Timeout New York Kids

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Cheap and easy playdates for kids in NYC

Your child's next playdate is booked. Now it's time to plan the afternoon. We have tons of inexpensive ideas that will get you and your charges out and about.

10 Plant life at the Queens Botanical Garden

The green space (43-50 Main St at Dahlia Ave, Flushing Meadows--Corona, Queens; 718-886-3800, queensbotanical.org. $4, children ages 3--12 $2) boasts 25 different gardens. Make a stop at the Bee Garden, whose plants attract those hardworking, colonizing insects. Then head to the Fragrance Walk, where kids can sniff the shrubs and flowers. The garden also hosts various activities throughout the year; check their calendar before heading out. (The Arbor Festival, complete with family-friendly crafts and demonstrations takes place on May 1.)

Once the kids are done smelling the roses, head to Main Street—it's the gateway to Queens' bustling Chinatown. Stop at Joe's Shanghai (136-21 37th Ave between Main and Union Sts; 718-539-3838, joeshanghairestaurants.com) for a snack. Split two portions of pork dumplings (eight for $5.05).—AL

The breakdown
Entertainment $8
Food $10.10
Total $18.10

11 New (and old-fashioned) rides at Coney Island

Admission to the Coney Island Museum (1208 Surf Ave at W 12th St, second floor, Coney Island, Brooklyn; 718-372-5159, coneyisland.com/museum. Open Sat, Sun noon--5pm) is just 99 and it's got a cool collection of old ride cars, fun-house mirrors and postcards from the early 1900s. Your little daredevil and her friend will be so intrigued by the memorabilia that they won't even realize they're learning history.

Next stop—Deno's Wonder Wheel Amusement Park (W 12 St at Surf Ave; 718-372-2592, wonderwheel.com), where kids can go on two rides ($3 each). Fearless youngsters may choose the 25-foot Freefall, but nervous moms can steer them toward the tamer Rio Grande Train. Then grab a bench on the boardwalk and take in the sea breeze while the kids enjoy the playground near West 19th Street.

For just $1.50 each, you can finish off the day with marshmallow skewers dipped in assorted goodies from Williams Candy (1318 Surf Ave between Stillwell Ave and W 15th St; 718-372-0302, candytreats.com).—Michele Wallach

The breakdown
Entertainment $15
Food $4.50
Total $19.50

12 A tour of Flushing Meadows--Corona Park

The 7 train drops you and your playdate partners near the doorstep of a most captivating site: the Panorama of New York City at the Queens Museum of Art (Flushing Meadows--Corona Park near the entrance at 111th St and 49th St; 718-592-9700, queensmuseum.org. $5, children 5 and up $2.50, children under 5 free).

When you're done ogling on a mini scale, zoom out and peek over the fence at the rockets outside the New York Hall of Science (47-01 111th St at 47th Ave; 718-699-0005, nysci.org). Finish up at Lemon Ice King of Corona (52-02 108th St at 52nd Ave; 718-699-5133, thelemonicekingofcorona.com), where you can choose from more than 30 flavors of ices ($1.50 for a small).—LN

The breakdown
Entertainment $10
Food $4.50
Total $14.50

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