kid mask playground
Photograph: Shutterstock

Reopening NYC: Everything families need to know

Reopening NYC: We'll help you navigate what's happening with attractions, schools, shops and everything in between

By Oliver Strand
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Reopening NYC is underway, but it can be confusing. It seems as if Governor Andrew Cuomo and Bill de Blasio are making new announcements about reopening NY every day, and it can be hard to keep on top of all the new information—especially if you have kids aren't sure what families can and cannot do in NYC right now.

Don't worry! We're here to help you better understand what NY reopening will mean to you. In other words, we'll help you figure out how to take advantage of the best summer activities for kids. After all, this is the perfect time to get out and enjoy awesome outdoor activities for kids like biking, fishing, playground visits and more!

Reopening NYC: Museums and attractions

alpacas queens farm museum
alpacas queens farm museum
Courtesy Sarah Meyer

Queens County Farm

News City Life

Queens County Farm is welcoming back visitors on August 2. Get ready to take in the greenery, meet a few friends (think goats, sheep and alpacas) and snag some fresh produce at the farmer's market.

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centralparkzoo01
centralparkzoo01
Photograph: Julie Larsen Maher

Central Park Zoo

4 out of 5 stars
Attractions Zoo and aquariums Central Park

The Central Park Zoo is open to the general public. All tickets must be purchased in advance online. Buy tickets here.

Prospect Park Zoo’s newest residents are two Hamadryas baboons
Prospect Park Zoo’s newest residents are two Hamadryas baboons
Photograph: Julie Larsen Maher (C) Wildlife Conservation Society

Prospect Park Zoo

Attractions Zoo and aquariums Prospect Park

The Prospect Park Zoo is open to the general public. All tickets must be purchased in advance online. Buy tickets here.

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queenszoo1
queenszoo1
Photograph: Julie Larsen Maher/

Queens Zoo

Attractions Zoo and aquariums Queens

The New York Aquarium will reopen on July 20 for Wildlife Conservation Society members, and on July 24 to the general public. All tickets must be purchased in advance online. Buy tickets online.

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NYPL zoom background
NYPL zoom background
Photograph: Courtesy New York Public Library

New York City Libraries

News City Life

The NYPL, the Brooklyn Public Library and the Queens Public Library have grab-and-go services at a number of branches, with more branches set to open. A full reopening will be contingent on health and safety recommendations, according to library officials.

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Photograph: Courtesy Evan Joseph Images

Empire State Building

Things to do Empire State Building | Manhattan, NY, Midtown West

The Empire State Building's Observatory Experience is now open. Visits will be limited and on a reservation basis. Initial capacity will be reduced by more than 80 percent to only 500 guests on the Observatories at a time. Get tickets online.

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The GIANT Room
The GIANT Room
Photograph: Courtesy the GIANT Room

The GIANT Room

News City Life

Good news for families with STEAM-minded kids: The GIANT Room, the maker space and gallery in Chelsea, will reopen in August. Soon your little ones will once again have access to the 3-D printers, painting spaces, laser cutters and other innovative tools that engage curious minds.

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Yankee Stadium
Yankee Stadium
Photograph: Shutterstock

MLB: New York Yankees and New York Mets

Major League Baseball started play for a short season. No spectators will be allowed to watch the games in person, but the matchups will be televised.

barclays building
barclays building
Photograph: Shutterstock

NBA: New York Knicks and Brooklyn Nets

The Nationa Basketball Association restarted the 2019–2020 season on July 30. No spectators will be allowed to watch the games in person, but the matchups will be televised.

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College B-Ball
College B-Ball
Photograph: Shutterstock

WNBA: New York Liberty

The Women's National Basketball Association resumed its season. No spectators will be allowed in the areans, but the games will be televised.

NYCFC Soccer Goal
NYCFC Soccer Goal
Photograph: Courtesy Shutterstock

MLS: NYCFC and New York Red Bulls

Major League Soccer restarted the season with the MLS Is Back tournament in Orlando, FL. No spectators are allowed at the games but the matchups are televised. MLS intends to finish a shortened season, with the details to be determined.

