but managed to get ourselves invited to stay the night in the jungle with a Bribri family as a fundraising exercise.

After forty-five minutes of hiking uphill, we came to rest at a small clearing where the father had fashioned two elevated sleeping quarters, one for his family and another for guests. The mother made us a simple meal of beans and rice, and we chatted quietly at dusk while their children and ours played together. Father made a “jungle toilet”–a piece of wood with a hole carved out and laid across a pit. We washed up using water from a stream. Open air sleeping presented challenges, but we had brought sleeping mats and bug jackets. Keeping an eye on your children in these natural surroundings is paramount. Ages 7+

The nature of Costa Rica’s roadways demands a few weeks to experience all of the above family-based adventures. Transiting from one part of the country to another can take the better part of a day. Plan your route by restricting travel to four hours at most. Bus routes of this length make rest stops at intervals, necessary because there are no toilets on board. Renting a vehicle is an option but beware of theft that is so rampant among rental car users. However you travel, Costa Rica is full of adventure opportunities for your family.

 

Janet LoSole and her husband took a leave of absence, sold all their possessions and spent nearly two years backpacking through Central America as part of a massive field trip for their two homeschooled daughters.

If you’re off to Mallorca, worrying about your kids having fun should be out of the equation. The region is filled with kid-friendly activities and a lot of areas where you can let their curious minds explore. Aside from the activities and sights, traveling and eating out is also a breeze since there are a lot of discounts on public transports and children’s menus.

And in case you’re wondering about the best place to start, this list of activities should be of help.

1. Cycling

If your kids are into sports, taking them to the cycling capital of the Balearics shouldn’t be out of your list. The area has a lot of cycling shops where you can rent a bicycle for each one of your kids. In case they are too young to ride on their own, you can have them on their carriers as you bike around.

2. Visit underground caves

Learning the difference between stalactites and stalagmites should come easy after you bring your kids to Porto Cristo Caves. The caves are both beautiful and scary at the same time, with a maximum depth of 25 meters below ground level. Inside the caves is an underground lake called Lake Martel. It belongs to the list of the largest underground lakes in the world.

3. Train trip

In Mallorca, you can find vintage trains that are on the road since 1912. Bringing your kids for a trip in one of these trains will allow them to see most of the beautiful corners of the area. Make sure to take your sunscreen with you, particularly if you’ll be out during the summer.

4. Watch rescued animals

In Santa Eugena, you’ll be able to find a small zoo which serves as a home to rescued animals. The zoo is good to visit even on a hot day since it’s in a shady region. Inside it, you’ll be able to see several species of birds and some reptiles.

5. Go paddleboarding

When it comes to beaches, Mallorca is one of the top places you shouldn’t miss, particularly when it comes to paddle boarding. If your kids aren’t big enough for this activity yet, let them enjoy the beach with you by allowing them to sit on your board and help you out with paddling.

6. Try trekking

Trekking is a good activity to boost your kids’ physical strength. You can take them for a walk along the coastline or choose to be more adventurous with the mountain trails. Because long walks can be exhausting, make sure to bring the best cooler for the trip so you can have bottles of water and some snacks within easy reach.

7. Camping

Technically, Mallorca is not the best place for a camper as it’s illegal to camp just about everywhere. However, if it’s camping you’re really interested in, there are government campsites you can try. They aren’t that big but you can still enjoy the activity with your kids as they are quite peaceful areas. For extra savings, take your electric cool box for camping so you won’t have to spend additional cash for some refreshments.

8. Swimming

There are a lot of beaches in the region with shady play areas for your kids. If safety is your concern, you can go to Playa de Muro where you can find shallow waters where your kids can have fun.

9. Walk in medieval towns

On a normal weekday, you’ll see the town of Alcudia with remains of Roman houses and traces of its culture. It’s a good site to visit if your kids particularly enjoy medieval towns and stories. However, during Sundays, this town transforms into a market filled with nice shops and stalls.

10. Visit water park

Hidropark is the only water park in the north of Mallorca. It offers a wave pool, mini-park and even a mini-golf course where your kids can hold small tournaments in. You can also let them enjoy the site’s floating water balls and soft tracks.

11. Horse riding

The largest ranch in Mallorca is the Rancho Grande Park. It’s suitable for every level of rider. Aside from pony rides, the ranch also holds birthday parties in case your kids want to celebrate there. You can also let them enjoy its bounty castle and water slides.

12. See theme parks

In case your kids fancy electronic games and movies, it’s a good idea to take them to Katmandu Park. The site is just a few walks from the beach which makes it a very convenient option if ever your kids get bored of playing on the sand.

13. Watch a commercial aquarium

Palma Aquarium is a good choice if you want your kids to learn more about sea creatures without the risk of sunburns. It’s a commercial aquarium and park that houses several species of sea inhabitants. Your kids can go diving with fishes or watch them from an observation glass.

14. See clowns and wizards

One of the really popular activities for kids in Mallorca can be found in a fun park in Alcudia. The main attraction of the park is its maze games that are typically mastered by clowns and wizards.

15. Watch pirate shows

In Mallorca, you can find pirate shows both for kids and kids at heart, so be sure to be careful when booking a show. The Pirates Adventure Show features acrobatics and dancing that will leave your kids quiet throughout the event. For older viewers, there’s the Pirate Mutiny where glasses of sangria and beer come for free.

16. View live dolphins

Another must-see in Mallorca is its dolphin and sea lion shows. Right after the performance, you can get your kids to have pictures with the animals for a small fee. Aside from dolphins and lions, the family can also see a parrot circus.

17. Visit the Museum of Antique Dolls

Tag your daughters and visit the Museum of Antique Dolls. It has several rooms filled with more than 500 unique and antique dolls, some of which even dates back to the 19th century. The museum is a private collection but it’s open to tourists visiting the region.

