Raising a Cultured Kid: Freebies & Cheapies for Toddlers & Preschoolers

Super tip: Indoor nature conservatories are great places to go in winter. They're warm and usually free. (Photo: Children get in touch with critters at Liberty Science Center. © Bard Martin/Liberty Science Center)


Street talk

Unlike so many other aspects of life in the city, entertainment is one area where you absolutely can afford to just get up, get out and see what happens. You're never more than a few blocks from some source of entertainment, so amusement and bemusement can take place anytime, anywhere. Maybe the hoopla will occur at that touristy part of town where street performers are working hard for their hatful of coins. Maybe it's in the wonderful exchanges that take place at the farmers' market or street fair or parade or café. Wherever you end up, consider street life a free activity. (And you never need to worry about your tot making a ruckus.)

It only takes a tiny bit of effort to turn a regular day into an event. That unexpected encounter with a blues band in the subway, the Impressionist painting a traffic scene, the juggler by the museum '- they're all excellent fodder for conversations that could take a million different directions. Performance is not just by performers; it can come from the guy with the python around his neck, the foreign sailors in town for Fleet Week, the white-haired gents playing bocce in the park. Just keep your eyes open. Some of the coolest activities are in unlikely places. On warm-weather weekends, Eastern European folk-dance enthusiasts gather in New York's

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