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A New York Rangers game
A New York Rangers game
Photograph: Elsa/Getty Images

NHL: New York Rangers and New York Islanders

The National Hockey League will restart the 2019–2020 season with a tournament that starts August 1 to determine which teams qualify for the playoffs. No spectators will be allowed to watch in person, but the matchups will be televised.

MetLife Stadium,
MetLife Stadium,
Photograph: William Hauser/MetLife Stadium

NFL: New York Giants and New York Jets

The National Football League stated it intends to hold a regular season, and that a limited number of spectators will be allowed to watch in person. Details are to be determined. 

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Soccer
Soccer
Photograph: Unsplash/Nathan Rogers

NWSL: Sky Blue FC

The National Women's Soccer League restarted and completed its season.

Reopening NYC: Food and Shopping

Taiyaki soft serve ice cream
Taiyaki soft serve ice cream
Photograph: Courtesy Taiyaki

The best soft-serve ice cream

Restaurants Ice cream parlors

If you want to reward the kids, use a little soft power: Make a trip to one of the best soft-serve ice cream spots in NYC when they're behaving well. You can snag a cone for yourself, too.

Free Van Leeuwen ice cream giveaway LA Zoo with Stitch Fix Stitch Kids
Free Van Leeuwen ice cream giveaway LA Zoo with Stitch Fix Stitch Kids
Photograph: Courtesy Van Leeuwen

The best ice cream shops in NYC

Restaurants

Who can say no to a double scoop, especially if it's from one of the best ice cream shops in NYC? We have the definitive list of all of the city's must-try spots. Right now, you can't eat your ice cream inside these shops. But you can take your cones to-go, some places have outdoor tables and some even deliver! Call before making a visit, as hours and services are subject to change.

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Fornino
Fornino
Photograph: Courtesy Fornino

The best outdoor restaurants in NYC

Restaurants

There's no indoor dining in NYC right now, but you can still go to family-friendly restaurants with outdoor spaces and enjoy a meal with the kids. Go ahead and make the most of the season! Always check the restaurant's website or call to get the latest info about openings and hours.

Brooklyn Farmacy
Brooklyn Farmacy
Photograph: Jolie Ruben

The best soda fountains in NYC

Restaurants Ice cream parlors

Everybody loves a soda fountain! Part ice cream parlor, part luncheonette, it’s the restaurant a kid would dream up. Unfortunately, there's no indoor eating in NYC right now. But many of the best soda fountains in NYC have to-go service, and outdoor dining. Call or check the soda fountain's website before heading out!

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Claire Frossard reading Emma's Journey at Greenlight bookstore i
Claire Frossard reading Emma's Journey at Greenlight bookstore i
Photograph: Etienne Frossard

Best kid's bookstores in NYC

Shopping

In-store shopping with limited capacity is permitted in NYC, which is great news if you want to go to visit any of the bookstores on our list of the best in NYC for kids. Bring your masks, and be sure to call ahead or check the bookstore's website for policies and regulations. In addition, many bookstores for kids offer curbside pickup and online shopping!

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Photograph: Courtesy Build-A-Bear Workshop

The best toy stores in NYC

Shopping

We scoured the boroughs for the best New York toy store, and one thing's clear: With so many adorable options, it's pretty difficult to choose just one! Many offer in-store shopping at a reduced capacity, and curbside pickup is always an option. Call or check these toy store's websites for the latest info. 

Photograph: Courtesy Caroline Voagen Nelson

The best kid's clothing stores in NYC

Shopping

Kids keep growing even when the city slows down, and now that limited in-store shopping is allowed in NYC, you can keep your children looking spiffy by visiting the best kid's clothing stores in New York! Be sure to bring your masks, and call ahead or check the store's website to get the latest on opening hours and operating info.

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dog
dog
Photograph: Courtesy Sereja Ris

The best pet stores in NYC

Shopping

Picking the perfect family pet can be a painstaking process: How could the kids possibly choose just one? But it's made that much easier thanks to top-notch pet stores in NYC, where you can find happy and healthy puppies, kittens, birds and beyond. Now that NYC allows limited in-store shopping, you can visit one of the best pet stores in the city. Be sure to bring your masks, and call ahead or check the store's website for the latest on shopping policies.