18. Karting

Alcudia has a really big karting track where you and the rest of the family can have fun. It has a lot of curves and is suitable for all levels of kart racers. Their custom built tracks are open from morning until midnight without the need to book beforehand.

New York City is one of the most exciting places on earth, but the kind of fun you have changes dramatically when you bring your kids along. Instead of hitting up midnight shows and the hottest high-concept eateries, you get a chance to see a very different city, a brightly-colored place full of magic, fun, and excitement that offers up a seemingly endless supply of new experiences.

 

Top Activities For Children 10 and Up in NYC

Top Activities For Children 10 and Up in NYC

From the Bronx to Brooklyn and everywhere in-between, these are the New York destinations that will fill your little ones with wonder this August while earning you the honorary title of coolest parents in town.

Street fairs:

Fried food, face painting, and live music make for an experience your kids won’t soon forget. This August, celebrate the colorful diversity and unique atmosphere of a variety of New York neighborhoods by checking out the summer street fairs taking place around the city. On the first weekend of August, hit up the Maiden Lane Summer Expo and the Times Square West Spectacular, and follow it up throughout the month with celebrations on Waverly Place, Amsterdam Avenue, Brooklyn’s Fulton Mall, and in the Theater District.

Children’s Museum of Manhattan:

Unlike MoMa, the Met, and the Guggenheim, this is one New York City museum where kids are encouraged to take a hands-on approach to art appreciation.  This Upper West Side institution hosts a wide range of educational programming and exhibits, including a fun and active celebration of the Rio Olympics from August 5th through the 7th where kids can burn off some of that extra energy while learning about the Olympic Games. 

Bronx Zoo:

Widely regarded as one of the world’s best zoos, the Bronx Zoo is a must-see for native New Yorkers and tourists alike. This 265-acre zoo is home to more than 4,000 animals from over 650 species, and offers educational programming for children and adults throughout the year, with special exhibits and shows in the summer. While the weather’s still warm, make sure to check out the sea lion show and the butterfly garden.

Natural History Museum:

Eager to expose your children to the magnificent diversity of nature? Look no further than the American Museum of Natural History. Located on Manhattan’s Upper West Side, this 2,000,000-square-foot museum celebrates earth’s biodiversity, preserving and educating visitors about everything from dinosaur fossils to space exploration. While you’re at the museum, make sure to check out a show at the Hayden Planetarium, directed by the world’s most popular astrophysicist, Neil DeGrasse Tyson.

Coney Island:

Down along Brooklyn’s southern shore lies a neighborhood so unlike any you’ll find elsewhere in New York that it’s hard to believe you’re in the same city. Home to carnival rides, a famous freak show, one of the city’s most popular beaches, and a lengthy boardwalk perfect for an afternoon stroll (and maybe some cotton candy), it’s easy to spend the whole day at Coney Island and still feel like you haven’t seen half of it by the time you head home.

The High Line:

New York City’s aggressive drivers can prove formidable foes for little ones, so many parents are eager to find car-free thoroughfares to enjoy with their families whenever possible. One such walkway is the stunning High Line, an elevated park stretching over a mile from the Meatpacking District to Hell’s Kitchen. As you make your way uptown or downtown, you’ll be privy to some of the best views of the Hudson, as well as live performance, fragrant gardens, and an eclectic mix of vendors at either end.

South Street Seaport:

Spend an afternoon by the water at the picturesque South Street Seaport in lower Manhattan. As you hit the neighborhood’s cobblestone streets, you’ll feel instantly transported back to another time, a feeling that only intensifies when you get a glimpse of the tall ships docked just steps away. Kids will love checking out the handmade wares available at the Seaport Studios Design Market and getting some new back-to-school clothes at shops like Abercrombie & Fitch and L.O.L. Kids.

Chelsea Piers:

If there’s any place in New York where kids can expend all of their energy — and we meanall of it — it’s at Chelsea Piers. This vast sports complex on Manhattan’s West Side is home to a skating rink, bowling alley, gymnastics facilities, soccer fields, batting cages, rock climbing walls, driving ranges, and more. Sign your little ones up for a class or just bring them in during drop-in hours to let them burn off some steam before bedtime.

Museum of the Moving Image:

Catch the train out to Astoria, Queens for an exciting field trip your kids are sure to love. The Museum of the Moving image celebrates the art of film, TV, and even video games through interactive exhibitions that will delight kids of all ages. This summer, check out exhibits like “Arcade Classics: Video Games from the Collection” and “The Reaction GIF: Moving Image as Gesture,” in addition to lecture series, film screenings, and educational workshops.

Cupcake Tour:

Treat your kids (and yourself) to something sweet by booking tickets to a cupcake tour. This 2-hour celebration of the city’s favorite confection begins at Union Square and hits up Baked by Melissa, Bisous Ciao, Amorino, Molly’s Cupcakes, and Magnolia Bakery, in addition to passing by landmarks like the Cherry Lane Theater, Washington Square Park, and the Religious Society of Friends Meeting House.

Yankee Stadium:

New Yorkers have two passions that they love above all else: complaining about the price of subway fare and the Yankees. Take your kids to see some of the world’s most celebrated baseball heroes, like Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira, hit it out of the park as part of the legendary Bronx Bombers team. Whether they win or they lose, there’s no activity that epitomizes the camaraderie and celebratory spirit of New York City.

Helicopter Tour:

Give your kids the best view of the city skyline by seeing it above in a helicopter tour. Not for the feint of heart, this exhilarating way of seeing the city will show you all of New York’s most iconic attractions, from the Statue of Liberty to the Empire State Building, without the crowds.

Make this summer one to remember and enjoy New York from a new perspective by sharing the greatest city on earth with your kids.