Reopening NYC: Outdoor activities

Domino Park Playground
Domino Park Playground
Photograph: Courtesy Daniel Levin

The best playgrounds in NYC

Things to do

NYC playgrounds are open to the public, provided that kids and their grownups follow best practices: Wash or sanitize your hands before entering and after leaving the play area, keep your social distance and wear a mask when around others.

Photograph: Courtesy Etienne Frossard

The best water playgrounds in NYC

Things to do

NYC playgrounds are open to the public, provided that kids and their grownups follow best practices: Wash or sanitize your hands before entering and after leaving the play area, try to keep your social distance and wear a mask if possible when around others.

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Cheesequake State Park
Cheesequake State Park
Photograph: Shutterstock

The best hiking trails in and around NYC

Things to do

NYC parks are open to the public, provided that kids and their grownups follow best practices: Wash or sanitize your hands before entering and after leaving the playground, try to keep your social distance and wear a mask when around others. The same holds true for local county and state parks. Note that amenities such as snack bars and bathrooms might be limited or closed.

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Coney Island Beach Boardwalk
Coney Island Beach Boardwalk
Photograph: Shutterstock

The best beaches in and around NYC

Things to do

Mayor Bill de Blasio has decided to open NYC beaches on July 1, 2020. That means you can pack the beach umbrella and slather on the SPF: It's summer, and a trip to one of the best beaches for kids in NYC and beyond guarantee a fun afternoon for the whole family. The sand and the sea are the main draws, but the best beaches for kids in and around NYC have plenty of other activities and amenities the whole family will enjoy. Read more here.

Governors Island
Governors Island
Photograph: Courtesy Shutterstock

Governors Island

Attractions Parks and gardens

This year, things will look a little different on Governors Island: The facility opened at limited capacity for passive recreational activities like biking, hiking, walking and bird watching on July 15. It's open on weekdays from 10am–6pm and weekends from 10am–7pm. The Trust for Governors Island will offer free ferries to all New York City Housing Authority residents. For the latest information, visit govisland.com.

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Central Park Bethesda Fountain
Central Park Bethesda Fountain
Photograph: Courtesy Shutterstock

The best parks in NYC

Things to do

NYC parks are open to the public, provided that kids and their grownups follow best practices: Wash or sanitize your hands before entering and after leaving the park, keep your social distance and wear a mask when around others.

Fishing
Fishing
Photograph: Shutterstock

The best fishing spots in NYC

Things to do

You can access the Big Apple's family-friendly fishing spots, from catch-and-release freshwater ponds and lakes in city parks to the waterfront piers that draw serious anglers. However, the catch-and-release programs from NY Parks are suspended—you'll have to supply your own gear. Note that fishing is regulated by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, and anybody 16 and older must have a fishing license—even in Central Park or Prospect Park.

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Luna Park Coney Island
Luna Park Coney Island
Photograph: Shutterstock

The best amusement parks in NY State

Attractions Theme parks

Amusement parks in New York State, including Luna Park in Coney Island, Victorian Gardens in Central Park, Adventureland in Farmingdale and Fantasy Forest in Queens have postponed their opening, with new dates to be determined.

Photograph: Courtesy Moreys Piers

The best water parks in NY State

Things to do

Water parks in New York State, including Splish Splash in Long Island, have postponed their opening, with new dates to be determined. 

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farmers market prospect heights
farmers market prospect heights
Photograph: Catherine Crawford

The best farmers markets in NYC

News City Life

Governor Cuomo made New York City farmers markets an essential business in the city while the entire state went on pause back in March. As a result, the show has gone on for many markets across the boroughs, including the beloved year-round markets that New Yorkers flock to in Union Square and Grand Army Plaza. Many open-air farmers markets remain open to provide New Yorkers with fresh goods from regional farmers, fishers and bakers. Now, to make shopping for fresh produce and goods at your favorite market even easier, greenmarkets are allowing folks to preorder goods online for market pickup. GrowNYC, the group behind popular farmers markets like Union Square, Tompkins Square, Tribeca, Grand Army Plaza, Fort Greene Park, Forest Hills among many others, has a google doc on their website where shoppers can browse vendors. There, New Yorkers can find vendors in alphabetical order, with a column sharing which are allowing for preorders. As some NYC markets have had to limit the number of customers shopping at any given time to allow for safe social distancing, lines have formed down the block. This pickup option could relieve stress this summer for both shoppers and staff as people can more quickly get their orders and head out.

Reopening NYC: Schools

empty classroom
empty classroom
Photograph: Courtesy Shutterstock

Delayed start to the school year?

News City Life

Public Advocate Jumaane Williams proposed that schools push back opening until October for elementary school, and January for middle and high school. Read the full story here.

NYC SCHOOL BUS
NYC SCHOOL BUS
Photograph: Shutterstock

Mayor Bill de Blasio releases plans for NYC schools this fall

News City Life

Mayor Bill de Blasio recently addressed one of the biggest concerns of NYC families: "Will schools reopen in September?" The answer? Yes and no. The Mayor revealed that the fall term will be a mix of remote and in-person learning, and parents will also have the option to enroll their children solely in remote learning if they so choose. Read the full story here.

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children laptop grass
children laptop grass
Photograph: Shutterstock

How to register for remote learning

News City Life

Although there are plenty of uncertainties surrounding the return to school this fall, one thing is clear: Remote learning won't be phased out any time soon. Recently, Mayor Bill de Blasio revealed that NYC schools will have a mix of online and in-person learning come September. There are various scheduling possibilities, and one is that families can opt go 100% remote if you apply by August 7. Read the full story here.

empty classroom
empty classroom
Photograph: Shutterstock

Here's what it will take to open New York schools this September

News City Life

New Yorkers can't stop thinking about September and what it will look like for their children. On July 8, Mayor Bill de Blasio revealed that NYC Schools will implement a mix of remote and in-person learning for the 2020-2021 academic year. As he outlined what this new norm would likely entail, he said, "Things can change along the way." Schools will reopen if a region is in Phase 4 & daily infection rate remains below 5% (14-day avg). Schools will close if the regional infection rate is greater than 9% (7-day avg) after August 1. Read the full story here.

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girl kid mask school daycare
girl kid mask school daycare
Photograph: Shutterstock

NYC to provide free daycare

News City Life

Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that NYC will provide free daycare to 100,000 students in the fall. The no-cost childcare is a part of the city's plan to reopen public schools in September. Because NYC school buildings will reopen with reduced capacity, classes will follow a "blended learning" model with a mixture of in-person and remote learning. The free daycare is designed to help households fill the gaps left by blended learning. According to a statement issued by the Mayor's office,"the City's childcare options will provide relief for families who cannot stay home or find alternate care for their children on days they are not in school buildings." Read more here.

School bus in brooklyn
School bus in brooklyn
Photograph: Shutterstock

Updates on the new academic year for NYC Schools

Things to do Classes and workshops

We'll help you stay on top of what's going on with NYC Schools during the new academic year with the latest on closings, at-home learning, grading policy, graduation and other changes implemented by the Governor, Mayor and Chancellor. Read the most recent updates here.

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Day Camp
Day Camp
Photograph: Courtesy Shutterstock

Day camps and child care facilities can reopen

News City Life

Mayor Bill de Blasio that day camps and child care centers in NYC could reopen starting Monday, July 13. All day camps and child care programs must adhere to the state guidelines that mandate masks for adults, and regulate the number of children allowed in a room. Read the full story here.

empty classroom with wooden desks
empty classroom with wooden desks
Photograph: Shutterstock

The DOE hosts an information session

News City Life

This back-to-school season is more nerve-wracking than usual.   If you—like thousands of other parents—are wondering what is in store for your kids this September, now is the time to gather questions: The NYC DOE will host a digital, citywide information session on Thursday, July 16 at 6:30pm. Read the full story here.

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